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Graphics vs. Animation — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Updated on November 5, 2023
Graphics are static visual images, while animation is a sequence of images creating the illusion of motion.
Graphics vs. Animation — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Graphics and Animation


Key Differences

Graphics are visual representations designed to convey information, art, or entertainment in a static form. They are often used in print and digital media to complement text or data. Graphics include illustrations, designs, and photographs that can be created by hand or with computer software.
Animation, in contrast, refers to the process of creating the illusion of motion by displaying a series of graphics in rapid succession. Each image in an animation is a frame, and when frames are shown quickly one after another, they create the appearance of movement.
Graphics are about the visual quality and composition of a single image or a collection of images. The artistry in graphics lies in color choices, lines, typography, and the arrangement of elements. Graphics are integral to branding, marketing, and media.
Animations depend on the timing, pacing, and flow of images to tell a story or demonstrate a process. The art in animation lies in creating a believable sequence of events that captures the viewer’s attention through movement.
While graphics can be a part of animations as individual frames, not all graphics are intended to be animated. Graphics are static, allowing the viewer to focus on a single moment, while animations are dynamic, portraying a sequence of actions or changes over time.

Comparison Chart


Static visual images
Sequence of images depicting motion

Primary Use

Illustration, design, information display
Storytelling, demonstrations, entertainment

Creation Process

Designed or captured as a single image
Created by compiling multiple frames

Temporal Aspect


Required Skills

Graphic design, photography
Animation, storyboarding, timing

Compare with Definitions


Computer-generated imagery for various applications.
The video game boasted high-quality graphics.


The act of making inanimate objects appear to move.
Stop-motion is a painstaking form of animation.


Artistic designs or images used in printed or digital material.
She admired the graphics in the magazine.


The technique of photographing successive drawings to create an illusion of movement.
Modern animation has evolved significantly with digital tools.


Visual representations for communication.
The report was more impactful with clear graphics.


Animation is a method in which figures are manipulated to appear as moving images. In traditional animation, images are drawn or painted by hand on transparent celluloid sheets to be photographed and exhibited on film.


Static illustrations or icons in software interfaces.
The app's user interface has intuitive graphics.


The act, process, or result of imparting life, interest, spirit, motion, or activity.


Graphics (from Greek γραφικός graphikos, "belonging to drawing") are visual images or designs on some surface, such as a wall, canvas, screen, paper, or stone to inform, illustrate, or entertain. In contemporary usage, it includes a pictorial representation of data, as in c manufacture, in typesetting and the graphic arts, and in educational and recreational software.


The quality or condition of being alive, active, spirited, or vigorous.


(used with a sing. verb) The making of drawings in accordance with the rules of mathematics, as in engineering or architecture.


The art or process of making movies with drawings, computer graphics, or photographs of static objects, including all techniques other than the continuous filming of live-action images.


(used with a pl. verb) Calculations, as of structural stress, from such drawings.


Images or special effects created through animation.


(used with a sing. or pl. verb) See graphic arts.


The act of animating, or giving life or spirit.


(used with a sing. or pl. verb) The pictorial representation and manipulation of data, as used in computer-aided design and manufacture, in typesetting and the graphic arts, and in educational and recreational programs.


The technique of making inanimate objects or drawings appear to move in motion pictures or computer graphics; the object (film, computer game, etc.) so produced


(used with a sing. verb) The process by which a computer displays data pictorially.


The state of being lively, brisk, or full of spirit and vigor; vivacity; spiritedness
He recited the story with great animation.


The making of architectural or design drawings.


The condition of being animate or alive.


The graphic arts.


(linguistics) conversion from the inanimate to animate grammatical category


(computing) The pictorial representation and manipulation of data; the process by which a computer displays data.


Activities offered by a holiday resort encompassing activities that include movement, joy, leisure and spectacle, such as games, sports, shows, events, etc.


(computing) The art or visual representations displayed by a computer.
This game is really fun, but the graphics aren't very good.


The act of animating, or giving life or spirit; the state of being animate or alive.
The animation of the same soul quickening the whole frame.
Perhaps an inanimate thing supplies me, while I am speaking, with whatever I possess of animation.


The art or the science of drawing; esp. of drawing according to mathematical rules, as in perspective, projection, and the like.


The state of being lively, brisk, or full of spirit and vigor; vivacity; spiritedness; as, he recited the story with great animation.


Photographs or other visual representations in a printed publication;
The publisher was responsible for all the artwork in the book


The condition of living or the state of being alive;
While there's life there's hope
Life depends on many chemical and physical processes


The drawings and photographs in the layout of a book


The property of being able to survive and grow;
The vitality of a seed


The process and products of visual design.
His job involves creating graphics for websites.


Quality of being active or spirited or alive and vigorous


The activity of giving vitality and vigour to something


The making of animated cartoons


General activity and motion


A genre of film or television that uses moving drawings or CGI.
The animation won an award for its innovative storytelling.


The process of bringing cartoons to life through motion.
He studied animation to become a filmmaker.


Dynamic visual content created frame by frame.
Animation requires a great deal of patience and creativity.

Common Curiosities

What is the purpose of animation?

Animation is used to create the illusion of movement in media.

Are graphics interactive?

Graphics can be interactive, especially in digital media.

What software is used for graphics?

Software like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are used for graphics.

What tools are best for animation?

Tools like Adobe After Effects and Maya are commonly used for animation.

What is a key difference in skill sets for graphics vs. animation?

Graphic design focuses on static imagery; animation requires understanding motion and timing.

Are animations only digital?

No, animations can be created using traditional hand-drawn techniques or digital methods.

Can graphics be animated?

Yes, individual graphics can be compiled into an animation.

What are graphics used for?

Graphics are used for visual communication and design.

Do animations always involve characters?

No, animations can include text, effects, and abstract visuals.

How do graphics contribute to UX?

Good graphics improve user experience by making interfaces visually appealing and easy to navigate.

Do graphic designers create animations?

Some graphic designers may have the skills to create basic animations.

Can animation be interactive?

Yes, interactive animations are common in gaming and web design.

Is animation used in education?

Yes, animation is a powerful tool for educational videos and e-learning.

What is the difference in file format for graphics and animation?

Graphics are often in JPEG, PNG, or SVG; animations are in formats like GIF or video files.

Can animations be considered a type of graphic?

Yes, animations are a sequence of graphics arranged over time to show movement.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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