Animated Newsletters… A Journey It’s Been

Screenshot from Animated Letter – Pet Adoption

Let’s take everything back to about seven weeks ago when I’d started thinking about the endless possibilities of creating content. A question came up for me… What isn’t content? Where do I draw the line on what I can or can’t do when it comes to content? 

I’m still not even sure the answers to those questions – I mean, I do… But it’s very broad!

I’d decided early on that I wanted to utilize my new-er found knowledge of motion design. Great, okay, good start. Now, how? What can I present to the world (or at least the intended audience) something digital that moves and that benefits them? 

Someone had brought up the idea of a newsletter to me, and it’s something I never would have considered. When I think of newsletters, I just think of retailers advertising their promotional sales. It was, however, an excellent idea to bring awareness of a particular topic to groups, and instead of advertising, it informs.

Well, if you’ve been following my blog, you know about Ladapaw Letters – an emailed bi-weekly animated newsletter focusing on owning pets with a deeper look at animal adoption. The result of my content creation journey. 

Ladapaw Letters Development

To briefly summarize the process it’s been for me and this branded animated newsletter: it has been a journey, in simplest terms. If anyone were to tell you creating content is easy – which, I don’t know who would actually say that – they’re lying to you. Yes, you can be a master at a particular thing, but that doesn’t mean there’s no planning, or roadblocks that happen along the way. 

Anyway, developing Ladapaw Letters required many steps in order to get to its completion of three different newsletters:

  1. Research. And I mean a lot of it. I didn’t know yet at this point what topics I’d choose to develop my first few newsletters, so I went to town with it. Several different resources for pet adoption rescue vs shelters, puppy mills, general statistics about adoptable animals, best food options for pets, best training methods for pets with different backgrounds, and so on. It was also at this time that I created and distributed a survey about potential newsletter topics from interested audience members. Also gathering their emails to send the letters to, if they were interested any further. 
  2. Planning. This was before pre-production and based on the research, then put into possibilities, and organization. Here is where I made my project proposal, which laid out the purpose and planned outcome of the newsletter. Also, with more refined planning, I was able to define the first three newsletter topics and develop a project management plan to help me stay on track, through Trello. 
  3. Pre-Production Planning. More planning, but refined for the overall outcome of the three newsletter production and post-production processes. Here, I developed a detailed outline for each of the three letters, including storyboards that planned the animations, and the resources to back up the information.
  4. Production. Throughout three weeks, I focused on the production of each newsletter. This began with creating the template of each “page” in Illustrator. Then, entering the final written content into the layout and illustrating graphics of animals to give the letters character. Once that was finished, I imported the Illustrator files and began animating them in After Effects – a process that of course, took much longer than I’d predicted. 
  5. Production continued? I found out quickly, during my first week of production, that I’d need to split out the production tasks a bit further. I needed to give myself more time to focus on the animating, then give my head a break to go back to the newsletters and re-look to see if there was anything I could improve before post-production. And of course, there were improvements to be made! This added a lot of unplanned time, which proved to be difficult, but I was able to push through.
  6. Post-Production. This is when I’d export my final animated newsletter into a looping GIF, and enter it into the email template I’d started for each newsletter – which automatically gets distributed to my audience at a planned time. 

The Future of Ladapaw Letters

It’s almost impossible not to think about the lengths this could go – so from the beginning, I’d thought about extending the platform from email to social media, particularly Instagram. In fact, it’s something I thought to ask during the survey I conducted in the research phase, because realistically, I wasn’t sure how many people would want to view newsletters through their email. Well, I found out from that survey that they do! So, I decided to start Ladapaw Letters as the emailed newsletter, and in the future, the letters could also get distributed through an Instagram account to reach a larger audience. 

Screenshot of Survey Results Asking About Email VS. Another Platform

Then, I had to think about what my audience members are going to do with this information. Do they just take it all in through the newsletter then it’s finished? Each letter presents direct references to the material, but it’s very brief. Something that came to mind was to add the resources again below the emailed newsletter so that anyone who wants to do more digging on their end can.

Possibly, to gain more actions from the Ladapaw Letter audience, the brand could promote or put on events to help local rescues and shelter organizations, while raising awareness about pet adoption in general. Educational and charitable events that may have pets up for adoption, local pet businesses, and of course the adoption organizations in a social setting. 

