Visual Storytelling: The Details of Good Design

To us, visual storytelling encompasses all of the specific details we use to pull together a visual piece.

From stop motion, to copywriting, to determining length of sizzle reels, to animation styles. It's the nitty gritty in-between the larger picture. And we LOVE the details of this category.

On this page we'll share articles from our team on how we capture the essence of visual storytelling.

We are on the other side of the uncanny valley.
When 3D animation first arrived, artists and studios raced towards photorealism. For a long time, many would judge advancements in 3D technology on how real  it looked. From video game cutscenes to the latest blockbusters, progress toward 3D realism popped its head up to show off its newly rendered face. As computer processors and 3D software got more advanced, better lighting, cleaner modeling, and more detailed texturing became the standard. Even in the cartoonish world of Pixar and Dreamworks, the caricatured models are textured with life-like surfaces. I still look back at the bread in Ratatouille with amazement.
At some point, we were told, "it's here!" But as we looked upon the newest face of photorealism, something wasn't quite right. The absorption of light into the surface, the pores on the face, the liquid in the corner of the eyes, the peach fuzz, it was all there. Our reaction?
What's wrong with that dude's face?

Why style is starting to beat realism in 3D animation

Turns out a couple decades of R&D isn't enough to fool millions of years of evolution. We'd officially entered the uncanny valley, a name coined to describe the scenario above where life-like 3D renders still register to us as fake.
Today, the march goes on. While realistic 3D will always have its uses and appeal, there has been a mainstream effort recently to break free of it. Creating a unique look for 3D is nothing new, but it was limited to...

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love fonts. Currently, Font Book on my Mac says that I have 1,419 fonts on my computer. And that doesn’t even count what I have installed with Adobe Cloud. To say that I have a passion for fonts might be an understatement.
  So asking a font enthusiast to pick their favorite fonts is like asking a parent to choose a favorite child. …If they had thousands of children.
As a designer, fonts are an essential tool for telling your brand’s story. “Everything communicates,” like the saying goes, and that especially applies to the fonts a brand chooses to use for anything they put out into the world. When picking a font, I not only consider how it looks, but also its history, its origin, and its unique cultural, social, and even economic driving forces. Every font has a distinct personality.
As tough as it is to narrow down, here are five fonts that I consider essential to know. Some of these are very popular, which means that they get overused, resulting in backlash and strong opinions. However, I still identify these as unique and beautiful, as well as having substantial impact on Graphic Design.
I’m going to dive deep into the history, personality, and unique impact each of these fonts have, drawing on my experience as an Art Director.

1) Helvetica

Helvetica was based off an 1896 font called Standard in the US and Akzidenz-Grotesk in Germany.  The sans-serif typeface was an avant-garde font of the 1920’s International Style that emerged at that time as a modern...

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Ok. So you’ve come to a realization. Your design could be better. Maybe you’re working on a brand refresh or you're starting something from scratch, but nevertheless, that truth has just hit you like a ton of bricks. Hey, it’s okay. It happens. Every creative can relate. We expect the best, freshest ideas from ourselves, and sometimes that doesn’t come right away. Don’t let it get you down, friend. Instead, consider this an opportunity to breathe some fresh life into your work. Let’s take a look at some key ingredients that will elevate your designs to something remarkable.

Who We Are, Who We Are Talking to, And Why it Matters

The most crucial first step in creating a design that’s impactul starts before you ever even open an Adobe program, and that’s making sure you really know who your brand is. Skip this, and expect instant failure. Why? Because if you don’t understand who your brand is, no one else will either. You’ve got to lock down a simple, solid brand identity before you head any further. Seems like a simple task. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. To help figure it out, ask yourself a few questions. What’s unique about your brand in this category? Why would someone pick yours over a different one? If you had to distill your brand into one word, what would it be? Just a few to consider.

You’ll also want to make sure you know who your target is. Are they kids or adults? Mostly men or mostly women? What matters to them? What kind of things do they like that aren’t...

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1,920 pixels wide. 1,080 pixels tall. If you work with video, there’s a comfort to seeing those dimensions. Whether you call it 1920x1080, 1080p, or just HD video, this format has dominated our digital lives for well over a decade.  Driven by the popularity of HDTVs, the aspect ratio of 16x9 has become the default standard for video, both on traditional broadcast and online. Even as resolution on TV sets have evolved from 720p all the way up to 4k UHD, the 16x9 aspect ratio (or the relationship between the height and the width of a frame) has stayed the same. By now, 16x9 is classic.

And sometimes, classic can mean boring. Don’t get me wrong. 16x9 is great when appropriate, which is most of the time. But there are definitely cases where you want to think outside the rectangle and consider creating your content in formats other than 16x9. Whether you are running an in-person expo, a hybrid event, or a marketing campaign, here are ways you can implement non-standard format video to enhance whatever your brand is doing.

