As with any business, in the animation industry, it is essential to keep up with the latest and greatest animation trends. Indeed, understanding current and upcoming animation trends can set animators up for future success.
The demand for quality animation within the creative advertising industry has increased exponentially in recent years, with animation being utilized as a powerful marketing tool, reinforcing the necessity of identifying the best animation trends to capitalize on.
Animators have been experiencing a boom with businesses and video creators alike turning to stock footage and animation as fresh ways of delivering content.
Online marketing continues to prosper and animation has solidified itself as a dominating industry within the contemporary online landscape.
From subtle in-app animations and promotional videos to streaming networks and feature films, the adaptability and evolution of animation are unmatched.
And, as an industry wholly connected to the advancement of technology, it should come as no surprise that animation trends are ever-changing and evolving.
In this blog post, we’ll identify some of the latest animation trends - from morphing to VR animation - blowing up in the animation industry, examples of these animation trends, why they're catching up, and how to use these animation trends to win over clients and businesses.
8 Best Upcoming Animation Trends
1) Morphing Animation Trend
As one of the latest animation trends, morphing animation has been gaining popularity in recent years and continues to gather momentum with little indication of slowing down.
As implied by the name, morphing animation is a special effect involving seamless transitions. Shapes, textures, cityscapes, and characters transform and change, allowing the audience to guess what’s coming next.
A return to animation’s organic roots, morphing’s liquid-like appearance, and impeccable blending frame-by-frame make this style of animation extremely pleasing to the audience’s eye - one of the reasons it finds its place as one of today’s top animation trends.
Morph animation’s appeal lies in its limitless ability to add unpredictability to your visual storytelling making the illusory style perfect for enchanting advertisements, animated loops, and website graphics.
Sleek, smooth, and with the ability to transport the target audience, morph animation is appealing to the modern short attention span.
Morph animation is the glue that ensures that viewers are watching the effect until the very end. It comes as no surprise, then, that morphing is steadily becoming one of the must-watch animation trends.
Contemporarily, morph animation is particularly useful for website animation, with users drawn to watching the loop repeatedly, keeping visitors on the page for longer.
As a result, morph animation has become one of the best animation trends insofar as it is also beneficial for SEO, with Google’s algorithm boosting sites with more engagement and interaction.
2) Liquid Motion Animation Trend
Comparable to morphing animation, the flow and dreamlike quality of liquid motion animation have elevated this trend as one of the best new animation trends in recent years.
This animation trend creates movement that ebbs and flows akin to that of water. Reminiscent of the psychedelic art of the 1960s, liquid motion animation combines swirly typography with liquid graphics to produce a modern twist.
With the rise in popularity of short video content frequently utilized on TikTok and Instagram, liquid motion, a rising star among animation trends, affords animators a vibrant, eye-catching, and easy-to-loop style to present to potential clients using these platforms to promote their businesses.
Although liquid motion animation has been around as a technique for quite some time, After Effects has pushed the animation trend in the last five years, promoting hard-cut transitions in exchange for the aforementioned splashy, blobby, liquid-like effects.
Like morphing animation, liquid motion animation’s spellbinding effect encourages interactivity on websites by encouraging users to hover or click on these triggering, easy-flowing transitions, the result being users spending more time on the page than they would with previously popular animation trends.
This entrancing effect ensures that animators will not discard the liquid motion animation trend readily any time soon.
3) Kinetic Typography Animation Trend
A blend of typography and motion, the kinetic typography animation technique is another of the animation trends gaining popularity. It has become increasingly rare to even find a piece of media that doesn’t include some form of moving text nowadays.
Indeed, many prevalent brands utilize kinetic typography animation across their online presence to add dynamic through movement.
While static text can easily be overlooked, kinetic typography animation augments, compliments, and even transforms the meaning of the text, begging for it to be noticed.
This is where animators are able to challenge the traditional rules of animation trends gone by and produce unexpectedly significant outcomes by using kinetic typography animation.
Additionally, because this animation trend not only tells a story, but also captures attention, it’s perfect for a plethora of mediums including advertisements, websites, music videos, movies, and TV shows.
Animators and clients should be encouraged to take advantage of the kinetic typography animation trend as it assists website users or audience members focus on the message being put across by combining the right tone, pace, and style to evoke an emotional or powerful response.
Breaking the boundaries of tradition by stretching, twisting, and distorting letters, kinetic typography animation stands out from other animation trends by drawing more attention to brands on e-commerce websites and mobile apps, making users’ experiences memorable and demonstrating high performance.
4) Thin Line Animation/Minimalism/Liner Animation Trend
Image via Disney+
Thin line animation is another of the animation trends seeing a resurgence in recent years that looks like it’s here to stay. Lines are a historically important feature of animation – they give direction, define shapes, and lend to the mood of the design.
The reemergence of thin line animation with its super-fine and overly-distinctive lines imparts the impression of tangible, hand-drawn pictures affording this animation style an undeniable uniqueness.
Thin line animation is practical in its simplicity in that it can engage the viewer by drawing attention to the most significant graphics, guiding the eye, and defining specific objects.
As one of the hottest animation trends, thin line animation has already piqued the interest of businesses, many of which see the value of using this trend in their promotional and explainer videos.
Minimalism continues to be fashionable in design, visual expression, and animation and the thin line animation trend screams genius through simplicity.
Consequently, it is worth encouraging animators and their current and potential animation clients to adopt the thin line animation trend for upcoming projects as many are predicting this as one of the hottest new animation trends.
Put as simply as the trend itself, thin lines draw attention to the shapes and imagery on-screen, making thin line animation one-of-a-kind.
