As you look at the communications and marketing messages around us, take a moment to notice just how often animated graphics are used to catch your attention and sell you a product or service. Animated graphics are any kind of image that moves on the screen, aside from actual video footage. Animated graphics are made in the Adobe After Effects program in combination with vector graphics, designed in Adobe Illustrator. These images have taken off in recent years – if you currently work in the design world or are hoping to launch a career in this field soon, you’ll want to read more about vector graphics and vector animations, and how to incorporate them!
In the Adobe Illustrator program, vector graphics (also known as vector shapes or objects) “are made up of lines and curves defined by mathematical objects called vectors, which describe an image according to its geometric characteristics.” In the past, artists would draw or create images on pen and paper. Think of vectors as a similar process, with the exception that they’re on the computer instead. By creating these images on the computer, you can now use them for any digital purpose, such as printing, embroidery, and more!
Vector graphics are made by using points and lines in Illustrator to create a shape. The beauty of vector graphics is that they can be scaled – enlarged or shrunk – indefinitely, without losing any of their characteristics. Vectors graphics are perfect for print projects especially, because you never have to worry about losing quality, no matter how big the print. Logos are also best designed in vector form because of the ability to easily scale the image.
There are many ways to create a vector image in Adobe Illustrator:
- Type Tool: You can start by using the Type Tool to write a word or phrase. From there, you can turn this text into a vector graphic by using the keyboard shortcut “Shift + Ctrl + O” to create an outline of the text. This will automatically put points and lines around your text, creating a vector.
- Shape Tool: Similarly, you can use any of the shape tools to first create a shape in Illustrator. Then, using the keyboard shortcut “Shift + Ctrl + O,” you can create an outline of the shape, turning it into a vector with points and lines surrounding the shape.
- Freehand Draw: Adobe offers many ways to draw, trace, or create images. Some of these are freehand drawing, others are customizing the standard shapes offered in the program. When you create any image, you can turn it into a vector by using the keyboard shortcut “Shift + Ctrl + O” to create an outline.
- Convert an Existing Image: If you already have an image or logo created that is not a vector, you can easily turn it into one. First, upload the image to your Illustrator program and then trace the image with Illustrator’s Trace Tool.
When you’re done with your vector image in Illustrator, you’ll want to save it as a vector file to maintain the characteristics of the image and the ability to scale it.
Now that you have vector files at hand, you can do amazing things with them, such as applying animations to them them in After Effects! Vector animation refers to the process of making your vector files, such as your logo or drawing, come to life by making them move! You can do simple things (like make a face smile and then frown) or more complex things (like make a vehicle move). In this day and age of great design all around us, animating your images is a great way to catch a user’s eye by making the image more exciting. By making your images animated, advertisements, webpages, and social media posts are much more dynamic and more likely to reach your audience.
The basic steps to create a vector animation in After Effects are as follows:
- Prepare the vector file in Illustrator
- Upload the correct file type to After Effects—the beauty of the Adobe Suite is that file types are universally recognized throughout the different programs.
- In the After Effects Layer Panel, you will be able to take advantage of the many possibilities for animating each layer, including visibility, size, movement, and much more. These animations are controlled in a storyboard-like environment that you will enjoy experimenting with.
Once you finish your animation, you can save the file to be used in a wide variety of ways to communicate your message or help you sell your product. By utilizing animation options, you can save on the high cost associated with video production, while still creating a highly desirable end result.
Ready to learn more about the endless vector graphic and vector animation possibilities in Adobe Illustrator and After Effects? You’re in the right place! Digital Workshop Center offers both Illustrator and After Effects classes for anyone wanting to master these programs to jumpstart a graphic design career or radically advance your graphic design capabilities. Click here to learn more about the graphic design classes, certificate programs, and one-on-one instruction that we offer for graphic designers of all skill levels and education needs. Contact us to learn more and to register.