Balancing Traditionalism and Creativity in Whiteboard Animation

Whiteboard animations are a fantastic way to create easy-to-understand, engaging, and memorable explainer videos that not only tell a wonderful story and educate viewers, but encourage them to share the video and purchase a service or product.

In our last blog, we divulged some tips on making effective whiteboard animations. In this post, we’ll be delving more into detail about creating a whiteboard animation that is unique and creative while maintaining enough of its traditional structure to still work well.

The original whiteboard advertisements and videos were genuinely made by recording someone drawing on a whiteboard in real-time and speeding it up. Today, whiteboard videos are done completely digitally, but they still maintain a lot of their original appearance.

The charm of a successful whiteboard animation comes from keeping things as traditional as possible while still managing to use the new modern digital tools available to create something interesting, unique and exciting. In order to properly execute a whiteboard animation, you need to know how to balance the traditional aspects of them that make them what they are with innovative creativity and ideas. Here’s how to pull this difficult balance off flawlessly.

Keep the Essential Aspects

The basic elements behind a whiteboard animation should still be kept within

  1. The moving hand. This is essentially the most crucial aspect of the whiteboard animation. It shows someone believably drawing out pictures and characters, building a world a crafting a story right before the eyes of an audience. Without the hand moving around a drawing with markers, it’s no longer a whiteboard animation - just an animation
  2. The drawings. These drawings need to look realistic for the medium being used. Someone is drawing on a whiteboard in the video, and therefore the resulting drawings should match up with that. This isn’t to say you always need to have the hand in the picture when drawing - take, for example, the amazing whiteboard video by Oxfam from 2014 - but most of the time, a drawing should be accompanied by the aforementioned moving hand.
  3. The whiteboard. What’s a whiteboard animation without a whiteboard? Of course, some believe that it’s a fine idea to swap the whiteboard background to a different plain color. Do note that most are of the belief that changing the whiteboard to a different background color ruins the original intention of a whiteboard animation altogether. In the end, that decision is up to you.
  4. The style. This isn’t to say that you should stick to one boring formula. Instead, it’s to keep in mind that you’re working with a particular “genre” of animation and should try to stick with it. Watch any whiteboard explainer video and you’ll know exactly what we mean by this. The aforementioned three essential aspects work together to create an easily recognizable style, and this is what makes an animated video a whiteboard animation.

Add Pops of Color

Traditional whiteboard animations were usually just one color: a black marker scribbling away on a white background. But it doesn’t have to be like that anymore! While you certainly shouldn’t overpower the video with too much color, a subtle pop of color here and there can draw attention to certain areas. The appearance of a few colored spots in a largely black-and-white landscape will capture the attention of an audience. A great example is Coca Cola’s fantastic ad campaign in 2010.

What colors should you use? Ideally, you’ll use ones that you want the viewers to associate with your brand, such as the colors in your logo. This can help boost brand recall and will often successfully help an audience associate a specific kind of color with your company, bringing their mind back to the video when they see your logo or products. You can read more about colors in marketing and color psychology here, and read more about how the brain responds to and processes color here.

Don’t Mash 2D and Whiteboard Together

With all the technology we have available and given that whiteboard videos are no longer filmed with an actual person drawing on a real whiteboard, you might be tempted to create a hybrid video of sorts. We’d recommend against it.

Although this seems like it saves time, it can actually make things harder for you and you’ll find that no matter how much you try, a 2D animation stands out far too much from the whiteboard animation and will make your video seem disjointed.

We know that 2D animation doesn’t require a long narrative script and a whiteboard video does, but trying to cut down on the need for a meaty and informational script by using 2D and whiteboard animation at the same time will only lead to a video that is less engaging and far less educational.

Focusing on creating a good script is actually much more worth your time than supplementing whiteboard animation with 2D - 68% of viewers are drawn to educational videos, and 92% to videos that tell a good story.

Beyond that - use your imagination!

Maintain the essential traditional aspects of whiteboard animation and the rest is virtually fair game! Use colors, experiment with different backgrounds if you so desire, and let your imagination be the limit. As long as you can think up the story, you can bring it to life. Check out our previous blog on this subject for more tips on creating effective whiteboard animation videos!

Perfect Your Script and Read It Aloud

Your script is the foundation for a fantastic video, so it has to be perfect. In a whiteboard animation, the script has to be written so it sounds like it is being casually and naturally spoken to the viewer. This means it has to have the perfect voice narrating and explaining what’s happening on screen.

After you write your script, read it aloud and experiment with tone, inflection, emphasis, and even speed to see what changes need to be made. An awkward, stilted, or mechanical-sounding voice will fail to engage watchers, no matter how cutting-edge the actual animation is.

In a nutshell…

Whiteboard animation is a fantastic tool for explainer videos and making engaging marketing content that will encourage consumer interaction and generate leads. In our next entry, we’ll talk more about whiteboard animation - specifically, how to balance the traditional aspects of them with more modern creative liberties. When done correctly, a video of this sort will have relatable animated characters, an interesting story, a good continuous narrative, an educational message, and a well-written script with a well-done voiceover. This leads to less viewer abandonment and can aid in much higher click-through rates on your videos.