There are a lot of reasons you should become a motion designer.
- Eternal glory
- Riches, duh!
There are also a lot of excuses you have been making for not pursuing it as strongly as you have wanted to.
Common excuses for not learning motion design
You have a job. You have friends. You have obligations. “Who has time to learn something new?”, you say.
It’s not easy
After Effects looks complex. “Adding the element of time to designs makes things more difficult”, you think to yourself.
There’s so much to learn
After Effects, C4D, Red Giant plugins, scripts, the graph editor, etc. It seems so daunting. There’s cell animation, mograph style, 3D work, visual effects, etc. “Where the @#$% do I start?”, you exclaim to no one in particular.
Let’s systematically breakdown each of these excuses and start to build a routine that will get you on the path to becoming a great motion designer.
Routine gives you the structure you need to make time
The point of the routine will be to get you animating something every day. This will build your bag of tricks as well as your confidence.
It all starts with your mindset. Don’t say to yourself, “I want to be a motion designer”. Say I AM a motion designer! Seriously. It will make a huge difference not too far down the road.
What makes you a motion designer? This is also very simple. Open After Effects and making something move. Voilà.
Daily routine starts the night before
Go to bed at a decent hour. I go to bed between 9:30 and 10:30 so I can wake up at 5:00am.
You have no excuses at 5 or 6 am. I know you don’t have any meetings or previous engagements that early. So do yourself a favor and capture it for motion design.
Start off easy
Spend 1 or 2 hours in the morning making short, daily animations.
If it makes you feel more comfortable at the beginning, don’t be afraid of creating quick animations and never publishing them. You shouldn’t expect yourself be great right at the beginning.
If you’re feeling bold, don’t be ashamed of your first animations (even when they aren’t up to par with what you want to create). Publishing early work shows your future audience that you are a transparent person. People really appreciate that kind of authenticity. Plus, that gives you something to look at and easily see your progression.
Here are some animation ideas to get you started
- Your name (or if you want brownie points, animate your significant other’s name)
- Abstract shapes with limited color pallet - 9 Squares is a great example of this.
- Simple shapes… like the moon and the sun
Becoming a great motion designer is not as hard as you think
There is an endless number of things to learn. There are so many styles, transitions, effects, etc. you feel you need to master. You want it now!
Cool your jets, man.
Mastery always starts with baby steps
No one is born a master at anything. Don’t be afraid of the beginning stages. You will fall flat on your face. I certainly have. But the tenacity to get back up and try again is what’s going to boost you into mastery.
Commit to learning something new every day.
- Learn a new keyboard shortcut
- Learn how to setup Illustrator files for After Effects
- Learn the basics of the graph editor
If you can learn one new thing about motion design everyday, you will start building serious momentum in no time.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the magnitude of options
No one knows everything. And better yet, the best of the best choose not to pursue knowing everything. They focus on learning one thing at a time.
Each new trick, shortcut, method you learn is a tool you get to put in your tool box. It’s all additive.
Just start with one tool. I suggest After Effects. It’s your standard motion design tool. You will learn much faster if you don’t try to learn all of the things at once. It takes a lot of focus to develop an eye for good animation.
My routine (feel free to steal it)
Some background on me: I work a 40 hour a week day job as Lead Designer at a software company. I have a wife and a dog (no kids). I have a weekly commitment to having “friend dinner” with a small group of friends. This leaves most evenings and every morning wide open.
10pm – Go to bed 5am – Wake up 5am - 7am – Write (blog, emails, animation related ideas) 8am - 5pm – Day job 5pm - 7pm – Commute, dinner, downtime with wife and dog 7pm - 9pm – Animate 9pm - 10pm – Wind down and get ready for bed
This is a simplified version of my weekday routine, but it gives you a general idea of how I make sure I have time to animate and write things that are related to motion design.
If you intentionally carve out an hour or two every day for motion design, I guarantee you will see results you didn't expect.
Please feel free to reach out to me if you ever have any questions about motion design. I love talking with people about this topic :D
Go make today great.