Top 11 Animation Trends In 2022
In 2022, Animation is everywhere. Teams of clients and designers are imagining new cutting-edge concepts with projects more vibrant and more accessible than ever. In a bit of a twist, artists are drawing inspiration from the rich analog histories of their craft—blending new technology with traditional craftsmanship and aesthetics. As the industry continues to innovate, one thing is certain: it’s never been a more exciting time for motion. Here are our Top 11 Animation Trends of the year.
TOP 11 ANIMATION TRENDS IN 2022
- Soft 3D
- Worldbuilding 2.0: Playgrounds
- Hot Off the Digital Letterpress
- Luxury Lo-fi
- Off the Blockchain
- Squeeze Grow Shrink
- Artistic Voice Behind Motion Paths
- Paths > Text > Paths
- The Wonderful World of Widgets
- Pick of the 3D Litter
- Save the Date: The Union of Hand-Drawn and Motion Graphics
Keep reading for explanations and examples of these techniques.
Sometimes, our eyes need to kick off their metaphorical socks. Enter in Soft 3D—a playful approach to 3D rendering that produces luminous, inviting results. Invoking craft-based techniques of Claymation and Stop Motion, Soft 3D is unique for its selective contrast, silky smooth grading, and emphasis on tangibility. From blockbuster studios like Illumination to independent mavericks like Cobysoft Joe, you can find this style delighting eyes across the animation gamut. Check out Laura Sirvent’s fantastic MTV Ident here
See also: Neumorphism, the more UI/Logo-focused trend of adding all the flush, low-ambient dimensionality we know and love from soft 3D onto more traditionally 2D designs.
A sequel? A remodel? Maybe just a patch update? True to its name, worldbuilding keeps growing. Immersive spaces have swiftly captured a premiere real estate in the public zeitgeist— but how is this affecting the worlds of Animation and Design? For businesses that thrive off a creative community, a playground can be the perfect à la carte approach to expressing the potential of your service. Who doesn’t want to miss out on the fun?
Check out KK Company’s vibrant branding design, where unique avatars and a charming futuristic city rev up those cognitive engines to create and explore.
Craft printing is pretty cool. After struggling in the shadow of digital printing throughout the 80’s and 90’s, the original innovator of hand-set type has made a remarkable comeback. And digital creators continue to draw influence from it. From typesetting to photo transfers to print illustrations, the overlap between digital media and traditional printing posits a rich heritage between the two. The single/dual/tritonal CMYK palette limitations of letterpress force designers to get creative, while the emphasis on spacing, repetition, and bold design impart universal design principles. And did we mention the texture? What makes traditional print so special is its inherent imperfection—and what is more human than that?
Take a look at these crafty examples from tubik.arts and Augusto Zambonato. Some artists like Cynthia Alfonso and Óscar Raña have even printed out animations on RISO print, to glorious and psychedelic effect. Check it out here.
Grab your glow effects, orbs, and cubes-- you’ll need them. For complex subjects like coding and security, simple shapes can go a long way in making these intimidating topics accessible. Spruce in a healthy mix of rounded-edge shapes, seamless gradients, sunset hues, and thin lines and you’ve got a potent mix for relaxation and dynamic motion. An evolution on lo-fi trends, UI & Chill emphasizes the simple iconography of widgets while involving deceptively complex mograph elements—all while keeping the temperature just right. A common hybrid of 2D and 3D, this trend effectively brings lo-fi into luxury without losing the vibes.
Check out Webflow’s Ecommerce video here alongside captivating documentation.
When crypto broke into the mainstream last year, many of us felt like this. But it’s hard to disagree that Blockchain has broadened our view of what life in the digital age can be. Crypto ventures are providing ripe sources for sharp, dynamic, and bracingly modern graphics that emphasize cyberpunk and neo-noir stylings. This trend continues to innovate how we present UI and mobile experiences to audiences. Once niche-terms like minting, mining, and NFTs are now being communicated effectively through animation.
