Design Tips: Depicting Time and Motion with Design
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Add Some Motion to Your Designs!
Artists have long sought ways to convey motion and the passage of time within a static, two-dimensional space. Implied motion can transform an otherwise uninteresting design into a far more dynamic expression that catches the consumer's eye. Here are just a few examples of how you can incorporate implied motion into a two-dimensional design:
Eruption of Form: A grouping of shapes, expanding from or retreating to a focal point, gives the suggestion of movement and can convey an outward rush of ideas or emotion. The repeating elements in the design below give the impression of objects moving outward toward the observer.
Directional Cues: Objects with a pointed or triangular shape help to lead the eye through a design. A simple arrow, like the one below, will lead the viewer through your message and impart the feeling of momentum.
Dimensional Lines: Strong perspectives will draw the eye of the viewer across the page, while outlining a curved path or adding a dashed line will create a visual path that provides movement within a design. For example, the dimensionality of this curving line of text gives it movement and depth.
Breaking a Static Plane: A centered object, with lines parallel to the edges, appears to be static and unmoving. Skewing the object to create a strong diagonal presence will lead the eye through the design and add the illusion of motion. Cropping the object will give it the appearance of entering or exiting the plane of motion.
Sequential Time: Drawings, or photographs, placed in a row, work to tell a story over time. These images, placed side by side together, tell a dynamic story and instill a strong sense of motion within a static, two-dimensional medium.
By arranging composition elements with time and motion in mind, as we've shown you in the examples above, you can more effectively control the movement of the viewer's eye and convey your message in a more memorable and visually interesting way.
by Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips
This guide for students and professionals refocuses design instruction on the study of the fundamentals of form, informed by contemporary media, theory, and software systems. Through visual demonstrations and concise commentary, the book shows how to build interest and complexity around simple relationships between formal elements of two-dimensional design, and explains key concepts of visual language that inform any work of design, from a logo to a web site.