Step by Step: Susan Yung

Ever wonder how those insanely talented artists on Tumblr paint such amazing work? Well, our final Step by Step of 2016 is a real treat for you!

For many in the world of motion design, our introduction to illustration and design has been unconventional at best. While this isn’t the case for all, many of us have approached design as animators first and designers second. This approach can have its strengths, but it would be an understatement to say that the world of image making is intimidating.

With the endless “right ways” to do anything, it can be overwhelming at times just knowing where to start. Anyone who has witnessed a true illustrator at work can attest to the fluidity with which they build an image.

Thankfully, Susan Yung is here to offer us an inside look at how she creates a compelling image from start to finish. Susan is a visual development artist who has helped to influence many jobs at Buck and made the rounds at studios such as Psyop, Elastic, and Chromosphere. Most recently she has been working for Cartoon Network as a background painter on the new show, Mighty Magiswords.

Sit back and enjoy watching a real pro at work.



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About the author

Joe Donaldson

Joe Donaldson is a director, designer, and animator who worked on Motionograpgher from 2014-2020. Previously, he was an art director at Buck. Over the past decade, he's lived and worked in Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles and has directed work for clients such as Apple, Google, Instagram, The New York Times, Unicef, Etsy, and The New Yorker. In addition to his creative work, in 2018 he started Holdframe. He's now working as a professor at Ringling College of Art and Design and when not teaching he can be found spending time with his family or out running.


Brian Barber

Thanks for sharing, this was really fun to watch how you do this. Great work, and inspiring.

Lucas Ferraguti

Really nice to see how an illustrator works. I thought it had some narrative, that would have pushed it over the top


would it still be a good idea to create shapes within photoshop using select tool if this was for a client? Idk if its gonna be easy to change colors of those shapes afterwards since they’re permanent, unlike in illustrator where you can just change the color with one click.

the issue of when to use illustrator and when to use ps have perplexed me for so long, i hope someone can give more insights into this!


In terms of client work, I would say the client’s final use of the work will determine most which platform to use – for example, work headed to video / mograph will probably pass through Photoshop, while print and web projects can make the most of Illustrator based work. And all that said, there is a lot of crossover.

You can change colors on an object in Pshop as well, slightly different process. And using the Shape Tool in Pshop will give you a vector shape ala Illustrator. Hope that helps some, lemme know


I’ll use the word “delightful” here! Nice shapes, color, texture and light


Very cool. “Delightful” is the perfect word for this.

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