Basic Logo Animation With Adobe Illustrator and After Effects

For a recent project I was assigned the responsibility of shooting and editing a short 1 minute promotion for the Technology Engagement Center.  Initially I came up with a nifty electric laser title for the piece but it came off as potentially intimidating to the target audience of faculty, staff, and students in the Duke community who aren’t that tech savvy.  Instead, it was requested that I take the existing logo and get creative with it.  No problem.  The initial logo was designed in Adobe Illustrator.  It’s a fairly simple and straightforward design with four overlapping hexagons and a title at the bottom.Illustrator works in layers with each element occupying its own layer with a respective transfer mode that affects how that layer interacts visually with the layers beneath it.  If the elements were “flattened” into one layer each overlapping region of the hexagons would be its own shape.  This wouldn’t do for my application and would also result in my needing to animate seven shapes (three overlapping regions) instead of the initial four.  I noted that the layer transfer mode was “Multiply” with the color of the topmost layer multiplying the color values of the layer beneath it.  This comes in handy later so note this in your own projects if you copy this workflow!  The next step after noting the characteristics of the logo was to export for After Effects.  I exported each layer separately.

I exported utilizing the PSD export option as  that option yields the option to utilize layers.  You could export separate PNGs but I know that After Effects handles PSD files fine.  You must use CMYK  and check “write layers” as an option.  The other settings were fine.  Now it’s time to open Adobe After Effects!

I created a new comp in After Effects that reflected the size of the video that I’m using: 1280 x 720.  I then imported my Photoshop layers into the project panel then dragged them down into the comp.  Each layer popped up perfectly sized and in position.  Now it was time to animate.  This was quite honestly the easiest part but it can be more complicated based on what you do.  I had five layers.  One for each hexagon and one layer for the text which I decided to animate as one object.

First I changed my transfer mode for the hexagon layers to multiply to copy the same visual effect that existed in the Illustrator file.  Told you that information was going to be handy!

I left the bottom text layer and hexagon layer modes as normal as there was no need for them to interact with anything behind them.  I wanted to give the illusion of a “fly in” effect so I created position and size key-frames for each hexagon about 3 seconds in.  I then went to the beginning of the comp and enlarged each heaxagon significantly and moved them off screen with each hexagon going to a different quadrant of the screen.  Four hexagons.  Four quadrants.  Simple.

Lastly I did a horizontal blur and opacity fade in on the bottom text layer to bring in the text.  Here’s the result in animated GIF format.

That’s it!  The entire process (assuming that your files aren’t flattened and too complex) took only about 30 minutes from start to finish.  Given you can get as complex as you like with your logos when you get them into After Effects, but the process is still the same and straightforward.  Try it out and let me know how it works out for you!

2D Animation Made Easy With GoAnimate!

One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job is animation.  Unfortunately, time constraints prohibit my forays into the arena from being too complex.  This is extremely problematic for character animation specifically.  Animating a ball moving across the screen or a series of pie charts is easy in a few minutes.  Animating a room full of characters having a business conference?  Not so much.


Until now.


Enter GoAnimate.  GoAnimate is a fairly robust online software platform that makes character animation a turnkey solution.  Given I highly recommend that you do not bypass the story board option and plan your animations out before hand, but when you’re ready to go, GoAnimate has most of the bases covered.



First is the robust character customization.  Similar to building an avatar in a videogame, users can pick sex, ethnicity, age, and costume styles for human characters that they wanted to animate.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were options that represented the physically impaired like wheelchairs and also religious diversity options like burqas!  If you find this straightforward process too daunting, there are a wide variety of preconfigured characters to select from.


After your character creation process is done, GoAnimate has a plethora of pre-established animations that are ready to get things moving.  Characters can be made to run, walk, argue, skip, talk on the phone…the options are vast.  Animations can happen in sequence via the intuitive timeline.  A character is given a series of actions to complete over various “scenes” with customizable durations.


The scenes are just as varied as the characters themselves thanks to the same level of customization.  Generic backgrounds exist that can be populated with a selection props (chairs, desks, plants, etc.) that can be interacted with.

GoAnimate interface and timeline

This brings me to GoAnimates limitations.  The aforementioned props are cosmetic only.  Characters can sit on chairs but they can’t pick up an apple on a table and take a bite out of it.  Doors can be placed in a scene but they can’t be opened.  Additionally, the only characters that can be animated are humans.  There are no animals or animated toasters available to work puppet magic on.


Let these small quirks by no means discourage potential Disney apprentices.  The platform is still quite robust for what it is.  Animations can be exported at a variety of resolutions and a chromakey-able background allows for characters to be superimposed and retimed in an infinite number of ways.  The most important (and valuable) aspect of GoAnimate is its speed.  I’ve been able to use the program to build simple and powerful interactions between characters in a matter of minutes.  What it does do, it does well and I only anticipate that it will continue to get better.  GoAnimate is available via subscription starting at $39.00 a month.  Check out what I did below!




T(ether) is a spacially-aware visualization and 3d-manipulation system designed by the Tangible Media Group at MIT’s Media Lab. A bit difficult to explain in text, so check the video:

What I think would be really cool to add to this would to have the glove have internal resistance mechanisms, so that you can actually ‘feel’ the size of the thing you’re interacting with.  Then you could apply pressure to that resistance to mold the object in space…