Having never animated anything before, I knew that this first attempt was going to be a process, so to begin I wanted to make sure that I had a solid concept that could be represented through movement.
I began by simply mind-mapping some action words and then finding ways to connect those verbs to a general feeling I wanted my animation to evoke: joy!
I experimented by storyboarding a couple different concepts, and ultimately settled on the idea of "sending love." It's a phrase we use often, so I figured it would be a fun challenge to create a GIF that could easily be sent in place of the phrase.
The initial draft was a bit slow and moved unnaturally. I received some good critique to help me recognize that what was making my animation so - for lack of a better word - awkward was the fact that my assets weren't moving together through one fluent motion (as things do in real life), but rather one thing would happen (the envelope opening) and then another (hearts going in) and so on. Once I overlapped the motion keyframes and decreased the time over which each change occurred, the movement began to look far more natural to the eye.
In the end, I simplified my animation to be a clear representation of the idea of sending love, achieving my goal of creating a joyful, light animated GIF that can be easily used for the purpose of sending a message that speaks louder than words.