Complete guide to graphic design and animation


Introduction: What is graphic animation?

Think about some of your favorite videos. What did you like about them?

If you're like us, there's more to it than meets the eye. Every element of the video, from the story to the graphics, fits together perfectly. They complement each other, working in tandem to create something special.

What is animated graphics (Graphic design studio definition)

Motion graphics is animation, but with text as its main component. It's essentially animated graphic design.

Since graphic animations appeared on the scene, there was debate about the dividing line between them and full animation. The opening credits of Hitchcock's Psycho are one of the earliest examples of animated graphics, where the marriage of sound, motion and graphic design is exceptionally successful.

Examples of motion graphics studios

Let's take a look at some examples of moving images in action.


La Effe Rebrand

The La Effe broadcasting channel wanted to refresh its brand, in order to stand out from the other SKY channels. The new design, conceived by Nerdo Creative Studio, is a mix of high-end art magazine styles drawn from the history of graphic design, with a strong emphasis on typography. We think it's fair to say that you don't see something like this on TV every day.

Explanation of an animated graphics company concept

ITFT: Understanding blockchain in two minutes

Animated graphics are ideal for creating a powerful explanatory video. ITFT uses animated graphics to illustrate the point and show blockchain in action. This is an effective way of supporting a concept, as it can help the viewer visualize it, something a presentation can't do.

Telling a story

Beautiful World Motion Graphics

This video proves that it's possible to use animated graphics to create a complete music video! The graphics themselves tell a distinct story that complements the song, just as other music videos do.

It's an interesting concept that highlights the different contexts in which moving images can be used. You can use them to create a commercial or even a short film.

How to create animated graphics

Animations can be used to add life and lightness to a presentation or video in a variety of contexts. Are you making an infographic video? Liven up those statistics with animations. Use them in the videos you make to share on social media. Animated graphics are ideal for getting your message across in an explainer video. It's an effective and affordable way to make a video.

What is animation?

Animation is a method by which immobile figures are manipulated to appear as moving images. In traditional animation, images are drawn or painted by hand on celluloid sheets, then photographed and exposed on film. Today, most animations are created using computer-generated images (CGI). Computer animation can be highly detailed 3D animation, while 2D computer animation (which can have the appearance of traditional animation) may be used for stylistic reasons, low bandwidth or faster real-time rendering. Other common animation methods apply a stop-motion technique to two- and three-dimensional objects such as paper cut-outs, puppets or clay figures.

A cartoon is an animated filmA short film, usually featuring an exaggerated visual style. This style is inspired by comic books, which often feature anthropomorphic animals, superheroes, or the adventures of human protagonists. Particularly with animals that form a natural predator/prey relationship (e.g. cats and mice, coyotes and birds), the action often centers on violent pratfalls such as falls, collisions and explosions that would be fatal in real life.

The illusion of animation - like that of films in general - is traditionally attributed to persistence of vision and later to the Phi phenomenon and/or beta motion, but the exact neurological causes are still uncertain. The illusion of movement caused by a rapid succession of images that differ little from one another, with imperceptible interruptions, is a . Whereas animators traditionally drew each part of the figures' movements and changes on transparent cardboard that could be moved around on a separate background, computer animation is generally based on programming paths between key frames to maneuver digitally created characters in a digitally created environment.

Analog mechanical animation media that rely on the rapid display of sequential images include the phenakisticope, zoetrope, flip book, praxinoscope and cinema. Television and video are popular electronic animation media that were originally analog and now operate digitally. For computer display, technologies such as animated GIF and Flash animation have been developed.

Animation vs. Motion Graphics: What's the difference?

Graphics are an invaluable part of almost any corporate video strategy. Whether they move or stand still, share a story or message, or feature your brand's colors or a new palette, animations and motion graphics can enhance every type of video in a myriad of ways.

As the DVI Group employs several incredible animators and motion designers, we've been talking a lot about graphics - both static and kinetic - on our blog. Now it's time to explore the subject of motion graphics versus animation in greater depth.

Animation graphics vs. animation: what's the difference?

We've already listed some of the graphic trends we expect to see on the rise in the coming years, and then discussed graphic design in particular and its contributions to branding work. Moving on from a discussion of graphic design to animated computer graphics, we also discussed how graphic design and animated computer graphics are indisputably valuable elements of our creative output.

Animation and graphic animation

But we've never delved into the explanation of the "motion" part of the term "motion graphics", nor distinguished this type of design from its chic video cousin, animation. We've noticed that many people new to creative media confuse the two, and to be honest, they can be very similar.

In all honesty, motion graphics is a type of animation.

