What is a Lottie Animation and How Do You Create One?


A lottie animation is composed completely of code. It is a digital description of all the forms, colors, and motions that make up an animation. You can use the lottie file format in websites, mobile apps, games, eBooks, basically almost any digital medium. You can even use them as stickers on messaging apps. That’s what makes the .json file so mighty for designers and programmers alike.

Mighty but small, like really really small. If a PNG is an elephant, a GIF is a bear; then a Lottie animation is a cute little puppy.

Nevertheless, this cute little puppy is super high-quality. It is probably one of the best formats for websites.

So, What can you do with a Lottie Animation?

Lottie animations or .json files are a great choice for making, sharing, and implementing interactive animations that engage and get people’s attention.

Animations are no longer a nuisance for designers and developers. The lousy .GIF formats, PNG sequences or mp4s are a thing of the past. You can forget the size and quality issues.

Lottie animations are live-savers for designers and developers alike. It actually allows for a more streamlined work process between designers and developers. You open a .json file, implement, edit with a lottie file editor, and you’re all set.

If you haven’t tried this animation format so far, you’re really missing out.

How to Make a Lottie Animation?

You can make lottie animations via a host of different platforms. Even beginners who don’t know much about motion design can still edit lottie files.

There are a lot of online lottie file editors that you can use, like Vidalgo. You can import your own .json file and do quick edits like colors, layers or get AI-powered design suggestions.

Step by Step Guide to Creating Lottie Animations in After Effects

You can create lottie animations in Adobe After Effects with the help of the Bodymovin plugin.

You can design the animation in Adobe Illustrator, import it into After Effects, and export it as a lottie. We will detail the whole process below.

Step 1 – Create the Design

You will need to design each posture, and frame. Let’s say that you want to animate a Mickey Mouse sitting on a piano, clapping his hands. Plan every pose and texture carefully.

If you want to use textures for animations, use vectors. The fewer parts there are, the easier it is to animate them. Try not to use any kinds of masks. It might result in bugs.

Step 2 – Animate it in After Effects

Before you start, you should know that there are a couple of After Effects features that you cannot use because Lotties do not support them. Here’s a list.

Don’t worry; you can use positions, rotations, scales, opacity, paths, gradients, PNG/JPEG elements.

Try not to use merge path, masks or other types of effects.  Make sure you loop the animation in After Effects before exporting it. Otherwise, it might not loop on your website/apps.

Step 3 – Export the Lottie Animation

As we were saying, you need to use the Bodymovin After Effects plugin. After you’ve installed it, open it and choose the animation you want to render.

Furthermore, in the Settings, you have a few options to check/uncheck:

  • Glyphs – if you have words in the animation
  • Hidden – if you have hidden layers that you want to export
  • Guides – if you need guided layers to be exported

Under the Assets drop-down menu, you will also find a few options that are important to exporting your .json file:

  • Original Asset Name – if you want the exported items to have the same original project names
  • Copy Original Assets – if you want to use the actual project source files (it does not include AI layers)
  • Enable Compression
  • Include in .json – to include all the rasterized images in the .json

For Export Mode, you can choose:

  • Standard – it exports the whole animation as a .json file
  • Split – to split the animation into multiple .json files every X seconds

You can also export it as HTML to preview it on the browser page.

Now, if you’re not a designer and just want to find some cool .json files to include on your website or mobile apps, you can always download them from various online Lottie libraries.

You can sign up on Vidalgo, our platform, and get notified when we launch our own library of lottie animations.

FAQ about Lottie Animations  

  • What do Airbnb and Lotties have in common?

So, Airbnb engineers created this open-source Lottie tool that helps to seamlessly add animations to any native app. It is basically an Android, iOS and React Native library that can render the AE animations in real-time. We owe it to them for coming up with the name “Lottie”. Check out the GitHub page!

  • Who invented the Lottie format?

Hernan Torrisi is the name of the guy who set up the Bodymovin plugin for Adobe After Effects. From there to to infinity and beyond, we have Lotties.

  • How does Bodymoving transform AE files into .json files?

Bodymovin uses the After Effects scripting and APIs to discover the frames and all the file assets and then transforms them into a .json. It basically follows the API structure provided by After Effects.

Introducing the new dotLottie format

Lottie animations are increasingly “famous” these days, and we can easily understand why:

  • Small file size
  • High-quality rendering by mixing vectors and rasters
  • Multi-platform support
  • Showing run-time changeable dynamic values for animation element properties

So what is next in the world of Lottie animations? Enter the dotLottie format!

The dotLottie has its own file extension, namely .lottie. So, no more confusion for programmers and designers.

It also has a manifest file containing metadata with preview images. However, probably its most important features are archiving and compression.

The dotLottie allows for animations and assets archiving, so multiple animations can be grouped together and save storage costs and bandwidth utilisation.

You can check out more about the dotLottie format in our upcoming blog.

The Bottom Line

So, lotties and now dotLotties will save us time and storage space, but more important than that, we will get the animations we want, how we want them, and where we want them, whether they’re on our websites, mobile apps or any other digital medium.

If you are a beginner, you can always use online lottie editors to import, edit, and export .json files however you want. Just don’t limit your creativity, that’s all.

Lottie animations will help keep your creative horizons open.

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