Motion Graphics isn’t a skill that you can master overnight. From animation to color theory, it takes years to learn all of the various disciplines necessary for becoming a great MoGraph artists. However, there are a few tricks that you can use at the beginning of your Motion Graphic career that can help give your projects a creative edge.
In the following post we put together a list of our favorite tips for enhancing your Motion Graphic projects. Hopefully all of these tips can help you become better MoGraph artists in the future.
1. Pick a Color Palette
It can be easy to choose a color palette simply because it ‘looks nice’, but in reality color is just as important as the animation itself. Color has the power to dramatically change the overall tone of your composition. Instead of trying to create colors from scratch try using a color palette generator like Coolors.co.
By using a professional color palette you can guarantee that all of your colors work well together and give your video visual cohesiveness.
2. Ease Your Keyframes
By default the keyframes in After Effects are very harsh. Essentially everything moves at a very constant rate. This can lead to some very harsh stops and starts that look very stiff and non-organic.
If you want to make your animations more smooth, try using a graph editor to custom ease your projects. In the editor you will see a visual representation of the movement in your scene. By default it will look like a linear graph, but the goal of easing is to create curves that will actual lead to smooth movements.
There are even a few tools out there that can help you ease your keyframes with… ease. One of my favorites is Flow. Flow is a simple After Effects tool that allows you to quickly add easing to your selected keyframes. It can literally save you dozens of hours on each project. Here’s a demo of Flow in-action:
3. Create Storyboards
In an age of video tutorials it can be easy to think that all you need is some inspiration and technical knowledge and a great Motion Graphic project will just flow out. This is usually not the case. Instead it is super important to start every Motion Graphic project by creating some storyboards so that you can visualize the key points in your project.
Example Motion Design Storyboard
Just start by sketching out your key design elements on pen and paper. Once you have a rough idea of what you are looking for, start putting together some frames in Photoshop or Affinity. This is where a great sense of design will come into play. If you want to learn how to create better storyboards, go check out the Design Bootcamp at School of Motion.
After you get a few boards created you can download a music track and put together a rough animatic. This will help you visualize what the final composition will look like without investing too much time on animating project.
4. Edit in a Video Editing Application, Not After Effects
There is a really bad habit among Motion Graphic artists to edit their projects in After Effects. This is probably because video editing applications like Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro can seem scary if you’re not already used to editing with them. However, After Effects is a compositing software, not a video editing application. You will inevitably run into problems with sound design and playback which will result in a lot of wasted time.
Instead make it a goal to compile your Motion Graphic projects in a video editing application. While it may take you a little while to learn, you will inevitably save hundreds if not thousands of hours over the course of your career.
This tutorial from Kriscoart shows you how to start editing in Premiere in literally 20 minutes.
5. Gather Inspiration Before You Start
Whether you know it or not you are always drawing creative ideas from inspiration sources all around you. So instead of relying on creativity to magically spark from within, go out and find some inspiration at the beginning of your Motion Graphics project. There is likely hundreds of great Motion Graphics videos out there with the same tone and style as what you are going for.
One great place to look is VideoHive. Scan through the pages of the After Effects projects and find a sequence that you like. You can even download the template and dissect the project files to get a better idea at how a professional puts their project together.
There are also tons of great online resources like Motionographer, Wine After Coffee, and Mixed Parts that curate great MoGraph collections. Social media is another great place to look. There’s loads of fantastic MoGraph artists on Instagram, Vimeo, YouTube, Behance, and Dribble. A simple search will reveal hundreds of great artists.
Now Go Make Something!
At the end of the day the secret to becoming a better MoGraph artist is to simply create stuff. Learning is great, but doing is even better. So go out there and make something awesome!