Graphic animations can include :

  • Shapes in motion
  • Color movement
  • Object movement
  • Moving background elements

Animated graphics all have one characteristic in common: they are created from scratch using the talents and software available to a skilled artist. In our industry, motion graphics artists are sometimes referred to as animators, although their more professional title may also be "motion designer". These artists are often skilled in using different types of motion graphics software, such as :

How are graphic arts different from animation?

But we're here to talk about contrast between motion graphics and animation. Motion graphics are generally distinguished from animation in three distinct ways:

  1. They prefer abstract concepts to stories,
  2. They are generally more informative in nature, and
  3. They generally avoid characters and textured backgrounds.

Examples of animated videos

No animated characters: Introductory video for X-Rite Pantone

Let's look at an example of point #3 above, namely the fact that graphic animations favor rooms without animated characters or texture-filled elements. One of our favorite graphic elements is the introductory video we created for X-Rite Pantone, which can be seen below.

Note: the background is a flat color.

It's a soothing shade of soft gray. For this project, our artists weren't asked to create vivid backdrops or complex worlds for an animated character to wander through. Instead, our X-Rite Pantone clients wanted an abstract piece, filled with arrows, icons and other elements that would make the company's ad even clearer.

In this piece, our motion designers let the information do the talking and focused on perfect movement, clean lines and icons that would convey the information visually.

Animated graphics with live action sequences: Home Depot installation video

Animated images can also more easily complement a live-action video. Take a look at the Home Depot installation video below, and note the pop-ups throughout.

In our industry, these popups wouldn't be called "animated popups", but "animated graphics", and they were all part of a customized Home Depot "graphics package" we developed to create this video series.

What is animation?

We've covered animated graphics, but you may need an example of animation to better understand the contrast. How does animation differ from motion graphics?

Animation can include :

  • Moving shapes, colors and objects
  • Moving background elements
  • Movement of characters, sometimes called "puppets
  • Light displacement
  • Various camera angles

As you can see from this list, a key difference emerges when motion graphics and animation are examined side by side: animation is often more visually complex. This doesn't mean that motion design is easier or less skilful - on the contrary: it takes a skilled artist to know exactly which projects will benefit from the power of motion graphics and which require a full animated treatment.

Presenters can use the following software:

Certain types of animation require a larger video budget video and a longer lead time than graphic animations. If you're in the mood for a 3D animation video production Whether you're looking for a realistic look or a highly detailed custom look, be prepared to receive varying quotes from animation and video companies. But don't worry: a good agency can often work with you to find the visual style that suits your time and money constraints.

How does animation differ from animated graphics?

In contrast to the three points above used to define our vision of animated graphics, animation differs from animated graphics in three complementary ways:

  1. It's generally more story-driven,
  2. It strikes a balance between information and art, and
  3. It offers fully-developed characters, objects and worlds.
  4. .

Examples of animated videos

Create an animated word with characters: Sage HR Video

Stunning 3D detail : Doosan advertisement

Another 3D animation we love is this Doosan equipment telematics ad below - although the background is plain for dramatic effect, the equipment is lovingly rendered in stunning 3D detail, incorporating real mechanical parts and an impressive "explosion" motion.

This level of 3D animation takes weeks, even months, to set up properly, light and animate in a way that's believable. 3D animation is truly an art form in its own right, and is generally quite distinct from 3D motion graphics.

Animation or Motion Graphics... What's best for me?

It's entirely up to you.

Some projects require an animated world and characters, while others benefit from the visual simplicity of motion graphics. However, bear in mind that even if graphic animations are less character-driven, they often require just as much planning, thought and care as a fully animated video! As mentioned above, be prepared to define your budget and time constraints. Sometimes, the specifics of your project will naturally lead you to make the perfect choice between two styles.

The unique features and benefits of animated graphic design

Animated graphics aren't just pretty animation features. It's a unique way of communicating. The best visual communication is combined with moving narrative to create compelling content that helps brands share their story, reach people in other ways and present their content in a compelling package.

There may be some ambiguity in this term. A motion graphic is the industry term for an animated video. They can be 2D animations, 3D animations or GIFs. They can include sound, voice-over or sound effects. In some cases, they incorporate technologies such as 360-degree video, augmented reality or virtual reality.

