90 Days to Learn Motion Graphics

Published 9. January 2015.

A thirty day challenge is an excellent way to build a new habit (and highly recommended), but to learn a new skillset?

You need more time. While thirty days will lay the foundation, via the habit, of practice, it most often takes longer to get past the novice stage where everything you make or do feels subpar.

As an experiment I'm extending the focused period of practice to ninety days. The first thirty will still serve to build the scaffolding of habit along with a passing fluency with the tools (in this case Adobe After Effects). Beyond that it will shift to creative exploration and application; pushing the basics further and further.

Admittedly the skill I'm interested in, motion graphics, is not one I haven't tried before. I have flirted with the skill a few times but never consistently practiced it, and thus I never got past the awkward first twenty hours of practice and learning.

It took some inspiration in the form of a tutorial to flip my mindset. Before I believed that doing anything cool in After Effects was hundreds of hours in the future, but after watching that I realized it was possible to create amazing effects far sooner. Stunning? Probably not, but good enough to have a sense of forward momentum.


A challenge like this wouldn't be useful without a daily habit to provide structure. In this case, because even the smallest of projects is quite time consuming, the daily challenge is not to create one thing per day, but instead to spend at least 30 minutes a day working on a project.

On top of that my sub-task is to make use of at least one new technique on each project. Mine are sourced from the course I'm following along with (from the same author).

The first project

This one took three days to create.

The phrase is inspired by Seth Godin and his book the Icarus Deception.

Techniques used: fly-bys, 3D text layers, and track mattes.

A bit less dynamic than I'd prefer. On the short-list of techniques to work on are working with cameras and creating more natural motion paths.

What skill do you want to learn?

For just about anything, especially technical skills, there's a resource out there on the internet to get you on the path. Access to instruction is rarely an obstacle now.

A few resources I've used and recommend for learning new skills are:

  • Skillshare - Exceptional for design skills in particular.
  • Treehouses - The best site I've run across to learn development and web design. I spent ~60 hours on their Front-End Development track and learned much from it, even from materials that were mostly review for me.
  • Tutsplus - They cover the broadest range of skills of these first three and have more courses on specific subjects, particularly within design and most importantly for me with audio/video.
  • Fizzle - Business training on the whole. The video production is top notch (one of my inspirations for learning about motion graphics, actually).
  • Coursera - University courses, so it can be trickier to find the exact topic you're looking for, but great when you find them.

Along with those MIT OpenCourseWare and Lynda are loaded with options, although I have yet to explore them myself.