Join John McWade for an in-depth discussion in this video How to put motion on a static page, part of Graphic Design Tips & Tricks Weekly.
- Hi everyone, John McWade, we live in world that's full of motion, it seems like almost everything is moving almost all of the time, so when you're designing a static page, whether it's a print page or web screen, that doesn't move. How do we create on that page, a sense of movement? There are several ways, let's have a look. This simplest way is to use a photograph that was taken of something in motion, race horses, in this case, the blur emphasizes that motion.
But you look at this, and you get the sense that these horses are moving, that's the simplest thing. The dancer has three kinds of movement, one is that she's obviously moving, two is that she has these physical lines, that convey movement, and three, what's coming off of here are also phantom lines, her line of sight, the line her arm is facing, the line her leg makes. And our eyes will follow those lines, so when we add her to a design, we get the energy of her movement, in front of the static type, which creates a dynamic layout.
We can take advantage of the phantom lines we just saw, by having them all point to a piece of copy that we would like the viewer to read. So that's a way to create motion. The third way, and this is a way that's commonly overlooked, is that the motion happens, not on the page, but because the viewer's eyes are moving. The easiest way to show that is with a panoramic image like this, where your eyes must span the distance from the left to right. Your eyes physically move to see this page, in this case, that line is emphasized, because of the horizon line, and the near horizon line, that create a left to right sweep.
We can take advantage of that side to side motion, by creating a band that runs from left to right, and in that band, we'll add our copy, our eyes are going to read that copy left to right, and on the right side of this, put a picture of the cafe. So all the lines in this image are moving you from the left side of the screen to the right side of the screen, and your eyes are in motion, and so when you look at the picture you'd say, well, that's not a moving picture, and yet, there's a lot of engagement in that picture, because you have to move to see it.
Another example, this star burst is full of lines that our eyes follow, they radiate out from a center, and just like the dancer with those phantom lines, we tend to follow those lines out beyond where they actually go. Set our type in the middle of this image, and then spread it out in a panoramic line as well, and our eye now follows from left to right, and there's motion in this image. And you have a sense that this image is dynamic, and although not physically moving, that there's the sense of movement here.
We can do this typographically, simply like this. Nothing is moving, except your eyes, and because of that, this is an engaging setting. You do follow from the left to the right. Our eyes love lines, our eyes will always follow a line, and especially converging lines. Converging lines are very fast, and we will tend to go from the wide end to the narrow end, and speed up as we get toward the narrow end. Curve lines are super fast, our eye will not only follow that curve, but then it will continue, in the phantom off the end of that curve.
You see converging curves used like this a lot in swirls, in swooshes, and so on, and that's because they convey so much movement. Our traffic lines lead right to our title, these converging gears create a strong line that our eyes will follow. This flag is fairly static, but if we make this into a pennant, now we create motion, because our eyes want to follow those converging lines. If we look at it from the other side, however, our eyes tend to move left to right, and now they have to go up against the convergence, and the motion is much slower.
Angles always create motion, again, our eyes follow these lines, and when we make this tilt, we have converging lines, as well as, just the energy of an unstable line. So we've taken an otherwise static picture, and put it in motion. You can see this really happen when we have true converging lines. The car at an angle is much faster than it would be, if it were simply horizontal, when we add our type to it, if we make sure that type is in italics, everything on this page is now moving fast.
Speaking of type, there is some movement in this setting, because the XR600S is an extended type face, so your eyes do have to move to some extent, from the left to the right. If we italicize this, however, it adds a lot of motion to it. We can add even more motion with a blur, but when we do that, we lose readability, so a blur effect like this should be used very sparingly. Italics don't automatically mean fast, however, italics in a block of text aren't fast, because the dominate line is not horizontal, but vertical.
So italics here, would just be used for emphasis, or for a style point. You can't tell by looking at the cartoon car, if it's parked or if it's moving, if we slant the car, however, we italicize the car, it's now obviously moving. If we add speed lines, it's moving even faster, these speed lines suggest a blur that we saw in our race horse. And if we position it leaving the page, it now looks like it's moving super fast. Another way to create motion. Our cute little bee, looks like it's flying, because of the dotted lines, we can see its flight path.
