2D Look

I recently finished a Blender project for an environmental company, a 2 minute story of the casual environmentalist.


I’d love to hear feedback of any sort. This project is finished, but feedback always helps me better shape the next.


That is really interesting, Daniel! A lot of info! If you make another one, have the voice sound more exited, not bored. 5 stars from me!


Thanks for the feedback ShingWanTin!

Nice work! Good colors, good screen layout, good animation, great sound, clear information… really nice work! How did you animate the main character? Is it a plane? What is the arms and the legs? I just saw some failures on his right shoulder, but just in a moment…

Great job! Congrats!

thanks for the comments eversimo!

Yes it’s a subsurfed plane.

You’re totally right about the shoulder. The shoulder fails when the arm flips direction, and changing the bend of the arm from < to > involves some inelegant snapping unless you fully straighten the arm to | before changing orientation. I’m starting to put thoughts toward a better rig. If you have any thoughts I’d love to hear them. I saw on BlenderNation awhile back a 2d cartoon rig, but that seemed more like a support system for hand drawn graphics, whereas this rig is having blender draw and deform the lines.

Anyways, if you’re at all interested in the blend file, I’ve hosted it here.


and thanks again for taking the time to give feedback.

don’t hate me, but in our EU/US culture, progress and reading and normal pleasing motion is left to right. Your little guy goes ‘backward’. Just flip X the video and I will feel much better.

PapaSmurf, I think you bring up a great point. I’ll put out the thinking behind the decision and then let me know if any of it rings true. Please forgive if I wax philosophical

The character starts his journey on a graph of parts per million of co2 in the atmosphere, and walks up and up the graph until he falls off the leading edge of it. This fall is a wake up call, the symbol of the need for change. So the character changes screen direction to represent that cultural change. I put a link in this thread to the blend file. If you zoom out the view to see the whole animation at once, the character walks about as far back to the left through all his encounters with monsters and judges as he walked to the right along the graph.

So my question for you is, Is it a bad thing that his walking direction feels backwards? The video is arguing for the need for cultural change toward environmental sustainability. I think any sort of change tends to have a backwards feeling to it. On some level it just sort of felt right to have him walk backwards after the wake up call.

I make all of these assumptions as I work, and it’s really helpful to see them challenged. So thank you for the comment. If you have any other ideas about the filmmaking decisions or these ideas here, I’d love to hear them.


Thank you by the sharing!!! I will look inside your project to learn your technic… tanks!

Good work. Good cutout animation. And thx for the blend files, but i feel its propaganda.

Thank you for sharing. Nice to see another NPR use of blender.

I have a question: seeing there are out there software like Synfig, Anime studio pro and Flash that can give the same look why did you choose to solve the problem with Blender?
It is not criticism: I really like the animation and the film but I was wondering if you ever used 2D software for that and if you found better instruments in Blender to do the same job, I could think to use it this way myself if there are good reasons.


thanks for your question. Here are some thoughts.

On a very basic level I was working toward a deadline and felt a degree of comfort working with Blender that I have not developed with the other programs you mentioned. I had a pretty good idea of how long the project would take if I attempted it with Blender, and so it allowed me to say, “yes, I can finish this in a reasonable amount of time.”

Next I liked the idea of pushing the actual lines around rather than drawing them. It feels like puppetry. I like that. It’s probably just a comfort thing, but with Blender I knew that I would have the control I wanted over the look of those lines. Of course, if you look closely you’ll see that one shoulder “breaks” so I certainly didn’t achieve perfect control, but at least I had control over most of the important details. In Blender each black outline is posable. As I think about it now, it feels like I was working with blender in the same way that you would for a 3d look, I just never spun the camera around to any other points of view.

Those are some of my thoughts. If you still have questions, please ask. Have you used synfig, or the others you mentioned? Do you have any insights about how the interface of those programs might better accomplish the same ends? I’d love to here any ideas.


I am actually a 360° animator: I started with traditional 2D, vectorial and 3D. I can say after a lot of commercial programs that are idols in mind of other people (“Because Pixar uses this”) I found in Blender a good Heaven.
Blender is quite usefull for almost all the 3D but I saw a lot of animation like your similar to the cut out technique. It is the same workflow adopted in Anime studio pro, Flash and Synfig.

I have direct experience on the first 2 and I relly want to try Synfig but I can’t get it work on Mac and the last version of ArtistX I tried had a buggy version (unluckly).

Anyway in Flash now there are bones but they can’t (as I know) deform a shape, you have to prepare the parts of a character. In Anime studio pro you got a set of bones that can deform a shape but it as a lot of problems in “stressed positions”: more than a certain angle causes the shape to break or to create holes. It is to say that Flash (even if it is used) it is NOT an animation software, was born for web and doing animation si forcing the software, in fact animators find a lot of troubles (like the sync with the audio files the most stupid problem). Anime studio pro is only for animation and is it quite good for this reason, supports a lot of interesting features and so on but it lacks of this “vertex paint” support for the shapes: a point can be owned at 100% just by a single bone. The correction of this problem is based on automatic bones that deforms themselves and the shape linked on a movement of a main bone (like rotation or translation of the mother cause the deform bone to shrink up or down) or doing cut out animation and not using bones, it is not a limit it is really good with this animation.

There is a third one that is a similar to the way you worked on the file: Toon Boom Studio. It is a software for animation 2D but with a 3D space in which you can put the shapes in front of a camera. It is basically the same thing but you can’t use bones, the layers has an hierarchy based on center deformations point. So you have to make the parts and order the layers to make the character move.