Polyester Studio’s TIFF: The Canadian Experiment video is a stunning example of the thin line animation trend.
5) Mixing 2D & 3D Animation Trend
Over the past few years, the combination of 2D and 3D animation has become one of the most popular animation trends among animators.
Mixing 2D and 3D animation adds another dimension to video animation and is used broadly from big-budget advertisements to small-scale digital ads on social media.
The most ubiquitous example of this trend is incorporating 2D and 3D animation in addition to inserting 2D overlayers with movement.
Blending a variety of artistic mediums seamlessly into one animated video is a steadily increasing trend and allows us to reflect on how different styles of animation can challenge and complement each other creatively to produce innovative animation trends in the future.
In addition to mixing 2D and 3D animation, animators have been dabbling with blending various kinds of videography, photography, graphics, and animation for decades.
In 1996 the feature film Space Jam exemplified the blend of animation and live-action. Twenty-five years later, the sequel, Space Jam: A New Legacy is released as well as a live-action/animated Tom and Jerry feature reinforcing the relevance of mixed animation as one of the top contemporary animation trends.
Apart from full-length film, mixed animation has solidified its place in television, advertising, and social media content and appeals to various potential audiences. Creative, dynamic, and entertaining, the mixed animation trend appears to be here to stay.
This video by Andrew Chesworth is a great example of mixing 2D & 3D animation. We also recommend checking out Pixelscope’s tutorial on combining 2D & 3D animation to learn more about this upcoming animation trend.
6) Restricted Color Palette Animation Trend
Just as we can say a lot with a few words, the same can be said for color. In line with current graphic design trends, restricted color palette animation involves visual storytelling using limited primary colors as opposed to vibrant palettes with many semitones.
Restricted color palette animation is uncomplicated and sophisticated at the same time while presenting a challenge for animators to set the mood using limited colors.
Exuding retro nostalgia – a popular contemporary mood – restricted color palette animation evokes emotion. Color has a powerful influence over the mood and atmosphere of animation, an important consideration for businesses and brands wanting to sell a particular message.
Designing web animations, social media marketing campaigns or big corporate ads using a restricted color palette is one of the animation trends that put weight on communicating these sentiments.
The minimalistic method of restricted color palette animation is especially useful for trending explainer video animation insofar as it facilitates concentration on the message.
And, in a digital world saturated with bold color and innumerable undertones, these restricted color palette animations are beautifully conspicuous.
7) VR Animation Trend
At its inception in the mid-90s, VR animation was primarily aimed at satiating gamers’ need for futuristic entertainment. Fast-forward almost three decades later and VR animation is one of the most prolific animation trends dominating the animation industry.
VR animation has long since surpassed the role of satisfying the teenage desire to beat the final Super Mario Bros boss and is presently used as a mainstream tool across industries from educational programs to social media marketing.
According to many trend predictors, VR is one of the animation trends at the forefront of the industry’s future.
As an animator, with VR animation you are now able to focus on superior quality surreal effects with no limit to creativity.
VR animation’s market size is projected to reach $44.7 billion in 2024, with a compound annual growth rate of 33.47%. Staggering statistics establish VR animation as one of the most undeniably lucrative animation trends to lend your energies to as an animator.
Warner Bros. Pictures’ Ready Player One is a great example of the infinite ways in which VR animation can be used and even be translated onto the big screen.
To be sure, the VR animation community is growing, with many animators like Bryant Koshu uploading their projects online to inspire others.
8) Retro Animation Trend/Grain & Texture
Nostalgia seems to spring eternal in recent years, with reboots like Twin Peaks, Sex and the City (And Just Like That), Will & Grace and Dexter, among a plethora of others, saturating popular culture.
Animation has been unable to escape the era of the revival, with nostalgic and retro animation creeping their way into popular animation trends in recent years.
Certain designs mark an era so specifically that they become iconic – think of the yellow smiley face of the 1970s or the 1950s-style hand-lettered logos.
Miami Vice-esque tropical palm trees, sunset pastels, and neon cityscapes scream 80s reminiscence. Retro animation borrows from this kind of cultural iconography to arouse a feeling of nostalgia and, with it, emotion.
Retro animation, with its attention-grabbing visuals and nostalgic ambiance, helps brands stand out and portray an identity steeped in tradition, home-made quality and creativity.
A perfected blend of retro-futuristic visuals and a collective longing for yesteryear will almost certainly maintain retro animation as one of the most popular animation trends for decades to come.
Animators are not just revamping nostalgia-rich animation styles; they’re essentially transporting the feel-good vibes of familiar retro graphics into the modern-day era.
The animated short film Meaningful by Garahisarlıyın lends itself to the nostalgic retro cartoon animation of early Disney films, while TV shows like Why Women Kill pay homage to the retro animation trend through their title sequences.
Why You Should Keep Up with Animation Trends
The last few years have brought meaningful beginnings and developments in many areas of life and global industries, including motion design and animation trends.
The popular animation trends listed above, from morphing animation to retro animation, are predicted to reign superior in years to come due to their flexibility and relevance across board, from explainer videos, branding, and marketing content to film, television and social media.
Take advantage of these upcoming animation trends by representing them in your work and creating first-rate content that will communicate the message to your target audience.
Consider implementing these eight best, upcoming animation trends predicted to gain momentum in the future and allow them to motivate you to drive innovation in videos and animation to propel the success and popularity of your animation career as well as that of potential clients.
If you would like to learn more about how to further your animation career or to learn more about the business side of animation, we recommend that you watch our free masterclass download a copy of our free marketing handbook, or check out our blog on how to start an animation studio!