Becoming A Motion Designer

a guide to becoming an after effects master
Karley JohnsonKarley Johnson
|3 min read
Written by the one and only Karley Johnson
Becoming A Motion Designer, by Karley Johnson
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When I decided at eighteen years old what I should probably do with the rest of my life, I settled on a career as a journalist. Fast forward a year, and I decided that really wasn’t the thing for me–I wanted to design, too. Down the graphic design rabbit hole I blindly fell, but I drifted towards projects entailing ambient, (slightly weird) immersive video, music, and finally, my last semester of college, I took an Adobe After Effects introductory class. Only ten short months ago I applied at Pixel Bakery with very little experience animating, but something about motion design clicked with me. It felt like something I could obsessively throw myself into. That’s always a good feeling.

Now, I work with motion design almost daily at our little studio. I animate for hours on end and only sometimes want to pull my hair out and thwack my head against the desk in frustration. Trust me, it wasn’t always this way!

Here are ten tips for anyone wanting to plunge into the daunting, fascinating, infuriating, yet always rewarding world of Adobe After Effects and motion design.

Set a Goal.

This is easy if you’re learning on the job–you probably have a project you need to complete. But if you’re learning on your own time, it’s important to have a goal in mind. Something like animating a character you designed to walk across the screen and wave, or creating a moving logo reveal for your brand. Don’t give up until you’re satisfied with the end result!

Be Patient With Yourself.

Learning something new takes time. Even if you’re a whiz at other Adobe programs, you might not intuitively understand everything right away when it comes to animating in Adobe After Effects. Let yourself be a beginner, and don’t let frustration or confusion overwhelm you from giving up on your goal.

Take things one step at a time.

You’re going to have to start somewhere. Make a list of the things you need to learn or do in order to finish your goal project and start at the top. You might be surprised how quickly you can tick off each smaller task within the larger project–you can find a tutorial online for even the most specific questions. Tackling each element one by one is the best way to learn Adobe After Effects–you’ll start to notice that the skills you learn along the way will start building on each other, just like learning an instrument or a language.


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