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An Animator's Guide to Graphic Design Animation

ben marvazi 2020

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Good communication is just as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh: Writer and Aviator

Graphic design is an integral part of the way we communicate today, and the fusion of graphic design and animation has given storytelling a new kind of flourish. 

By merging graphic design and animation, artists have given movement to the strong visual messages that graphic design elements create.

And, if a picture is worth a thousand words, movement in graphic form can turn an essay of captivating words into an entire novel! This makes the potential application of animation and graphic design endless and its benefits limitless.   

In this blog post, we explain what graphic design animation is, how it differs from regular animation, and how you can introduce graphic design and animation into your everyday work as a freelance animator. 

What is Graphic Design Animation 

To better understand animation and graphic design, let's start by defining what graphic design is. 

Graphic design is when artists develop visual elements intended to convey strong and specific messages. Since the art form uses minimal text, the image viewers see needs to be captivating and easy to understand.   

an example of graphic design animation

GIF by Carawrrr via GIPHY

This form of communication could be considered the oldest form of attention-grabbing since it was graphics (bold images) that cavemen used to get their messages across too. 

Graphic design employs strong lines, bold colors, contrast, textures, and a good understanding of a client's brand image and ethos to build relevant and effective graphic design elements. 

The use of color and movement within graphic elements has been refined and improved upon over the years, and its evolved into this generation's popular choice for instant communication.

Take a look at some of the best graphic design and animation productions in this video by Ben Marriott: The Best Motion Design & Animation of 2020 (So Far...)

The transition from creating graphics on cave walls to paper and then on computers has done wonders for the development of animation and graphic design. 

Here’s a closer look at the animation conquering the industry, graphic design animation!  

Animation vs. Graphic Design Animation

Animation is the general term used to refer to moving images. 

Graphic design and animation differ from classic animation because their focus isn’t on animating characters to produce a lengthy visual story. 

So what exactly is the purpose of animation and graphic design then?

The Purpose of Graphic Design Animation

an infographic design animation

GIF by Morgan Sindall Construction via GIPHY

Animation and graphic design is a communication solution that’s perfect for engaging with today’s hyperconnected online audiences. 

In fact, the booming online culture we’re living in has been a major catalyst for the coming together of graphic design and animation. 

This is because users are flicking through content faster than ever before, and the only thing better at catching someone's attention than an awesome graphic is an awesome graphic that moves!

Animation and graphic design are used to convey the brand identity and personality of organizations, campaigns, and other coordinated efforts. 

Some examples of graphic design elements that may be animated are:

  • Logos
  • Application buttons
  • Infographics.

Because graphic design animation is meant to be loaded with motivational information, freelance animators who make use of animation and graphic design need to have a good grasp of how emotional factors feed into this form of animation.

Aspects of animation like color, layout, and movement all contribute to evoking emotions. And pulling on the right emotional strings will go a long way in making your productions successful. 

graphic design animation is used in avenues like tourism

GIF by NYC: The Official Guide via GIPHY

By basing your graphic design and animation on emotional design, your designs will conjure up the perfect feel-good scenarios and increase the likelihood of viewers taking the actions you're promoting through your animation and design graphics.  

This may mean a user clicking on an ad for your client’s company or a donation link for their fundraiser. It can also mean a user stopping to take in an infographic that shows how satisfied clients are with your freelance animation business—which would generate just the right type of interest!  

Get an even better understanding of animation vs graphic design animation by reading our blog article “Motion Graphics vs. Animation - 4 Ways They’re Different

Here are the 7 key aspects of graphic design and animation to consider if you want to create emotionally-charged creations:

The 7 Steps to Great Graphic Design Animation

Symmetry and Balance
symmetry in graphic design animation

GIF by WillowRaven via Tenor

Symmetry refers to an image being made up of the same or similar parts on either side. 

Balance refers to an image having the same visual weight on either side. This means that the colors and shapes of an image are set up in a way that makes the composition look balanced.

These aspects of artwork add to the perceived perfection of an image which can make any creation much more appealing to viewers. 


