Jefferson Edmonds: A Life and Career

Quick Facts

Project Type

Motion Graphics


March 2020 - April 2020

Completed Project

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Born on a Virginia plantation in 1852, Jefferson Edmonds was enslaved for the first decade of his life. But after Emancipation, he became a teacher, journalist, and staunch advocate for Black civil rights. Using his newspaper, The Liberator, Edmonds championed voting rights, home ownership, and anti-discrimination policies for Los Angeles’ Black community.

The Project

Trevy McDonald is an associate professor and the director of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media. As part of a research project on the history of Black journalists in the United States, Dr. McDonald is creating multimedia educational materials on figures like Jefferson Edmonds. Dr. McDonald asked a team of designers (including me) to animate scenes related to Edmonds’ life and career.

In order to create a draw on and fill in effect, we created two separate layers for each asset in the animation—one outline and one fill.

It was important that we didn't limit our motion to the draw on and fill in—so we made sure to add motion, too.

The Process

After we familiarized ourselves with Edmonds, our team began storyboarding. Notably, these scenes are not consecutive in Dr. McDonald’s project, so it wasn’t necessary for them to transition smoothly into one another. We then worked with Dr. McDonald to select an art and animation style that would reflect the project’s historic nature and journalistic themes. Then we began animating.

I illustrated and animated the first minute of this sequence (through the front page of The Liberator) and was responsible for compiling all of the team’s scenes.

To create the effect of a printing press, we used 3D layers that we rotated along the z-axis. We added a letter after each time the key struck the page.

The Product

Even if the scenes animated for Dr. McDonald’s project aren’t sequential, they still tell a cohesive narrative. Edmonds played a crucial role in securing rights and opportunities for the Black community in Los Angeles. His work as a journalist and activist shouldn’t be forgotten—and, thanks to scholars like Dr. McDonald, it won’t be.

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