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    Motion Graphics Vs. Animation: How are the two different?

    logopoppin Published: July 12, 2021 10 min read

    Motion Graphics Vs. Animation: Are They One and the Same?

    New to the design world or learning how to create an animated video for your brand, it’s highly probable that there’s a question on your mind. What is the difference between motion graphics and animation, and which one do you need?

    Essentially, motion graphics are a style of animation. Animation covers a variety of styles that make static imagery more dynamic. Alternatively, motion graphics is a small subset of graphic animations that deals exclusively with animating 2D graphics. That means that, for the most part, the motion graphics vs. animation debate is of no use.

    However, motion graphics allow you to animate and add movement to simple graphic designs like shapes. Unlike animation, which is used to enhance the narrative of a video, motion graphics are there to create an appealing visual experience.

    Let’s have a look at the factors that differentiate motion graphics from animation.

    What Are Motion Graphics?

    The purpose of motion graphics is quite simple – animate simple, two-dimensional static designs to integrate movement into them. That makes them dynamic and thus visually more appealing. The purpose is to increase the visual impact but does nothing to further the narrative itself.

    You want a static banner on your website to unspool when someone hovers over it? Use motion graphics to do that.

    Would you like the menus to pop up when you hover over them? Again, use motion graphics.

    Want to create a moving character avatar? Well, that won’t be possible with motion graphics. Instead, another form of animation called character animation will be used. If the animated pictures tell a story or enhance the narrative somehow, then it is not motion graphics.

    wavy red lines on dark background

    What are the Types of Motion Graphics?

    Motion graphics is an excellent tool for marketers looking to enhance and improve the impact of their brands. There are various types of video motion graphics examples, including:

    • Explainer videos
    • Walkthroughs/Instructional videos
    • UI animation
    • Dynamic logos
    • Dynamic icons
    • Animated page titles
    • Animated infographics
    • Presentations
    • Broadcasting motion graphics
    • GIFs

    Why Choose Motion Graphics?

    Now the question arises that why should we opt for motion graphics in the first place? Especially if they do not further the narrative? Well, there are multiple reasons to include motion graphics in your projects:

    • Motion graphics convert ideas into visual cues. Many people work better with visual aids than they do with just a mental website. And the larger or more complex the picture, the harder it is to visualize. Motion graphics act as visual cues, making it easier to visualize and understand the concept better.
    • The simple style is universally visually appealing. For corporate purposes, animated characters in the style of cartoons may seem too informal. For those scenarios, motion graphics work great to provide a visual break to an otherwise boring corporate presentation, making it more interesting.

    What Is Animation?

    Animation is a parent term. It encompasses many techniques, including motion graphics itself, and has been around for more than a century. Over the years, it has evolved from detailed manual designs to elaborate digital animations.

    In essence, animation includes everything that turns static objects dynamic. It has CGI, Claymation, paper-animation, cartoons, and even a mix of various types of videos. For example, most motion graphics today are developed with the help of CGI. That means they combine two different animation types, putting to rest the motion graphics vs. animation debate.

    animated sea creatures abstract

    What are the Types of Animation?

    Animation is an umbrella term for a lot of dynamic graphics techniques, which are used to design the different types of animation, including:

    • Basic animation
    • 2D or two-dimensional animation
    • 3D or three-dimensional animation
    • Stop-motion animation
    • And finally, Motion graphics.

    Why Choose Animation?

    Motion graphics are focused on adding movement to static shapes, images, and text. Examples include bringing content like infographics or banners to life with transition animation and more. On the other hand, the animation is:

    • It is a way to tell your story in an engaging manner. That allows you to create a narrative that speaks to the consumers.
    • It provides better value for the cost. Motion graphics are generally easier to produce than advanced animations. That means that they also cost less. But if you want realistic imagery for your products, then be prepared to spend a little more to get what you want.

    What is the Difference Between Motion Graphics vs. Animation?

    Most people consider that both motion graphics and animation can be used interchangeably. But while motion graphics may be called animation, using them, vice versa is not technically accurate.

    As we’ve mentioned before, the term animation consists of many different techniques, including motion graphics. Often, advanced graphics require the use of motion graphics and other methods to give the project the desired visuals. Moreover, both of them follow the 12 principles of animation.

