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FX Design Principles

Instructor: Dan Elder
Included with VFX-A All Access

Learn the design principles of FX animation. This course covers the fundamentals of effects animation to help you plan out your designs.

In All Access

46 Minutes

This course includes nearly and hour of training in 5 lessons.

Skill Level

Beginner Level One course for new artists. 

Videos & Files

This course includes downloadable project files to follow along.

Instant Access

This course is immediately available to All Access members. 

Course Breakdown

Lesson overview.


Get a quick introduction to your instructor for this set of lessons, Dan Elder! Dan will talk about his experiences in FX and animation and his background.


Asking yourself questions before starting to design an effect can save you a lot of time. Context is important, and things like the narrative around a scene can completely change the effect you should design!

Physical Properties

Building up a visual library of natural shapes takes time. Looking at real-life examples of elemental forces in action can help you get a better sense of how they move. This can help you when it's time to draw your own shapes while animating.

Composition (Staging) 

Effects are not always the star of a shot, so it is important to identify what kind of shot you are designing for!

For a hero shot, where the effect is the focus, then go big and flashy with your design. If your effect is meant to be secondary, then it's important to make sure not to detract from the primary focus.

Solid Drawing

Follow along with Dan as he explains the importance of making a plan and sticking with it!

The more thorough your initial design, the easier the animating phase will be! Keep in mind that experimentation is great for trying new things, but it is important to be consistent within the same effect/animation.

What members say about VFX Apprentice

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.

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!

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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