Eye-catching visuals: the fundamentals of animations & motion graphics

Design is one of the main aspects of product development, and we place a high value on it at Tech387. Our team uses motion graphics and animations to create engaging, eye-catching visuals. While both are effective digital design tools, they have some significant differences. In this blog post, we will take a look at what distinguishes motion graphics from animation and when to use each. Edin Šahinović, our UI/UX expert, will share some tips and tricks.

What are motion graphics?

Motion graphics is a sophisticated type of graphic design that adds movement and animation to otherwise static design elements. Unlike traditional animation, motion graphics do not follow a specific narrative but focus on giving graphic designs movement to create engaging visual experiences. For instance, if you want to add extra visual flair to your graph, you can use motion graphics to make the bars rise. Similarly, if you wish for your website logo to spin around, motion graphics can help achieve that effect.

Motion graphics animation typically features shapes, objects, or text in motion. 

So why use motion graphics instead of cheaper, static infographics? Motion graphics can visually illustrate complex ideas that are difficult to explain through words or still images. It's like having a visual aid that makes your message more engaging and easier to understand. A few seconds of motion graphics can clear everything up perfectly, like how password fields vibrate or turn red when you enter the wrong password, indicating that you need to try again.

Moreover, the visual style of motion graphics appeals to a broad range of viewers, making it a versatile option for businesses across different industries. Motion graphics can employ a cute and fun style while addressing more mature issues. The motion graphics look can make your message more engaging and entertaining, regardless of the industry. Motion graphics offer creative opportunities to bring your designs to life and captivate your audience.

What is animation?

Animation is a dynamic field with a rich history dating back more than a century. As a graphic designer, you likely already know that animation is a broad umbrella term encompassing various techniques that make static objects or images come to life. These techniques include hand-drawn cartoons, CGI, anime, claymation, and motion graphics.

What sets motion graphics apart from other types of animation is that they primarily involve setting abstract objects, text, and other graphic design elements in motion. In other words, motion graphics bring a static element to life through animation. On the other hand, animation as a specific art form focuses more on cinematic effects and storytelling techniques to create a narrative. If the goal is to create an emotional bond between your product and your audience, you will use animation. 

As a graphic designer, understanding the different techniques for adding movement to images is essential to staying current in the industry. The umbrella term "animation" covers various techniques, including traditional hand-drawn animation, 2D vector-based animation, 3D animation using CGI, and stop motion. 

Traditional animation - involves creating each frame individually and running them sequentially to create the illusion of movement. 

2D vector-based animation - on the other hand, generates frames based on input from animators using advanced software. 

3D animation or CGI - uses computers to generate imagery while animators control movement and angles. 

Stop motion - involves capturing individual frames by manipulating and photographing real objects, resulting in a unique and priceless look. 

Graphic designers play a crucial role in the animation process, bringing their unique style and creative vision to life through motion graphics, 2D or 3D animation, and other animation techniques. Understanding the distinctions between these styles can help you select the right approach for your next project and deliver an engaging and memorable experience.

Motion graphics vs. animations: When to use each technique

We use motion graphics to create short, informative videos that highlight a product or service. They rely heavily on typography and graphics to convey a message, often accompanied by a voice-over or music. On the other hand, animations are more focused on telling a story through character animation. We use them for longer videos or films.

It is very important to understand when to use animations and when to use motion graphics. So how do you decide? The rule is quite simple! If you want to tell a story or take your users on an emotional journey, you will use animations. On the other hand, if you want to make a point, explain a complex idea, or show a new feature you will use motion graphics. The element that will make the decision easy for you is the story behind it.

Let’s sum it up!

When deciding which approach to take, consider the message you want to convey and the desired impact on the audience. Motion graphics are great for quickly capturing attention and delivering information, while animations can create a more immersive experience that takes the audience on a journey. Ultimately, the choice between motion graphics and animations will depend on the goals of your project, so be sure to assess your needs carefully and choose the approach that best meets your objectives.

Animations and motion graphics by Tech387

Before we dive into Edin’s tips and tricks let us showcase some of the work we have done for our clients. 

“One of the most enriching animation projects I have worked on to date is Unifai, which involved the creation of various types of animations and motion graphics. During the project, I took great care to ensure that the graphics aligned seamlessly with the brand's visual identity and were designed to function independently while also complementing each other when presented as a whole. The process was both challenging and exhilarating, and I am eager to apply this experience and enthusiasm to future animation projects” says Edin. 

If you are interested in Edin’s work, you can check his portfolio here.

The do’s and don’ts of animations and motion graphics

Edin, our UI/UX expert, started using After Effects solely for its basic functionality of moving elements. However, he soon discovered the software's potential in creating 2D and 3D animations from scratch. For more advanced 3D models, he prefers to use specialized software like Blender.

At the beginning of his animation career, he used to create illustrations from scratch. Edin used to break them down into separate pieces. He would export the torso, arms, and legs separately. Edin would then assemble these pieces in After Effects to create smooth motion. It took him quite some time to realize that he could use After Effects to create the entire body. This way Edin saved time and became more efficient. The most helpful tool for creating extraordinary animations was observing human movements.

Understanding the speed and acceleration of motion is crucial to creating realistic movement. Elements should move slower at the beginning and end, and After Effects provides an effect called "ease in and ease out" that can be manually adjusted to achieve a natural and realistic look.

Edin has observed that young designers often assume that one successful animation equates to mastery of the craft. It takes numerous failed attempts and learning experiences to create a masterpiece. 

He encourages designers to try different techniques, make mistakes, and learn from them to develop a clear path for themselves. After Effects and other animation tools are straightforward to learn through online tutorials.