Most internet users run into motion design elements dozens of times a day.
Motion design is used for ads, video games, and movies. It’s the magic behind the logo animation of your favorite streaming service (think: zooming through Netflix’s logo and passing through those colorful beams of light).
You’ve seen the handiwork of a motion designer, but do you know how motion design actually works? If you want to find work as a freelance motion designer, this article is a great place to start.
What is motion design?
Motion design combines artwork with visual effects. You can think of it as graphic design with movement.
Common examples include credits sequences in movies, informational videos, and ads for social media.
Motion design skills can be used in:
- Film and TV
- Digital news media
- Video games
Given video’s increasing popularity, motion designers are in higher demand than ever by businesses of all types and sizes.
Motion design vs animation
Before we move on, let’s clarify the difference between motion design and animation.
Motion design is used to share information. It uses visual effects to make the message more interesting or easier to understand. Text is usually involved, though the content can also feature shapes, characters, and other graphic elements.
Animation tells a story. Think of your favorite animated Disney movie. Animation brings a character’s journey to life for the purposes of entertainment.
Motion design may sometimes use animated characters to educate its audience. However, if the video is used to inform rather than to entertain, it would typically be classified as motion design.
How to become a motion graphic designer
Successful motion designers are familiar with design and motion basics, as well as the latest in technology and trends. The skills below will help you thrive in a job within this field.
1. Understand graphic design
Motion designers are essentially graphic designers with experience in animation. Before you can create visual effects, you have to master the art of graphic design.
You should know how to:
- Follow design principles
- Communicate visually by transforming a concept or idea into a graphic
- Use color, typography, white space, and other design elements effectively
Your creativity and artistry form the basis for your design work. Once you are proficient in graphic design, you can create better moving content.
2. Learn the principles of animation
Transforming static graphics requires more than movement. You have to understand the different types of motion, when to use them, and how to apply them effectively. As you can see in the infographic below, there are 10 principles of movement, which create endless possibilities for your content.
You also have to make sure your motion design is user friendly. If your animation blocks another feature or makes the graphic harder to use or enjoy, it won’t perform well. Explore the ins and outs of animation to learn how to use motion to enhance the content and user experience.
3. Master motion design software
Motion design work is done on the computer. Needless to say that designers use a variety of programs to create and animate their designs, so familiarity with the following software platforms is crucial:
- Adobe After Effects
- Adobe Flash
- Adobe Illustrator
- Adobe Photoshop
- Maxon Cinema4D
- ICE of Softimage
Adobe After Effects is the industry standard. Make sure you have real-world experience with it before applying for motion design jobs. If you’re unable to access some of the other software, use in-depth tutorials to gain some basic knowledge.
4. Keep up with trends
It’s important to understand how media is changing as technology and consumer preferences are evolving. Keep an eye out for new trends and techniques. While some may be passing fads, others may signify the future of motion graphics.
Virtual reality and 3D designs, for example, continue to grow in popularity every year. Though related tech, like VR headsets, aren’t mainstream yet, it’s clear that both VR and 3D effects are the future of graphic design.
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