The marketing and advertising world is continuously looking for ways to innovate and improve in design trends.

The latest block of innovation has been represented by illustration and animation. They have become commonly used tools in the advertising industry, so much so that everyone is continuously looking for the newest way to innovate. Graphic design is all about playing with shapes, elements, and texture to capture the human psyche. Here are our top ten illustration and animation trends and how to use them to optimise marketing in the digital age.

Animation and Motion Trends

Combining & Playing with 2D and 3D

People love watching things that they can't quite wrap their head around.

The combination of 2D and 3D graphics in marketing and advertising can keep people enraptured, which is why it has become such a popular trend over 2021. It is commonly used on social media due to its futuristic and modern look. Motion graphics will only grow in popularity over the course of the digital age, so it is a good idea to get ahead of this curve. 3D animation is a hard craft to master, and the design trends which not only use it but combine it with other production content are impressive, and fall under the popularity of hybrid techniques, which we will visit later in the article. 3D animation has become one of the most popular motion trends due to its popular use on social media.

Working with a Restricted Colour Palate

This animation trend is all about simplicity and sophistication.

Where before this year, animation was all about showing off how many colours you could play with as a graphic designer and animator, the trend is now to say as much as possible without saying much at all. The less colours you use, the more the observer's eye is drawn to the animation itself and the mastery behind it, rather than just being entertained and distracted by the colours that are being used. This is both modern and retro, simple and complex.

Use of Thin Lines

Lines can draw the eye, outline the focus of an image, and even set the tone of it.

The trend of using thin lines comes out of a desire to create animations that replicate or resemble hand drawings. Thin lines have become so popular in 2021 because they go along the simplicity and sophistication trends that have become so prevalent. The desire to almost revert back to simple shapes and characters is one of the most endearing trends to be seen.

Kinetic Typography

Animators and brands have long been afraid to distort their typography. Not anymore.

This trend was previously shunned because of the potential to reduce readability, but has been accepted recently because of its character and futuristic nature. Kinetic typography in its essence calls for designers to distort, change, stretch, and mangle any typography in their animation. However, the trends in 2021 do not 'bend' to the original rules. It seems that animators using this technique are drawing a record number of viewers with this new and inspired technique.

Morphing Trend

Morphing occurs when a designer morphs visuals or a shape into another in a seamless way.

The transition is barely noticeable and thus wows the onlooker with its manipulation or shapes and elements. The reason that this example of live action has become so popular as a trend in 2021 is because morphing images actually captures and holds the attention of the observer. Illustrations used as marketing in the digital age must be centred around the frame of holding power over the attention of the individual. This increases the popularity of the article or story online and holding the attention of its audience for longer; increasing search engine optimisation overall.

Animating Logos

Motion graphics have become popular over the year due to its ability to bring characters to life.

On the web, there is a constant struggle to be engaging and memorable. Using a creative style can do so, and animating logos can make them more recognisable to the human eye. Animation brings life and art to normal typography where previously there was no texture. Animating logos is a visual masterpiece and a great example of how live action can bring something new to otherwise standard characters. Animation trends like this have become popular in brand logo representation due to their use of motion which is not new on the scene this year, but has recently become more popularised.

Vertically Inclined Animations

We like to consume our products in the easiest way possible.

That is the primary reason that vertical animation has become so popular. It seems like mobile phones are almost as populous as people in the western world and, just as animation and motion had to change when televisions came into play, animation trends have had to adjust to the fact that most people commonly use vertical screens in their day to day. Demand breeds a solution, and this is no different. No matter what is being animated, no one will want to watch something that does not fit their screen. Social media plays a big role in how this has been popularised, largely due to animation being used on Instagram and Facebook stories.

The Grain Effect

The grain effect is a tool which is used to give animations a more retro style.

This tool basically adds a complex layer of character to the texture and feel in the vector imagery. This effect not only adds character and textures the image, it also gives an illusion of making the image more realistic. The engaging effect of realism that this style creates has made it one of the most popular trends in 2021. Grain adds production value to animated images, breathing life into previously static images.

Self-drawing lines

Animated characters and live action videos are enrapturing to the human eye.

The popularity of motion graphics is a great example of how captivating we as humans find animated visuals that build suspense. Although we are not a patient breed, video styles like this that create an element of excitement within us for the development of an image can make us so. We love images that tell a story. A self drawing line that morphs into characters, a picture, or a brand logo can hold the attention of a consumer for a lot longer than static visual illustrations or characters.

Hybrid techniques

Techniques that combines more than one craft mixed together have made their way onto the scene.

Although this is not a new idea, it has recently become popular again in the animation space. Hybrid techniques such as the combination of 3D animation and 2D animation, or the use of kinetic typography in conjunction with morphing shows an element of design prowess that people find impressive and interesting. The use of motion graphics is difficult enough to master without adding in a second or third creative elements into a story or other marketing ploy. Even though it might not feel it all the time, people are naturally appreciative of visual design animations which not only have mixed styles, but were obviously difficult to create.

2021 has allowed for reflection in life and development in many fields; especially in the art world.

This year has allowed the space of digital marketing to develop in a new and exciting way, not only through design trends, but also through the realisation that videos and animations do not have to be complex in order to have character and styles that people find impressive. Brands have realised that animation and motion is more than just showing off design and brand name, but a new appreciation of realistic simplicity, and the trends in 2021 have started to let design just speak for itself.