The Final Outcome!

So, folks – head on over to my portfolio page for the final presentation of my journey with Ladapaw Letters, and enjoy. Cheers!

Production: Ladapaw Letters – Mutts, Purebreds, And Their Roles in Rescues

And here it goes, the last newsletter of my seven-week dedicated time for developing Ladapaw Letters. This one is all about rescues, purebreds, and purebred rescues. 

To help me develop the outline, I put together some valuable questions to ask myself when looking through the research I’d already gathered. Then, I could decided if I needed to find more resources pertaining to the questions. 

What are rescues? What are mixed-breed animals? How many animals in shelters and rescues are mixed, and how many are purebred? What makes a purebred a purebred? What are breeders? What makes a responsible breeder vs an irresponsible one? Do I briefly touch on puppy mills? Why are most rescue animals mutts? What’s the percentage of purebred rescues? Why do purebreds end up in rescue situations? 

Using these questions as references, I could then expand them into a detailed outline that touches on all of these meaningful points. 


By now, I know I can’t go into a topic for a newsletter without a well-thought-out outline. With much thought, here is the outline I developed for the final newsletter.

  1. Rescue animals
    • This section is all about what makes rescue animals what they are, and how they get there. 
  1. Mixed-breed animals
    • What are mixed-breeds, and why are they so common in rescue and shelter organizations? 
  1. Purebred animals
    • This section is all about what makes purebred animals what they are, and how they came about. Focusing on breeders.
  1. Purebred rescues
    • What are purebreeds, and why are they more scare in rescue and shelter organizations?
  1. Conclusion
    • Ultimately there are pros and cons to both options, and it’s always best to weight what’s best for the family.


Using the same layout that I developed previously, I entered in the written content, referencing the storyboards from pre-production to ensure the planned animations would still work well. To no surprise and similar to last week, I ended up re-arranging and changing things as needed from the storyboard. 

Screenshot – sneak peek to newsletter 3 first page

Here is the detailed animation plan for this page in particular:

“Ladapaw Letters” animates from the top into the center top, “major reasons…” information starts to follow in after “Ladapaw Letters” from the top, down. Right side information animates in from the bottom. The cat walks in at the same time, from the right. Once each piece of information animates in, the references fade down. They fade away before the “major reasons…” animates out to the bottom, and the right-side information animates out to the top. The cat walks off to the right, returning where it came.

After I was finished in Illustrator, I then separated the layers out and imported everything into After Effects to begin animating. Animating isn’t something that is done in a short amount of time, at least not for me yet. Because of this, I’ve chosen a strategy to re-use the same walking animals in each newsletter, and re-arrange where they come from and go. It’s also a nice consistency feature to have. In the future, I would plan to use new characters retrospectively. 

Now that the animations are finished, the next step is to export the newsletter into a looping GIF. The GIF makes it possible to have the newsletter play simultaneously within the email that’s sent to the audience, rather than clicking an external link. 

Well folks, this is the last production stage for my first three initial newsletters of Ladapaw Letters! Next week, stay tuned for a detailed project page that reveals the three newsletters.

Production: Ladapaw Letters – Rescues

Newsletter number two! This one is all about rescues – focusing on what they are, their missions and purposes, different types, and funding. 

Here are some questions that helped me to gather the corresponding research:

What are rescues? What do rescues do? What kind of animals can you adopt from rescues? What are their processes? How do they find the animals to rescue? How do they care for the animals? How do they make money? 

From these questions, I pulled together the outline for this newsletter.


Just like with the first newsletter about adoption, I created a detailed outline to follow for each animated page. 

  1. What is an animal rescue? 
    • This section is all about the rescue mission and process. 
  1. Rescue mission & process continued 
    • This section is focusing on fostering
  1. Types of rescues
    • Types – breed or age-specific
  1. Funding & care
    • Where do they get their money?
    • What type of care they provide to the animals
  1. Conclusion

The answers to any of the questions in the introduction require a bit more information than simply one sentence. From this outline and the research I’d gathered, I found that this newsletter would be a bit more text-heavy than the first one. This is totally fine – each newsletter should provide the best information for what the topic is. The question then for me, was how I’d lay it out so it doesn’t look overwhelming with type. 


