Becoming A Motion Designer

Motion graphics is a form of visual communication that blends graphic design with animation. It is the movement of shapes and typography to create visual appeal.


If you want to become a Motion Designer, here are 5 major steps you have to take:

1. Understand graphic design fundamentals

Although not compulsory, this is a step I would recommend for anyone starting out in motion design. Even if you don’t want to become a graphics designer, being familiar with the fundamentals such as hierarchy, contrast, balance, color theory etc will give you a good foundation when creating motion design pieces. This is because the elements you use in motion design will majorly be from graphic design.

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2. Become familiar with the 12 principles of animation

The 12 principles of animation are guidelines that make your animations more fluid, appealing and dynamic. They were created by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston during their work with Disney. Their book, The Illusion of Life is a recommended read for motion graphics designers. These 12 principles help you create animations that are realistic in following natural movements. They are:

  • Squash and stretch
  • Anticipation
  • Staging
  • Straight ahead and pose-to-pose
  • Follow through and overlap
  • Slow-in and Slow-out
  • Arcs
  • Secondary action
  • Timing
  • Exaggeration
  • Solid drawing
  • Appeal

Here’s a short video about them by Vincenzo Lodigiani:

3. Get the software

There are several programs out there that are used for motion graphics but the industry standard is Adobe After Effects. Get familiar with the program through online tutorials which are both free (Youtube) and paid (Motion Design School, Skillshare, School of Motion, Udemy etc). The plus side to the paid ones is their structure and pace. They also provide you with some free resources. Some other programs include Black Magic Fusion9, Cinema4D (majorly for 3d motion graphics), and Blender. Some of these programs have steep learning curves. Find the ones that work for you and don’t give up till you master them.

After Effects CC (Creative Cloud) 2020

4. Be inspired by famous motion designers

Get familiar with the work of motion designers such as Saul Bass, Kyle Cooper and motion design agencies like Cub Studio, Yum Yum Videos, We Are Genesis etc. Study their work, their processes and look into the making of their videos. Be amazed!

5. Practice. practice. practice

“Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice.”

— Anton Chekhov

This cannot be overemphasized. Create passion projects, watch videos, follow tutorials and produce pieces you would like to be hired for. As you practice, you will become faster in crafting good motion design pieces and your workflow will become more optimized.

Bonus step: Enjoy the work 😉

There are moments when the work will become challenging and you will have to deal with difficult managers, directors and clients…especially clients. If you don’t find fulfillment in the work, you will likely give up easily. If you are stuck, ask for help. There are lots of support groups online and also be open to collaborating with other creatives and fellow motion designers. So enjoy the process of creating moving shapes, type and colors!

Thanks for reading 🙂 Hope this helps.

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