Thick-Line Animation

Animation style characterized by visible heavy black borders around characters and objects. This style began being used by a few animation companies in the early 1950s (mostly UPA, of Gerald McBoingBoing and Mr. Magoo fame), and became dominant in American TV animation during the '60s and '70s, eclipsing the more naturalistic style used in most animation during earlier decades. It was phased out during the early '80s, when more naturalistic styles again became dominant in American animation, but then became the standard yet again (on television at least) during the late '90s, and so it remains to this day. Shows animated in Flash tend to look good in this style.

This is sometimes considered to be among the most defining traits of modern day American animation, mostly when contrasted with the similar "anime=big eyes" notion to emphasize the differences between U.S. and Japanese animation. When this art style does show up in Japanese media, it tends to have uneven lines and crayon shading in imitation of children's doodles (rakugaki).

Compare and contrast Limited Animation, Web Animation, Super-Deformed.


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  • A Jell-O commercial featuring Alice talking with the Griffin and the Mock Turtle used this. The animation recycled from Alice's movie even had the outlines thickened to match.

    Anime and Manga 


    Web Animation 

  • Penny Arcade used to have thick outlines (especially in the 2000-2003 strips), up until about 2008-2009, in which the outlines slowly became thinner.
  • 2004-2006 VG Cats comics. Almost nowhere to be seen in later comics.
  • Yume-Hime
  • Cyanide & Happiness

    Western Animation - Theatrical 
  • Fleischer Studios used this for the bulk of their cartoons house style. It was apparently a holdover from Max Fleischer's years as a newspaper cartoonist.
  • The cartoons of Van Beuren Studios likewise used this, but ditched it around 1934 when Burt Gillett arrived at the studio and overhauled the art direction.

    Western Animation - Television 

    Video Games 


  • Esurance insurance commercials.

    Web Comics 
  • Ditto for later installments of the webcomic Mac Hall.
  • Faye's flashbacks in Questionable Content.
  • The entire run of Garanos.
  • Cast of Homestuck is normally represented by chibi-like "sprites" with outline, but lose it and gain normal human proportions when in Hero Mode.

    Western Animation - Television 

    Video Games 
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Despite being a cel-shaded game, there are no outlines whatsoever, adding to the uniqueness of the particular style of cel-shading the game uses.
    • On the other hand, this style of drawing is played straight in the game's 2D artwork, contrasting with the in-game graphics. Curiously, the redrawn art for the HD remake averts this.