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2D and 3D graphic designing are two of the most effective methods used in establishing brand recognition and success. When it comes to luring and maintaining the interest of your target market, first impressions matter. And there’s no better way to make a lasting and powerful impression than appealing to the visual interest of your prospects.

Considering that the human eye is attracted to movement, moving graphics like 2D and 3D designs are well-equipped to improve brand customer base and retention. However, there is a bit of confusion surrounding the two core designing methods — what distinguishes 2D from 3D? Which should you incorporate in your marketing strategy or which should you specialize in?  Read on to learn the difference between the two.

What is the Main Difference Between 2D and 3D Graphics?

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2D and 3D stand for two-dimensional and three-dimensional graphics. They are dramatically different from each other in terms of creation and execution.  Detailing the distinctions between the two is a bit complex but the easiest explanation is that 2D designs feature width and height while its 3D counterpart has width, height, and depth. 3D graphics incorporate Z-axis to its visuals, that is, the characters can move forward/ backward and horizontally/vertically.

A good case in point of a 2D graphic design is the traditional childhood cartoons that graced our screens like Tom and Jerry. The characters moved and were true to life. However, their design was simple and flat. In contrast, 3D designs are much more complex. They incorporate not just motion and basic realism, but lights and shadows as well (that makes it shockingly realistic). Playing with lights and shadows leads to the depth that is typical with 3D graphic designs. Cartoons like Frozen are a good example of a 3D design.

In summary, 2D graphics are commonly deployed in animation and video games. They provide a flat but realistic view of on-screen motion. 3D graphics on the other hand portray realistic depth that allows a viewer to get a bird’s eye view of the shadows and light in the movements, thus providing an in-depth understanding of what the visuals are communicating.


The second major difference between 2D and 3D graphic designs is the software used in creating them. Where 2D graphics are typically animated using Photoshop, After Effects, and Adobe animate, 3D graphics rely on Cinema 4D, Autodesk, Houdini, and 3Ds Max.

Which is More Effective?

There is no clear-cut answer to this! The superiority and effectiveness of one over the other are dependent on application. In some cases, 2D might take precedence while in others, 3D wins. It all depends on what the graphic is being created for.

That said, 2D lords over 3D in cases where graphics are employed to captivate the target audience and capture the brand in a positive light. The flat colors used in 2D graphics are aesthetically pleasing and can positively influence mood. They give off a positive and friendly aura, inviting your audience to genuinely engage with your brand. Also, they have a simple overview, making it easy for viewers to grasp the actual data without complex distractions. Using the ever-so-complex 3D animations in this setting will discourage and put off your audience.

3D graphic designs claim superiority over their 2D counterparts in situations where visuals are being used to showcase a specific product or space. In this case, they have a professional edge over 2D animations. 3D graphics are known to make the most of technical applications as they can exhibit different angles and elements of an object or location. It especially excels in architecture and construction as well as in curating animated photos for E-commerce shops.

Should I use 2D or 3D Graphics?

It is imperative to understand that both designs have their advantages and limitations, and neither is fundamentally superior to the other. Whether you should use 2D graphics or 3D animations is solely dependent on your needs. However, design experts recommend 2D graphics for start-ups. This is because, unlike 3D designs, the technology is well understood and will pose fewer technical challenges and blips. Also, it is more cost-effective, making it the ideal choice for new businesses with limited funds to spare. Established businesses with robust revenue and bottom line can invest in 3D graphics. 3D designs tend to be expensive and should only be considered when you have the funds to bankroll its execution. You should also consider the preferences of your target audience or market before adopting the design. Will it appeal to their understanding and desires or not? Your answer

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