How are modern cartoons animated, more or less?
I'm talking like The Simpsons, Family Guy, etc. These shows blend 2-D and 3-D together, and are very high quality or "sharp", and they're not manually animated by hand much, if at all.
In some cartoons from several years ago, preferably Ed, Ed, & Eddy, they actually do appear to be animated by hand manually for a degree of it, or pretty much all.
What I want to know is how modern animators do this now. It's not like how they were made in the 30s, 40s, and 50s, where they would literally draw each frame by hand, pretty much, and use radiation to emulsify the pictures on to film stock with sound combined and the like.
Nowadays, I bet they use animation software to automate some of the process, and the characters, i presume, can be digitally-drawn by hand or with another HID device and combined with layers/etc. Could anyone clarify this a bit more though? I've looked around; not much info.
NOTE: I am new, and although I have drawn and animated before, I've only used dated methods, such as Pro Motion 6 and Draw, and found it tedious and tiresome to get much done.
There are a number of software suits that are used in the animation industry to assist in 2d animation. Two that are most commonly used and have been used by dozens of big animation studios including Disney and Nickelodeon are Toon Boom Animate and Anime Studio.
Programs like this allow you to break up each model into individual parts - separate limbs and facial features - and animate them using keyframe anmation techniques or traditional frame-by-frame animation. Some programs also include automatic lip-syncing for facial animation.
Alternatively, it is possible to use 2d shaders in 3d animation programs to create an animation that looks 2-dimensional while using 3d models and 3d animation techniques to animate it. South Park, for example, is created in Maya, one of Autodesk's most popular 3d animation software packages. Using this method also makes it easy to blend 2d and 3d animation.