Since I created a layout last week for the first newsletter, I was able to start from that for the second one. Again, using Illustrator, I entered all of the written content, re-arranged, and re-wrote as needed. During pre-production, I created a storyboard to follow for the animation plan, however, given this newsletter was a bit more substantial in text than the first newsletter, I had to adjust how everything animates. 

I also had to lay out the text in a way that doesn’t look overwhelming, which required a bit more thinking on my part. This is another reason why I love that the newsletters are animated – so each page doesn’t look like too much, and the information can still be easily legible with a steady pace between transitions. 

Screenshot – sneak peek to newsletter 2 first page

Here is the detailed animation plan for this page in particular:

“Ladapaw Letters” animates from the top into the center top, “what is an animal rescue?” information starts to follow in afterwards. The bunny begins to walk in at the same time, from the right. Once each piece of information animates in, the references fade down. They fade away before the “what is an animal rescue?” and all else animates out to the right, including the bunny, returning where it came from.

The next step was to bring the finished illustrator layers into After Effects to animate the text and graphics just like last week’s first newsletter. It’s nice that this is the second time I’ve done this now for the newsletter, as it felt like animating went a bit more smoothly. While it was still very time-consuming and challenges presented themselves along the way, I think each time will prove to move along better than the time before. 

Once again, I’m leaving the GIF export and setting it up in MailChimp for a little bit later so that I can look back and see if I want to make any improvements along the way. Hopefully, my fresh mind will be able to identify anything that might make it that much better for the audience. 

I’m really happy with the information I was able to present in this newsletter, and looking forward to developing the third one! 

Production: Ladapaw Letters – Pet Adoption

Just like that – newsletter one is in the works! 

After completing and distributing a survey during pre-production, I found my first three topics for each newsletter. Topic one is all about pet adoption. While pet adoption is broad, I narrowed it down to the main generalized features about it.

Here are some questions that helped me to layout the newsletter:

What does it mean to adopt? What are the benefits of having pets, and adopting pets? What are the potential setbacks? How do animals end up in shelters or rescue organizations, and why are there pet surrenders? What do you do to prepare and know you’re making the right decision? 


If I haven’t already said it enough, Ladapaw Letters newsletters are animated. This allows them to have more information presented to the audience as the content moves along at an appropriate pace, and it progresses from one piece of information to another. 

To further narrow down each sub-topic, I developed an outline to follow. The subjects of the outline are meant to progress from one to another, and following along in a meaningful manner.

  1. General benefits of having pets
    • This section begins the Newsletter with a brief touch on mental and physical benefits of owning pets
  2. General facts & stats on animal adoption
    • What does it mean to adopt animals? 
    • Brief intro on saving lives when adopting & why
    • Average costs of adopting pets
  3. Surrendering pets & reasons behind it
    • Use a pie chart on most common reasons for returning animals after adoption
  4. Conclusion 
    • Weigh the factors – children, allergies, costs, etc. 
    • Do your research
    • Wait for the right one

The concept of Ladapaw Letters requires extensive – and I mean extensive – amounts of research. Each subject of the information is based heavily on proven facts and statistics while removing any sort of bias. So, using the outline above, I sorted the resources I’d already gathered and wrote the content. To keep my process clear, I used a color-coded system for which piece of information went with which reference, so I then could accurately source within the newsletter. 

Screenshot of color-coded references


I used Illustrator to develop the layout of the newsletter, which I then brought into After Effects to animate the text and graphics. 

To start, I referenced the storyboards made during pre-production to ensure I followed a guide for where each written information should land and balanced it out with graphics of animals. I had to modify the “script” as needed to fit the pages and make the most sense for the letter itself. 

Each page follows the outline directly with the information corresponding to it, as well as the references. 

Screenshot – sneak peek to newsletter one first page

With the storyboard, I already had an idea of how each piece of content would animate in and out, though it did have to be modified for the overall layout. The idea is that the newsletter loops – starting with a blank page, then “Ladapaw Letters” shortly following afterward, with the written content (with pop-up references) and animal graphics to add some character. 

For this particular page, here is the detailed animation plan:

Ladapaw Letters” animates from the top into the center top page, “did you know?” information starts to follow in afterwards one by one from the top, down. The dog begins to walk in at the same time. Once each piece of information animates in, the references fade down. They fade away before the “did you know?” animates out to the right, and the dog walks off to the left, returning where it came from. 

