Top 20 Hand-Drawn Animation Styles to Discover in 2023

Top 20 Handpicked Hand-Drawn Animation Styles
"We spent hours handpicking these animations, so you don't have to!"

While the current animation market is cluttered with computer-generated and generic looking videos, it has become challenging to stand out as a brand. To stay unique, many brands are returning to making old-school animation, not only because of their nostalgia and emotional impact but also their rarity. They are better at capturing emotions, while providing enough creative freedom to give your brand its unique identity and tell your story more compellingly. If you are interested in using cel animation for your next video marketing campaign, the following are the top 20 hand-drawn animation styles you would like to get inspired from in 2023.

Top 20 Handpicked Hand-Drawn Animation Styles!

1. Stories to be remembered

This video is a rollercoaster of emotions, with nuanced storytelling and some stunning visuals to support it along the way. It is a blend of hand drawn, vector and 3D compositions. It takes us through many chapters of past, present, and future while staying true to its narrative.

2. Obsidian “Changing the Game”

A true hand-drawn animation with a touch of lovely textures. While this video lacks the previous animation’s extreme vibrancy, it holds enough substance to convey the message effectively. It strikes just the perfect balance between verbal and visual storytelling and captures the viewer right from the first second. Simply beautiful!

3. Conception: Catie + Jen

A unique hand-drawn style indeed. This is a part of the New York Times Conception series, which is an animated series based on real-life stories about becoming a mother. The video uses minimalistic animations, mostly embellished by the impeccable narration that really brings out the emotions and makes you feel the story.

4. NPR – Failure: A Step on the Path to Invention

A light-hearted animation. Failure is a part of the invention. This message is consistently conveyed in NPR’s invention stories, and this one is just another part of it. This story is just a continuation of a simple narrative with a straightforward script. What makes it beautiful, though, is the perfect demonstration of minimalistic cel animation, making it a visual masterpiece.

5. Unilever – “Every U”

This shows everything Unilever is about, all the products, benefits, and all the “good” done when someone buys one of their products. The best thing? They say it all without even a proper narration using frame-by-frame artworks. And that’s what makes this animation so interesting. It’s cel animation at its very best!


Humour is one of the best tools to keep your audience engaged for longer. Combine it with mild anticipation and suspense, and you will surely get your viewers to the end. This hand drawn animation (digitally composited) uses the same ingredients, in 1 minute, which by the way is the ideal length for an explainer.

7. Beach! Beach & Beach

While this one might not appeal to a broad spectrum of audiences, it indeed is one of the most fascinating pieces of Ballpoint Pen style artwork for those who know animation. Have a look by yourself to find out why!

8. Renature the South Downs

The video begins with a little girl’s dream and soon becomes an immersive spectacle of nature and beauty. While the video’s message emphasizes raising awareness among individuals, it gets the viewer through a magical visual experience and explores the creative lengths of cel animation.


Filled with abstractions and tons of creativity, this video is more about showing the audience what you can achieve with cel animation rather than conveying a specific message, as with ads. Anyone up for a weird, but beautiful ride, having experience in making animations, will call this a piece of art!

10. Mumblephone

This one’s a piece from Lagunitas. It’s a part of their Mumblephone series, and quite funny enough, based on a drunken phone call they received from one of their customers. The video is more of a creative take on the condition of an intoxicated individual, perfectly demonstrated through cel animation. It uses 2D animation, but in a more sophisticated way.

11. Weekend

Can you relate to a 10-second video? That too, when all you see is just a moving image with no dialogue and no particular story? Well, this one might surprise you. It’s just a 10-second animation clip in which the character enters the drawing room and sits on his comfy sofa to watch TV all day long. But what makes it interesting is the overall style of this frame-by-frame animation and the use of outlined drawings.

12. Nike – The Road To HBL

Nike’s “The Road to HBL” is an interactive animation that was made to engage the audience and allow them to make their own story. More than 210 seconds of animation were produced as a result, which could be arranged in 700 different combinations of storylines. The animation demonstrated here is one of them and is quite a beautiful one.

13. The Postcard

Ever seen an animated travelog? You might like to check out this one! Although animation doesn’t compare to what a camera can show you, there’s always an untold story you want to share with your audience. The Postcard is just one of those; a simple, short, and unique animated story that summarizes a complete journey within a 2-minute time frame.

14. Wawa Hoagiefest 2017 – Time

An ad, a musical, and a stellar show of hand-drawn animation, this 30 seconds of animation have so much going on! Apart from being a great attention grabber, it captures everything a fantastic beach holiday is all about and integrates the brand message towards the end. It’s a simple approach coupled with complex animation, both beautifully balancing each other.

15. Triumph ‘Stand Up For Fit’ – The Bra Breakdown

Produced with a limited palette, simple narrative, and a lot of humor, The Bra Breakdown is a comedic online commercial by triumph made for brand exposure. While the video doesn’t hold any special message or have ultra-sophisticated visuals, it is a live example of how the simplest cel animation can be fascinating when coupled with a good script.

16. Coke Habit

Coke Habit is all about, well, coke addiction. The video shares the story of a 10-grader addicted to coke, who eventually gets rid of it, with several repercussions that continue for a long time. However, what makes it unique is how the visuals complement the message, frame by frame, despite being very simple.

17. PFF – Autonomy For Humans

Odd Fellows is known for out-of-the-box thinking in the world of animation, and this animation perfectly corroborates their image. The video demonstrates how things will look in the future, with robot sidekicks walking around with prople. The design and animation are gorgeous, keeping the viewer engaged throughout its length.


The video’s title is enough to tell you what it’s all about. It tells the daily struggles of myriad people without a single word, which in its own right, is a big thing. However, be informed that this isn’t your typical 1-minute commercial animation. However, it is a good reference for a short film maker. Watch it when you have the time, and be ready to be astonished. 😉

19. Rooms

We all have contemplated death at least once in our life in some way. But guess what? It has never been something pleasant to think about, for most of the time. “Rooms” takes this concept and turns it into an animated video that combines 2D and 3D and powers it with a beautiful narration that gives it a unique, aesthetic vibe.

20. T-Mobile // #Tweets2Grams Compilation

Although this one is just like any other 2D animation, what makes it so special for a cel animation are the fluid transitions and the extreme attention to detail in every frame. If you like simple style animations, this one might be something you should keep as a standard for your next video project.


Do you need a hand-drawn (cel) commercial?

If you are looking for someone to make a noteworthy hand-drawn commercial for you, look no further! Here at Kasra Design, we have a team of highly creative animators with over 11 years of experience, a super-diverse portfolio, and countless accolades that testify to our animator’s excellence. Get in touch now, and let’s create magic together!

Alex Safavinia

CEO & Creative Director at Explainer Videoly Pte. Ltd.
He is responsible for the art directions as well as overseeing the progress and development of each production to make sure all projects are delivered flawlessly.