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Animation Style Overview

If you've chilled in front of your TV after school, you've seen a half-dozen cartoons and each one looks different. That's cuz there are all kinds of different styles of animation used to create cartoons. From the anime style of Dragon Ball Z to the classic Disney 'toons as well as computer animated shows and even claymation. Check out the 411 on each type, right here.

Animation 101

There are a lot of different styles of animation but the way cartoons are created is very similar for all of them. What usually happens to make a cartoon is a bunch of artists draw all the characters and scenes, including everything the characters do in each scene, then they're stuck together frame-by-frame, with voices from voice actors, to become the finished cartoon.

Traditional Animation

Also called cel animation, this is the style used by most North American cartoons like The Simpsons, Looney Tunes and Kim Possible. This creates cartoons where the characters look most like real humans and, for a long time, was the only kind of cartoon you could watch in North America.


Anime is a style of animation from Japan that has become very popular in North America with shows like Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Dragon Ball Z and InuYasha. It's similar to Traditional Animation, but the characters are usually drawn with huge eyes, tiny noses and crazy hair. The action is usually exaggerated as well with warped facial expressions, insane combat, and lots of shouting.

Computer Animation

Computer-animated TV shows and movies, like The Incredibles and Shrek, are created entirely from computer graphics. Rather than drawing the characters, computer artists make 3D models of them, then they can use programs to make them move. This makes all the characters look smooth, you can totally tell computer animation from anime or claymation.

Stop-Motion / Claymation

This is a weird style of animation. Rather than drawing the characters and scenes, action figures are made for them. To animate them, they're all posed and a picture is taken, then they're moved a bit, and another picture is taken. After this is done hundreds of times, the pictures can be played back and the characters come to life! This is how the Wallace and Gromit movie was made.

Did U Know?

  • Paleolithic cave paintings show attempts to capture motion in still life drawings where animals are drawn with a bunch of legs in different positions.
  • The flip book was invented as simple animation in the 1800s, way before you made a stick figure walk across your text book in class!
  • The first animated film using hand-drawn animation was called Fantasmagorie, created in 1908.
  • Modern animation runs at 24 frames per second or more, since the human eye can recognize the images flashing at less than 16 frames per second, which would be annoying.
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Fave Animation Style? Vote!

  • Anime cartoons are the best.
  • I prefer traditional animation.
  • Computer animated shows rule!
  • I like Wallace and Gromit's animation.

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