Design Essentials for the Motion Media Artist cover image

Angie Taylor is an artist, animator and author who has worked in the motion graphics industry for over 15 years. She also does a lot of work for Adobe and Apple evangelizing their products, if you’ve been to NAB or BVE then you’ve probably seen her presenting at the Adobe/FCP booth.

In a step away from standard textbook fare, Design Essentials for the Motion Media Artist is not a software manual, style guide or compendium of protips. Instead it’s a roadmap of the sort of things you need to know if you want to be a motion graphic designer. The principals of drawing, animation, composition, type and editing are all covered, as well as some shorter sections on planning, communication and technical stuff.

Some of the topics covered are lightly skimmed through and some get given the authors full attention but this is to be expected given the author’s background in fine art. For example I liked the attention to detail in the drawing section, but I was surprised that typographic grids were almost ignored in favour of Golden Section and rule-of-thirds. I’m sure everyone will find something to nitpick with this book, that’s the downside of writing about such a sprawling, labyrinthine subject – but I also think that many will agree about how important it is given the current glut of software tutorials which seduce vast swathes of users new to motion design.

There’s nothing wrong with this approach but it can leave designers light on deeper understanding and context. In opposition to this, Angie’s approach is designed to inspire further research and experimentation, as evidenced by the recommended-reading list on the companion site.

In fact it’s an odd compliment to this book that it focuses very much on substance over style. While Angie’s illustrations are something of an aquired taste, there’s no mistaking her authority when discussing the ins and outs of storyboarding or squash and stretch. Make no mistake, Design Essentials veers toward fine art, particularly the animation sections – there’s a mixed media feel to many examples which may sit uncomfortably with those used to the standard Vimeo fare. However, ringing endorsements from designers Mark Coleran and Rob Chiu (AKA TheRonin) should assure readers that Angie knows her stuff when it comes to commercial art too.

I would struggle to recommend this book to anyone above mid-weight mographers – you should know most of this already! However anyone looking to broaden their skillset – and those beginners unsure where to start – would be advised to take this book as their first port of call. Angie’s confident, inspiring and friendly tone will appeal to those put off by more didactic prose.

For more details about the book, check out Angie’s site.