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 outwardly toward the observer.


eruption of form


    • 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.


arrow design


  • 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.


static plane


  • 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.


sequential time

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.

Reproducing Apple’s “Aqua” Lettering Effect

Type effects are a good way to turn a headline into a visual element. One popular type trend, known as liquid or “aqua” lettering, is easy to reproduce in Photoshop using the steps below:

    1. Create a 300dpi image in Photoshop, with dimensions that are large enough to fit your entire headline text.
    2. Set the foreground color to R=0 G=51 B=222. This will provide the color for your text.
    3. Select the type tool and choose a serif font, such as Garamond or Times New Roman.
    4. Set the font size at 72px, and type the text you want to use in the headline.
    5. Control-click (Mac: Command-click) inside the type layer to select the shape of the letters.
    6. Reduce the selection by seven pixels, by choosing Modify > Contract from the Select menu at the top of the screen.
    7. Create a new layer (with your selection still in place), and change the foreground color to R=31 G=82 B=255.
    8. Using the fill tool, color your selected area with this new color.


  1. Once that’s set, deselect the selected area, and duplicate the layer you just created, so you now have two copies of it.
  2. Name the first of these layers “Color1” and the second “Color2.”

With all your layers in place, you’ll now need to make the following adjustments:

Color1 — Set the Blend Mode to Multiply

  • Double-click the “Color1” layer on the layers palette to bring up the Layer Style dialog box.
  • Set the Blend Mode to Multiply, and hit OK.

aquaColor2 — Add a Gaussian Blur

  • Highlight “Color2” on the layers palette, and choose Blur > Gaussian Blur from the Filter menu at the top of the screen.
  • A dialog box will appear. Set the radius to 5px and hit OK.

Color2 — Add an Emboss Effect

    • Double-click the “Color2” layer on the layers palette to bring up the Layer Style dialog box.
    • Highlight and select the Bevel and Emboss style.
    • For the Style setting, choose Emboss.
    • Change the Depth to 441% and the Size to 10px.


  • Set the Highlight Mode to Normal, with an Opacity of 100%, and the Shadow Mode to Color Dodge, with an opacity of 40%.
  • Press OK to continue.

Color2 — Adjust the Curves

    • With the “Color2” layer still highlighted on the layers palette, choose Adjustments > Curves from the Image menu at the top of the screen.


  • Another dialog box will appear.
  • Insert stop points at the following coordinates (input/output): 50/160, 200/90, and 233/180.
  • Once you have these coordinates in place, click OK.

Text Layer — Add a Drop Shadow

    • Right-click (Mac: Option-click) on the text layer in the layers palette.
    • Select Blending Options from the dropdown menu that appears.
    • Highlight and select Drop Shadow in the Layer Style dialog box.


  • Set the color (the swatch next to Blend Mode) to R=0 G=32 B=186 and the Opacity to 75%.
  • Choose a Distance of 5px, a Spread of 0%, and a Size of 9px.

The effect is now complete.