Once the illustrator layout was finished, I brought all of the layers into After Effects to begin animating. I began the animation process by working on the written content – animating in and out – and then moved on to the animal graphics. 

Screenshot of After Effects timeline

After finishing the production parts of the letter, it was my original plan to then do the post-production by exporting the animated newsletter to a GIF format and uploading it to MailChimp. In MailChimp, this is where the letter would be scheduled out to send to the group of emails I’d gathered previously. I already knew going into the production stage would be challenging and time-consuming, but it wasn’t until actually doing it that I found it’d be better to wait to do the post-production at a later time. This would allow me to re-look at the work afterward with a fresh mind and make sure I wasn’t rushing the process with both production and post-production. 

This was a big hurdle, but I’m so glad that the first Ladapaw Letters newsletter is [just about] finished and ready to send! Now that I’ve set up the layout for one, I feel that creating the rest of the letters will be a bit smoother as I have a base to use. It’ll only become more fluid as each newsletter production passes, and I’m excited for you all to see the finished products!

Pre-Production: Ladapaw Letters

Newsletter 1 Storyboard

When I began my design career, I was surprised that creativity wasn’t the center of all of it. Being technical is a large part of the process, if not to say at least half of it. 

Pre-production is technical. It’s the gathering of research, planning, and organizing that makes the project come to a whole. To go into a project without drafting content, scheduling locations, times, materials, and so much more is setting it up for failure. 


This week, I created and distributed a survey to help me better understand what my audience is truly interested in. The survey was short and to the point – letting the users effectively communicate their wants. 

Additionally, the survey was a way to gather emails as my first group of audience members for the newsletters. 

I’ll now dig into what the questions were and the responses they got. 

Question 1:

“Ladapaw Letters is a bi-weekly email newsletter that informs the recipients about individual aspects of pet adoption. The concept will bring to attention statistics, details, and helpful tips focused on rescuing animals. Each newsletter will have a different topic – specific and based heavily on research, i.e. training a timid [recently adopted] dog or the benefits and


Yes = 11

No = 0

Maybe (please specify) = 2

  • I am not in a position to adopt an animal
  • Rescuing self propagates puppy mills

Question 2:

“Out of these topics, which, if any, interests you? (select all that apply)

  • General adoption facts & statistics
  • General fostering facts & statistics
  • Puppy mills – what are they and how do they work?
  • Shelters – what are they and how do they work?
  • Rescues – what are they and how do they work?
  • Things to expect when adopting pets
  • Things to expect when fostering pets
  • Food health
  • Basic training
  • Rescues vs purebred vs “purebred” rescues. 

Are any topics missing? Is there any specific topic you’d like to learn more about?”



  • Preparation for adoption/fostering; Consideration for success on your first adoption/foster; Challenges/Success when handling your first adoption/foster
  • I can’t think of anything else
  • What about telling a specific story of someone who’s adopted a pet and their experience?

Question 3:

“Ladapaw Letters may expand to display its newsletters on an additional platform than email. Is email a good way to reach you? Would you prefer viewing your newsletters a different way, like a Facebook page or Instagram account?”


  • Email works just fine for me! = 10
  • I don’t really look at my email, but I will for Ladapaw Letters. = 1
  • I’d rather see the newsletters somewhere other than my email. = 2

Final Parting:

“If you feel ready to start receiving emailed newsletters from Ladapaw Letters, please enter your email address here. Thank you for your time!”


11 emails out of 13 responses. 

With the results came a few surprises. I was a little bit shocked to see that food health was one of the least-liked topics of the ones listed, although it is the topic that appears to be the least related to rescue. Food head is a broad topic, but can be directly related to animal adoption. 

I was also surprised to see a comment in the first “maybe” section of the question – “rescuing self propagates puppy mills.” But, this is exactly the reason why we need more awareness on the subject – to break false stigmas. Receiving this answer helped me to add a potential newsletter topic called false “stigmas of rescuing.”

Ladapaw Letters Pre-Production

On top of my additional research, I defined each of the three newsletters that I plan to create within the next few weeks. This includes the topic, information, and resources, developing a draft outline, storyboarding, and planning the animations. 

