Introduction to 2D Graphics

By Jody S. Ginther Copyright © 2016 - All Rights Reserved

What is 2D?

2D graphics are any type of photo, drawing, art or graphics that are represented on a 2D or flat surface such as a sheet of paper. If you want to know more about 3D or 4D refer to the section on 3D graphics. There are several types of 2D graphics but our primary focus in this article is on animated 2D images that you can use in websites, Facebook pages, social media, and in presentations. If you want to learn how to make cartoons read "Introduction to Cartoon Making"Our focus here will be on 2D animated images.

animated png with transparency

What file types are used for 2d animated images? Animated gif vs. apng

If the image of the ball is not moving, you are probably using Chrome, Explorer or other browser that is resisting the change to ANPG files. The current standard for animated image files is the animated GIF file. Animated PNG files are referred to as APNG. APNG files are the rising star that will probably replace GIF in the future. As of 2016 Chrome and Explorer are resisting the change to APNG because they have their own file types they would like to promote, (and make money from). That means you need a plug-in to get these files to work on Chrome or Explorer. Nearly all other major browsers are ahead of the game and support APNG files without additional add-ons. So although APNG files are better, (they support 24 bit, transparency and small file sizes), to be cross-browser compatible it is best, (for now), to stick with animated GIF files. It is more important that your animated files work for as many people as possible than to look nicer. Even if Chrome or Explorer could win the web format war on animated images, it will take a long time to get other browsers to cooperate. Our conclusion at this time is to stick with animated GIF's for your 2D image files on the web.

Where Do I Get Animated GIF Files?

If you use animated files created by someone other than yourself, you may face copyright restrictions or have to pay to use them. Although there are some public domain animated images out there, it is difficult to verify that they truly are public domain and you won't get in trouble. The safest animated images to use would be the ones you have created yourself. How to make animated GIF files? Have a look at our 2D Animated Images Tutorial to learn how to make free 2D animated GIF images. The advantage of creating your own animated images is that they cost nothing but time and you own the rights to use them as you please.

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