Getting started as a Motion designer

8 min read
Beginners guide to motion graphics in nigeria | motion graphics school in lagos | motion graphics training in lagos

Getting started as a Motion designer

Beginners guide to motion graphics in nigeria | getting started as a motion designer | motion graphics training in lagos


What is Motion design?

Motion design is a subset of graphic design that uses graphic design principles in filmmaking or video production context (or some other temporally evolving visual media) through the use of animation or film techniques.  Examples of motion graphics include the use of kinetic Typography and graphics used in film and television opening sequences.


What does a Motion designer do?

A motion designer creates artwork for the web, television, or film. They use visual effects, animation, and other cinematic techniques to bring life to their creations.

A motion designer is a person trained in traditional graphic design who has learned to integrate temporally evolving visual media into their existing design knowledge. Sometimes, motion designers may come from a filmmaking or animation background as these fields share several overlapping skills.

As creative filmmakers and video producers expand both their imaginations and budget for impressive technology and design, skilled motion designers are essential. By animating graphics and creating vivid visual effects, motion designers bring films and even websites, commercials and more to an entirely new level.

With the increase of video content online, motion designers could find themselves working on almost anything and any digital platform. Depending on the type of motion graphics you enjoy pursuing, you could end up working on a big-ticket film in Hollywood or freelancing the opening intro for a new iPhone app.


What skills do motion designers need?

Whether you are a beginner or advanced motion graphics artist, there is a set of skills that you should have that allows you to become a great motion designer.


  • Graphics design skills:

Giving yourself the knowledge of graphic design can allow you to push your motion design work especially if you’re a freelancer, where often you will be asked to not only make the virtual elements move but to create them.


  • Traditional art skills;

Knowing traditional art is very helpful during your design process. When working on motion graphics, it’s always easier to sketch out your ideas on paper than it is to combine everything on a computer only to find out that it’s not working. Sketches can be done much faster, allowing you to brainstorm different ideas, have a defined path on what to do, which will help speed up your workflow.


  • 3D modeling/ design skills;

As 3D elements have found their way into motion design, you need to have this skill set to be able to keep up with the changing industry. You shouldn’t limit yourself to just 2D Motion design, there is a wealth of 3D applications to choose from, it is left for you to take your time and learn one. It is crucial you have a full 3d breakdown to fully understand how to navigate your career path.

Understanding points in 3D spaces, lines connecting those points, and polygons made up of those lines come from working with modeling programs.


  • Typography:

Typography is heavily utilized in motion design and oftentimes, it is the driving force behind motion graphics. Since type is so prominent, you need to have an understanding of typography. That is, what virtual features make up a typeface, what compliments a design, how to engage your audience to follow along, how to tell stories using typography and so on.


  • Color Theory:

As a motion designer, all your motion designs will utilize color. You need to have a deep understanding of color theory and what color conveys different moods and feelings to an audience. You need to give your color choice a lot of thought. What do you want your piece to communicate, the strength, dependability?  These questions can all determine the color scheme for your motion design.


  • Animation perspective:

A good 3D designer understands motion and timelines. That is, objects can move, so can light sources. The camera which is the view of the audience can also move. A designer can choreograph complex movements, one element at a time, and spin them off in multiple ways.


  • Organization:

The organization is crucial for both freelancers and team members. Keeping a tidy file with organized assets, dependencies, layers, etc becomes more crucial, the bigger the project becomes.

Organization and multitasking are critical attributes to be found in new motion designers.


  • Procedural animation:

Motion design software is increasingly making use of scripts, expressions, and coding to save time in the creative process.

One of the biggest challenges in creating motion graphics is the fact that it can be incredibly time-intensive. Procedural animation is one way to reduce time stretch in motion design.

The term procedural is a trend in recent times and is set to explode over the next decade. Through simple and complex algorithms, full animations can be created in half of the time. Work can be tweaked, adapted, and revised at ease with the help of automated processes.


  • Texturing and lighting effects:

The audience does not see the model, instead, they see shapes and images. Surfacing is part of what makes 3D graphics look photo-realistic. Surfaces can be reflective, shiny, transparent, translucent, rough, or refractive. Their potential is unlimited and they can also stimulate textures or display moving images.


  • Understanding big picture context:

A good designer knows what their design will be used for. Multimedia, game design and Virtual Reality are all growing and possible destinations for motion graphics designers. Different applications warrant different approaches. An understanding of all these applications and how to plan them will help.


  • Adaptability:

Plans change, so do project scope and goals. Skilled motion designers should have the ability to adjust their original vision to accommodate clients’ feedback.


  • Timing:

Timing is one of the most difficult and most important skills for a motion graphics designer. Motion design is a strong-driven tool and the best stories contain natural flow and rhythm.

A fantastically detailed and otherwise good-looking graphics isn’t effective if the pacing is strange or doesn’t fit with other elements like sound. The best animators and motion designers learn to adapt their work and incorporate rhythm and pacing into their process.


How do you become a motion designer?

  • A degree in the field can give you the understanding and technical skills that matter most in the industry.
  • Although there are additional ways to set yourself apart. Some countless online tutorials(YouTube, Udemy, School of Motion) and resources can help add up skills to your repertoire.
  • Following top animation blogs on social media, webs is another way to get exposure to new trends and techniques.
  • Getting work experience on projects and adding it to your portfolio is also a great way to start working towards your dream job.



     Where do motion graphics designers work?

According to the Bureau of labor statistics (BLS), animators and multimedia designers typically work in motion picture offices, computer systems, and software companies, and advertising agencies. This industry was calculated to have a high percentage of about 59% self-employed workers in 2018, indicating that remote work arrangements are very possible in the field.

Motion graphics designers do more than bring graphics to life, they use strong creative backgrounds to create powerful stories that capture an audience and leave them wanting more. In addition, their skills and experience include:


  • The ability to partner with creative team members and key stakeholders to create content used across a variety of platforms (web, movie, video, and more).
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced environment and have strong project management skills.
  • Strong technical skills and proven ability to use a variety of software (Photoshop, Illustrator, CAD Premiere Pro, 3D softwares).
  • Meet with clients, internal and external, to understand their needs and share ideas.
  • Great communicators, they receive and interpret feedback and meet tight deadlines.
  • They respond to user feedback, data/analytics, and client feedback to improve the creative working future iteration.



Motion graphics designer salary and job outlook

Motion graphics designers are fairly well-compensated for their technical expertise. In Nigeria, their salary range from entry level starts from N60,000 to 200,000 naira depending on their years of experience. According to BLS, the median annual wage for a multimedia artist and animator was $72,520 in 2018. Freelancers can also earn more, compared to those on a salary structure. Professionals earning the most in these fields were employed by software companies and motion picture industries.

The Bureau of labor statistics projects a 4% rate of employment growth for multimedia artists and animators, attributing this steady growth to the increased consumption of film, video, and digital media.


Get your motion graphics career into motion

If you have dreams of becoming a motion graphics designer, it’s important to acquire the necessary skills and hands-on experience first by enrolling here. Being familiar with the right techniques and fundamentals of this field will help equip you with the comprehensive knowledge needed to evolve with this industry.


With all the essential knowledge put in place, you’ll be able to improve your skills and personal knowledge in the field of motion graphics.

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