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How to Become a Motion Graphics Designer

Watch any major motion picture made in the last half-century, and almost certainly the first thing you’ll see is an example of motion graphics in action. Consider the Paramount Pictures stars settling in over the mountain, the shooting star over Cinderella’s Castle from Walt Disney Pictures, and the boy fishing off the end of the moon, which transforms into the DreamWorks logo. They’re all the work of motion graphics designers who use advanced computer software and modeling tools to create those flawless few seconds of branding.

A motion graphics designer works at a large monitor

Motion graphics are used in a wide variety of venues and for many purposes, including business, education, entertainment, and art. With new programs and software available every year, combined with ever-increasing computer capabilities, motion graphics designers of the future will continue to have robust tools at their fingertips. If you want to learn how to become a motion graphics designer, read on to discover the best way to start your career.

Why Become a Motion Graphics Designer?

Becoming a motion graphics designer enables you to combine creative talent with technical skills to push artistry forward. This may be reason enough for some people to pursue a role in this dynamic profession, but there are other benefits as well.

For instance, landing a job as a motion graphics designer could lead you to an independent career. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 59% of multimedia artists and animators such as motion graphics designers are self-employed. You may even get involved in the entertainment industry; the BLS reports a little over 1 in 10 of all motion graphics designers work in the motion picture and video industries.

Another key benefit is the abundance of opportunities for creative expression. As technology advances and more media platforms emerge, the number of outlets where you can showcase your skills and talent continues to grow. From working on music videos and movie trailers to producing web advertisements and mobile device content, there are many different ways to create something original and impressive.

Additionally, being a motion graphics designer can give you the opportunity to use state-of-the-art graphics and computer programs. This allows you to be at the cutting edge of modern creativity. A degree such as Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Media can help you hone the skills and knowledge needed to embrace new methods of creativity with confidence.

Motion Graphics Designer Job Description

Fundamentally, what motion graphics designers do is make computer graphics that move. They do so in a way that creates stories, evokes emotion, shares information, or teaches. The motion graphics designer job description involves using design programs, such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, plus advanced software, such as Cinema 4D and Nuke, to put together eye-catching, modern graphics that can look hand-drawn, supermodern, classically animated, or any other style imaginable.

Motion graphics differ from visual effects in that motion graphics are entirely computer generated using no real-world additions; visual effects start with a real-world shot and apply computer graphics afterward.

How to Become a Motion Graphics Designer

Creatives who are curious about how to become a motion graphics designer need to be sure they’re pursuing the right education and getting hands-on experience to make themselves attractive to employers following graduation. There are several important steps along the way that can help to develop key skills.

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

The right education can set the tone for a successful career as a motion graphics designer. Maryville University’s online bachelor’s in digital media provides an excellent option for aspiring motion graphics designers. A strong program like this combines introductory classes in design theory and digital illustration with more advanced concepts, such as typography, game design, motion, motion graphics, and user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design.

At the end of the program, graduates should have not only gained the necessary baseline skills but also learned creative and versatile approaches that will prepare them for motion graphics design work in numerous fields.

Hone Your Skills

As with any artform, the best way to become a highly proficient motion graphics designer is to work on as many projects as possible. Artists improve by practicing, exploring new technologies, and embracing new ideas. As technology continues to evolve and new tools become available, consistent practice allows motion graphics designers to remain up to date with what is most current.

Volunteer projects or internships provide excellent opportunities to practice and often are part of a bachelor’s degree program. As candidates gain more skills, top projects will contribute to their portfolio and showcase their skills, artistic style, and creativity, making students more attractive to potential employers.

Once employed, designers should continue to seek opportunities to hone their craft in the workplace. As with nearly any other career path, expertise and years of experience can help set up professionals for advancement in their job.

Motion Graphics Designer Skills

There’s much more to becoming a successful motion graphics designer than turning on a computer and opening a graphics program. Those who excel in the role must possess a comprehensive set of core competencies that combines design talent, computer knowledge, and a few key soft skills.

Artistic Ability

Possessing the talent to produce artistic work is fundamental to becoming a motion graphics designer. This goes beyond knowing how to draw well. Successful designers should have a deep understanding of artistic concepts such as color, light, texture, and composition.

Creativity

You won’t get far in the industry copying other artists’ work. Guiding original ideas from concept to completion is an essential part of the role, whether you’re working independently or with a company that’s established a certain brand identity.

Computer Skills

Those with an advanced ability to use computer programs or write code may sometimes use these skills to compensate for any artistic limitations they have in a given medium. Regardless of skill level, it’s important for motion graphics designers to keep abreast of new design programs and platforms arriving on the market to remain competitive.

Communication Skills

While motion graphics designers can work independently, they typically work on projects as part of a team. Because of this, it’s vital that they have well-developed communication skills to clearly share their ideas and respond appropriately to feedback.

Time Management Skills

Motion graphics designer positions are typically driven by time-sensitive projects where meeting deadlines is required. Designers must be able to effectively manage their time to consistently deliver their work in a timely manner.

Employment Outlook for Motion Graphics Designers

Aspiring motion graphics designers are entering a market projected to be very competitive. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the job market for multimedia artists and animators to grow 4% between 2018 and 2028, adding 3,000 jobs to a market that had 71,600 in 2018 . A continued interest in content, entertainment, digital marketing, video games, and movies and television graphics will keep this market filled with talented, driven individuals.

Motion Graphics Designer Salary

The 2019 median salary for motion graphics designers, which the BLS classifies under multimedia artists and animators, was $75,270 per year. Professionals in the bottom 10% earnings range brought in $40,250 per year, while those in the top 10% earned more than $139,940. There are several key factors that can influence the precise amount you may receive in the role. These factors can include level of education, years of experience in the industry, and a job’s geographic location.

Start Your Motion Graphics Design Career

Motion graphics designers use computer software to aid their creativity and push the concepts of graphics and logos to new places. See how Maryville University’s online bachelor’s in digital media can help you get your design career started so you can make a splash on the motion graphics design scene.

Recommended Readings:

Design in the Digital Age: Must-Have Tools for Graphic Designers

Video Game Jobs for Individuals Looking to Earn a Living in the Gaming Industry

What Is Digital Media? All You Need to Know About This Booming Industry

Sources:

99designs, “Motion Graphics vs. Animation: What’s the Difference?”

Column Five Media, “100 Awesome Motion Graphic Examples You’ll Wish You Made”

Houston Chronicle, “Differences Between a Motion Graphic Editor & a Motion Graphic Designer”

Toolbox Studio, Top 15 Animated Motion Graphics Videos for Business

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Multimedia Artists and Animators