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Learn how to animate in Illustrator and After Effects in this free motion design course for beginners.

What You'll Learn: The Motion Design Process

  • How to find inspiration before you start your project
  • How to draw a character from scratch using simple shapes in Adobe Illustrator
  • How to prep your files so you can move seamlessly from AI to AE
  • How to animate individual parts of your character
  • How to create a sticker peel effect 

1. Introduction

1.1 What to Expect in This Course

Watch video lesson (1 min) ↗

In this short lesson you'll get an insight into what you'll learn in this course. If you're looking to get into motion design but don't quite know where to start, then we'll get you on the road to creating your very own animation from scratch.

1.2 Getting Started: Design Inspiration

Watch video lesson (1 min) ↗

It's always best to have some ideas before you get started on a project, and sometimes that means turning to other products and brands for inspiration. We'll take a look at some great work by other illustrators in this quick video.

design inspirationdesign inspirationdesign inspiration

"Are you a designer looking to add a little bit of movement to your work, or perhaps you're an animator looking to create your own custom designs. Either way, this is the course for you."

2. Creating Your Character

2.1 Creating Your Character in Illustrator

Watch video lesson (1 min) ↗

I'll show you how I picked a color scheme and how to get started with creating a character in Illustrator using some basic shapes.

creating your charactercreating your charactercreating your character

2.2 Drawing Eyes: Creating Layers for Animation

Watch video lesson (5 mins) ↗

Getting your character's eyes right is one of the most important parts of the process, so here I'll walk you through creating them, again using simple shapes. I'll also share some tips on how you can add things like stars to the pupils with tools like Pucker & Bloat.

drawing eyesdrawing eyesdrawing eyes

2.3 Drawing Facial Features

Watch video lesson (5 mins) ↗

Your character is taking shape so now it's time to add some more facial features. I'll show you how to create a puckered mouth - he's 'freshly squeezed' after all! - a nose, and some cute freckles. We'll also add some little touches to the top of its head. By the end of this video your character will have a full, adorable face.

facial featuresfacial featuresfacial features

2.4 Drawing Hands: Quick Tips and Shortcuts!

Watch video lesson (4 mins) ↗

Hands are notoriously difficult to draw. Don't worry if you're not great with them, I'll show you a way to work around this with a reference. We'll end up with a cute, cartoon 'Mickey Mouse' style hand.

In this lesson I use the Cartoon Hand Gesture Collection as a reference. You can download it as part of a subscription to Envato Elements.

2.5 Creating Highlights and Shadows

Watch video lesson (7 mins) ↗

I'll show you how to choose a good color for your highlights by starting with the base color of your character, adjusting that, and then changing the blending mode. We'll then add a rotation anchor point, and I'll also introduce you to the Pathfinder tool, which you'll see is a really powerful one when it comes to making and adjusting shapes in your illustration. 

highlights and shadowshighlights and shadowshighlights and shadows

3. Making The Sticker

3.1 Creating the Rest of the Sticker: Type on a Path Tool

Watch video lesson (8 mins) ↗

Now we've created our character, we can concentrate on making the sticker around him. We'll be adding some background shape and color, text, plus another little illustration of an orange segment. I'll also show you how to navigate some little issues you might come across, like needing to flip your text.

creating the rest of the stickercreating the rest of the stickercreating the rest of the sticker

3.2 Giving the Sticker Some Texture

Watch video lesson (1 min) ↗

We've got our sticker now, and it's looking great, but it's a little too clean and flat, so in this quick video we'll look at adding some texture to create a crumpled sticker effect.

adding texture to the stickeradding texture to the stickeradding texture to the sticker
3.3 Hours

Adobe Illustrator for Beginners | FREE COURSE

 Learn how to use Adobe Illustrator for beginners in this free course. Start by mastering the Illustrator basics, and then learn to create effects, patterns, and more. This free Adobe Illustrator course is aimed at helping beginners learn how to use Adobe Illustrator easily and quickly. You don’t need any previous knowledge of the software, and you don’t need design or illustration skills. We’ll start right at the beginning and work our way through each topic step by step. 

