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
Anime and Manga
- 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.
Western Animation - Theatrical
- 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.
Western Animation - Television
- 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.
- Hanna-Barbera had an appealing style such as this in the late '50s to early '60s. Their resurrection after several years in the wilderness in the '90s led to the renaissance of the style and its increased use in modern animated series. Their earliest shows used this style to show up well on small black and white television sets.
- The works of Butch Hartman:
- An odd variant with Nelvana's futuristic shows Blaster's Universe and Cyberchase: The animation of the characters and objects tends to have black bold outlines, but the backgrounds are so heavily vectorized and detailed that they feature no outlines whatsoever, making it seem that they don't match with the actual animation.
- 101 Dalmatians: The Series, more so in the episodes by Sun Min Co., Walt Disney Animation (Japan), Sunwoo Entertainment, and Koko Enterprises.
- Adventure Time with Finn and Jake: Season 1 had this.
- Almost Naked Animals
- The Amazing World of Gumball started using moderately thicker outlines in season two for most of the 2D characters. All of them pale in comparison to Clare, who has an outline approximately five time as thick as anyone else's◊—so thick that a cross-section of her arm would be more outline than body.
- Atomic Betty
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold
- Blaster's Universe
- Blazing Dragons Season 2 had thick lines (along with some radical changes in character design) that was a sharp contrast to the cleaner look of season 1.
- Brandy & Mr. Whiskers
- Camp Lazlo
- ChalkZone on a few occasions. Sunwoo Entertainment did this in the show's second season as a result of inconsistency; they switched to the show's thinner outline look in season three, and Toonzone Entertainment and Yeson Entertainment gave the show thick outlines during season four (albeit colored instead of black like the show used for the first three seasons). The Oh Yeah! Cartoons short "The Amazin' River" had thicker outlines than the rest of the ChalkZone shorts (and season one), due to it being storyboard artist Bob Boyle's regular style (he later went on to work on The Fairly OddParents and created Yin Yang Yo! and Wow! Wow! Wubbzy, all three utilizing thick line animation).
- Clarence, but only in the opening titles.
- Class of 3000
- Clerks: The Animated Series
- Clone High almost looks like it shares the same character designers as Dexter's Laboratory and The Powerpuff Girls.
- The early seasons of Codename: Kids Next Door had this.
- Drawn Together, with its mishmash of art styles, has internet Flash parody Spanky Ham animated this way.
- Duck Dodgers
- Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy has it along with its wobbling animation which makes it unique.
- Family Guy: The pre-revival seasons had this.
- All of the marine animals from Fish Hooks.
- Good Vibes
- Gravity Falls
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy and its sister show, Evil Con Carne.
- Invader Zim uses this in a few episodes; Zim's antennae are noticeably thicker than usual in them.
- Jimmy Two-Shoes
- The Henry and June shorts on KaBlam! (though more often in later seasons)
- Kappa Mikey: Played with, where only Mikey is drawn this way; his Japanese costars have thin outlines and are Animesque.
- Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil
- Kim (2008 series)
- Kim Possible
- King Arthur's Disasters
- The Looney Tunes Show: Most season 1 episodes had thick line animation; season 2 dropped the thick lines and the animation looked clearer.
- Maisy is a prime example of this. Based on simple picture books by Lucy Cousins, the characters and objects are all black lines with generally bright, cheery colors filled in to appeal to the youngest audiences.
- The 2010s series of Mickey Mouse shorts.
- The Mighty B!
- Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures
- The Mr. Men Show, though only the characters have these. The objects have no outline at all.
- íMucha Lucha!
- My Gym Partner's a Monkey
- My Life as a Teenage Robot went out of its way to look like 1940s animation as much as freakishly possible.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic uses a variation with colored outlines instead of plain black.
- Numb Chucks
- Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja
- Regular Show: The first and second seasons used this more frequently while the later seasons still uses thick lines, but only on occasion.
- Ren and Stimpy
- The Replacements
- Robot Boy
- The Secret Saturdays
- The Simpsons when they switch to digital animation in season 14, though this is downplayed in the HD seasons.
- Spongebob Squarepants: Especially seasons 2 and 4.
- Star vs. the Forces of Evil had this during the first half of season one before the animation studio (Mercury Filmworks) was changed to Toon City, resulting in more thinner looking outlines. Thick lining is still noticeable, though not as much.
- Star Wars: Clone Wars
- Steven Universe
- Symbionic Titan
- Teacher's Pet, though only in the Toon City episodes.
- Teamo Supremo
- Teen Titans Go!
- Time Squad
- Any season one episode of Tiny Toon Adventures animated by Wang Film Productions and—due to inconsistency—Kennedy Cartoons.
- The Total Drama franchise.
- The Venture Bros.
- Wander over Yonder
- Wayside School
- Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!
- Xiaolin Showdown and its reboot, Xiaolin Chronicles.
- Yin Yang Yo!
- Zip Zip
- Esurance insurance commercials.
Western Animation - Television
- 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.
- 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.