12 Must-Have Skills You Need As A Motion Designer

12 Must-Have Skills You Need As A Motion Designer

A career in motion design is dynamic, constantly changing, and enjoyable, and it allows you to work in various industries, from marketing to television and film production. 

Motion designers can work under contract or independently; in both situations, they can earn a desirable annual salary. However, you’ll need to develop specific skills to succeed in motion design.

motion design

In this article, we are talking about hard and soft skills that will increase your chances of becoming one of the top motion designers of today. Let’s start.

Hard Skills You’ll Need As A Motion Designer

Hard skills are objective and measurable technical skills required to carry out job-related tasks efficiently. They are acquired through schooling (or courses) and then practically applied and improved at the workplace. 

The fundamentals of graphic design, traditional art, animation, 3D design, and color theory are all essential hard skills for the position of a motion designer.

Let’s see why each of these skills is important:

1. Graphic Design

Pointing out graphic design as a necessary skill for motion designers might seem evident because motion design is a subcategory of graphic design. Still, this skill is the most important of all. 

Knowledge of graphic design can facilitate and improve motion design. Motion designers use graphical elements that they put into motion using animation. 

In some cases, you will receive ready-made visual elements that you “just” need to move, while if you work as a freelancer, you will often have to do the work from scratch – draw graphics and animate them. 

Since you can’t predict your assignments, it’s best to focus on more than just one area – knowing how to create 2D elements and then put them in motion can bring you many more business engagements.

2. Traditional Art

Traditional art is the forerunner of digital art. Although there are seven subcategories of conventional arts (drawing, painting, sculpture, architecture, cinema, music, and theater), motion design refers mainly to the first one, drawing. 

Knowing the drawing techniques can significantly facilitate your work. It is much simpler to sketch on paper than to create graphical elements in computer programs, only to find later that pieces need to be added or moved.

Knowing the basics of drawing allows you to quickly sketch any idea and see if it is functional, but that’s not all – you will also better understand colors, shapes, and angles. On the Internet, you will find many tutorials for correctly sketching different forms, for example, skeleton hand drawing for beginners

3. Animation

Animation differentiates motion design from graphic design – it brings 2D elements to life and makes them move. A motion designer must have developed animation skills as much as animators do because even the best design can only succeed if it is adequately animated. 

It is recommended that you learn the basics of Disney’s 12 most important principles of animation, which are:

  1. Squash and stretch
  2. Anticipation
  3. Staging
  4. Straight ahead action and pose to pose
  5. Follow through and overlapping action
  6. Slow in and slow out
  7. Arcs
  8. Secondary action
  9. Timing
  10. Exaggeration
  11. Solid drawing
  12. Appeal

4. 3D Design

Motion design is constantly improving and changing according to market demands and technological progress. As a motion designer, you’ll want to stay on top of the latest trends, so your work is always up-to-date, fresh and competitive. 

While motion design used to rely solely on 2D, 3D animation is becoming more prevalent, meaning you need to master this skill.

5. Color Theory

Color theory is a set of rules that designers use to convey the desired message to viewers. Colors and their shades affect emotions and moods, and color theory provides valuable insights into which shade to use if you want to achieve a specific result. 

Choosing colors can make the difference between a great design and an altogether inadequate one. As a motion designer, colors will be one of the essential elements to work with, and you must know well the meaning of each of them. 

For example, in color theory, blue represents peace or serenity, red represents war and violence, and purple is used when you want to evoke wisdom, creativity, and luxury.

6. Typography

Typography is very important for any form of design, including motion design. Creating textual content that accompanies the design helps convey messages, tone, and emotion while also serving an aesthetic function. 

Typography involves much more than choosing a typeface, so it’s a skill that requires time and attention to understand how a particular font complements the design and how it affects the overall audience experience.

7. Technical skills

We mentioned in one of the previous paragraphs that for motion designers, knowledge of traditional arts is essential, so that they can make sketches on paper before transferring them to the computer, where most of the motion design work takes place. 

To master complex computer programs used in motion design (such as Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, Mocha AE, or Cinema 4D), you will need well-developed technical skills, which should facilitate the creation of your ideas and not be an aggravating circumstance of your job.


Soft Skills You’ll Need As A Motion Designer

Hard or technical skills are crucial for the performance of work tasks, but only if soft skills complement them will you be successful in the workplace.

Soft skills, also known as interpersonal skills, refer to how you work: how you interact with coworkers, how well you listen, how well you manage your time and handle problems, and how empathetic and helpful you are. 

Soft skills are not crucial, but they are significant for every job. They are given a lot of attention in motion designer job interviews because candidates are generally expected to be flexible and team players.

Excellent communication skills, problem-solving and time management abilities, knowledge of human psychology, inventiveness, and the ability to create original styles are some of the soft skills that motion designers should have. Now let’s elaborate on each:

8. Creative Thinking and Imagination

Creativity is essential for motion designers. Your job is to create the graphic, breathe life into it, and make it work. However, sometimes clients won’t provide enough precise information about their wishes, so you’ll have to improvise and let your creativity flow.

Motion designers often pay a lot of attention to perfecting movements. At the same time, creativity in character development is left aside, but it is necessary to find a way to keep these two aspects in balance. 

To boost imagination and creativity, join motion design communities, interact and exchange ideas with other designers, and explore their work.

9. Understanding Human Psychology

In any job, including motion design, the goal is to create an attractive final product that people will want to engage with.

In order to judge what will appeal to your target audience, a knowledge of human psychology will be of great help. 

You will understand what expectations users have for your design and how to arouse their emotions and keep their interest. This way, you will adapt the design to the users, and not the other way around, which ultimately contributes to a better user experience.

Psychology is complex and takes time to research, so many designers skip this step, which is a big mistake. Knowing human psychology can be the decisive factor that separates an attractive design from a design that will go unnoticed.

10. Communication Skills

Although they don’t affect design alone, communication skills are crucial for business success. You can be a top motion designer, but if you can’t communicate with the client or your colleagues about your ideas, you might not realize them. 

Be prepared for your clients to have ideas (usually vague), but they are not designers and do not know what the real possibilities are – so be ready to communicate and patiently! 

Also, advanced communication skills will help you more efficiently and accurately convey the desired message to the target audience.

11. Consistency In Your Style

In motion design, originality and fidelity to one’s style are highly respected. You don’t want to blindly follow trends and fit in with the sea of other designers – you want your work to be so unique that it is recognizable, and when viewers see it, they immediately know who signed it. 

It can be challenging to keep to your unique style when starting your career and trying to prove yourself, but try to be consistent – it will pay off.

12. Complex Problem Solving

The problem-solving skill refers to four essential steps: identifying the problem, designing potential solutions, choosing the right one, implementing it, and monitoring it. 

Issues in motion design can be related to any step – from misunderstanding the client’s requirements to the work process and meeting deadlines. Problem-solving skills are directly related to effective time management, which will keep you on schedule.

Wrapping Up On Motion Designers Must-Have Skills 

Now that you are familiar with the most important skills a motion designer should possess, ensure each is sufficiently developed so you can use your full potential and achieve a successful career in motion design.

Nicole Kelly

Nicole Kelly is a Raleigh, North Carolina, US graphic designer, digital marketing consultant, and writer enthusiast. She loves writing about new business strategies, digital marketing, and social media trends for different blogs and DigitalStrategyOne

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *