The most obvious difference between the two genres of animation is of course the three dimensional characteristics or the appearance of depth. While 2D animation is a flat animation and all the actions happen in the x-y axes, 3D animation includes an extra dimension and that is the z axis.
The working method for creating 2d cartoon characters and 3d animated figures are entirely different. While in 2D animation the process of cartoon character creating involves sketching the character from different sides with the help of onion skin tools. Creating a 3d model requires digital modeling and is more similar to sculpting a character than drawing one. An animator working in 3d dimensional environment constantly has to be aware of how his/her changes to the model side view affect the front view or any other view for that matter. Creating a perfect looking model is a difficult task since all the different views have to be taken into the consideration. Creating a 3d model is often based on a pre-made two dimensional sketches of the character from different views. After the model is created a material has to be assigned to it and the model has to be textured properly.
Although the process of character creating for 3D animation is usually taking more time than 2D character creation, the process of creating the animation itself can be considered easier by many animators. In 2d animation the animation is created by drawing almost every frame of the animated movie. In 3D , the animation is created by changing the poses and the placement of already created 3d models. The created scene can be viewed from different angles and by that it is easier and faster to create an illusion of change in the environment.
In case of 2D animation, pictures are created and/or edited on the paper or computer screen in a two-dimensional environment such as cel animation or in computerized animation software. The two dimensional (2D) animation software gives movement and action to static images. These figures are created and edited using 2D bitmap graphics or by using 2D vector graphics including automated computerized versions of conventional animation techniques like tweening, morphing, onion skinning, blurring, cell animation, path animation and interpolated rotoscoping. Three dimensional representations of geometric data is stored in the computer to enable calculations and deliver 2D images.