How to Get Started with Canvas Animations in JavaScript

How to Get Started with Canvas Animations in JavaScript

Learn how to get started with Canvas Animations in JavaScript. In this article, we learn to draw and animate objects using HTML5 Canvas and JavaScript before we optimize for performance. “Animation is not take art of drawings that move but the art of movements that are drawn.”

Or how my dreams of writing a game started by animating a square block…

I love playing games. And I love coding too. So, one day, I got thinking, why not use those coding skills to make a game? But it sounds hard. How would one even get started?

With baby steps. 👣

In this article, we learn to draw and animate objects using HTML5 Canvas and JavaScript before we optimize for performance.

“Animation is not the art of drawings that move but the art of movements that are drawn.” — Norman McLaren


Apple introduced Canvas in 2004 to power applications and the Safari browser. A few years later it was standardized by the  WHATWG. It comes with finer-grained control over rendering but with the cost of having to manage every detail manually. In other words, it can handle many objects, but we need to code everything in detail.

The canvas has a 2D drawing context used for drawing shapes, text, images, and other objects. First, we choose the color and brush, and then we paint. We can change the brush and color before every new drawing, or we can continue with what we have.

Canvas uses immediate rendering: When we draw, it immediately renders on the screen. But, it is a fire-and-forget system. After we paint something, the canvas forgets about the object and only knows it as pixels. So there is no object that we can move. Instead, we have to draw it again.

Doing animations on Canvas is like making a stop-motion movie. In every frame need to move the objects a little bit to animate them.

Canvas element

The HTML <canvas> element provides a blank container on which we can draw graphics. We can draw shapes and lines on it via the  Canvas API, which allows for drawing graphics via JavaScript.

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