How to get started in Motion Design

What skills will you need to become a Motion Designer?

In order to get started in Motion Design, be ready to get basic understanding of such things as Graphic Design, Principles of animation, knowledges of Typography and Color theory. Knowing all that will greatly help you and will improve the quality of your work. You should also be a pro in software you work in. Of course you got to expand your creative thinking and watchfulness as well.

3D animation by Christophe Zidler

Be eager to learn - you'll have to do it every day!

How to learn motion design

Focus on the base: Once you open After Effects, you realize that it contains dozens of tools you need to learn. Don't try to use all at once, focus on the most important tools you'll need for animation - position, rotation and scale, along with creating and editing shape layers. Transform properties will be your main focus during the work, so this is the base you should start with.

Along with shape layers, you have to practice in creating keyframes. It's the most time-consuming part of the motion designer's job, but it's the part that helps you to animate.

Focus on 1 technique at a time

If you're not choosing the option to go on courses, you decide what to learn yourself. In the beginning, you can pick a tutorial per day or week and move forward to another one. The result of it will be a very little progress, as you won't shape any particular skill and will probably forget what you've learnt 5 days ago. To avoid it, take several weeks or months for each tutorial to master every step and have decent practice.

Practice the most interesting area

Motion design has many directions, from Typography to VFX. You may already find out, what interests you the most, so why won't you start moving in this direction? This will keep you motivated and will save a lot of time. By following your interests, you won't burn out easily, can shape your own style and become a professional much faster.

Master design concept

After Effects is not the only tool you need to use in your career. Though After Effects has vast design tools, its meant to animate already created design. The workflow you'll do in animation software is creating keyframes, working with timeline etc.

In orded to make your project look great, you need to work on your concept design in Illustrator or Photoshop before the animation part. Design is hard, but it is probably the most important aspect of your artwork—especially if it moves! Not only does your work need to look good as a still, but it also needs to look amazing when animated.A well-designed concept is a must have and will bring a better result after animation.

Learn the principles of animation

To be confident in what you're creating, you should know how different objects move. Beginners usually follow the example of computer - making the graphics too precise and less natural. Your animation should look not just dynamic, but justified - depending on object's moving direction, size, weight, shape and many other specs.

Keep your project files organized

This applies for every area you work in. Organize your folders and name them properly, organize projects, learning plan and, of course, your time. The more structured your files are, the easier your work will go, and your time will be saved.

Play with shades and colors

Many software programs like DaVinci Resolve or After Effects will allow you to set cool color grading to your graphics. Color impacts a lot to the visual image of your work, so it won't be bad to experiment with the depth of it, shades and color combinations.

Use effects(But don't overuse them)

Animating and editing software has all required base of effects you need. Color grading for DaVinci Resolve, or complex editing for After Effects - use the effects from the software you chose: glow, blur, mattes etc. Experiment with 3d effects, like rays - they'll help you to make an image more voluminous and deep.

Important to know

you shouldn't overdo with effects. Be subtle and don't use more effects than you actually need, or your project might look like a mess. Analyze the projects of other motion designers - how many effects they use, which are the main, where they suit the most, etc.

Collect templates and presets

Motion presets were created exactly for designers, who have a lot of work to do. They will save you a lot of time (especially on creating keyframes), but you not always need to stick to them, especially in the beginning.

Though, some animation presets can become very handy in your daily work, for example Presets Pro. They won't require any keyframes and you can just choose among 2000+ presets for your daily tasks or clients projects. This tool supports both text and motion presets and can help you to create professional animation in the shortest time.

Explore the textures

Use them in your projects - they are a good additional tool, while working with text or with objects you want to highlight. Textures are a good way to make the whole picture filled, your graphics unique.

Try gradients

Once you gained some experience, don't ignore gradients - they are important in creating shapes and additional abilities. Gradients will save your design from looking flat and can give your animation a missing piece.

Use real objects

Use real objects in your work - that's what experienced motion designers usually do. Whatever the topic is, you can get them anywhere on stocks. They can make an overall picture bigger and more advanced.

Animation by Familybusyness

Projects to start with

You can start with explainer videos and logo animation. Companies are looking for a way to make their logos memorable and translate their identity via logo animation. Graphic design skills won't be superfluous for this task.

You'll find plenty of clients while animating commercials. Depending on the task, it could be animated text scripts and sequences, characters (frame by frame or cut-out), and more. The most popular motion graphics animation for today is 3D, so you'll find a lot of clients, who need you to animate 3d objects or characters. For each project, you'll need to learn basic skills - from color theory to human anatomy, all will depend on the task you're working on. If you want to know, what's the most popular animation techniques today, check our article of 2022 motion design trends.

3D character animation by OTO

As for 2022, you'll have a great choice among the Web and UI projects. Animating these projects is directed to the content interaction and usability of the website.

Artwork by Outcrowd

Other tips for motion designers

Soft skills will play an amazingly important role in your becoming. You work with people - in order to make your audience and clients interested in your projects, you got to understand what they want to see.

Clients

Be prepared - you'll have to work with people a lot and communicate all the time. Communication is the key for a reason - knowing or trying to understand what your client needs will help you to give the best possible result. And will be the reason of good reviews on your work. And stable future collaborations with a good client!

Personal projects

Do not only dig into client's work - regularly do personal projects and you won't burn out!

Start from easy ones, continue with more complicated animations - you can start from 15-20 second animations and continue with full 1-3 minutes projects; step by step start to animate all parts separately and frame by frame.

Expanding your portfolio on Behance and Dribble with your own creative projects will help you to grow your audience and become more confident and recognized. Create a demo reel with your best works - it should be short and dynamic - put all best that you have on the table. Most clients don't have enough time to research through your portfolio - all they have is to get first impression and move on if they didn't find what they need.

Pay attention to what's going on around - to the trends and other designers' shares. Stay close to the community - keep up with the world and new ideas for your projects.

Finally

Work in progress will eventually make your projects better and better! Pick among the client's projects you would really like to do, add your best works to the portfolio, and regularly pick new courses and workshops to gain new skills and do personal work. You'll be a great designer!Picking software to work in? Check this guide before starting.