And … the Dissolve

My last post was about the “reveal”,  so it seemed appropriate to write about the “dissolve” for this post, its partner at the other end of the visual experience. If the reveal is an opening event, exposing something new, then the dissolve is a closing event, that ends an experience and prepares you for the next one, like a blank page after finishing a chapter in a book.

A lot of the same elements exist in the reveal and the dissolve, but in reverse order. They are a visual yin and yang, graphic bookends, keeping the eye and the viewer engaged. But where the reveal introduces the surprise, the dissolve can end the first story, become the story for a moment as it makes the transition to the next story, and in some cases act as the reveal for the next story.

In motion graphics, this can be far more than a simple page turn. It can be an interesting experience all by itself. As I stated in the last post, a “wipe” or “transition” generally moves across the screen removing something in its wake. To create the magic, particle systems (the tech term for a bunch of 3D specks) are usually employed. Particle systems produce dynamic fluids like smoke, fire, dust and sand, liquids and snow which are all great materials for making wipes. As the particles pass in front of the viewer and disappear, the image behind it disappears. Particles can also contain a photo image on each one, like a bird or a leaf for example, to produce interesting, realistic natural wipes of a flock of birds flying, or falling/blowing leaves. The point here is to make the act of removing something from a scene become an interesting experience on its own, instead of just a subtraction. Creating a mood or style to the transition adds another dimension to the piece.

I used my logo for these examples, but product images or graphic elements can work well too. Particle transitions are the ultimate “magic” in motion graphics, because they can emit from other objects. As a 3D animator and a graphic designer, particle systems are the perfect mix for my magic. A good magician doesn’t reveal how the trick is done, but just performing the trick anyway will get plenty of attention. So enjoy!


In the above sample, the logo turns to dust and weightlessly floats away. Here one moment, gone the next, from one side of the screen to the other, revealing the background. This is the simplest wiping dissolve. But, it could also reveal something new behind it, like text or another image. In general, it happens from one side to the other.


For this second sample, the transition becomes the design, as the logo melts into dancing, swirling particle streams that spin out and fade away. It’s not a wipe in the typical style of one direction to another. It’s more of an evaporation of the image to prepare the canvas for the next story … a true dissolve.

Using reveals and dissolves are two great ways to hold the viewer’s attention. I enjoy playing with them and using them. But as with any other design tool, or magic, for that matter, the ‘trick’ is knowing when to use it. No one wants to see you pull a rabbit out of a hat more than once in the performance, right? But if the rabbit later vanished into thin air, that would be a second trick!

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Bill Giobbi (bgob1) is founder and owner of Linea Forma Design, a 38 year old design firm specializing in creating graphic content for print, web and video. He is a graphic designer, industrial designer, model maker, technical illustrator and a digital 3D content creator/animator, with a love of all things design.
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4 Responses

  1. Elisa

    Feels like a party… NYE… an etch-a-sketch, and more! Love it! Definitely gets one’s attention. Cool logo, too. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Scott Jones

    Very cool stuff as usual!

  3. Gayle

    Ok those were both very cool. I watched each one multiple times. Also, I love your logo and how the d leans in at the end. Your creations are both beautiful and fun!

  4. I forgot

    Bill E G O B

    Tom E B