Considering animation as a powerful marketing or communication tool, we shall look at it from some different perspective — not lingering too much on vibrant cartoons’ influences, but rather questioning its informative side.

On this story, we talk with our senior designer Otilija. Here she shares a few key thoughts in favour of graphic design and how it can help to enhance your animation projects: starting with a clearer message and moving towards an overall aesthetic and professional result. Let’s go!

#1 Know the difference — choose accordingly

Nowadays, illustration and graphic design tend to intertwine. Illustration is defined as a form of art, which portrays a written text. Meanwhile, graphic design communicates ideas and meaning through colour, typography, forms, hierarchy, and composition. Illustrators focus on personal aesthetic and artistic skills, while graphic designers spread an idea through classic design elements. 

Graphic illustration though is the marriage between the two mediums. It has the best of both worlds — the artistic skills of an illustrator and visual communication skills of a graphic designer. Working in the motion design industry with clients, it is essential (even in the most illustrative projects) to have an eye for graphic design so that the right message would be clearly communicated to the target audience.

#2 Concept first, styling — later

So, you made a beautiful couple of frames, and you’re super excited to show it to the client. However, the feedback you receive is negative. Usually, this happens when the design doesn’t set the desired mood, doesn’t fit the client’s brief or the product/service the client wants to promote. To avoid this, firstly, you should always think about what every element in your design means or what connotations does it carry. Start thinking as a graphic designer, and only then make sure it looks good. And finally — let your inner illustrator free.

Graphic designer drawing animation storyboard on a tablet

#3 Design vs Animation — plan your time wisely

No animation in the world could save a poorly done design. Even the best animation techniques wouldn’t help if the colours don’t match, typography is unreadable, the character looks weird and awkward, and the composition is off. Meanwhile, a beautifully done design could still be successful with moderate animation. Of course, a combination of both high-quality design and animation is the best solution, but if you have to divide your time between the two — it is always better to spend more time on design.

#4 Never stop the creativity

Don’t think that designing for animation is just following client wishes and brand books. It’s much more than that! The designer is free to interpret ideas and convey them in unexpected and visually pleasing ways.

Graphic designers' workstation for animation projects

To summarise

The famous term ‘motion graphics’ is actually nothing else but design in motion. So, even the basic knowledge of graphic design can significantly improve your animation projects — master the abstract symbols and shapes, create the right emotion and impact selected audiences.


Go ahead to check these inspiring motion designers and studios, recommended by Otilija:

  1. Romain Loubersanes
  2. Johan Eriksson
  3. BUCK
  4. Gunner
  5. Allen Laseter
  6. Josh Edwards
  7. Sarah Beth Morgan
  8. Joe Brooks
  9. Oddfellows

This story is a part of Stepdraw production blog post series Production Life, which are dedicated to stories about production people lifestyle, work and creative inspirations.