If you, like me, have been drawn to the limitless creativity and flexibility of motion design, then I hope that sharing my story will help pen things down for you. Hi, my name is Adrian Yap, a Senior Motion Designer at LottieFiles, and this is my story.

My journey

I started my creative journey as a videographer/cinematographer in a local production house in Malaysia and made my way up to directing simple shorts in creative agencies. I loved the technical aspects of the job, as well as the need for creativity and problem-solving skills.

However, that all took a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent restrictions on movement. That’s when I took a leap of faith and started my self-learning journey in motion design.

Adrian at a video shoot
Adrian at a video shoot

What is Motion Design?

Source: Dribbble

Motion design is a design style that uses a mixture of graphic design principles with video production using animation. Accompanied by beautiful visuals, audio and sound effects, it is widely used in marketing materials, such as social media, commercials, long or short-form movies, apps, and more.

How to get started?

Nail the basics

Source: Dribbble

The first key to motion design is understanding the foundational principles of animation. I highly recommend reading and studying the principles of animation by Disney. It explains the laws of physics and guides your approach to motion design. Keep in mind that while rules are important, learning them to break them can open up a new dimension in creating exceptional work.

To get started, learning the production line helps break down the work; pre-production, production and post-production.

Pre-production Production Post-production
Script Graphic Design Animation
Concept & Ideation Color Usage Sound Design
Storyboard Video Editing

For the sake of consistency and familiarity, I’ll just touch on After Effects as my software of reference. Learning After Effects is crucial in my journey to grasp motion design. It will greatly benefit understanding the usage of shape, basic transformations and color.

By learning these basic tools, you’ll understand how to stack, combine, and manipulate them together. Let me give you an example.

Application 1
Application 1

Application 1: Create a basic circle and apply an animation to its position to create an up-and-down motion.

Application 2
Application 2

Application 2: Apply a scaling transformation to the circle animation to achieve a bouncing ball effect.

This is just an example of how a greater understanding of the basics helps you achieve something better. The possibilities are endless!

Research & Imitate

Research is essential in finding your preferred design style, whether it be realistic design, 2D vector animation, 3D graphics, VFX, or something else. Once you have identified your style, you can easily follow designers who align with your taste, curating a list of those who inspire you and serve as a valuable resource to help develop your unique design aesthetic.

The next step can be controversial, so take it with a grain of salt - Copy. That’s right, you heard me correctly. When starting out in motion design, it can be difficult to know where to begin. The best advice I was given was to imitate other’s work.

Imitating is the best form of flattery!

By imitating, you have a rough idea of how to start a project and find your way toward a design style, color usage and animation techniques. Don’t get me wrong, it's important to note that this does not support plagiarism in any way. Rather, imitation serves as a launch pad as you find your footing in the world of motion design.

Digital Artist: DeeKay
Motion Designer: Emanuele Colombo
Animation Studio: Made By Radio
Motion Design & Animation Studio: Ordinary Folk

Practice, practice, practice!

After you’ve got the basics of animation somewhat locked in, you know the type of animation you like, go practice them! There are no shortcuts in this. Discover new plugins, presets, styles and techniques to diversify your creativity. If there’s anything you need to take back from this, it’ll be to practice, practice and keep practicing.

There are other ways to practice, with the vast available resources, such as:

To sum it all up

1. If you’re a beginner, you need to learn After Effects
2. Learn animation basics (12 principles of animation)
3. Research and imitate
4. Practice, practice and practice!
5. Explore resources

Motion design is a dynamic and exciting field that offers endless possibilities for creative expression. While it can be challenging to master, it's also incredibly rewarding to see an idea come to life through animation. Hope these steps help you with creating your design. So, go forth, experiment, and never stop learning! If you want to know more about motion designing, here are some tips and inspiration you can follow and also suggestions for design tool to help you get started.