2D Art and Animation: Coursework Overview

Students can study 2D art and animation as part of certificate, associate's and bachelor's degree programs in animation or the visual arts at art schools, community colleges, technical schools and four-year universities. Some schools also offer certificate programs specifically focused on 2D animation. 2-d animation coursework is generally studio-based and may also require individual projects.

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Essential Information

2-d animation programs of all levels share some basic coursework. An introductory course in 2D animation is included to provide an overview of character development, basic animation methods and production techniques. Students also take an introductory drawing course that will assist them with making animations. More advanced courses cover the topics of storyboarding, animation history and advanced animation techniques.

It is common for animation programs to cover other art topics, including 3D animation and color theory. Computer applications commonly used in the design field, such as Adobe After Effects, Adobe Flash and Adobe Photoshop, are often covered. Students might also participate in a design internship.

Here are a few concepts that animation students commonly encounter in their studies:

  • Stop motion animation
  • Digital video
  • Object design
  • Drawing and anatomy
  • Observational drawing

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List of Common Courses

2D Animation Introduction Course

This course introduces students to art, digital art and animation. The basic principles of digital animation are reviewed, including character development and story conception through production. Students learn the technical language used in the animation industry and basic animation methods, including staging, timing, anticipation, squash and stretch, exaggeration and arcs. Common production techniques used in 2D may be covered.

Drawing Course

This is an introductory drawing course that covers basic drawing skills and design layout, typically using the human form, still life and landscape as subjects. The major goal of the class is for students to develop the drawing techniques that are needed for believable animation. Shading and manipulating form, as well as relaying proportion, weight and structure, are presented as methods to depict a 2D composition.

Storyboarding Course

Students learn to develop realistic characters, good narrative and plot. Coursework includes the creation of a story, drawing its initial sketch, creating storyboard panels and producing final sequential panels. Techniques of composition and shot selection, staging, camera angle and camera movement are introduced. Industry specific computer software may be introduced as well as use of a digital drawing tablet and other current technology.

Advanced Animation Design Course

Coursework covers advanced topics in animation design and the introduction of 3D animation design principles, including a focus on movement and character development principles. Advanced elements, such as performance animation and lip-synch, may be presented.

History of Animation Course

This course presents the history of animation as it relates to the evolution of art, as well as the influence of social, political and economic historical events. Topics like propaganda and social protest are evaluated as they are depicted in art. Coursework includes the study of U.S. and international influences in animation, including examination of individual artists and key animation studios.

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