The Art of Animation

When people think animation, what usually comes to mind is Pixar, DreamWorks, Disney Animation, etc. Many of us don’t realize how animation has slowly taken over the social media world. Whether it’s a simple logo animation to a lower third appearing on screen, someone somewhere very patiently moved little key frames, frame by frame, to make those graphics come to life.

The hardest part about advertising is standing out from the competition. How do advertising firms develop strategies to grab someone’s attention and keep it? Animation isn’t the only answer to this question, but the part it plays is growing more and more in the modern age.

Just a picture cannot stimulate today’s audiences and with content being so available due to our smart phones, it’s no secret that videos are becoming the better way to communicate ideas. All social media platforms grew from still images and have all adapted to support the video medium. Advertising is following this path and is making animation that much more essential in the process.

Since starting at AB&A, my predominant job has been creating animations for different ad concepts. Granted, there are different types of animations out there: 2D, 3D, stop-motion, etc. The main type of animation I find myself using most is 2D animation and motion graphics. Here’s an example:


If you’re wondering how to dive into the animation world, here are some tips on how to get your animation on.


  1. Adobe Creative Suite: This is the perfect software provider for any starting animator. If you’re a student, you’re in luck. Adobe offers a discount, which ends up making the service $20 per month. This includes: Photoshop, After Effects, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, InDesign, Animate and a few other useful programs.

The main program I use is After Effects as it’s incredibly versatile and offers greater control. It supports both 2D and 3D animation. It also has a good lean toward motion graphics, which is great for commercial purposes. Animate, which is more for 2D animation filmmaking, can also be used for character animation with a focus on story telling.

  1. YouTube: As a self taught animator, my biggest resource for all things animation is YouTube. Never underestimate the power of the tutorial! Here are some good YouTubers who specialize in After Effects animation that have really helped me out!
  • MOBOX Graphics
  • org
  • Mograph
  • Sonduckfilm

How to Start:

Find Good Teachers: I’m plugging in YouTube again, because it’s such a good resource for beginners. There are beginner videos from simple text animation to the physics of animating a ball bouncing. You may think that animating is just getting a graphic from point A to point B, but it’s much more than that and these experienced animators can help get you in that animation mentality.

Practice, Practice, And Practice: This comes as no surprise, but yes practice makes perfect. Here’s why: the programs can be quite intimidating at first, as there are lots of buttons and windows to explore. Getting to know the ins and outs is key to learning how to animate efficiently. Your first animation might take you a whole day, but the next project will probably take you half the time.

Seize Opportunities: Whether it’s a work project or a class assignment, find a good way to incorporate your animation skills into the work. This can provide the motivation and incentive to polish your animation. It also is good way to show of your skills, just make sure you plan ahead. Animation takes time and the more time you have the better it will come out.

Sketching is Key: Even if you’re not an artist, planning out an animation can be difficult using After Effects as creating graphics is time consuming. Sketching provides a quick way for you to visualize the animation and will help you see where and how things should move. If it helps think of the process like a storyboard, where you plan out shots and movement in each frame.

Illustrator is Best Friend’s with After Effects: Knowing this when I started animating could have saved me a lot of time. Getting familiar with Illustrator is an amazing way to improve your animation. Illustrator is a vector art program where you can pre-design your graphics and then export them onto After Effects as Illustrator files. The great thing about the adobe family is the programs talk to each other. If you want to change a color or design on a graphic you can do so on Illustrator, and it will update immediately onto After Effects.

Get Inspired and Learn: I always say imitation is the best form of flattery and a good way to learn to do something new. Whenever I’m on YouTube or watching a commercial I take note of animations that I find interesting and want to replicate. I will spend hours on YouTube looking at animation demos from other animators to see if there is anything that I can imitate or will fit a project that I’m working on.

Like all animators, I’m always learning something new, but being able to animate sets you apart from traditional graphic designers and can be your ticket into a new job.

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