    That means that there is a deep interconnection between the two terms. So much so that people mostly do not care to differentiate between the two. Nevertheless, listed below are some of the most common motion graphics vs. animation arguments.

    Difference 1:

    Motion graphics videos generally consist of a mix of shapes, text, and images on the screen. Advanced animation has detailed animated characters that enhance the storyline. It means that motion graphics are simpler to design and develop. In contrast, advanced graphics are more complex in design and implementation.

    Difference 2:

    Advanced animation spins an exciting and engaging tale meant to attract viewers. Motion graphics have no story or narrative to tell, however. Whenever you want to enhance the look of your animations without affecting the message, you use motion graphics.

    Difference 3:

    Motion graphics are predominantly used over live-action footage. Advanced animations are generally standalone imagery over an entirely computer-generated background. For example, title cards before a show or the stats and scores that appear during a football game are examples of motion graphics in action.

    Difference 4:

    The most crucial distinction between the two is the difference in the dimensions between motion graphics and animation. Animation can refer to either 2D or 3D animations, while motion graphics are used for two-dimensional images generally. That is a considerable distinction. The main reason we cannot substitute “motion graphics” for the term “animation”.

    Motion Graphics Vs. Animation: When Should I Use Each?

    Now that you know about the difference between the two terms, you can understand their use. However, a new question might have arisen in your mind – how to choose the best option for each scenario? Let’s find out.

    When to Use Motion Graphics?

    When looking to enhance some data or information to increase its visual appeal, you can make it dynamic using a little motion graphics magic. Keep in mind, this will only enhance the graphics but won’t affect the narrative.

    When to Use Animation?

    If you want to bring your story or message to life with attractive graphics and show it to your consumers, you need to opt for animation. It will leverage the power of various animation techniques, including motion graphics, to create a dynamic piece of art that tells your narrative successfully.

    Motion Graphics vs. Graphic Design

    Besides the motion graphics vs. animation debate, there is another common argument about the differences between motion graphics and graphic design. There is virtually no difference between motion graphics and graphic design. Essentially, motion graphics are animated graphic designs, which means they enhance the basic graphic designs.

    The only difference between the two, if any, is that basic graphic design is static. In contrast, motion graphics are designs made dynamic using animations.

    wall mural colorful

    Motion Graphics vs. VFX

    VFX, or visual effects, combines actual recorded footage and computer-aided imagery to create hyper-realistic scenes and images. Motion graphics is just animated graphic design. It means that graphic design is far simpler and easier to do than VFX.

    VFX can include a variety of animations, including motion graphics. Movies today make great use of VFX to enhance the look of a movie. It can help create a film that combines the artistic capabilities of both live-action and animated videography. Popular examples include the famous “Space Jam” featuring Michael Jordan, which uses VFX quite extensively for its various characters.

    cgi man running from explosion

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    Which is better: animation or graphic design?
    While they are both a part of the visual design field, the end products are pretty different. Graphic design creates graphics meant to attract or sell, while animators create animations to tell a story.
    Is motion graphics 2D design?
    Motion graphics are not 2D designs. Instead, it is used to bring static 2D methods to life using animations.
    Which software is best for motion graphics?
    There are various tools popular with motion graphics artists, including Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Cinema 4D, Adobe After Effects, and many more.
    Our animators and illustrators the same?
    Illustrators create a visual story and its characters. At the same time, animators give those characters and stories life by using software to bring them to life.


    As evident from the article above, there is considerable overlap between motion graphics and animation. As we mentioned before, the entire motion graphics vs. animation debate is a matter of minor differences between related terms.

    No matter the type of animation you choose, whether it’s motion graphics or any other form of animation, the result should fulfill its intended purpose. Ideally, the objective is to create videos that appeal to the consumer and tell them your story. Therefore, any animated video that fulfils that criteria are a well-designed animation.

    Suppose you are looking for high quality animations for your company. In that case, our video animation services can help you develop videos for all aspects of your business.

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    Logopoppin is a graphic design agency that specializes in logo designing, web development, video production and advanced branding services. We love to innovate businesses with new age technologies, allowing them to improve their visual reputation.