The way your eye is led along a graphic element is called the flow, and an artist can manipulate the flow to add to how the viewer experiences the art. 

flow of the graphic design animation

GIF by lunarpapacy via GIPHY

In animation and graphic design productions, flow can be categorized in two different ways, namely verbal and visual flow

The way text appears and moves across the screen is called verbal flow while visual flow refers to the movement of images and graphics across the screen. 

Knowing what good flow looks like will make it easier to create engaging animation and graphic design elements that add to the fluidity of your productions. 

Repetition and Pattern

Good graphic design animation gets the message across and repetition makes it stick. 

By repeating animation and graphic design elements, viewers become familiar with specific images, messages, and emotions related to an organization.

By repeating more than one graphic design and animation element, a pattern is created that adds to the aesthetic and repetition value of a design. 

repetition in graphic design animation allows an attention grabbing piece

GIF by Feliks Tomasz Konczakowski via GIPHY

Repetition and pattern are key aspects of good marketing, and freelance animators can use them to pump up the power of their creations without spending too much extra time. 

The Golden Ratio

The golden ratio is a complicated mathematical equation that tells you whether or not segments of an image or scene are in proportion to each other.

Freelance animators will know the importance of proportions and getting them just right, and the same concept applies to images developed for animation and graphic design. 

graphic design animators utilize the golden ratio for symmetry

GIF by Percolate Galactic via GIPHY

The golden ratio is also an important consideration when you have various elements to put together for graphic design animation. 

Good graphic design animation includes individual images that are well proportioned and grouped images that are in proportion to each other.

The Rule of Thirds

Again, animators will be well-versed in the rule of thirds.

Placing the subject of your image in the outermost third of the scene creates a pleasing spatial arrangement. This applies to both the vertical and horizontal planes of an image. 

following the rule of thirds can help direct attention in graphic design animation

GIF by Emma Darvick via GIPHY

And this concept is just as crucial in animation and graphic design. 

As a freelance animator offering animation and graphic design services, consider the start and endpoints of every movement and set up the perfect scene using the rule of thirds. 


Text plays an important visual role in animation and design graphics creations. Good text can polish and improve any scene you produce.

typography is important in graphic design animation

GIF by Ishmael Arias Pinto via GIPHY

Typography turns text into art by altering the way words appear to viewers, making them more appealing. 

To up the “text appeal” of words, focus on the font, size, and spacing.

More specifically, make sure that the font, size, and spacing of the text are relevant to the style and message of the piece you’re working on to optimize the overall effect.   

Audience Culture

Of all the things to consider when creating engaging productions, considering your audience is priority number one. 

Getting to know who your audience is, what they like and dislike, and how they view the world will equip you with a wealth of useful information. 

This information will lay a firm foundation for the development of profitable animation and design graphics. 

knowing who your graphic design animations are for is important to design

GIF by Originals via GIPHY

In addition, knowing the culture of your audience will help you narrow down your choices when making decisions about typography and overall messaging. 

Figuring out how to make graphic design animation that speaks volumes doesn’t have to be tricky. 

For freelance animators, your tried and tested artistic skills will directly translate into top animation and graphic design techniques. 

Just remember to consider the purpose of what you’re producing and how it differs from regular animation.  

Check out this video tutorial by SonDuckFilm for a deeper look into how to make your graphic design animation stand out: 5 Graphic Design Techniques for Motion Graphics | After Effects Tutorial

How to Make Graphic Design Animation That Counts

Graphic design and animation is an art style that's here to stay, and a booming sector of the animation industry all on its own. 

When adding this offering to your freelance animation repertoire, ensuring that you have the right tools and techniques will help you to stick the landing when creating animation and graphic design productions.

graphic design animation can even appear in CTA buttons

GIF by CreditasMX via GIPHY

Watch this video tutorial by Ben Marriot to learn more about animation and design graphics: 5 Tips For Learning Motion Design and Animation Graphics.

Once you’ve grown your confidence in this type of animation, take charge of your career as a freelance animator and offer graphic design and animation services to your clients big and small. 

Move into a whole new animation groove with animation and graphic design and watch your freelance animation business flourish. Prepare for your business boom by taking our free masterclass, downloading our free marketing handbook, and checking out our blog on “How to Start an Animation Studio”!

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