Want to put your creative ideas into motion? Learn everything there is to know about animation – including its history, how to create it, and how to integrate it into your work.
Animation combines all the best elements of nostalgia, movement, and creativity; it’s a motion picture and video trend that never goes out of style. After entering the scene way back in the 1800s (yes, really!), animation has only grown in popularity over the last couple of centuries, particularly over the previous few decades. Now used everywhere from social media and marketing to app and web design, animation’s simplicity, effectiveness, and charm has made it a timeless medium for artists, communicators, and entertainers.
What is Animation?
Animation is the fascinating art of making inanimate objects appear to move. It’s the creative method of photographing successive drawings, models, or even puppets, to create an illusion of movement in a sequence. While made famous by the world of entertainment, the animated style is also an effective tool for visual communication because it’s more eye-catching than simple static images, offering endless opportunities for expression and creativity.
What’s the History of Animation?
The first animated film was hand-painted in 1888 by the French artist and inventor Charles-Émile Reynaud on his Praxinoscope. This invention eventually led to the development of the film camera.
During the early 1900s, artists from all over the world started experimenting with animation. By the 1930s, many influential film studios realized that they could make money from this little animated art form. Soon enough, Warner Bros launched Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies, and Disney released Snow White and the Seven Dwarves – the first feature-length film made entirely of hand-drawn images.
Almost 100 years later, animation is still as popular as ever. While it’s a go-to medium in many blockbuster films, TV shows, and music videos, due to its newfound accessibility, creatives use animation in projects of all shapes and sizes.
What Are the Benefits of Animation?
- It’s Versatile
From the childish and quaint animation iconic of the original Disney films to the polished and sophisticated CGI used in modern action flicks to the bold and edgy styles of fluid animation or kinetic typography.
- It’s Universally Appealing
Animated video connects with a broad audience – from children to business professionals. It allows artists to evoke a childlike wonder in their viewers and harness that fascination for more mature storytelling or practical purposes.
- It Easily Explains Complex Ideas
No idea is off limits when it comes to animation. This flexibility means that animation is king when it comes to conveying complex or abstract topics that would be hard to tackle using live action.
- Animated Videos Boost Conversions
Studies show that using videos on landing pages will increase conversions by 86%, and that animated videos trump other types of video when it comes to engaging audiences and watchability.
- It’s Cost Effective
Modern animation is a cost-effective medium that fits almost any budget. Thanks to improvements in digital technology, you can produce animation fast, cheap, and with no sacrifice to quality.
- It’s Entertaining
No matter what style you go for, there’s no denying that animation is eye-catching, entertaining and – quite simply – fun to watch!
Where Is Animation Being Used?
In today’s digital landscape, animation is used everywhere, from graphic design and social media to high-budget advertising – such as these animated ads by big brands such as Nespresso and Nestle. It’s also now a staple for formats such as explainer videos, music videos, Instagram stories, posts, websites, apps, and emails – such as this cute, animated newsletter from Uber.
How to Create an Animation
There are many ways to create animation, including:
- Traditional Animation
Traditional animation (also known as classical animation, hand-drawn animation, or 2D animation) is an animation technique in which each frame is drawn by hand. The technique was the dominant form of animation until the development of computer animation.
- 2D Animation (Vector-based)
Vector-based animation, otherwise known as computer-generated 2D animation, uses the exact same techniques as traditional animation, but using digital tools.
- 3D Animation
3D animation refers to the process of making digital images come to life by creating the illusion that they’re moving in a three-dimensional space. These computer-generated objects appear on a two-dimensional screen, but are crafted to mimic the principles of a 3D world. This style of animation is particularly popular in film, television, and video games.
- Motion Graphics
While animation refers to the whole field of moving imagery, motion graphics focus specifically on animating graphic design elements, with less of a concrete storytelling aspect than other types of animation. Motion graphics are used mainly for multimedia and design projects, as well as mobile apps and web design.
- Stop Motion
Stop motion is an animated filmmaking technique in which objects are physically manipulated in small increments between photographed frames, and appear to move when the series of frames is played back. This technique is often used for more creative, storytelling-based projects.
While each animation style has its merits, in this day and age, 3D animation, motion graphics, and computer animation are the most commonly used. You can use various animation software to create animations for your creative projects, including Adobe After Effects, Procreate, Adobe Animate, Blender, and Moho Pro.
And Envato Elements has a vast range of animated elements that you can easily integrate into your work. Create your short film, a GIF for social media, or some animated icons for your website.
What Are the Different Types of Animation?
There are several kinds of animation that are popular right now, including:
As mentioned above, 3D animation is particularly popular film, television, and video games. But, it’s also starting to enter the mainstream across marketing, social media and graphic design.
Fluid animation is a technique for generating realistic animations of fluids or fluid imagery – such as water and smoke. This mesmerizing style of animation is trending in motion design, and is great for more abstract video projects.
As discussed, motion graphics are animated elements that are especially popular for design and marketing, and have become a popular way to explain concepts using movement. They can include animated elements such as typography, icons, or on-site images.
Kinetic typography is a technique for animating text. Kinetic typography is super popular for commercials, music videos, mobile apps, and websites, and adds a trendy, creative touch to any project.
Explore how to harness these styles with some of the top animated items for your next creative project, including typefaces, templates, and logos.
Top Animated Items on Envato Elements
1. Animated Icons
Want to incorporate cute animated icons for your next website, app or email? Get started with this great selection.
2. Animated Typefaces
Animated typography is one of the easiest, trendiest, and most effective ways to grab your audience’s attention online. Check out these super cool animated typefaces from Elements.
3. Animated Social Media Templates
Social media is all about video content! These animated social media stories and posts make a quirky spin on social media’s hottest trend.
4. Animated Logos
Want to make your brand or business stand out online? Animated logos are a fun, creative way to catch your customers’ eyes. With these designs, inject some movement into your app, website, or online portfolio.
5. 3D Animation
3D animation is one of the most popular forms of animation, and it’s trending across social media, design, and film. Delve into the wonderful world of 3D animation with these top items from Elements.
6. Cartoon Animation
Perhaps the most classic and nostalgic form of animation, cartoons are still as popular today as they were a century ago! Add fun, youthful energy to your next project with these cartoon animations.
7. Fluid Animation
Magical and mesmerizing, fluid animation is a more sophisticated, creative form of animation that’s great for adding a relaxed, creative edge to your projects.