    4. Moving From Illustrator to After Effects

    4.1 Getting Our Layers Ready For After Effects

    Watch video lesson (5 mins) ↗

    At this point you'll be ready to bring your creation over to After Effects ready for animation. We can do this without any plugins, but the most important thing is to separate your illustration into separate layers, so I'll walk you through how you can do that.


    4.2 Moving Over From Illustrator to After Effects

    Watch video lesson (1 min) ↗

    In this quick lesson you'll learn how to make a composition in After Effects that matches what you have in Illustrator, so that you'll have as seamless a transition as possible when bringing in your work.


    4.3 Importing Your Illustrator File into After Effects

    Watch video lesson (1 min) ↗

    It's time to bring your AI file into After Effects, and everything we've prepped in the last couple of lessons means this should be smooth and hopefully problem free. Don't worry if you have minor issues with your layers, I'll go into this in the next lesson.

    importing into AEimporting into AEimporting into AE

    4.4 Fixing Any Small Issues on Your Layers

    Watch video lesson (1 min) ↗

    When you open your file in After Effects you might find one or two small issues, things like blending modes not coming over with their associated layers. That's okay, it's an easy fix and I'll show you how in this quick lesson.

    fixing issuesfixing issuesfixing issues

    Quick Shortcuts for Animation in After Effects


    Anchor Point

    Shift/Opt + A


    Quick Access Hand Tool

    Hold Spacebar and drag


    Ease Keyframes Quickly


    5. Animating in After Effects 

    5.1 Parenting Layers

    Watch video lesson (3 mins) ↗

    If we pair some layers together it means we can create animation effects on those at the same time rather than having to duplicate that effort, so it's a great time saver. At this stage, you should also make sure your anchor points are in the right place so we'll go through that in this video, too.

    parenting layersparenting layersparenting layers

    5.2 Animating the Eyes

    Watch video lesson (7 mins) ↗

    Selecting all the 'eye' elements of our character, we'll set up a pre-comp and be able to work on just those parts to animate them. In this lesson you'll finish up with the eyelid moving and a nice little twinkle from the star too!

    animating eyesanimating eyesanimating eyes

    5.3 Animating the Sticker Background and Text Layers

    Watch video lesson (1 min) ↗

    I'll show you how to add some simple rotation animation to the sticker behind our character in this quick video lesson.

    13 Minutes

    A to Z of Adobe Illustrator Tips, Tricks, and Hacks!

    Get ready for some rapid-fire tips and tricks for how to use Adobe Illustrator! In this video, we'll take a look at 26 tips, tricks, and hacks from A to Z. 

      5.4 Animating the Thumbs Up

      Watch video lesson (8 mins) ↗

      In this video tutorial we'll animate our character's arm so that he's raising it to give us a thumbs up. We want the shadow to move along with the arm, so I'll show you how to use a Track Matte to do that.

      5.4 animating the thumbs up5.4 animating the thumbs up5.4 animating the thumbs up

      5.5 Creating the Sticker Peel Animation

      Watch video lesson (4 mins) ↗

      Using Page Turn from the Effects panel, you'll add a cool peeling effect to your sticker. There are tons of options for you to work through so you can have fun with this. We don't want to see the back of the sticker when it peels though, so I'll also show you how to add a white back to make the sticker appear opaque.

      sticker peel animationsticker peel animationsticker peel animation

      5.6 Using Posterize Time to Create Old-School Animated Motion

      Watch video lesson (2 mins) ↗

      If you've made it to this video, congratulations, you've designed and animated a very cool character and sticker. As a final touch we'll add a vintage Posterize Time effect so we can control the frame rate separately. This gives you a little more control than setting the frame rate manually.

      posterize timeposterize timeposterize time
      If you use Adobe Illustrator, Adobe After Effects, or maybe both, you can find loads of great assets from Envato Elements. They're all included in a monthly subscription, so you can try and use as many as you like.

      Take Motion Graphics Further

      Learn more about After Effects animation, After Effects animation techniques and Adobe Illustrator, with some of our free video courses. 

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