The 6 Latest & Greatest Trends in Animation

The art of putting together images to depict a sequence of events is much older than we think. Egyptian murals with carvings showing the steps to wrestling moves have been found in tombs left behind more than 4,000 years ago. A thousand years earlier, someone in the area of modern-day Iran painted sequential images of a goat leaping up to bite a tree leaf on a pottery bowl.

Today, animation continues offering us a captivating way of telling stories and providing information. Thanks to advancements in techniques and technology, here are the latest ways you can impress with your own animation talents:

  1. 3D Looks to Retro & Vintage

To keep their content fresh and unique, many 3D animators are looking to art styles from the past for inspiration. One of the more popular trends looks to Gouache, a ’60s era water-based painting style which involved heavy use of color layers and dry brushing. Another cool 3D animation style that’s becoming popular again is retrofuturism. This makes use of sci-fi aesthetics from what people in the late ’70s and early ’80s thought the future might look like. Use of lush lighting effects and pixelated digital elements serve to create places and characters that feel both retro and sci-fi.

  1. High Contrast Cel Animation

Converse Chuck Taylor II Shield Canvas from Golden Wolf on Vimeo.

This is an animation trend that’s been on the rise for a few years now and has been used by some of the top companies in the world, including Nike, Nickelodeon, Disney, Cartoon Network, and even fo the Winter X games. Vibrant, contrasting colors combined with an angular design are used to give the animation a simplified, almost cel-style look. The result is a fun, in-your-face sequence that’s hard to look away from. Some of the best examples are from Golden Wolf, an animation production company based in London.

  1. 2D and 3D, Together

A trend that began in recent years and has continued picking up steam is creating animations that look like a mix of 2D and 3D. You don’t have to look far to find a tutorial that shows you how to end up with a flat 2D look by using a cel shader to render 3D. By giving 3D objects a 2D look, animators are able to make expressive, illustrative elements that immediately attract a viewer’s attention while delivering information in a clear and colorful way.

  1. Hyper-Surrealism

HONDA “The Dreamer” from Roof Studio on Vimeo.

If there’s one great animation trend that makes full use of the power of CGI imagery, it’s this style. The effect of hyper-surreal animation relies on combining photo-realistic elements with fantastical imagery to create dreamlike worlds and action. There are few examples better than Roof Studio’s “The Dreamer” add for Honda, which takes viewers along a whimsical journey as a realistic vehicle drives across outlandish locations.  If you’re interested in an animation style that lets your creativity and imagination run wild, look no further.

  1. Dynamic Function Animation in Apps

App developers are also now seeing the power animation can have to give users a memorable experience. Instead of using static images or just text, many apps in 2018 are using functional animation that keeps a user’s attention with a vibrant, interesting user interface. This includes using animation to brighten navigational elements, confirm user input, zoom in and out on content, and more. Since there’s nothing better than motion, mainly because our eyes are designed to follow it, 2D animation offers an unmatched level of visual feedback.

  1. Resurgence of 2D Animation in Marketing

In entertainment industries like film and video games, 2D animation took a back seat when 3D arrived. Since then, companies have felt there’s no better way to captivate audiences, players, and potential customers than with 3D animation, even if it requires more time and effort to create. But now that more people are using the internet like never before, be it on their smart devices or computers, companies need attractive yet cost-effective ways to grow their marketing brand. Thus, a big trend in animation these days is having the ability to whip up simple, attention-grabbing 2D animation videos for use in mobile and web advertisement.

Learn more about 3D Animation & VFX at the New York Film Academy.

Graphic Design Tips for Creating a Killer App Icon

With over 50,000 apps and an additional 20,000 games submitted to the iTunes App Store every month, it’s never been more desirable to have an icon that not only grabs a casual browser’s attention but also communicates everything the app is about. After all, aside from a title, the icon is pretty much the only thing you’ve got to entice people to want to know more.

Whether you’re trying to make your own app stand out from the crowd or are looking to gain icon design work from publishers, there are definitely rights and wrongs to bear in mind when designing an icon.

Today, we’re looking at the right ways to make your icon … well, iconic.

Creating an Icon: The Process from Start to Finish

First up, you’ll want to take a look at two very important design guides: the one for iOS and the one for Android. While the design principles remain the same (and you’ll likely use the same iconography for both stores), there are subtle differences in the required technical specifications for your final images.

Ready to go? Then let’s move on to:

Scoping the Competition

We’re going to assume for a moment that your app has at least a little competition and that there are similar apps already out there. If your app is a one-of-a-kind original serving a niche that nobody else has capitalized on yet, well done!

Otherwise, take an impartial look at your competition and see which icons look most appealing as you scan down the app store. Don’t think about it too much, just note down the ones which particularly leap out at you. When you go back and re-examine the list with a more critical eye, we can guarantee that the ones you ignored went with the safe and obvious design choices, while the others did something a little different (though still clearly communicating the app’s function).

Don’t be afraid to take things in a different direction – as long as the app’s purpose is clearly defined through the icon, you can go as abstract as you like. A few other useful things to bear in mind:

Universal Appeal: Whatever imagery you use, make sure it won’t cause confusion (or worse, offense) in any other culture or country.

