How To Draw For Animations And Motion Graphics.

If you’ve ever wondered how to bring your illustrations to life through animations and motion graphics, then look no further. In this article, you’ll uncover the secrets to creating captivating animated visuals by mastering the art of drawing. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced artist, these essential tips and techniques will help you take your artwork to new animated heights. So grab your sketchbook and get ready to breathe life into your drawings!

Understanding the Basics

Difference between animation and motion graphics

When it comes to artwork in the digital realm, two terms often come up: animation and motion graphics. While they may seem similar, there are distinct differences between the two. Animation refers to the creation of a sequence of images or frames that give the illusion of movement. It often involves bringing characters or objects to life through movement. On the other hand, motion graphics focus on creating visually striking graphics and designs that convey a message or tell a story. It usually involves the use of typography, shapes, and other graphic elements that are animated. Understanding this difference is essential as it helps to define the direction and style of your artwork.

Basics of drawing for animations

Before diving into the world of animation, it’s important to grasp the basics of drawing. Animation relies heavily on the ability to create convincing and fluid movement, which stems from solid drawing skills. By developing your drawing skills, you will be better equipped to give life to your characters and objects. Focus on practicing fundamental skills such as sketching, shading, and understanding proportions. Additionally, practicing gesture drawing, which captures fluid and dynamic movements quickly, can be immensely helpful in animation.

Basics of drawing for motion graphics

Motion graphics, on the other hand, focus more on graphic design principles. While drawing skills are still valuable, they play a different role in motion graphics. In this field, understanding composition, color theory, and typography are essential. The ability to create visually appealing and engaging designs that effectively convey a message is crucial. Familiarize yourself with design principles such as balance, contrast, hierarchy, and typography to create compelling motion graphics.

Essential Drawing Tools

Pencils and erasers

When it comes to traditional drawing, pencils and erasers are fundamental tools. Pencils come in various types, such as graphite, charcoal, and colored pencils, each with its own unique properties. Graphite pencils are commonly used for sketching, while charcoal pencils are excellent for adding depth and texture. Colored pencils allow you to introduce color into your artwork. Remember to use an eraser suitable for your chosen medium to correct and refine your drawings.

Pens and markers

Pens and markers are essential tools for inking and adding bold lines to your drawings. Fine-point pens, such as technical pens or fineliners, are perfect for creating clean and precise lines. On the other hand, markers, especially alcohol-based markers, are great for adding vibrant colors to your artwork. Experiment with different pen and marker brands to find the ones that work best for your style and preferences.

Tablets and digital drawing tools

With the advancement of digital technology, many artists now prefer to create their artwork digitally using tablets and digital drawing tools. A graphics tablet, combined with software such as Adobe Photoshop or Procreate, offers a versatile and efficient way to create animations and motion graphics. Digital tools provide benefits such as easy editing, instant color changes, and the ability to work in layers. While traditional tools will always have their charm, digital drawing tools have become increasingly popular in the animation and motion graphics field.

Mastering Perspective

Understanding vanishing points

Perspective is crucial in creating convincing and realistic drawings. It allows you to accurately represent objects in three-dimensional space. Understanding vanishing points is a fundamental aspect of perspective drawing. A vanishing point is a point on the horizon where parallel lines appear to converge. By placing objects and lines in relation to the vanishing points, you can create depth and the illusion of distance in your artwork.

Drawing objects in one-point perspective

In one-point perspective, objects are drawn as if they are facing directly towards or away from the viewer. It involves using a single vanishing point on the horizon line. This creates the illusion of depth and allows you to accurately represent objects in a realistic manner. Practice drawing simple objects such as cubes, cylinders, and furniture in one-point perspective to strengthen your understanding of this concept.

Drawing objects in two-point perspective

Two-point perspective is often used to represent objects that are at an angle to the viewer. It involves using two vanishing points on the horizon line, allowing for more dynamic and complex drawings. Two-point perspective is commonly used in architectural drawings and landscape illustrations. By mastering this technique, you can create drawings that have depth and realism.

Drawing objects in three-point perspective

Three-point perspective is the most advanced form of perspective drawing. It involves adding a third vanishing point above or below the horizon line, allowing for a more dramatic and extreme angle to the viewer. This technique is often used in futuristic or surreal illustrations. By practicing three-point perspective, you can push the boundaries of your artwork and create visually stunning and dynamic drawings.

Character Design

Creating original character designs

Character design is a crucial aspect of animation and motion graphics. Original and well-designed characters can bring life and personality to your projects. When creating a character, consider their personality, backstory, and the role they play in your animation or motion graphic. Experiment with different shapes, features, and clothing styles to create unique and memorable characters.