If those lines are gone, now the bee is just static on a page, it's as static as if it's hanging from a string, like a mobile. The closer together the dots are, the faster the movement, arrows with dashed lines, look like the parts they're referring to are moving, or are to be moved. Another way to create motion. Noting on the page is actually moving, but on the left, for example, you get a clear sense that those two parts move and snap together. And then the center, that the microphone snaps down into the stand.
On the right, the solid line serves simply as a pointer to the part, you don't have a sense of movement there. This layout has movement in it, and it's the phantom line that we saw earlier on in our dancer, right there. The Southbounders line creates movement to the right, and our eyes tend to follow that line on out, so there's plenty of movement in this static layout. Anything in a burst has motion, this circle in the center of the page is static, but when we radiate out from the center, like saw with the earlier burst, this image has a lot of movement in it, especially because of those converging lines, that all converge toward the center.
You can see that again, a lot of motion in this image. Anytime we put things in a sequence, like a stop action photo, we have a clear sense of movement. A clear progression here, something is moving, this is useful when you want to show how something works, create a sequence. Anytime you repeat an element, you create motion, in this case, we have a strong left to right line, we also have five separate objects, that are engaging the eye, and when they go together in this display, we have a lot of movement, a lot of motion.
And this an engaging layout. Similarly, put an image on this card, and rather than making that image big, simply repeat it. This is like the wall of video that you will see at the TV store, you know, where there are 12 sets up on the wall, and they all have the same channel turned on. What's interesting here, is that although all those pictures are the same, your eye is busy moving around that field. We are pattern seekers, and we're looking for similarities, we're looking for differences, we're looking at each one of those images, and your eye's very busy over there.
There's a lot of movement that's been created by your eye. We can add, on the right side of the card, a different kind of movement, and that's this cute curly cue typeface called Hairspray, our eyes follow those lines too. So this card has a lot of movement in it, your eye is very busy doing a lot of things. Patterns can often create movement, this one has a lot strong movement, rows of toucan birds facing opposite directions. Because the bill of the bird is actually a pointer, like a phantom line, our eyes, you know, as we scan this picture, our eyes are snapping right, then left, then right, then left, then right, then left, this is a very lively image, full of movement.
The position of elements in a layout can create movement, everything on this card is centered, the center is a very strong position, all eyes converge on a center, it's stationary, it's very strong because it's stationary, it's placid. But if we move these elements, the name to the left, the copy to the right, now we create an asymmetrical tension, where our eye, looking at the name, is either moving out to the left, or it's coming in from the left, and the copy on the right.
This is a very lively card, there's a lot of action here, it's a vigorous design. Similarly, if we put everything on the right side of the card, now we have an imbalanced card, that itself is full of movement. It's full of movement because of where it is on the far right. Note in this case that, although we have a green field here, the O, if you drew a vertical line here, the O lines up with the copy below it, so all the copy is aligned along a right line. Perspective creates movement, and this is the same as those converging lines.
Here's a deck of cards going from front to back, if you have just a little less of each card showing, as it gets smaller, you get the sense of a straight line here. If, as the cards get smaller, you have the same amount of each card showing, it creates a curve for you. In both cases, this is a strong line that your eye follows, just like it followed that converging line earlier, to this, and it wouldn't work with cards, but if you had a different kind of object here, that had more natural distance, if you begin coloring those smaller objects light, we have a sense of atmospheric perspective, the farther away things are, the more they become like their background.
That creates motion also. Squeezing, or compressing space, creates movement, here's our typeset word, we'll color it, just kind of a wild array of color, smash all the letters together, overlap them, and then apply a multiply filter so we can see through them. A lot of movement, a lot of interactive motion among these letters. For this effect to work, you have to have very bold type, and pretty plain type, if you try it with very light type, it's just too thin, you don't get that effect.
If your type is too busy, you get these very active shapes in between. If your letters are too alike, or your letters are too narrow, that will defeat the effect. And finally, you can offset imagery, we start by setting our basic type, outline it, offset the outline, create a second outline, and offset it further. This is a fun, lively way to create a vigorous sense of movement.
And that's your design for today. See you next time.
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