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Motion Graphics vs. Animation - 4 Ways They're Different

ben marvazi 2020

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Motion Graphics and Animation are the same things, right? Right?!

Well, only partially right. Now although they might have the same “roots”, think of animation as a “tree” and motion graphics as one of its “branches”. Let's take a deeper look that hopefully “leaves” a better impression than my tree analogy.

Understanding these concepts is very important before navigating the animation industry. In this blog post, we discuss motion graphics, animation, and how different yet the same they are. Grab a cup of goodness, sit back and get ready to expand your animation horizons! 

1. Learn the Difference Between Motion Graphics and Animation

man looking at computer trying to distinguish the differences between motion graphics and animation

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels

Motion Graphics are commonly confused to be synonymous with animation. Although closely related, there are clear differences between the two. It is a bit tricky to draw the line between them but through close analysis, the smoke and mirrors begin to clear.

The biggest difference is that motion graphics form a specific type of animation. It can be seen as a subsection of animation that focuses on animated graphic designs. These designs are given the illusion of movement in order to bring across a specific message.


Animation has developed into a multifaceted industry with numerous components. Animated videos have become a strong tool for many sectors such as entertainment and education. This broad reach created unique animation needs and birthed different animation styles.

5 styles of animation:

  • Motion Graphics
  • Traditional Animation
  • 2D Animation
  • 3D Animation
  • Stop Motion

What are Motion Graphics?

Branching off from animation, motion graphics entails a direct focus on creating the illusion of movement through graphic designs. This movement is used to bring across certain points which ultimately benefit the quality of communication. 

Motion graphics combine animation and graphic design and can be seen as an animated infographic. This type of animation is commonly used by individuals who need to bring across information in a simple and easily-digestible way. 

a motion graphics image of a caterpillar to illustrate a "powerball"

GIF by - NobleDame via Tenor

Traditional Animation

Since 1908, this animation style has involved hand drawings and has captivated people all over the world. Technology has since made a huge impact on animation but this style still has a huge market that values this timeless craft.

2D Animation

This style of animation took the entertainment industry by storm in the early 1900s. Animators like Walt Disney used features such as creatures, backgrounds, and characters to create movement on a two-dimensional canvas.

3D Animation

Ever seen real-life-like animation? You'd swear the characters are really moving around. Well, this is made possible through 3D animation. Animators use this style to give computer-generated objects the illusion of three-dimensional movement. 

Stop Motion

Frame by frame, movement by movement. This style of animation requires both patience and focus. Stop motion entails the slight movement of objects between frames. These frames are then combined to create the illusion of movement.

Different Strokes For Different Folks

Animation has a unique ability to grasp viewers. This reach transcends differences in both age and language. Although specific styles naturally suit certain scenarios, it is important to remember that animation has a tendency to reinvent these “labels”.

Leaders in the animation industry consistently break market-related limitation barriers. New ideas and concepts unlock new uses for animation. This means that the demand for animators will grow as other industries start to understand their potential.

2. Motion Graphics Can Expand Your Animation Skills

As an animator, your clients could require different types of animation depending on the nature of their project. By knowing the difference between these concepts, you will be able to provide the best-suited animation style as a solution.

Animation styles are identifiable through their appearance and unique features. This might sound like an intense inspection process but as soon as you get in gear, it really becomes second nature. 

Long story short, there is no “best style”. By working on and mastering the different styles of animation, you will be prepared for any project that walks through your door. Animation is not “one size fits all” so make sure to have all the sizes!

an image of two brothers as motion graphics and animation are similar to their relationship

Photo by Victoria Borodinova from Pexels

3. Motion Graphics are Essential for Online Animation Content

Motion graphics can become a powerful tool. This doesn't mean it's always the right tool for the job though. Good motion graphic animations are concise, informative, and guide viewers through ideas normal conversation never could.  

Where Do I Use Motion Graphics?

Looking for a short simple way to show your clients how to use your product? Motion graphics is the way to go. This animation style is very effective in illustrating points and emphasizing facts. Here are a few examples of great opportunities to use motion graphics:

  • Social Media Content 
  • Product & Service Explainer Videos
  • Special Events Invitations
  • Online Tutorial Videos

GIF by CoreyTalmage from Tenor

Where Shouldn't I Use Motion Graphics?

Motion graphics might not always be the answer to your animation needs. This style is limited in its storytelling capacity as they focus on illustrating specific points. Videos that need more narrative development would be better suited with a different style of animation.

Here are a few projects where you should avoid motion graphics:

  • Animation Films
  • Bringing Characters To life
  • Longer Advertisements 

4. Motion Graphics and Animation Services are in Demand

It was impossible to project the impact animation would make on the world at its inception. This industry continuously reinvents itself. Companies from different sectors are realizing the potential of animation and this has increased the demand for animator services. Impact.

This impact is evident in the massive contribution animation has made in the marketing departments of many businesses. Both sales and customer engagement has benefited greatly from animation videos. Here are a few statistics to illustrate this impact:

  • Facebook videos attract 135% more organic traffic compared to photos according to SocialBakers.
  • The Marketing Helpline discovered that social media posts that are vide-based, generate 48% more views.
  • 45% of Twitter users prefer watching celebrity videos instead of other forms of content.


The marketing industry thrives on conveying information in a way that triggers the recipient. Step in, animation. Whether it's for sales or explainer videos, animation videos have become a strong marketing asset.


Animation in the entertainment industry is the perfect example of how largely technology can contribute to an industry’s growth. The latest advancements in animation software have made it possible for animators to keep generations of animation fans glued to their screens.


An advantage animation has over alternatives is its unique ability to capture the attention of both adults and children. This ability has opened the doors to many educational possibilities. Animation can be used to translate difficult concepts into easily digestible content.

the impressive data on how animations and motion graphics are being used today

Photo by Lukas from Pexels

Settling the Debate of Motion Graphics vs Animation

Animation and Motion Graphics are tricky terms to differentiate between but your new trained “eye” should have you covered. Motion Graphics is a very important component of Animation and the difference between the two is important to remember.

The best way to master your animation styles is to learn from the masters themselves. We pride ourselves on providing quality animation education geared at preparing you for success in this growing industry. You deserve the best, we will give it to you.

Where do you start? Well, right here! Begin your animation career with our FREE online masterclass. Thinking of doing some freelance animation work? Check out our animation accelerator program which serves as the perfect freelance animation “survival kit”. 

We are in your corner and ready to help. Your animation future awaits.

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