Understanding proportions and anatomy

Proportions and anatomy play a vital role in creating believable and convincing characters. Understanding the fundamentals of human anatomy will help you accurately depict the human form and ensure that your characters move and behave realistically. Study the proportions of the human body, facial expressions, and body language. This knowledge will help you create characters that are visually appealing and relatable.

Adding personality and emotions to characters

One of the keys to successful character design is the ability to convey personality and emotions through your drawings. Consider the emotions and traits you want to convey and exaggerate certain features or poses to emphasize them. Utilize body language, facial expressions, and props to enhance the personality and emotions of your characters. This will make them more engaging and relatable to your audience.

Creating character turnarounds

Character turnarounds are essential for animators, as they provide a complete view of a character from all angles. A character turnaround consists of a series of drawings that showcase the front, side, and back views of a character. This allows animators to maintain consistency in their animations and accurately depict the character from every angle. Practice creating character turnarounds to ensure that your characters are well-represented in your animations and motion graphics.


Planning the animation sequence

Storyboarding is an essential step in the animation and motion graphics process. It involves creating a visual outline or sequence of the scenes in your animation or motion graphic. Start by sketching out the key moments and transitions in your project, ensuring that they flow seamlessly. Consider the timing, pacing, and transitions between scenes to create a cohesive and engaging narrative.

Creating a visual narrative

A visual narrative is the storytelling aspect of your animation or motion graphic. It involves using visual elements such as composition, camera angles, and character poses to convey the story or message effectively. Consider the emotions and reactions you want to elicit from your audience and use your drawings to guide them through the narrative.

Understanding shot composition

Shot composition refers to how elements are arranged within the frame of a scene. It is a vital aspect of storytelling in animation and motion graphics. Consider the rule of thirds, leading lines, and framing techniques when composing your shots. Use different camera angles to emphasize important moments or create a specific atmosphere. Experiment with composition to create visually engaging and dynamic scenes.

Sketching key frames

Key frames are the most important moments or poses in your animation or motion graphic. Sketching key frames allows you to plan the overall movement and flow of your project. Think of key frames as the key points in your story or animation, and sketch them to visualize the movement and transitions. This will serve as a guide for the entire animation process, ensuring that your vision is effectively conveyed.

Animating Shapes and Objects

Understanding keyframes and motion paths

Keyframes are essential in animation as they mark the beginning and end points of a specific action or transition. They define the position, rotation, scale, and other properties of an object at a specific point in time. By setting multiple keyframes and manipulating the properties gradually, you can create smooth and realistic animation. Motion paths, on the other hand, allow you to define the trajectory and movement of an object over time.

Animating simple shapes

Start your animation journey by animating simple shapes. By understanding the principles of timing, spacing, and easing, you can make basic shapes come to life. Experiment with different movements and transitions, such as rotation, scaling, and translation. This will strengthen your understanding of keyframes and motion paths, giving you a solid foundation for more complex animations.

Animating complex objects

Animating complex objects can be challenging, but it’s a necessary skill for creating captivating animations and motion graphics. Break down the object into its individual parts and animate each part separately. This approach allows for more control and ensures that the movement is realistic. Pay attention to the details and subtleties of the object’s movement, such as overlapping actions and secondary movements.

Creating seamless transitions

Seamless transitions are essential for creating smooth and visually pleasing animations and motion graphics. The key is to ensure that the movements and transitions flow naturally and do not appear abrupt or disjointed. Consider the timing, easing, and spacing of your animations to create seamless transitions between keyframes. Smooth transitions enhance the overall visual experience and keep your audience engaged.

Animating Characters

Animating facial expressions

Facial expressions are a powerful tool for animating characters and conveying emotions. Pay attention to the subtle changes in facial muscles and how they contribute to different expressions. Start by understanding the basic facial structure and the key elements of expression, such as eyebrows, eyes, mouth, and forehead. Practice animating different emotions, such as happiness, sadness, anger, and surprise, to bring your characters to life.

Animating body movements

Body movements are another vital aspect of character animation. The way a character moves can convey a wealth of information about their personality, mood, and intentions. Pay attention to poses, gestures, and weight distribution. Use reference material or observe people and animals to understand how different movements are executed. By studying and practicing body movements, you can create dynamic and realistic character animations.

Lip-syncing for dialogue

Lip-syncing involves matching the animation of a character’s mouth movements to dialogue or audio. It is crucial for creating convincing and synchronized character performances. Start by understanding the basic phonetic shapes and mouth positions for different sounds. Break down the dialogue into individual sounds or phonemes and create corresponding mouth shapes for each one. Pay attention to the timing and subtleties of lip movements to achieve realistic lip-syncing.