Focus on the Main Feature: Another to-do app that stands out from the masses is Swipes. Coupled with the name itself, this is an icon that conveys exactly what you can expect from the app:

So, if in doubt, focus on either a) the app’s selling point, or b) the app’s major function, and you’ll be starting on solid ground.

As for the design itself…

Settling on Color

Firstly, go monochrome. That’s right: design your icon in black and white first. Because if it still works without any color embellishment, you’ve almost definitely got a strong design.

When it comes to implementing some hues, however, it pays to look at the wider industry. With the exception of Snapchat (one of the very few ultra-popular apps to have a yellow icon) and a handful of greens, the overwhelming majority of apps fall into either the red or blue spectrums. Virtually zero inhabit the tertiary colors in between.

There’s nothing to say you can’t buck this trend with your own magenta-meets-bottle-green design, but know that countless millions of marketing dollars have been spent by the companies above in figuring out what consumers respond to best.

And lastly, the golden rule of icon design:

Trim the Fat

Once you’ve got a rough idea of how you want your icon to look and perhaps even a few drafts in the bag, it’s time to pare it down as much as you can before the message starts getting lost.

Got text in your icon? Try one letter only, a la the Vine, Tumblr or Facebook icons (which use the first letter of the app along with strong typography to get the brand across). There are a few apps that break with tradition, but on the whole it adds way too much visual noise and doesn’t lend itself well to scaling.

Going back to color, it’s optimal to stick to two complementary colors. The exception to this rule of thumb is with gaming apps, in which a multitude of colors (usually representing a sprite or scene in the game) is the norm.

In short: keep the design simple and the message clear.

Happy designing!

PS: As a closing tip, always work in vectors for easy, loss-free scaling. You’ll want to export your finished design in a number of different sizes, since a 120x120px logo scaled up rarely looks good!

Film Production Toolbox – Apps & Gadgets Every Producer Should Own

It’s ll-in weird and wonderful world these days, isn’t it?

From self-driving cars to personal computers so small you can wear them as a watch, we’re just one functional jetpack and a hover skateboard away from truly living in futuristic times. A neat aspect of this explosion of the gadget age is that it’s made producing films a lot more accessible; there is a plethora of apps and tools out there have simplified a lot of aspects to production that were once a bit of a nightmare.

The only problem is, if you’re an amateur filmmaker or still at producing school, we’re guessing you don’t have the budget to buy them all (who does?). As such, here’s our rundown of some of the more essential apps and pieces of kit that you should consider purchasing to make your job as a film producer a little easier.

Top Apps & Gadgets Every Producer Should Own

First up, we’ll cover the best apps for film producing that run across all stages of production. Many of these are not just indispensible for the production team, but are also useful for keeping the entire crew on the same page.


Scriptation is a free script reader and annotation app designed by industry professionals to make the script revision process more efficient and more ecofriendly. The app has been used in hundreds of productions including Stranger Things, The Greatest ShowmanModern Family, The Walking Dead, and Westworld, Silicon Valley, The Greatest Showman, and has been featured in American Cinematographer and Deadline.


(Free, pro version is $13.99/year)

Created by working filmmaker Zach Lipovsky, Shotlister is an essential app for pre-production and the most eloquent way we’ve seen so far to manage a shooting schedule. Create one-liners in advance, edit or rearrange them with just a few taps, and tick off each shot as you progress through the shooting day. It even works on the Apple Watch!



As we’ve covered previously, a growing number of filmmakers are relying on their camera phones to capture footage. Videograde is a surprisingly powerful color correction tool which comes with an array of easy-to-apply filters and a proper RG&B channel mixer. The app has been completely overhauled recently, so if you owned it previously but haven’t used it in a while, you’ll be in for a treat—the latest updates have been fantastic.


Pocket Call Sheet


Say goodbye to the days when you used to have to print out and distribute call sheets to every crew member by hand. Pocket Call Sheet will save you countless hours even on the smallest of productions.

Let’s move on to some of the smartest gadgets a film producer can hope to own, starting with:

All-in-one iPhone Lens Kit

If you’re one of the pioneering iPhonographers we mentioned above, a lens kit can help get the quality of your footage to the next level. Pictured is the Olloclip kit, which works with all iPhones (from the 4 up) and also the Samsung Galaxy.


One of the most portable, functional and—more importantly—value for money camera stabilization systems out there, and one that will get you through pretty much any shooting scenario. Above is the Camtrol Moose (named for obvious reasons) which retails around $775, but other products in the range run as low as $150.

Camera Beltpack

Although it won’t win you any awards for fashion, a camera operator’s best friend can also be a producer’s given that he or she is likely to be carrying around similar amounts of equipment (and even just things like pens or ibuprofen) when out on location.

Portable Espresso Machine

Does this one even need explaining? A film crew can’t operate without rocket fuel, and when you rock up to the set with a portable espresso maker, you’ll instantly become everyone’s favorite producer!