3D animation vs hand-drawn 2D: does it help to learn both?

Article / 13 April 2021

So you want to become an animator. The first thing you want to decide is whether you want to animate in 2D or 3D, right?

You might love the way 2D animation looks but you know there are more job opportunities for 3D animators. Maybe you find drawing difficult or you are intimidated by the technical skills you have to learn as a 3D animator.

So how can you decide what technique you should focus on?

When I was still in school I had to decide what I wanted to do. I always thought that I wanted to be a 2D animator. Growing up with Disney movies I was obsessed with 2D animation. But when I applied to the Utrecht School of the Arts I chose to study 3D animation instead.

Before I went to the Utrecht School of Arts I studied Multimedia Design at the Mediacollege in Amsterdam. I was just starting to learn how to animate. I was very fortunate to get two great internships. One at a 2D animation studio, and one at a 3D post-production studio.

This was a real eye-opener for me. for the first time, I realized the potential of 3D animation. But I still loved to make 2D animations. I didn't want to pick one or the other. But when I wanted to apply to the Utrecht School of Arts I had to pick what program I wanted to do.

Eventually, I decided to study 3D animation, I didn't even apply for the 2D program.

Trippel Trappel - Anikey Studio

So why did I make this decision?

My reasons were simple. I wanted to become an animator, no matter what. I wanted to learn both 2D and 3D. And I thought, I probably need help with 3D because that was more technical and I can always learn 2D animation on my own.

And I am still very happy with my decision. Learning 3D was challenging and I am really glad that I learned it in school. For me, It would have been a lot harder to learn 3D on my own rather than 2D. But for some, it might be harder to learn 2D on your own.

Animation is Animation. 

It doesn't matter what techniques you use, the animation principles are the same.

Learning to animate in 2D and 3D did open a lot of doors for me. Being versatile can be very beneficial, especially if you want to work as a freelancer or in smaller studios. For smaller studios, it is more appealing to hire someone who has multiple skills.

And even big studios prefer someone who can do both. You often see in job applications for 3D animators that they know how to make hand-drawn animations. This is because you learn to focus on different aspects of animation and this can make you a better animator.

One of the most important reasons to learn both is because it is fun. It can keep you inspired if you switch techniques. Break your routine to make sure you don't get bored with animation.

Combining techniques.

When I work on 3D productions I often start my animation in 2D before moving to 3D. I can quickly draw and redraw poses and play with the timing. It is a lot faster to draw a pose than to pose a character in 3D. So it saves me time and I can focus more on composition and experiment more than I can in 3D.

When I work on a 2D production it can be difficult to get the perspective right. So it can help to quickly build the set in 3D and use placeholder objects as a guide for the 2D animation.

So my opinion is that you should learn both 2D and 3D animation. You can always focus on one in particular if you prefer the style or if you struggle more with one. I recommend practicing both techniques.

This is why I decided to teach both 2D and 3D in my online animation courses.

Learn to Animate

During my 8-week Animation Course: Learn to Animate, you will be able to experiment with both 2D and 3D techniques before deciding which technique you want to learn more about.

The program looks like this:

  • In the first couple of weeks, you will learn the basics of animation and learn how the software works.

  • Then you will be able to experiment with both techniques

  • And finally, you will pick the technique you prefer most and you will create a short character animation clip you can use for your portfolio.

The great thing about this course is that you get the chance to experiment and figure out what techniques you prefer. Without the hassle of learning it all by yourself.

This is a live online course so I will help you with your animations, give you tips and answer any questions you have.

If you want to learn more about this course you can click here. There you will find all the information you need. 

I hope this article helped you a bit with deciding what you want to learn. 

Good luck with studying animation! I’m looking forward to seeing what you will make. 

Use the coupon earlyanimation to get a 15% discount.

This coupon will expire on 25-04-2021


Step by step – creating an Alice in Wonderland illustration

General / 04 March 2018

We all love to watch beautiful illustrations and be inspired by them. A fantastic place to watch incredible illustration is the Facebook group: the Character Design Challenge! This is a character design contest with a new theme every month. This time the theme was Alice in Wonderland. I joined the contest and in this article I will show you how I created my illustration step by step. 

Tools I use

This Illustration was created on my Ipad Pro with an Apple Pencil. I love working om my Ipad because I can work where ever I want. On the couch in front of the TV, In a cafe or in the train. Working with the Apple Pencil is very accurate and it really feels like working on paper but with an undo option. 

The best App to use, is without a question Procreate. It is a very intuitive program that is easy to use but has a lot of great options. One cool option you can do in Procreate is export a time lapse video of your work. Procreate will record all the brushstrokes you make and create this into a video. 

Time Lapse

Thumbnail sketches

A good way to start illustrating is by making very quick thumbnail sketches of what you want to make. Keep them extremely rough and try a lot of different poses.

Rough sketch

I picked this pose, and as you can see, I already made a rough sketch of the background composition. 

Polishing the line-art

The next step is to create the line-art. I usually go over my line sketch a couple of times. Each time trying to improve the character. In the image below you can see my first attempt on the left, and on the right my final line sketch. 

Mirror trick

While drawing try to mirror your image every now and then. If you mirror your image, you will see mistakes you couldn’t seen before. Our mind can play tricks on us and we can be blind for our own mistakes. But by mirroring, or turning it upside down, we can trick our mind to see the image in a new perspective. 

