What is the official definition of 'Hand Drawn Animation'?

Perhaps this is in the wrong section, but the earlier entries were in the ‘Your Stuff’ category.

I’ve been animating using computer software for nearly forty years, in fact I’m one of the pioneers of computer animation.

I recently shared some animation, which was puppet based, and some members of the Discord, didn’t like it, they even suggested I do my animation in Krita. You can draw, using vectors in Krita, but not do vector animation!

I then do some hand drawn animation which I also shared, I was criticised again. Why?

I always said, that Pencil2D is one of the best digital animation packages that I’ve used. This is because of the easy to use interface and compact code. Some animation packages are too cleaver for their own good!

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I think when it comes to the definition of “hand drawn animation” it boils down to you drawing every frame. Whether digital or old-school physical. Sure you can duplicate frames, but I think that still counts as hand drawn. What does not count as hand drawn however is puppet rigs- making a skeleton within the body of a character and then manipulating it frame by frame.

I do not have any knowledge on vector animation so I can’t comment on that.

So if each frame was draw individually using vector tools would that count as hand drawn animation?

Here I am again. I hope this doesn’t devolve with us insulting each other. I hope we can be civil despite our animosity towards each other.

“Hand drawn animation” is a technique where you draw each frame by hand. You add a new frame and draw, add a new frame and draw, etc… Each frame of animation is a new drawing done entirely from scratch.

That obviously is very time consuming and laborious so most, especially TV animations, try to save effort by reusing parts, reuse whole section of animation, or animate only a small part instead of drawing each frame completely, etc… We call that Limited Animation. A common limited animation style is found in Anime where the only thing that is actually animated is the mouth of the characters and the rest is just a still image.

Don’t take this the wrong way, but stop aggrandizing yourself. Just take a peek at Wikipedia:

If you consider video game animation as computer animation, then we have, in 1970s, Pong:

And it isn’t even the first video game.

Even 3D animation existed since 1970s:

And how exactly do you animate with your computer 40 years ago?

Because of course? When you share stuff you will get feedback.

Like with my work doing animation exercises, I got this:

And I’m glad I got it.

We are supposed to get criticism of our work to help us improve.

And seriously, we don’t really argue about your work or criticism thereof. We are actually arguing about what is Hand Drawn animation and what is Cut-Out animation.

Yes. As long as you draw each frame individually instead of copying/reusing earlier drawings and then moving parts around (essentially a puppet without rigs) or using rigged puppets.

@AnimatorElisa Hi. I moved your thread from the #your-stuff category which is generally meant for sharing ARTWORK, to the #misc category which can be used as an OFF-TOPIC section of sorts; more suited for these kind of discussions.

Regarding the past situation, we’ve addressed most of it in the closing reply of the last thread

We hope you understand that your recent experience doesn’t necessarily mean that every time you post something, you will obtain a certain kind of negative response.

Personal experience and opinions might not be necessarily accepted by other animators; they might even disagree with an entire process, and it’s their opinion. One can choose to ignore it, discuss it, accept it or reject it, but obviously each choice will need justification, no matter how minimal.

As it stands It’s really up to the thread owner to decide if they want to discuss or not a topic. It’s also their choice to invite people to critique the work in the opening post. If you don’t want the artwork to be critiqued say it clearly on the first post.

For now my honest recommendation is that If you are satisfied with how your way of doing animation works for yourself, then keep doing just that and focus on your own creative findings. Best regards.

And how exactly do you animate with your computer 40 years ago?

Although I’m not the OP I can probably help answer this in advance and just in case others are wondering how ppl animated in computers back then when (claymation) dinosaurs roamed the earth :lizard:

Back then machines like the Radioshack family of computers were a thing in the late 70’s and early 80’s and people could do stuff like this (with a lot of effort):

Dancing Demon (1979) by Leo Christopherson

Start Trek: The Motion Picture, Bridge screen displays, May 1980 by Lee Cole

One basically had to program the computer from scratch (and everything that was displayed by it) using either assembly language or BASIC language which was a tiny bit easier.

Basically drawing a single picture required you to map every single pixel on the screen with bitmap / color data and time it out with the computer clock, pretty much what we do today, but slower and harsher.

