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2D FX Playbook

Animation Basics

Instructor: Sonia Firsova
Included with VFX-A All Access

Apply animation basics to the world of visual effects. Learn how to create FX intro and outro animations. Then dive into overlapping actions and looping FX. 

In All Access

6+ Hours

This course includes over six hours of FX animation training.

Skill Level

Beginner Level One course for new artists. 


Toon Boom Harmony

Instant Access

This course is immediately available to All Access members. 

Course Breakdown

Lesson overview.

Intro Animation

Small to Big

Start small, focusing on spacing and timing with simple blob shapes.

When you are trying to determine your timing and spacing, consider the distance of your shapes from the viewer.

Intro Animation


Make a big punchy pop-up animation. Most animations can be broken down into simple shapes. If you start animating these simple shapes, you can use them as a guide for more complex ones.

Intro Animation

Squash & Stretch 

Squash and stretch animations give an extra pop to intro animations.

Apply these principles to simple cubes, then try a more exaggerated, bouncier version! 

Intro Animation


Add extra depth and pizazz by adding motion to objects! Dive into the three types of motion: straight-forward, arc, and in-perspective.

Create timing charts and use guidelines to animate more complex shapes! Define your first and final frames to help you work out your in-between shapes. 

Outro Animation

Big to Small

Learn the basics of outro animations and start experimenting with frame timing, spacing, and size!

If you want to draw a bit more attention to the end of your animation, you can repeat your big to small animation on a smaller size after the first loop.

Outro Animation

Break into Pieces

Go through this shape-breaking process step-by-step with a ripple animation.

Avoid symmetry in your positive and negative shapes. Variation, even when slight, will add more visual interest to your FX.

Outro Animation

Carving out Shapes

Dissolve a goopy liquid square by combining principles learned throughout this series!

Carve away your animations, starting with your motion lines, and then work on increasing your negative shapes.

Looping FX

Timing Offset

Looping animations are a huge part of FX animation. The goal of any looping animation is for the point where it loops to not be noticeable to the viewer.

With a timing offset approach, you define your first motion and offset a second motion so that, as your animation plays, both of these overlap in a way that hides the transition period of either loop

Looping FX

Rotating Keyframes

Adding a keyframe between the start and end of your loop can help you add visual interest to your animation! Having this additional keyframe helps you define motion that isn't simply start to end, and then back again.


Looping FX

Wave Principle

Animating a line wiggle guide can be a great base for a more complex effect animation.

Do not feel discouraged if you feel the need to draw out guide animations when you work on more complex effects. aving a solid guide animation under a more complex effect gives you the freedom to focus on shape language, details, and polishing your motion even more!

Looping FX

Linear Keyframes

Create a guide animation as a base for your effect's motion. Make sure to take the time to refine it before you move on.

Having a guide you are unhappy with will create more work for you down the road, so it is not uncommon for your guide to take a significant amount of time.

Overlapping Action

Effects in Motion

Follow-through animation is a key ingredient to giving your animation the feeling of being grounded in reality.

Many FX are fantastical or magical, making them inherently a little unbelievable. Real-world principles, like gravity and inertia, can make effects believable to a viewer without compromising on design goals.

What members say about VFX Apprentice

Bruno Cano

VFX-A All Access Member

Joining VFX Apprentice was, for sure, the best decision I've made in my early VFX career. The courses are great and the mentors and students are always trying to help. I just love being here!

Ron Anati

VFX-A All Access Member

Been in love with game VFX since I can remember. I joined VFX Apprentice after a LONG time thinking about it, and loving every moment of it, studying whenever I can.

Learn 2D and 3D FX with VFX-A All Access

All 2D FX, 3D VFX, and Advanced courses are included with VFX Apprentice All Access. Learn stylized and real-time FX from professional artists and animators.


All Access (Annual)


12 months billed once

  • Save $680 vs. monthly
  • 200+ Hours of VFX Training
  • New Lessons Monthly
  • Weekly Live Sessions
  • Project Files + Assets
  • Lifetime Community Access

All Access (Monthly)


Billed monthly

  • 200+ Hours of VFX Training
  • New Lessons Monthly
  • Weekly Live Sessions
  • Project Files + Assets
  • Full Community Access

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