Hand Drawn Animation vs Computer Animation

If you’re an animation fan (like me), you probably understand that animation is a medium (not a genre!) and it has many different sub-mediums. You might also get into a lot of debates/rants about which sub-medium is better: hand drawn/2D animation, or computer animation.

For decades, hand drawn animation was pretty much the only profitable and popular form of animation, until the mid 1990s, with the rise of Pixar. Coupled with the declining success of Disney and the oversaturation of crappy Disney knockoffs, people were becoming less enthused about traditional animation and much more impressed with the growing potential of computer animation. Now, traditional animation is no longer profitable at the American box office and computer animation is all the rage.

If you ask me (and I’m probably going to get flack for this), I actually do prefer computer animation…when it’s done right. While I don’t have a lot of respect for crappy CGI animation that could’ve easily been done in Flash, good, detailed CGI animation can really push the boundaries of what the medium is capable of, and take audiences to worlds that 2D animation simply can’t do.

Not to knock on hand drawn animation of course. While 2D animation can be crappy, there are some truly beautiful hand drawn animations out there and are deservedly classics. Would I like hand drawn features to make a comeback in theaters?

Well, part of me would say  yes, but now, it’s hard.

See, there are a lot of so called animation fans who will gladly put 2D animation on a pedestal but will actively shit on computer animation, calling it crap just because of its medium (or because of the CGI clunkers, ignoring the CGI artworks), and deride it for being inherently ugly or ‘too detailed’ and just generally say it sucks. People tend to act like snobs when professing how hand drawn animation is somehow inherently better than CGI. Any hand drawn animation movie, even if its terrible or mediocre, is better than modern CGI films just because it’s ‘old’ and ‘2D’.

Why does it bother me?

Well, aside for the fact that these people aren’t making a lot of effort into helping make hand drawn animation popular and profitable again, I feel like they’re being seriously disrespectful to the people who work on CGI animated films. While, again, some CGI films are crappy, a lot of them have a lot of heart, soul, and effort put into them, from the finest detail to the character movement to the world building. And you spit in their face and tell them “I don’t need so many eyelashes in my films?”

As you can see, it’s hard to get into the ‘bring back 2D animation’ mindset when it actively antagonizes the other sub-medium I’ve grown to love so much. They’re both art (when done right). So why does this attitude still persist?

Well, I’m going to continue to appreciate good animated films no matter their medium. Animation barely gets respect as is; we shouldn’t add fuel to the fire and pit certain types of animation against each other.


Author: Laura Alexander

My name is Laura, I use they/them pronouns, and I'm a recent graduate of the Social Service Worker Program at Sheridan College. I'm on the autism spectrum (Asperger's) and I have a passion for film and animation, social issues, and helping others, all of which will be featured on The Flying Red Robot blog. Please read the about page before commenting or following. "Big Hero 6" is my favourite movie.