Creating dynamic poses

Dynamic poses add energy and impact to your character animations. They allow you to portray action, tension, and emotion effectively. Study athletic poses, dance movements, and other dynamic poses to understand how weight is distributed and how muscles are engaged. Experiment with different poses and exaggerate certain aspects to enhance the overall impact of your character animations.

Using Color and Lighting

Choosing color palettes

Color plays a significant role in setting the mood and atmosphere of your animations and motion graphics. Choose color palettes that align with the emotions and themes you want to convey. Warm colors, such as red and orange, can evoke energy and excitement, while cool colors, such as blue and green, can create a sense of calmness or sadness. Experiment with different color combinations to find the right palette for each project.

Creating mood and atmosphere

Mood and atmosphere are essential aspects of animation and motion graphics. They can affect how your audience perceives and engages with your work. Consider the lighting, color palette, and overall style when creating the mood and atmosphere of your animations. Dim lighting can create a sense of mystery or tension, while bright lighting can convey happiness or excitement. Experiment with different lighting and color techniques to achieve the desired mood and atmosphere.

Understanding light sources

Light sources play a significant role in creating depth and dimension in your animations and motion graphics. Understanding how light interacts with objects can help you accurately depict shading, highlights, and shadows. Consider the direction, intensity, and color of the light source when illuminating your scenes. Different lighting setups can create different moods and emphasize specific elements within your artwork.

Adding highlights and shadows

Highlights and shadows are essential for creating a three-dimensional appearance in your animations and motion graphics. They add depth, volume, and realism to your drawings. Study how light interacts with different surfaces and objects to understand how to accurately depict highlights and shadows. Experiment with different shading techniques, such as cross-hatching or stippling, to achieve the desired effects.

Adding Effects and Textures

Adding motion blur

Motion blur is a visual effect that simulates the blur that occurs when objects or characters are in motion. It adds a sense of speed and fluidity to your animations, making them more dynamic and realistic. Experiment with different methods of adding motion blur, such as using motion blur filters or manually painting it onto specific frames. Use motion blur sparingly to avoid obscuring important details and maintain clarity within your animations.

Applying filters and gradients

Filters and gradients can help enhance the visual appeal of your animations and motion graphics. Filters can add various effects, such as glow, blur, or distortion, to specific elements or the entire scene. Gradients are useful for creating smooth color transitions or adding depth to objects. Experiment with different filters and gradients to achieve the desired visual effects and make your animations stand out.

Creating texture overlays

Texture overlays can add depth and realism to your animations and motion graphics. They can simulate the appearance of different materials, such as wood, metal, or fabric. Overlay textures onto your artwork to give it a tactile quality and make it visually interesting. Use blending modes and opacity adjustments to ensure that the textures integrate seamlessly with your artwork.

Using particle systems

Particle systems are a powerful tool for adding dynamic and realistic effects to your animations and motion graphics. They can simulate natural elements, such as fire, smoke, water, or particles like confetti or sparks. Experiment with different particle settings, such as size, velocity, and density, to create a wide range of effects. Particle systems can add depth, movement, and visual interest to your animations or motion graphics.

Exporting and Rendering

Preparing the artwork for export

Before exporting your animations and motion graphics, it’s essential to ensure that your artwork is correctly prepared. Check for any inconsistencies or errors within your frames, layers, or compositions. Make sure that all elements are properly aligned and that any text is easily readable. Organize your project files and remove any unnecessary or redundant elements. By preparing your artwork thoroughly, you can minimize any issues that may arise during the export process.

Choosing appropriate file formats

When choosing file formats for exporting your animations or motion graphics, consider the intended use or platform. Some common formats for animations include GIF, MOV, or MP4. These formats are suitable for online platforms, social media, or presentations. For higher quality or professional purposes, consider formats such as PNG image sequences or uncompressed video formats. Choose the appropriate file format to ensure compatibility and optimal playback quality.

Optimizing for different platforms

Optimizing your animations or motion graphics for different platforms is essential to ensure a smooth viewing experience for your audience. Consider the platform’s requirements, such as file size limitations or aspect ratio restrictions. Compress your files without compromising the visual quality to optimize loading times and playback. Test your animations or motion graphics on different devices and platforms to ensure compatibility and optimal performance.

Rendering for smooth playback

Rendering is the process of converting your animations or motion graphics into a playable video file. To achieve smooth playback, consider the frame rate and the resolution of your animation. Higher frame rates, such as 30 or 60 frames per second, create smoother and more fluid animations. However, keep in mind that higher frame rates may require more processing power and result in larger file sizes. Choose the appropriate frame rate and resolution based on the intended platform and the capabilities of your target audience’s devices.

By following these guidelines, you can enhance your drawing skills and create visually stunning animations and motion graphics. Remember to practice regularly, experiment with different techniques and styles, and most importantly, have fun throughout the process. Happy drawing and animating!