The following is the closest I could find to having a similar experience coding a single image, and even then his environment is a bit more “modern” that what people had back then, and he probably painted the image first. Ppl had to play mosaic with numbers to do this stuff at first.

Gwbasic “Anime Girl” by RetroNick

Anyway later came the AMIGA computer family, with the Commodore 64 and others, which had art tools and graphic utilities and even Andy Warhol found himself using it (if you care about his contribution to art history).

By Eric Schwartz (1990)

I didn’t really ask how people animate in those times, I was asking how AnimatorElisa did it.

I mean, notice what was said:

She didn’t program a computer to do it. She is using some computer software to animated stuff almost forty years ago. She did computer animation (with some software mind you) and not just code the animation, nor did she just draw and edit images either like what Andy Warhol did.

Right I might have interpreted your question quite literally, and now that you’ve confirmed what you really meant, I’m curious what the OP might have been using back then as well.

I guess we’ll figure it out once they answer back, and I’m hopeful that this discussion can spark some interesting ideas for other users to participate. Have a good day / evening and an excellent rest of the week.


The computers in the 1980’s had only 64k bytes of memory and ran much slower than modern computers.

Pixel based animation wasn’t possible because of the memory constraints, but also because of the lack of processing power.

When animating we had lines and fills. The line were straight lines, no arcs or splines. Definitely no Pixels.

Curves were composed of a collection of short straight lines. The edges of shapes had a limit on the number of the lines which could be used to compose them.

The images were held as text files, Pencil2D vec files are a much more advanced format, but the basic idea is the same.

Most animator, who had access to computers used monochrome graphics displays, that displayed the drawings in ‘wire frame mode’ with a colour number inside. There were other lines, we called hatching, to indicate a solid shape.

The scenes were rendered, in batch mode running overnight into video format. The technicians transfered these to video tape, so we could check the animation. This was the first time we saw our work in colour.

When drawing the animation, in monochrome, we were sharing the computer with the Accounts Dept, Personnel, etc, we only had it to ourselves overnight.

I later brought a copy of AutoDesk Animator, a package written by Gost, which I used on my home PC and PC’s at college. I wad a day release student at the time.

A totally different time, in animation to what we have today!

Interesting. You seem to be using vector based hardware instead of raster based. You didn’t exactly use a computer software to create animation but feed in the data of the images. The process is highly interesting nonetheless and doesn’t take away from its value. It is still an amazing work.

What are the purpose of these animations? Are they school projects? Hobby?

AutoDesk Animator was initially released in 1989 some 33 years ago. Really old.

Interesting bits of history.


In my computer animation, i came from a vector based background.

The projects I’ve shared were done using Pencil2D, as a challenge to see what could be achieved.

I’ve worked in the Animation industry, I started as an animation apprentice, and I studied at the local college, day release and then I was one of the first people to do an advanced apprenticeship, leading to a BA in Animation.

I’ve used most of the animation packages, together with vector & pixel based drawing packages, sound recording software and editing software.

I like working on project’s that are a mix of pixel & vector elements, the two techniques work well together.

When you say pixel do you instead meant raster?

Pixel drawing usually meant you put deliberate attention to every individual pixel and associated with the mosaic like appearance, like this:

Raster (or bitmap) art is less concerned with individual pixel and often emulates traditional media (your typical Pencil2D drawing is raster), like this:

If you mean raster instead of pixel, well, this is quite the standard with computer animation now days. Typically the background is raster (pixel) and characters are vector.


Pixel and raster are both methods of storing and using graphical information based on a Pixels, they’re colour and position. In some respects the two terms are interchangeable.

In vector graphics, the information is stored in lines and fills. These are usually manipulated in matrix format.

Only at the very last moment are the vectors converted into Pixel information, because the displays are Pixel mapped.

The major problem with Pixel based storage is that when you zoom in, there is a danger of the individual Pixels becoming visible, like in the first of your two images.

This can in some cases spoil the illusion that your attempting to create, but in others enhance it.

Sometimes this doesn’t matter, if the images is displayed for a single frame. Sometimes its a stylistic decision and in others it’s forced on you by the display or memory constraints.