There is a book that explains this concept called ‘Drawing with the right side of your Brain.’ It is a great book to read when you are learning to draw. It is really fun to see the before and after drawings of the students who used the techniques in this book. This shows that any one who practices can improve their drawing skills!


If you are making a composition, eyedirection is very important. We want our audience to look where we want them to look. In this illustration I want the audience to look at Alice of course. I created the lines in the background in a way that your eyes are naturally directed at Alice. 


Values are the balance between light and dark in your illustration. You want to make sure that there is enough contrast in your illustration so that you can read the illustration, even when you squint. A lighter object on top of a darker object will pop and will be easier for the audience to read. 

But to see values when you are working with colors can be difficult. It takes time to train your eyes to see this. That is why it is best to design your values in black and white before moving on to colors. 


Now I try to pick the diffuse colors for my illustration. With diffuse colors I mean the base colors of the objects without any shadows or light. As you can see I painted color variation in the face. I made her nose and cheeks a bit more red. 

Combine the values and the colors

Combine the color layer and the values by putting the values layer on multiply. This will make the colors darker where the values are darker. The problem with this is that your colors will look a bit dirty. To fix this I made my value layer to be blue/white instead of black/white. This will make the shadows a bit more blue. After this I kept tweaking my colors. until I was happy

Warm and Cold

To finish the colors I created a new layer on top and put this in add modes. With a red/orange color I painted the light coming from below Alice. I used a red color to make the light feel warm. This works nice with the cold blue shadows. The shadows and light are always opposites in color temperature. If you use a cold light color than the shadows should have a warmer color.

And finally I placed highlights to accent the shapes. 

Show me your illustrations!

I would love to see the illustrations you make. You can join my closed Facebook group and share your work with me and the other artists. You can share your work in progress and ask for feedback. 


Are you working on a project and are you struggling or stuck and need a fresh pair of eyes to see what isn’t working? Then I can help you! You can request personal feedback by me. I will take half an hour to look at your work, make draw overs and give you tips and tricks to improve your work. You can either request a recorded video or a personal Skype call. I am certain that I can help you to improve your art!

Feedback Video

Available in English or Dutch
€ 75
  • 15 to 30 minute long feedback video
  • Tips and tricks to improve your work
  • The feedback video is for your eyes only
Request feedback now!
You will receive an email with instructions after your payment

Personal Skype Call

Available in English or Dutch
€ 150
  • Get one on one personal feedback
  • Ask any questions you have directly
  • watch back the video after the skypecall
Request a skype call now!
You will receive an email with instructions after your payment


Because you have read my entire blog post I want to give you a special coupon with 20 percent discount on a personal feedback video or skype call!

Just type: “Alice” in the coupon box when you check-out. But hurry because this coupon will expire in:


Click on the button below for more information, examples and testimonials.  I would love to help you improve your art. And I am certain that I can help you to become a better artist. If you are not satisfied with your feedback I will guarantee that you will get 100% of your money back.

The post Step by step – creating an Alice in Wonderland illustration appeared first on Character Creation Guide.

Sweet Characters

General / 20 June 2017

For my day job, I have to work with characters on a daily basis. But I almost always work digitally. I model and animate digital 3D characters. But sometimes it is fun to work analog and model characters for real. It is so much fun to be able to touch your work, look around it, and even eat it.

Yes eating your creations, it is possible if you make your characters with the Modeling Paste by the Cake Dutchess. My sister-in-law Etty van Urk, aka the Cake Dutchess, is a master in modeling characters for cake decorations. She can make the most wonderful characters and she makes video’s showing you how you can make these characters yourself.

Cake Dutchess – Modeling Challenges

I have had the pleasure to have collaborated on two modeling challenges Etty organized. In these modeling challenges, Etty creates characters that you can follow along with her. I made the character designs for these challenges. For the first challenge I designed a baby angle and for the second challenge, I designed a boy and a girl character with different outfits. The artists that participate in the challenge have to model these characters with modeling paste.

My own attempt

The first challenge, with the baby angel, I joined the other artist in modeling him. I loved working with the Cake Dutchess Modeling Paste. The paste itself is white and I had to mix it with food coloring to achieve the correct colors. It is really easy to work with, it doesn’t stick (as much) on your hands like fondant or marzipan. It is very elastic and doesn’t tear quickly. Therefore it is a fantastic product to work with. Here are some pictures of my progress. Not bad for my first attempt with modeling paste right?

For the second challenge, I created this boy and girl character, in summer and winter outfits, and dressed up as a princess and knight. Etty started the challenge by modeling the girl in summer clothing that the participants could follow her process watching her modeling life on Facebook. This is the end result and underneath is a progress photo of some of the other participant’s work in progress.

The previouse challengese where a great success, so Etty will most likely give a lot more fun challenges. I have heard that he next challenge will be in September and the theme will be mermaids. I will design a mermaid, especially for this challenge again. So if you want to join that challenge, follow the Cake Dutches on Facebook for updates on that challenge. Of course, I will post an update on my blog as well as soon as I know more. So stay tuned!

I loved working with the Cake Dutchess Modeling paste and perhaps in the future, I can make a tutorial for this as well. Although I think it’s best if you check out the tutorials made by Etty. Her video’s are amazing, fun and easy to follow! Here is a link to her Youtube Page

For tutorials on creating digital characters you can check out the Lessons and tutorials page on this website.

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