Upgrade your design skills in 2018

Animation shows a campfire flickering

Chris Gannon makes animations like this for the web (Image credit: Chris Gannon)

Motion graphics and animation are becoming more and more integral to design and branding, and learning those skills yourself has obvious benefits.

"In simple terms it makes you more visible," explains award-winning illustrator Simon Spilsbury. "Nowadays, with moving imagery all over social media, it's even more important to have the ability to make your work move."

Rob Hampson, designer at digital agency We Make Awesome Sh, had a specific reason for wanting to learn the fundamentals of animation. "I've always found explaining to clients and developers my animation ideas for UI elements quite difficult," he explains. "I thought I would learn the basics of After Effects so I could very quickly explain my ideas visually."

Illustration shows the robot with eyeglass up close

Illustration by Flavio Montiel

It's a similar story for designer and illustrator Jessica Draws. "I'd been creating static infographics, illustrations and graphics for a while," she explains.

"But I noticed an interest from clients in interactive and animated videos, which I had no skills or experience in. I knew it was important to stay on top of these skills, otherwise clients were going to look elsewhere."

01. Take a course

She and her husband invested in a week-long course in After Effects. "It was extremely effective, but what really pushed our skills was actually doing the work," she says.

"We took on a couple of personal motion graphics projects to practise with and offered a regular client, who we were creating static infographics for, a free animated version."

02. Learn by doing

"I really think the best way to learn is by doing," she says. "Don't be put off by the financial commitment. Really, you don't need to invest anything more than your time. Put some time aside each week to learn the software but set yourself a brief first as it's much easier to learn new software if you have a goal to get to."

03. Watch tutorials

"There are so many great tutorials and videos online," Hampson adds. "Typically I would just video search for what I wanted to achieve in Google – something like 'create a pulse animation in After Effects'.

"I prefer to watch video tutorials because I can see exactly what the author is clicking on and the micro-steps it takes them to achieve a task. This video was very useful, for example."

04. Read up

Illustration shows metallic object being welded

Illustration by Flavio Montiel

We have a huge range of animation articles on Creative Bloq, but these are some of the best for beginners and intermediates:

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Tom May

Tom May is an award-winning journalist and editor specialising in design, photography and technology. Author of the Amazon #1 bestseller Great TED Talks: Creativity, published by Pavilion Books, Tom was previously editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. Today, he is a regular contributor to Creative Bloq and its sister sites Digital Camera World, T3.com and Tech Radar. He also writes for Creative Boom and works on content marketing projects.