With metaverses, digital banks, and online gaming platforms only growing, we expect animation to act as premiere educators in the field. Check out Spintop’s crisply rendered launch video from Wonder & Render here:
WARNING: The following trend may result in mesmerized staring. This always-custom and often-looping technique is perfect for GIFs and transitions that live on the wild side. In this method, text or designs often go through a shocking character arc—expanding or dissolving into a completely new shape, before reverting to their original form. Watching this cycle on repeat can have us missing our trains, ignoring our emails, and forgetting to call back our loved ones. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Check out Josep Prat Sorolla’s bouncy 2022 loop here:
Dear Animators: with so much fantastic animation out there, it can be all too easy to compare yourself to whatever trend is rising to the top of a given day. Because of this, looking inward can be the greatest tool when setting yourself apart from the pack—and with the right mograph monkey-grease, clients really take notice. Artists continue to find expressive ways to draft out motion paths that are unique to them. Exuberant, flowing, sturdy, angular, joyful—motion paths can have all the personality of character animation. Feeling stuck? Grab a notebook and go for a stroll, observing some real-world motions and jotting them down. Make note of the timing. With a quick snapshot, you can recreate that path in a program of your choice in no time. And if you’re in your head too much, you can always pay a visit to our first friend— the squiggle.
Paths can lead to consistency with meaningful depth in any animation. Terence Ginja-Martinho’s ‘Interlude’ is a wonderful splash of inspiration we highly recommend, with some great making-of to boot.
Continuing on this path (LAI Video formally apologizes on my behalf) we’re going to highlight the growing number of artists pushing the limits of text. There is something thrilling about seeing various shapes consolidate into a word, only to morph back into shapes and become something new. Requiring discipline and some intricate planning, this adaptive trend keeps us on our toes while emphasizing the transformation principle of animation. For an example, check out Dase Boogie’s satisfying NYC Metro animation here:
Widgets serve many functions, and like small badges, are just satisfying on a primal level. They’re unique, collectible, yet inextricably part of a greater whole. What makes them truly wonderful though is how they orient us—a piece of visual iconography in our digital landscape not dissimilar to map markers. In this way, animators are constantly looking for methods to incorporate social branding into advertisements and other graphic showcases, further guiding viewers by using widgets as a touchstone.
Check out our own wondrous widget work for Amazon Web Services Girls’ Tech Day event here.
*Lights candle* Gather round readers, for we have a chilling tale. Once upon a time, if Animators were looking to exercise their craft in 3 dimensions-- they had scant few options. Programs like Maya, Blender, Cinema 4D, and Houdini all sprouted up in the 90’s and underwent years of growing pains. The learning curves were the steepest of steep, the crashes came at users without remorse, and if you wanted a tutorial you had to find it in a book. But now? Well, 3D has officially hit its stride.
What once was a field dominated by few is now overflowing with options. There are powerful free innovators (Blender, Unreal Engine 5), robust premium options (Cinema 4D, Maya, Houdini), and even 2D software that readily supplies 3D options (Toon Boom Harmony, TVPaint). What’s even more exciting is the near-limitless number of user-friendly tutorials, courses, and resources for MoGraph newcomers and veterans alike. With so many options, which will you choose? Check out Oddfellow’s kinetic, immensely detailed piece for LunarCrush made using a variety of Adobe tools (After Effects, Photoshop, Animate) and TVPaint.
A trend that has been steadily building momentum for years, hand-drawn animation refuses to bow out. What was once seen as an adversarial old guard vs. new blood battle (see: Letterpress and Digital Printing) has blossomed into marriage of hybrids among animators, bringing out the best in both mediums. By maintaining the tactility of hand-drawn animation and the workflow benefits of Motion Graphics software, hand-drawn animation continues to look fresh with more motion tools at the disposal than ever before. For an example, peek at David Delafuente’s exquisite Glas Animation Festival opener ‘Pink Film’.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT ANIMATION APPROACH
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