Pre-Production Tasks – same list for all three newsletters


From a deeper understanding after more research and the survey, I chose the three topics I’d use for the three newsletters:

  1. General adoption facts & stats
  2. Rescues – what are they and how do they work?
  3. Rescues vs purebred, vs purebred rescues. 

While two of the three topics listed were not the highest-rated topics (but a close second), I had to think about what kind of order of operations would make the most sense for the newsletter – particularly at the beginning. Beyond these three newsletters, the fourth one would be things to expect when adopting pets, and the fifth would be basic training. This order of topics allows a smooth transition from one to the other. 


The outlines for each of the three newsletters use color-coded references so that I can easily cite back to the source of each. Within the outlines, I wrote out specific details that pertain to the topic – that I will then rewrite into my written content during production starting next week. 

Storyboard with Animation Planning

Storyboards are a great way to visually illustrate what happens within each frame – something that’s commonly used for video planning or motion graphics. Because the newsletters are animated, it was appropriate for me to create a storyboard with planned animations for each newsletter.

Newsletter 1 Storyboard – Pet Adoption
Newsletter 2 Storyboard – Rescues
Newsletter 3 Storyboard – Rescues vs purebred vs purebred rescues

I fully expect that these will change as I get to the production stage throughout the next few weeks. As the written content is finalized, and I go to Adobe After Effects to begin animating, there’s no doubt I’ll come across details that require modification for a better outcome. Either way, the storyboards are going to be a valuable resource for me to reference when I get to the animations. We’ll see when I get there!

Email Content

Lastly, I’ve written the draft email content for each of the three newsletters which include the subject and body paragraph. During post-production, I will edit these for the final content and send them out. 

This week proved to be a ton of technical planning with my pre-production tasks! And with that, I feel very organized and READY for the creation of each newsletter. Next week is production for newsletter 1 – pet adoption – looking forward to it!

To Plan or Not to Plan

Throughout my life, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with planning. I’d try to plan my future, and it’s not an exaggeration when I say that nothing turned out how I thought it would… To be fair, attempting to plan something that’s ever-changing – like your LIFE –  it’s just not always going to happen how you’d originally intended. 

But that’s just the thing – everything and anything that you plan, you have to go into it realizing that it may not go how you’d prepared it to. So, to plan or not to plan… It’s almost always necessary to have some sort of plan. It’s just better to understand what’s realistic, what’s not and to be adaptable. 

“If You Fail to Plan, You Are Planning to Fail”

Benjamin Franklin

When creating a content-based project, planning is a thousand percent necessary. This is the controlled variable to which knowing what you’re going to do, and putting manageable action items into account will only help you to succeed. 

It’s week two of developing my content creation project, Ladapaw Letters, and this means it’s time to organize my to-do’s in a way that makes my goals achievable. Trello, like any PM system, works wonders by visually guiding your project with effective organization tools. This is a very easy-to-use application where you can create boards, lists, cards, checklists, and more!

Using a Trello board, I laid my lists out as such: research, pre-production, production, and post-production. Within each list, there are specific cards, then within each card, there are specific tasks on a checklist. Then, for each of these tasks, I’ve made a deadline for when I’ll have them completed. 


As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I’ve started this project with extensive research. My sources and bibliography are going to remain living throughout this entire project. This week, I broadened my bibliography with sources like motion graphics tutorials, and I began annotating citations that I gathered last week. Annotations aren’t a quick task, so to ensure that I break these all up into smaller doses, I will continue to build my bibliography with more annotations each week. 

In addition to the living bibliography, I also have a survey on my to-do list. This is meant to both broaden my understanding of what people would like to see covered in the newsletters, and start as my base audience by collecting email addresses from those who are interested. 


My pre-production plans include all of the artifacts that I’ll need to produce the actual newsletters. Through the next five weeks, I will create three newsletters – each newsletter card on my Trello board includes the same action tasks.

I’ve planned to do all of these artifacts during week 3 so that I know what to expect with production in the following weeks, as this will be the most time-consuming, and major task. I need to set myself up for success with my production tasks weeks in advance to allow for the most smooth transition. 

During pre-production, I will also create my account and set up the email distribution service with MailChimp. 


