The Core Elements of Quality Visual Storytelling

By Michael Jones

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At the heart of every motion graphics project is a story: a tale of life, loss, adventure, or action that keeps viewers glued to their seats in anticipation. So, as an artist, it’s only natural that you’ll also use stories to showcase the best of your animated artwork. However, there’s a difference between telling a story and making it one that keeps a crowd engaged, and it takes several different components working in tandem to achieve success. These are the core elements of quality visual storytelling to keep in mind.

Theme or Message

Every story needs a theme that acts as a foundation for the plot. It could be a particular idea you want to get across to the viewer or the central message you want your work to represent. By creating a unique theme or lesson to learn, you can bring it out in your work in more effective ways. This will also help differentiate you from other designers in your field.

Well-Defined Characters

Once you have a theme, you need a character to act as the catalyst for receiving it. Character design is one of the most crucial components of a riveting story because they offer the lens with which an onlooker will view your animated world. Because of this, they need to have their own look, a tell-tale personality, character traits, and ideals—all of which can come across in a quality visual design.

Communicative Design

Another core element of quality visual storytelling is the overall design to match the plot you’re sculpting. Visuals have the power to tell your story on their own, and, in cases where your characters don’t speak, the style of your world is vital to getting ideas across. This has to do with lighting, background hues, and texture. Take great care to show what you want the viewer to understand rather than telling them with words.

Compelling Settings

Whether your story takes place in a supermarket or a secret laboratory, the setting provides the resources your character will use to drive the plot. As such, you want them to both make sense and be visually interesting to the onlooker. Detail is the key here, and background effects like a beaker bubbling or a worker stocking a shelf will make the world come alive.

To learn more about how to tell captivating stories with your motion graphics, MoGraph Mentor can get you on the right track. Our motion graphics online courses provide you with detailed video learning opportunities that cover everything about your medium of choice and live mentorship from a seasoned industry professional. Contact us to get a great start on your portfolio today.


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