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A Beginner's Guide to Explain What 3D Animation Is

Liza Brown
Liza Brown
Originally published Jan 17, 22, updated Jul 17, 24
A Beginner's Guide to Explain What 3D Animation Is

An easy yet powerful editor

Numerous effects to choose from

Detailed tutorials provided by the official channel

With present-day technology, 3D animation has reached all spheres be it entertainment, advertising, architecture, education, and much more. With the increasing use of 3D animation, there is a rise in the tools and programs used for creating such animations.

So, to help you get all the details about 3D animation, 3D modelling and animation process, best tools, tips, and tricks, keep reading the following parts.

Part 1 What does 3D animation mean?

In simplest terms, animation is a process of manipulating the images so that they appear to be moving, and when this manipulation is done in three-dimensional space, it is called 3D animation. The objects and the models used for 3D animation can be rotated or moved like the real ones. Some tools can be used to scan real-life objects which can be then used as blueprints for creating animation 3D models

The characters and the objects in 3D animations have to be moved to make them as realistic as possible. No matter, how interesting or perfect character you may create, if it does not move in an even manner, the overall effect will be ruined. The latest techniques and tools these days are capable of creating lifelike scenes. 

3D Animation

Part 2 What is the process of 3D Animation?

Creating a 3D animation is a complex process involving several phases. Below listed are the main 3 phases for creating an animation.


The main thing for any 3D animation is its objects, models, or characters and this phase involves creating these objects. Since the objects are based on 3D computer models, the process is termed 3D modeling. A model by a computer appears like a mesh of geometric shapes including curves, points, lines, and more. These shapes do not look anywhere like real objects and only after when the textures and colors are added to them, they appear like real things. 

02Layout and animation

The next step is layout and animation where characters are placed in the scenes and the animation of their movements is done using 3D animation tools. Initially, keyframes are created which are the start and the end pose of any animation, and then later other details like the effects, lighting, camerawork, and more are added to get the desired animation that appears on the screen.


The final step in the 3D creation process is rendering where the created animation is finalized as well as exported. To make sure that the final animation plays seamlessly and looks absolutely perfect, it is essential to check all the minute details. 

After the production of 3D animation is done, next comes the post-production which is the phase where effects, music, and voiceovers are added and combined to make the entire animation look complete. 

Process Of 3D Animation

Part 3 Types of 3D animations

Now when we know what is a 3D animation and its process, we also need to know that different types of 3D animations are there. Some of the key ones are as below.

3D videos and movies

3D Virtual Reality

Interactive 3D

Digital 3D

Clay Motion also termed Stop motion animation


Cell-shaded animation



Part 4 Top 5 3D Animation software

When it comes to 3D animation tools, the choices can be overwhelming and the list of promises claimed by the tools can be large. He, you need to shortlist the tools that best match your requirements as well as your skill sets. Below we have narrowed down the top 5 software of the category. 

01Autodesk Maya

This is a top-rated animation, modeling, simulation, and rendering tool. Using this versatile tool, complex characters and animated videos can be created with all the needed effects. 

Key features:

Versatile 3D animation tool with support to a wide range of features.

Available for download on Windows, Mac, and Linux systems. 

Allows creating complex characters, adding realistic effects, custom graphics, and more. 

Arnold's feature of the tool allows switching between CPU and GPU. 

Animation features like fast-playback, time editing, graph editing, ghost editing, multiple modeling options, and others are supported. 



This is free and open-source software that can be used for creating 3D animations, motion graphics, computer games, and more. Since the tool has been in use for a long time, several artists keep adding to the tool.

Key features

Free and open-source animation tool.

Support to multiple platforms including Windows, Mac, and Linux. 

OpenGL interface which makes the functioning smooth. 

Comprehensive and robust set of tools for creating versatile animations. Some of these include automatic skilling, unwrapping texturing, envelope, skeleton, B-spline interpolated bones, sound synchronization, and more. 

Support input from motion-capture tools. 



Used by reputed VFX companies like Pixar, Sony, Disney, and others, this is an excellent software that can be used for creating 3D animations, games, and others. With multi-platform support, it is a paid tool that also comes with a free learning edition.

Key features

Feature-packed animation tool used by industry pioneers.

Use node-based workflow for creating animations. 

Create biped and quadruped 3D objects using rigging tools. 

Comes with multiple plans to choose from as per budget and requirements. 

Offers a high level of flexibility and creativity. 


04Cinema 4D

This professional animation creation software is known for its features and stability. With the availability of multiple tutorials and guides, learning the tool and its functions is easy.

Key features of the software

Known to be an excellent tool for motion graphics, illustrations, and visualizations.

Easy learning curve owing to the availability of tutorials, guides, and training materials. Access to free membership of Cineversity which is a training site. 

Comes with a 14-day free trial version along with a free education version for the teachers and students.

Functions of the software are tested by QA and Beta testers that offer high stability. 

Support features like automatic keyframing, tag and expressions, effectors, and more. 


05Wondershare Filmora Video Editor

If you are looking for software that is simple and easy to use but supports all advanced features this is one of the best choices. Available for Windows and Mac the tool also works as an excellent video editing tool.

Key features 

This easy 3D animation tool Allows creating sharp and lively animations using features like keyframing, motion-tracking, and others.

Allows to add the preset motions or even customize your own animations.

The speed, as well as the duration of the animation, can be changed using the ease-in and ease-out options.

Make your videos lively with features like warp, distorting, masking, lights & flares, text& titles, and more.

High-quality presets are available with features like auto-correction, color wheels, scopes, and more.

Audio features supported like automatic audio sync, audio compression, audio transitions, and noise correction. 

Try It Free

For Win 7 or later (64-bit)

Try It Free

For macOS 10.12 or later

Part 5 Top Animation Tips And Tricks

Though 3D animation requires a lot of technical know-how of the process, there are several tips and tricks that can make your task quicker, easier, and smoother. We have gathered a few such tips below.

01Make realistic objects by observing real life

The more you will observe real-life the more you will be able to imitate it into your animations for giving life to your objects, models, and characters. Having some knowledge about real-life, gravity, and similar topics will help you work on your animations more interactively.

02Evolve with latest techniques and technology

The tools, programs, and technology are progressing every day and to make the best use of the same, you need to evolve with the technology. To use the features and functions of the software you need to keep learning and growing. 

03Go with the basic first

While working with the animations, it is very easy to get carried away with the process and get into the trap of looking for details. This will eventually move you away from your main track and will lead to a waste of time and effort. Thus, it is always advisable to go with the basics first and then move towards the detailing.

04Learn about the human emotions

Facial expressions are an important element of any 3D animation that brings life to characters. A good animation will portray good and complex emotions and thus it is important to study these emotions in detail so that they can be incorporated into your objects, models, and characters. 

Facial Emotions

Key Takeaways from This Episode

Animations created in 3-dimensional space are termed 3D animations. 

3D animations involve pre-production, post-production, and several steps.

For the smooth creation of 3D animations, several tips and tricks can be considered. 

A wide range of tools for creating 3D animations are available and one of the best tools in the category is Wondershare Filmora Video Editor that is effective and easy to use.

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