The most significant benefits of graphic animation

  • They arouse emotional interest. Thanks to the phenomenon known as "emotional contagion", we immediately feel empathy and mirror what we see on screen. When you're telling emotional stories, motion graphics offer you many tools. Ambient music, powerful voice-overs and stunning images combine to create a powerful story and an emotional experience for the user.
  • Compressing information to facilitate understanding. Visual communication is almost instantaneous. It's so effective because it targets the way your brain processes information. That's why many concepts are easier to understand if you can see them.
  • They are a passive experience. It's no surprise that consumers are watching more and more video content every day. Remember the days when a substitute teacher played a video in class; it often meant you had nothing to do. The same goes for animated graphics. Viewers don't need to expend a lot of mental energy to watch and relax. The majority of consumers prefer to watch rather than read. When you need to convey a message with content, do it with moving images.
  • Reproduction. Now that almost all social media platforms support video, you can distribute your video to different places and in different ways, helping to extend the life cycle of a campaign. You can split the content to place an element for a specific group. You can add your graphic animation to an e-book or presentation. With evolving topics and explanatory videos, you have a well-designed communication tool that can serve you for years to come.
  • Great when you're short of time. Most animated graphics last between 30 seconds and three minutes, which is very useful when you need to make an impact as quickly as possible. By combining audio and video, animated graphics make the most of human processing capabilities. This allows you to say more with less content.

When should you use an animation or animated infographic?

Even if the line between motion graphics and animation is so thin as to be imperceptible to the untrained eye, there is one. In some cases, it's impossible to know exactly which market sector the video explanation belongs to. Contrary to popular belief, this is not the case.

But first let's take a look at some of the different types of animation, before looking at the differences between animation and animated graphics.

So, without further ado, let's get started.

The main animation styles

Animation has been an integral part of American culture since the early 1900s. Artists have always sought innovative ways to bring their ideas and stories to life, whether through the painstaking process of hand-drawn cellular animation or the more recent and popular computer-generated 3D animation.

There are five main animation techniques.

Hand-drawn animation

The term "traditional animation" is used to describe the form of animation used in the first major motion pictures, which was mainly a frame-by-frame technique produced by hand.

2D animation

2D animation uses images produced in 2D applications, and is the most widespread type of animation.

3D animation

Images produced using a 3D modeling program are called 3D animations.

Motion Graphics

Images produced using a 3D modeling program are called 3D animations.

When asked to define motion graphics, the term "additional animated graphics" springs to mind.


The term "stop motion" refers to the method by which still photographs are transformed into 3D animated works.

Overview: What is motion graphics?

With the use of animation and movement, motion graphics breathe life into an otherwise static visual design, often without the need for a linear narrative.

Would you like the bars in your graphic to stand out a little more? This is an animated image.

Do you want your website logo to rotate continuously? What you've just seen is an example of an animated image.

Animating characters to bring a children's fairy tale to life is your goal, isn't it? It's not animation at all. This style of animation is unique.

Why choose animated infographics rather than much cheaper static ones?

Animated infographics can be compared to visual assistance. With animated infographics, even the most complicated concepts can be presented graphically. In other cases, for example when illustrating a more complex or abstract concept, words and static images are simply not enough.

A little use of animation can explain everything quickly and clearly. Think of the way some password fields buzz or turn red if you enter an incorrect password, prompting you to try again immediately.

Overview: What is animation?

Animation graphics is a subset of the broader field of animation. The history of animation goes back more than a century. Want to know more about the past? Take a look at this fantastic resource on animation. Hand-drawn cartoons, computer-generated imagery, animated television, clay animation and animated computer graphics are all examples of animation.

When it comes to promotional videos, content is what differentiates graphic animations from other animation styles.

Motion graphics often refers to the animation of various graphic design elements, such as text, images and abstract shapes. Motion graphics is a subset of animation that involves the use of motion to enhance static visual elements such as graphics, infographics or site designs.

So when do we use the term animation versus motion graphics?

When you want to tell a story to your audience, animation is the best technique to use. Those familiar with Pixar's work will agree that animation can be an effective way of conveying emotional and dramatic content.

Main differences between motion graphics and animation

Let's take a look at the key differences between animation and motion graphics. If you're trying to decide between motion graphics and animation for video production, here are some of the important distinctions that could change the game.

Think about scaling up when planning your next video project. Production itself has its own peculiarities, so let's take a look inside.

The teams

A comparison of average team sizes in the animation and motion design sectors reveals significant differences.


It makes sense that the degree of expertise varies between animation and motion graphics, given the big differences in team size and production structure between the two fields.


It seems logical that the tools used for animation design are different from those used for motion design. Adobe After Effects can be used for all motion design projects, while Cinema 4D can be used in 54 % situations.

When it comes to animation, After Effects can be used in 78 % of cases, while Flash/animate is only used in 57 % of cases. Over 30 % of studios use TVPaint, Harmony, Maya and 3DS Max, while only 17 % use Blender.

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