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Thin-Line Animation

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Round eyes, simple designs, and a feeling of motion.note 

"You'll also notice that the designs of many of these characters is much more simpler than ones of the past. They do this 'cause it gives way to faster animation, while also allowing more time to focus on color, backgrounds, and of course, the story."

Thin-line animation is a stylistic trend that has emerged in The New '10s based more around thinner lines and rounder shapes while still being distinctively western. This style may have emerged for a number of different reasons. The emergence of anime and their influences on western cartoonists have made them focused less on detail. Different coloring techniques with digital art may have removed the need for thicker lines, and thus it only remains when it's a stylistic choice. The need for quicker, cheaper animation after the economic downturn may also drive the desire for more cheap, yet still pleasing animation styles. It's also known as the "CalArts Style," due to being taught at the California Institute of the Arts.

Some bemoan the style as a lazy derivative of Adventure Time, as many current animators with the style have worked on the show. Others say that the style is just another periodic style that has dominated in a time period, like John Kricfalusi's influence in the early 90s, Thick-Line Animation of the late 90s, or the animesque shows of the mid 2000s. Despite this, the style has endured and is used during more quiet atmospheric moments.


In a way, this trope (or at least its base principles) is actually Older Than Television, since many cartoon shorts during The Silent Age of Animation (particularly those made by Disney and Max and Dave Fleischer) featured rounded ball-and-noodle art-styles and thin outlines, often out of necessity since the simplistic designs made things easier on the animators at the time.

Compare Puni Plush and Animesque, contrast with Thick-Line Animation.



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  • Many of the earliest animes from The '60s, such as Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion, featured this type of style. Justified, in that a lot of these works were influenced by cartoons made during the Silent and Golden age of animation.
  • Kirby: Right Back at Ya! combined rounded designs (Dedede, Escargoon, the citizens of Cappy Town, and Kirby himself) with angular designs (the humanoid characters and most of the monsters).
  • One Piece is one of the few modern anime to use this trope, thanks to its art-style which, while far from simplistic, is more cartoony and relies somewhat on Toon Physics. It lessened over time, however, as the art style started becoming less rounded and more on par with modern anime.
  • ''Pokémon in the Sun and Moon era, everyone looks much less anime and more rounded, like a quasi Steven Universe with a Pokémon coat of paint, not only the palette has gone for a much more pastel inspired look, but also did the eponymous Pokemons themselves.

    Western Animation