So maibe to do a thing like that in short time can be usefull Blender because you can animate with a working set of bones and this can be done also from average or non professional riggers (so is quick also to set up the file). I understand your point and it is a good point and I see lot of opportunities.

For example to give the line a rough style can be enough to use a random extruded mesh with no shadows to keep the color flat.

For your last question: any software can give you the same result, I really think that the mind of the artist is the main instrument to use. Every one of this software I mentioned can give you the same results, my point was if can be comfortable to use a 3D software for 2D animation and you pointed well out that was quite good.
Of course if you find more natural to think in cut out animation or traditional the software I mentioned are better for you, but seeing your work I think you really should go on with your way.

I think you hit some great points here. In these other programs you can follow a bone based work flow, but the process is hard to control to any advanced degree. Whereas in Blender it’s easy. Blender feels like it is built for very complex animation, so when I sit down to it to attempt my simple animations it feels like the tool (Blender) is more than adequate for the job. This is a great feeling. I sit down and I am confident that this tool can do everything I need it to and more, and do it easily because it’s designed for way more complex projects.

If the tool works, then the only challenge left is an artistic challenge. The only one who can mess up the project is me, the artist. And the only one who can make it succeed is also me, the artist. At the basic level that I use the software Blender is simply a tool, a really sturdy tool.

This feels like the idea that you were getting at in your last paragraph. Any software can help you finish your project. It is the mind of the artist that deserves attention not the tool. Whatever tool you use should function faithfully, and otherwise stay out of the way. I love this idea of yours, especially in the realm of animation where our tools determine so much of what is possible.


p.s. I love the 2d reel on your website

Hi Daniel,
thanks for the good opinion on my 2D work. I got some result also with 3D but just as animator now.

I have a project that stops every now and then for reason out of the project, in Blender of course, about a series.
I got almost everything but I had a bad time in my life lately and I have major troubles than my series to solve. Anyway it’s running and I hope soon to show a trailer or something. I am also searching founds (no luck with Blender foundation that has other kind of projects to take care of) if anyone can advice me on this would be appreciated.
Everyone can PM me.

I really feel that there is someone out there that think in matters of instruments and not in other meters especially in animation and I feel a little better to know so.

If one day you will need some help I will be happy to help as I can.


Nice job, I like the 2D stuff that people come up with using Blender
I didn’t notice any problem with the guy moving right to left, until papasmurf pointed it out. But since he did, and I read your rationale for it, I think it’s effective (though I totally disagree that cultural change is in any way chronologically backward - it goes against my anthropological training, sorry :slight_smile: )

Some thoughts about using Synfig or Blender, I’ve used both… I would say that it would be fairly easy to make the same animation in Synfig in a reasonable amount of time (except that you would have to learn a new program which works very differently). Synfig is quite stable these days, but rather slow to work with (until we get the opengl version and perhaps a gui makeover) - so possibly not as production ready as you would need it - it’s a labour of love at the moment. It does however give you some nifty effects and features that would be hard to do in Blender, which makes it worth a look at. I’ve found that working with synfig makes it look much more 2D than using Blender to “imitate” it, but it takes a bit more effort

you can look at my synfig wip to see what I’m talking about if you like:

I was not saying that Synfig is unstable (just to make sure to be clear) I am saying that anyone will get ArtistX 0.7 he will find a version of Synfig that can’t start at all from live dvd.
I really love the things done in Synfig and it is just a shame I can’t try it my own for now (until I will install Linux in the next months) in my opinion I think it is more powerful and animation oriented than Flash, it has good potential.

To stay on the topic: off course using a 3D software for 2D is to force the software, but if you took a look to the blend file you ca notice the way the thing was done.
For that kind of animation is is way more simple use a bone based system that works instead of tweening all the pieces.
For your example movie it is obviously well done, cool also the perspective illusion (did you use multiplanning?) but it is crazy to think that can be done in Blender, technically yes can be, but I mean you have absolutely no advantages on it.

If you are doing something simple or like Southpark, to be clear, can be done greatly in short time I think.


I like your point about cultural progress. I think you’re saying that there is only cultural movement, and that forwards and backwards are silly terms to try to apply to that movement.

I like the clip you posted from your work in Synfig. I’m still quite curious about the program. I’ve come across it several times as I search every now and then for new animation tools. The hold up for me has simply been the lack of a Mac download.

I just want to say awesome work -Awesome work!

Kinda, all cultures evovle over time - so we can only really move “forwards”… the problem is that notions of moving forwards or backwards, being more/less advanced or developed, etc, more often than not have their roots in politics rather than social science… I could give countless examples
(anthropology itself has its origins in applying darwinian evolutionary theory to the question of cultural diversity to reach colonialist conclusions - why did I ever give up academia for animation?)
What I like about the guy ending up back where he started, is it poses the question “so which way do you want to go from here?” (or it could anyway)

Lord M, yeah, that’s what I was sort of getting at… another way of putting it, blender does the job quickly and easily, the reason you might want to use synfig is if you have a bit of spare time, enjoy a challenge, or really want a 2D vector look. (A bit like why would one torture oneself with claymation - because it has a certain charm)
The perspective shift was done with a bunch of warp layers and a zoom layer (and I could probly have achieved the same effect in blender in about a tenth of the time, but i think it was worth it though)