68 Motion Design Ideas to Inspire You
Amy Lustig·Aug 29, 2022
Have you been sitting in front of a blank screen, wondering when the inspiration to create the motion graphic of your dreams is going to strike? Or are you feeling a little flat with what you’ve been designing to date and could use some new motion design ideas to get you started?
Every motion designer has been there. Whether we’re designing to a brief or freeform creating, sometimes a creative block steps in and we need some fresh ideas to put those motion design techniques to work. The good news is you need look no further. Below you’ll find scores of new ideas to try out and return to, to hone your motion design skill set or simply rediscover the joy of animating.
Motion Design 101
As a quick refresher or in case the discipline is new to you, motion design is a subset of graphic design in which graphic design principles are applied to filmmaking. Sometimes motion design is used synonymously with animation, but you can think of motion design as a type of animation. Whereas animation can be used for any type of moving imagery, motion design and motion graphics (what motion designers produce) create movement from graphic elements, unlike, say, your favorite Pixar movie, which is focused on storytelling as a whole.
Motion Design Ideas
Given what we know about motion design as outlined above, you can pretty much start designing by bringing movement to any graphic element you choose. That said, with the entire design world at your disposal, we’ve honed in on a few inspiring places to start putting pen to paper (or rather, motion design techniques to work!).
Particularly if you’re a beginning motion designer, try recreating some of your favorite instances of motion design. It’ll be easy to tell what’s working and what’s not since you can just reference the source, and it gives you a concrete project that you can make as simple or as complicated as you’d like.
Animate a Logo (or 50!) You Love
An easy repository for motion design assets is to take a look at logos you love. Oftentimes if you’re watching a commercial (be it on television or digital), you’ll see a logo animate at the end of the ad. See if you can find that static logo online and recreate the same animation for yourself. Here are a few to get you started.
Source: Slate Magazine
We’re all familiar with the world’s most popular search engine, but have you seen its animated logo? While the motion graphic employs just four colors, the movements are quite dynamic. See if you can recreate all or some of this fun piece.
Another globally recognized logo: Amazon. In this example, you can play with the movement of the letters, or simply animate the arrow from a to z.
Anybody who has enjoyed a good binge-watch can recognize this iconic logo. The Netflix logo motion graphic, as paired with its iconic “tudum” sound, is a great lesson in something that is at once simple and complex. Give it a try.
There’s never-ending inspiration when it comes to motion graphics in the world of logos. Here are 50 examples to get you designing – everything from shifting letterforms through to character animation. You’ll find many of the principles of motion design in play with these 50 examples, so see what you gravitate towards and chip away at the long list.
Get Inspired by Music
Have you ever seen a lyric video and wondered how the artist made that happen? Lyric videos use kinetic typography to help illustrate the story of the video – and kinetic typography is a type of motion design. So turn on your Spotify playlist and start adding motion to those lyrics. Here are a few you can look to for inspiration.
In Billie Eilish’s “Copycat” music video, the motion designer uses kinetic typography to bring this story to life, alongside character animations of cats and ghosts and a vibrant color palette to bring life to her song.
In Maroon 5’s “Sugar” lyric video, the artist is using kinetic typography as a playful means to tell the story. We see that in one of the very first frames when the band sings, “I’m broken down,” the actual text breaks down in front of us. Similarly, the motion designer uses playful takes on colors and typographic choices throughout to add a punch to the lyrics.
One of the most famous examples of motion graphics at play in a music video is the Arctic Monkeys' “Do I Wanna Know?” which shifts away from the kinetic typography trend of music videos and instead uses a line animation as its focal point.
Tap Into the Magic of a Title Sequence
Sometimes when you’re stuck, it’s helpful to go back to the true legends of motion design and let their work on famous title sequences inspire you. Note how the principles of motion design are employed throughout their works, and see if you can glean any ideas for your next creation.
Saul Bass is a legend in the world of motion graphics. Note how he employs shape and a minimalist palette in this title sequence for The Man with the Golden Arm. Then take a walk through his whole catalog, including some of his most notable works for Alfred Hitchcock.
A more recent example of incredible motion design at play is the True Detective Season 1 opening credits.
No doubt inspired by the work of Saul Bass, the opening credits for Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can play in a highly graphic world, with simple lines and shapes setting the scene for both the era we’re about to enter and the stylistic choices of our director.
What would a title sequence compilation for motion design be without a reference to James Bond? The Casino Royale opening credit sequence is a masterclass in motion design at work. You can take any individual keyframe and find inspiration for days.
One of the most popular television shows of the early 2000s, AMC’s Mad Men adeptly uses motion design to hero our ad man (ostensibly Don Draper) as he falls through the perils of Madison Avenue and the advertising industry, only to land where he so often finds himself: smoking a cigarette on a mid-century modern sofa.
Understand How to Explain
If you’re a motion designer at an agency, you may be familiar with having to craft an explainer video. Companies will often employ motion graphics to help explain how to use their products, their unique offering, and how users can easily get started. Let’s take a look at a few examples.
Perhaps the most famous explainer video comes to us within a film itself. Within Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, the founder of the park, John Hammond, walks Ellie Sattler, Ian Malcolm, and Alan Grant through how Jurassic Park came to be with the help of this fun and delightful explainer.
Fan favorite meditation app Headspace employed motion graphics to help show how to get started with its app and add a bit of style with its iconic characters, poppy color palettes, and overall playful tone.
Sometimes complex and niche tools need the help of motion graphics to make what they do more understandable. That’s exactly what SEO juggernaut Ahrefs did in their 2016 explainer video, using a mixture of motion graphics and kinetic typography to showcase the varied abilities of their product.
Workplace tool Slack uses motion design to show off all the things you can do with your product, from small animations like indicating a “like” on a message to highlighting functionality like huddles, and illustrating exactly who Slack is for: working professionals of all kinds.
Add More Elements
Once you’ve tried your hand at animating logos, watched a few explainer videos for inspiration, and maybe attempted a title sequence for a show you love, it’s time to add more elements, movement, and dynamism to your motion graphics. Check out a few of these examples from Fable that bring many of the principles of motion design to life.