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Presentation Details


Illustrations that Move: Adding Animation to Clarify the Graphics that Supplement Text

Nancy Wirsig McClure.

Communication through text is not disappearing, and traditional text-plus-illustrations will remain a major form in electronic books, both non-fiction and fiction. In digital presentation, any illustration has the potential to move or change. Should it? The answer is not as obvious as it seems. This presentation addresses the questions of how to use animation appropriately. It focuses on the kinds of informational graphics that can be made more understandable with animation.

For book creators, animation provides two main advantages over still images: it can make information easier to understand by illustrating actions or changes over time, and it can make the experience more compelling. Also, animation is often better than "live action" video for explanations such as step-by-step demonstrations, or showing how machines or natural phenomena work because (a) it can be schematic, excluding extraneous detail, and (b) it can show invisible things (the microscopic, the cosmic, or the instantaneous), and (c) it can perform cut-aways and fly-bys that cameras cannot.

Interactive book designers can also use animation to help clarify interface elements (such as icons and navigational controls). In addition, there is an entire discipline called Information Visualization that considers how to display large quantities of information on a limited display, and the answer is often animated transitions.

Care must be taken in designing informational animation. The presentation will summarize research (in user interface design, usability, computer-assisted instruction, and cognitive psychology) showing that animation can sometimes make information harder to grasp in part because of the ephemeral nature of animated images. Guidelines are beginning to emerge that reflect the cognitive responses to changing imagery.

The presenter has been reviewing uses of motion in interactive media, and will present many examples of appropriate use. She is developing best practices for incorporating motion in the design of informative and persuasive content


Nancy Wirsig McClure  (United States)
Multimedia Program
Portland State University

Nancy Wirsig McClure is a designer and illustrator with a specialization in information graphics and interactive design. She teaches in the Multimedia Program at Portland State University (Portland, Oregon, USA).

  • Illustration
  • Multimedia
  • Motion
  • Animation
  • Design

(Virtual Presentation, English)