Epic Events

People attend events for many different reasons: to learn something, to meet someone, or to feel something (hopefully excitement). Companies and brands hold events to deliver these experiences to their most ardent fans, their most loyal customers, and/or leaders of their industry. Utilizing non-standard format video can help deliver a memorable event and further your organization’s goals.

  • For Keynote Presentations: For upfronts and conferences,...

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Trends have been coming and going since the beginning of time. From bell bottom jeans to skinny eyebrows – But what makes something “trendy” and why do some trends tend to stick around longer than others? Why are some trends a blip in time when others are evergreen?

In this blog post we will be discussing what design trends are and why you should care about them.

What Is a Design Trend?

Let’s start out by defining exactly what a trend is: a general direction in which something is developing or changing/ a current style or preference. A trend can derive from random luck because a certain style blew up on social media, advertisements, or another form of art. They can also derive from a specific spike in what clients are seeking out.

Design trends can be, and usually are, heavily influenced by current events and the general public’s current climate. In other words, trends are really great at reading the room. Some trend titles you may recognize are minimalism, responsive design, and vintage.

What Makes a Design Trend Successful

Successful design trends usually build off of basic design principles. Trends commonly build off of something that was already there to catch a viewer's eye in a different but still familiar way. As stated before, trends don’t just come out of thin air, they change as the market changes. For example, when tracing the start of minimalism in technology products, it was Apple’s simple and sleek designs that catapulted this trend.

If a trend is popular...

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The creative industry is loaded with acronyms, sayings, phrases, and words that can seem a bit confusing if you're not familiar with them. We thought it'd be helpful to our fellow creatives if we compiled those terms into one place. We'll be consistently updating this post as we think of things to add.

2D animation

A 2D animation is comprised of only height and width, meaning the characters of the animation are only 2 dimensional.

Here is a project we completed for Shiseido Americas that is comprised of 2D animation using iconography, typography, and seamless transitions to tell the story of their sustainability efforts as a company.


3D animation

In 3D animation, characters are made up of height, width, and depth, which creates a more realistic contrast compared to 2D animation.

Zing Stikbots - Dust Bunnies-2


360 campaign

The term "360 campaign" has become somewhat of a buzzword in our industry. To us a 360 campaign is a creative concept that spans the gamut of...

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To paraphrase Charles Bukowski, “Style is everything.” It is the non-verbal clues that tell others about yourself. Even if you don’t think you have a style, your non-style is communicating on your behalf. Every choice is deliberate. Colors and shapes evoke common emotional responses within a culture. For example, blue, the color of the sky and sea, is calming and is frequently associated with depth, stability, sincerity and trust. This is why we see debate stages dominated by the color blue. Whereas yellow, the color of the sun is most often associated with feelings of happiness or friendliness. 

Know Your Brand

Designing a logo and full brand identity are a little like creating a dating profile. Your logo is that first impression that will introduce your company to potential customers. It is important to write down and define a clear brand identity. This should include what makes your brand unique and what beliefs and values are important. Think about what three words you want your customers to use to describe you and use these to craft your brand’s core personality.

Also check out our article on 'Elements of a brand' (Rebrand vs. Brand Refresh)we break down how to develop what we call your "brand core".

Design: Your Visual Decoder Ring

It is time to start translating your brand into visuals. All design choices will be measured against the brand’s personality, and there are lots of elements to curate. Typography, colors, shapes, line styles, and textures, all add up...

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Storytelling has become a trend. With books like Storynomics, Stories That Stick, and Building A Story Brand topping best sellers lists, story is one of the biggest buzzwords in advertising and marketing. And, to me, it’s a little baffling.


Not that I don’t think storytelling is important. Quite the opposite. As someone who grew up writing screenplays on spec in grade school before I even knew what “on spec” meant, storytelling has been a vital part of my life. In high school, I would routinely convince my teachers to let me make a short film in lieu of an essay. I spent my days at the University of Southern California studying different kinds of storytelling throughout theatre and film. Storytelling has been an obsession and a calling.


As a screenwriter, seeing story as a marketing trend baffles me just because it’s something so ingrained in how humans behave. In the days of hunters and gatherers, storytelling was integral to our survival. It’s in our DNA. People retain information much better if it’s conveyed in a story. That’s why you might struggle to remember what you ate for lunch last Thursday, but you can vividly recall a scene from a movie you haven’t seen in years. 


Calling story a trend is like calling breathing or eating the next big thing. Storytelling has always been a trend, and story has always been important to advertising. The trendy part of the trend is that the advertising world is recognizing how tools that screenwriters and storytellers use to...

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