It also depends on how large the image is on screen, if it tiny then such an image works too.

I don’t think vectors and Pixel graphics are in opposition, but they can work together to create the desired look.

In the early days of computer animation, we didn’t have a choice, but now animators do. All I ask is can we not fall out about whether we use vector or Pixel and just get on and produce good animation.




I think you got the idea a bit. Pixels are those individual color elements. Pixels are what is used to create the display. Everything is actually displayed with Pixels. Everything you see in the display is Pixel based.

Vector and raster is the about the different ways an image is represented. Vector is parametric; that is, it is about lines and shapes not individual pixel. Raster is with grid of pixels, not lines and shapes.


Pixel: the individual elements (usually rectangles or squares) that make up the image (whether the individual element of a raster graphics or the individual elements of your display).

Vector: the method of representing an image with lines and shapes (i.e. geometry).

Raster: the method of representing an image with grid of pixels.

And when you said this:

I have to point out that when talking about drawing packages it is Raster or Vector.

There is actually what we can consider “Pixel based.” They pretty much are about manipulating individual pixels (like doing cross-stitch) to create an image. For example of such package is Aseprite:

I have used this one a bit to make to make pixel art and sprite animations. It is not free though (it is available for free before). There is a free alternative/clone called Libresprite that you could use instead.

You can actually create Pixel Art with raster based packages but they are less convenient.

We are talking about this topic so talking about it is a given.

And no one is really hanged on whether we use vector, raster or pixel based artwork. We are just talking about them.

Still… We seem to be arguing with definitions again. I know how intense you are when it comes to these things. We have just to agree to disagree and drop this topic.

An interesting facet of my animation experiments was, that another user of Pencil2D complained that Pencil2D did not have a graphical sheer tool.

But using a rotate, followed by a compress or stretch and a reverse rotate, the same effect can be produced. The third animation of the character with depth and shadow was produced in that way.

This technique can be used in both vector and bitmapped toolsets.

But it also shows the type of ingenuity that was required to work in the early vector based animation software.

New techniques can only be developed, by a process of experimentation and this is the life blood of pushing forward creative arts.

I am very appreciative of the work of many Pencil2D hand animators. An example is JRS Finally finished with the shot posting. This is a very detailed set of drawing, very carefully observed. Another example by the same animator are more normal with large areas of the drawings remain unchanged.

Commercial animation houses are there primarily to make a profit, so they look for ways to simplify the process. Double or triple framing is an obvious choice.

Also not all of each drawing is necessarily draw for the frame, parts my be traced and then added to to complete the drawing.

In the case of a walk cycle frames are repeated and to walk in the reverse direction the cells are turned over. If you carefully look at films and the colours in particular you can notice the black lines, slightly grey and the colour slightly less radiant. This generally means the cell has been flipped.

Working in the industry, I have to do the best animation I can acheive within the budget.

When playing with Pencil2D, for fun I am not limited by budget considerations.

You are asking what is Hand Drawn Animation and I explained to you what it is.

And I even say these very same things. Limited Animation. You know, I already talked about it? Here?

What is the point of talking to you when you if you keep doing things like this! It is like you don’t even bother to read what others wrote.

And I’m out. I’m leaving this discussion.

I didn’t discuss Pixel animation in any detail because all of my animation experience is either hand drawn, using pencil on paper drawings and the tweetning process using ink pen and cells, or vector based computer animation.

Traditional animation is a commercial art form, thus if money can be saved the companies will provided it doesn’t visibly reduce the quality.

By the time I started learning traditional animation, tge tweening process used photocopiers to produce copies of one or both keyframes these were cut up and place to acheive rough tweets. If approved by the animator any gaps in lines were filled in, and the cells were coloured in the normal way.

I admire the adherence to traditional animation skills, as an art form, the the results are exquisite, but not my cup of tea.

All of the animation I have done and continue to do, both in work and for pleasure are computer produced vector animations.

I wish the 100% hand animators well and look forward to enjoying their efforts on the Discord forum and YouTube.

I have always and will continue to push the software and other techniques to see what I can acheive.