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Creating Visual Magic: Graphic Design In Animation

ben marvazi 2020

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As a kid, I was fascinated by the opening credits of The Simpsons. They introduced me to the concept of graphic design in animation and left me wondering how they did it. As an adult, I learned that graphic design is an essential element in animation film-making, as well as any other medium where visual communication must be conveyed. 

In this blog, we'll explore what makes great graphic design in animation so effective—and how you can use it for your next project!

Graphic Design In Animation Is An Important Component 

Graphic Design In Animation Is An Important Component, people cheering

GIF by Mashed via GIPHY

Graphic design is an important component of the overall success of animated films. The graphic design team for an animated film will work closely with the director and producers throughout all stages of development, from storyboarding to completion.

When you go to see a movie, you are viewing it through your eyes. As you watch the film unfold before you on screen, your mind creates images based on what it sees before it; this means that how things look is as important as what they say. In fact, how something looks can sometimes be more important than what it says!

Graphic designers create visual worlds for animators and directors so that their characters can exist within those environments. They do this by creating logos, posters (which often include taglines), title sequences, and other branding elements needed for a project – all these elements combine together to help tell stories in ways both verbal and non-verbal cues cannot achieve alone.

Graphic Design Is A Voice In An Animated Film

Graphic Design Is A Voice In An Animated Film, female Disney character signing

GIF by artcraft01 via Tenor

As a designer, you're not just creating art for the sake of it. You're creating a voice for your film that complements the other elements and characters within the story. You might be adding visual context to characters, or helping to tell a story visually rather than through dialogue or sound effects. The graphic design in animation may be part of the narrative itself—perhaps it's used as an illustration of some aspect of character development or plot progression.

The point is that graphic design plays an important role in animation films, but it should never stand alone; rather, it should work with everything else in your film to create one cohesive whole.

Graphic Design In Animation Heightens Emotional Impact

Graphic Design In Animation Heightens Emotional Impact, Pikachu crying

GIF by Honnete via Tenor

Graphic design in animation is used to create an emotional connection with the audience. In animation, graphic design heightens the emotional impact of character and environment. Graphic designers work with animators to select images, colors, and textures that reflect how a character feels or what kind of world they live in. The result is an animated world that looks realistic but also has its own inner life—much like our own world does when we watch movies!

Graphic designers use color, line, and form to create visual effects ranging from subtle to dynamic — from calm blue skies that evoke peacefulness to bold red backgrounds that signal danger or excitement for example. You might be surprised at how much you can do with only a few simple shapes on the screen!

Unified Graphic Design Aesthetic Gives Continuity

Unified Graphic Design Aesthetic Gives Continuity, never-ending road through a green field

GIF by Dan Harnden via GIPHY

This can be a challenge when you have a large team of graphic designers working in different locations and time zones. However, having this level of consistency is important because it gives the film a sense of continuity. A cohesive look and feel are what allow an audience member to easily process new information. If different characters are dressed differently, for example, which may happen if each character had its own designer or if the team was spread out geographically and couldn't meet regularly, confusion can arise among viewers as they try to make sense of who’s who.

The more that people watch your film—and this goes for any medium including television shows—the more familiar their eyes become with how things look on screen. When something looks out of place (like seeing one character wearing jeans while everyone else is wearing formal attire), it disrupts their viewing experience because it breaks from what they expect from the rest of your design elements (i.e., that everyone wears suits).

Graphic Design In Animation Varies

Graphic Design In Animation Varies, odd zebra with changing patterns


The use of graphic design varies from film to film. It may be used to convey the story, the mood, the theme or message, or even meaning—all depending on what you're trying to accomplish with your animation.

Graphic design in animation can reveal aspects of your character's personality and background through their clothing, hairstyle, and accessories. At times it will also communicate important information about a specific scene or setting by using color schemes that evoke certain emotions or feelings in viewers (e.g., green is often used for serene scenes). In some cases, it can even serve as an extension of dialogue spoken by characters (e.g., written text on signs).

Designers should know how graphic elements work together before applying them to their projects because this will help them create more cohesive visuals that complement each other instead of clashing with one another.

Thoughtful And Effective Graphic Design In Animation

Thoughtful And Effective Graphic Design In Animation, boy character thinking

GIF by Nickelodeon via GIPHY

Graphic design is a key component of making animated films successful, and it’s important to understand how graphic design in animation enhances the emotional impact of characters and the environment. The graphic designer can be likened to an actor in a film—they provide the voice for everything on the screen, giving life to action and emotion. In some ways, you could say that graphic design in animation is like acting: both involve bringing characters to life through various means.

In animated films, graphic designers are tasked with creating visual elements that heighten or reinforce the emotional impact of character and environment. These graphics might serve as symbols or metaphors that help tell a story without words; they might be ornamental flourishes meant to simply delight the viewer; or they might even be used for practical purposes like identifying characters or locations (think signs). Whatever their function, these graphics have one thing in common: they all need to have a purpose within the context of each individual project so as not to distract from what’s most important—the story being told through animation!

Be Aware Of Graphic Design In Animation

Be Aware Of Graphic Design In Animation, Fred Flintstones sitting down to watch TV

GIF by Boomerang Official via GIPHY

Next time you sit down to watch a movie, be aware of the graphic design elements that create a lasting impression on audiences. The graphic design elements that are used in each scene are often the most effective at conveying emotion or creating an atmosphere. 

For example, when a character is scared and hiding from something (like in Monsters Inc.), it's important to use bright colors so they don't blend into their surroundings while still being able to see where they are going or what's around them.

While graphic design may not seem like the most exciting subject, it’s an important part of animation. Whether it’s a cool font or a cleverly designed logo, graphic design in animation can help us connect with animated characters and their stories. 

In fact, many of the most successful films today rely on the creative use of graphic design in animation to get viewers excited about what they’re seeing on screen. The next time you sit down to watch a movie pay attention to how well its visual elements work together as part of a cohesive whole!

For more information about graphic design in animation, as well as answers to any other questions you might have, be sure to follow our blogs, check out our free masterclass, and our Animation Business Accelerator Program, download a copy of our free marketing handbook, and check out our blog on “How to Start an Animation Studio”!

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