Following a similar layout that I’ve used previously with motion graphics projects, I think it makes the most sense for me to do the production in weeks 4-6. Week four, I’ll create the first of the three newsletters, week 5 I’ll create the second, and in week six I’ll finish the third. This will allow me to have enough wiggle room and editing as needed for week seven, the final week. 

Again, each newsletter card has the same tasks as the process will be the same for all. 


Post-production is simply to export and import the finished newsletter – first, export it as a looping GIF for the email, then import it to MailChimp to prepare for sending. Maybe I shouldn’t say “simply” as these are a big group of tasks, but it seems much more simple than the previous steps like production – which is the biggest hurdle. Post-production is exciting because it’s here where I will see my completed newsletters and have the satisfaction of scheduling them to send to the audience members!

While this is a lot to accomplish in only five weeks’ time, I’m excited to build each newsletter! Next week, I’ll have a complete understanding of what each newsletter will cover as a topic and visual layout. See you next week!

Creating Content: Ladapaw Letters

If you were asked, “what is your dream job?” Do you have an answer? 

I’ve been asked this question many times, and I think I’ve followed my answers as much as I possibly could throughout my life. 

When I was a kid, I wanted to be everything and anything – an artist, a doctor, a geologist, a “flower girl,” whatever that means. And I remember distinctly someone telling me, “you can’t be that many things, it’s impossible.” Well, right. I can’t be all of those things that I listed above – they aren’t consistent with each other, and I’d spend most of my life just trying to get there. 

But, my mindset hasn’t changed that much – I’ve evolved to understand that I can’t do everything under the sun, but I can use my skills and transfer them into other places. My design realm started with art, then to apparel, then to products, and now to graphics. While still incorporating all of them into my daily life. 

Now, I’ve been asked this question again, and I had a hard time deciding as I feel very happy with where I’m at presently (designing pet products). My career journey has already come a long way. Then, when thinking about content that I’ll love to create, I started thinking more on the personal side, outside of a job as my career. 

My Content Creation Project

When I really dug into myself – what I love outside of my work-life, and how I want to advance in the graphic design world, I realized what this looks like for me. 

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ve seen that many of my projects revolve around my dogs. They’re basically my world, and I’ve found that I’ve become very passionate about pets’ livelihood in general. There was a point where, for a short time, I was a local rescue volunteer on the digital/events side. And now, my current job also helps with this as I understand what kinds of equipment are necessary for domestic pets.

I decided to use this passion and knowledge for my content creation project and work it into informational newsletters revolving around pet adoption. Each newsletter would have a different topic and get sent out via email in bi-weekly installments. Content for each newsletter could include (but is not limited to) statistics, benefits/potential drawbacks, breeds/colors, return rates & why, necessary equipment, basic behavioral information, etc. 

The ideal audience are those looking to adopt, who’ve already adopted, and some newsletters may benefit pet owners who’ve maybe chosen to shop. This project could lead to many open doors, including telling specific stories or developing campaigns. 

I’m planning to use my knowledge of design and design tools, as well as some motion design tactics that I’ve recently learned 

Getting Started

Before diving into creating the actual content, first, there’s tons of research to be done. I basically need to become a master on each topic that this newsletter could have, and at the risk of stating the obvious, the information has to be credible. 

So, I began my living bibliography which will only keep growing as I continue this project. I found valuable sources about adopting pets in general, puppy mills, animal shopping, breed/color/gender statistics and those effects on becoming adopted, return rates – which include behavior issues, dietary restrictions, and more. So I then found more resources about training and potential diet needs for rescues, animal psychology, and the list keeps going. All of this information is only the beginning of a much larger ongoing task I have at hand here. 

I’m sure I’ll need to add more graphic and motion design tools to my sources, as I’m hoping to advance those skills as well.

In addition to the living bibliography, I put together a project proposal listing out the specific details of the project goals and solutions, continuing deliverables to get each newsletter done, and staying on track. This is essential to have all necessary information about this project in one document that I – or anyone else – could continue to reference throughout each individual newsletter.

I’ve got my work cut out for me, but the next step is to plan all of the artifacts so that I can stay on track and deliver the best newsletter possible. I’m looking forward to building this project out, and hope you’re ready to follow along with me through my blog! Stay tuned for more about Ladapaw Letters!