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Have you ever watched a 2D animated show and wondered how it is animated? Not all animated shows draw every single frame! Some shows use a technique called 2D rigging. 2D rigging is like creating a drawn puppet and adding joints and bones to make it movable. It is essentially like a 3D model with controls and keys set up, but instead it is 2D. 2D rigging is a very popular technique used in the animation industry that both saves money and speedlines production. Here are some shows that incorporate 2D rigging:

  • Archer: This show is a prime example of 2D rigging. If you watch carefully, you can notice the animation is rather smooth with very consistent line art. The effect of that is hard to achieve if the animation team were to just hand draw every single frame. All characters use this style of animation within the show and have very complex rigs to make them as dynamic as possible. In some scenes they even used 3D to have complex angles or movements that would be near impossible to achieve with only 2D! There is an amazing mini documentary on youtube describing the entire process, including animation, from start to finish for the show.
  • Bojack Horseman: It is easier to see the inclusion of 2D rigging within this show once you understand what 2D rigging is and how it’s done. This show rarely has any complex movements, and for the most part is heavily dialogue driven. If you compare the movements of the characters with those from Archer, you can notice that the movements are not as smooth as they are in Archer. This can be one of the giveaways that a show is using 2D riggings, which is not a bad thing! In this youtube video with a scene from season 1 episode 11, you can notice repativie moments for the characters that seem to cycle or are re-used. This is to save time with production so that the animators do not have to redraw each frame. Why bother with redrawing it a hundred times if the character made the same movement a few seconds ago and needs to go it again? 
  • The Lion Guard: If you have kids or younger siblings, you have probably watched this show. 2D rigging is prevalent in a lot of childrens shows because of how cheap it is to use. Not all kid shows prioritize quality and emphasize quantity, and this technique is one way to quickly push out tv shows for children to consume. The Lion Guard is on the higher quality end of the spectrum of children shows, and the animation is quite smooth that it gives a look of 3D at times. This video gives a good in depth analysis of the 2D rigging process of the show. Although it does not say how exactly the show does it, YouTube user Jodudeit analyzes the show and explains how he thinks the movements were created. 

These are just three of the many shows that use 2D rigging in their animation pipeline. Some shows, such as Archer, use a combination of animation techniques to achieve the look they want. Now that you understand what 2D rigging is and how shows use it, maybe now you will begin to notice other animated shows that use it too!

Hello! I am the editor of the Her Campus at MTSU Student Chapter. Being an Animation major and Art minor at MTSU, I enjoy all things animated as well as creating digital art. I also love animals and own a dog, a cat, a rabbit, a parrot, and a dozen chickens. There is never a dull moment for me!
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