What Are Breakdown Drawings in 2D Animation?


Creating a 2D animation requires a series of multiple drawings to complete the description of actions to tell a story. The breakdown drawing is the term used for the middle drawings that serve as the principle transition actions between two keys.

The Story

  • The story is the most vital part of the animator's vision; it begins with a simple action to tell a story. Devices that can record video are often used for reference and can be a powerful tool for learning the difference between key and breakdown poses.


  • The plan for animated action is very reliant on timing. Stopwatches and timing graphs are used to detail the key frame and breakdown positions.

Key Frames

  • The key frames are the principal describing actions that tell the story of the scene. The story animation must begin with these to organize the task ahead.


  • The breakdown is not always placed at the perfect middle point between the two key frames. It is the next most important transition point between those key actions, and will often require shifting and fine tuning.


  • In-between animation, or the straight run, fills in the rest of the information, creating a smooth course of movement for your scene or character. The direction already set by the breakdown and key poses is vital to create the smoothest flow and timing for 2D animation.

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  • Photo Credit David De Lossy/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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