What We Do:

We can help you become an explanation specialist.

Common Craft Membership

Start your life as an explainer with Common Craft Membership. Prices start at just $49 per year. It provides:


Make your presentation or video remarkable with 800+ digital images in Common Craft Style, plus Know-How resources for using them.

Download a Sample

Ready-made Videos:

Educate others with 50+ ready-made video explanations that you can embed on your website or download for offline use.

Test embedding a video

We Wrote the Book on Explanation

The Art of Explanation

A book by Lee LeFever

The Art of Explanation will help you become an explainer.

Learn More

Need a Video for Your Product?

The Explainer Network

Our network of custom video producers can create short, animated videos that make your product or service easier to understand.

Find a Producer

The Common Craft Blog

This blog is where we announce new videos & talk about the power of explanation & the change it can create. 

You Make Common Craft Possible - Thank You

Posted by: leelefever on November 26, 2013- 4:34pm


Categories: business, friends, Holiday, partners, thanks, thanksgiving

Not everyone knows that Common Craft is truly an independent, two-person operation. Sachi and I are Common Craft. We have no employees or investors. From answering support emails to drawing Cut-outs to editing videos, we do (almost) everything.   
But it wouldn’t work without the attention and help of others. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we’d like to extend a huge thank you to people that help make Common Craft tick.
First, We couldn’t do anything without our members. Each time a person or organization joins Common Craft or renews for another year, it means we can keep making membership even more awesome for everyone.  Our members are both the motor and motivation behind what we do and we’re so very thankful to them for making Common Craft possible.
This is also true for our Explainer Network members. These video producers were among the first and best to specialize in explainer videos and their membership in our network helped to establish the explainer video movement. 
And we could never have made it this far without our fans and followers. We appreciate every mention, every retweet and every time you tell someone about Common Craft. It helps - thank you!
Lastly, we want to thanks the partners and organizations that work behind the scenes to make Common Craft better. They include Josh and Jared at Number 10 Web Company, Jay and Anastasia at Juxtaprose and Darren and Julie at Capulet Communications
It’s often said that the secret to success is surrounding yourself with the right people. We are very thankful to work with people we also consider friends. 

Have an amazing Thanksgiving!

New Cut-outs: Maps and Places

Posted by: leelefever on November 20, 2013- 12:29pm


Categories: Cut-Outs, geography, Images, maps, places, social studies

If you need maps, we’ve got you covered.  We recently published hundreds of new Cut-outs that focus on maps and places.  These downloadable images can be used in your projects and include:
  • Popular landmarks
  • US states
  • Global continents 
Countries of:
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Europe
  • North America
  • South America
Below are samples of the cut-outs, which are all available to Common Craft members. The images are provided in .zip files.


Common Craft Landmarks

Countries of Europe

Common Craft Europe Maps



We now offer over 1000 Cut-outs, all in Common Craft style. Preview or browse all Common Craft Cut-outs.

New Video: Domain Names and Hosting

Posted by: leelefever on November 12, 2013- 11:22am


Categories: business, Common Craft Video, domain names, hosting, websites

Getting a custom website up and running can seem complicated. This video about Domain Names and Hosting explains the basic elements that make it work by following the story of Emma, a dog walker.

Common Craft Domain Name and Hosting
What it Teaches: This video explains the steps that one takes to have a custom built website. Our character Emma has a dog walking business and needs a website. A friend walks her through the process of finding a domain name and getting the site online. It teaches:
How to research and reserve a domain name
The role of web designers and developers
How servers make websites available
Why her website needs a “home” in the form of a host
How the domain name registrar and host work together

Do you care about digital literacy?

This video, like others in our library, is designed for teaching technology and digital literacy. If that’s your goal, consider how Common Craft can help you be a more efficient and effective educator. Learn more.


Explainer Tip: Beware the Intellectual Leap

Posted by: leelefever on November 6, 2013- 9:33am


Categories: animation, Art of Explanation, explainer tip, Explanation, higgs, physics

This post is part of a series designed to relate the big ideas behind conceiving and producing amazing explainer videos.

You've seen it happen before. You're in a meeting, watching a video or having a conversation and everything is going well. You're on your way to understanding something new.  But something happens.  Your confidence wanes. What was clear becomes cloudy and you're not sure what to say. 
In this situation, it's easy to feel embarrassed, as if you're not smart enough to keep up. It's a very common feeling.  In many cases, however, the fault lies not in you, but in the person doing the explaining. They have unwittingly caused you to lose confidence, and you're starting to tune-out.
This is not a good turn of events. To avoid it in your own explanations, you'll need to recognize and avoid a common pitfall - the intellectual leap.
Think of it like this:
Imagine a well designed explanation as a series of steps. The audience is guided along with understandable examples and points that build on one another.  The steps are small and consumable.
Common Craft Leaps 1
An intellectual leap happens when a step is too big. The audience is suddenly confronted with an idea, word or example that is unfamiliar or not understandable. They get stuck.
This is a common problem with explanations and it’s important because it impacts one of the most important elements of successful explanations: the audience’s confidence.  When confidence is shaken, explanations fail.
I recently saw an example of this with a beautiful animated explainer that was designed to answer the question “What is the Higgs?” via the New York Times.  Physics is difficult to understand and I applaud any effort to make it relatable to the public. But I think it contains a leap that may be troublesome for some viewers.
The animation uses a really strong analogy to explain the Higgs Boson: A field of snow.  I recommend experiencing the whole thing
A couple of examples:
It starts by discussing how people interact with snow. Very understandable - good context. We get it.
Then it connects the snow to the Higgs Boson via an analogy.  Great.
Common Craft Leap
Then the animation transitions back on our skier and snowshoer (along with other examples) to relate how the Higgs would interact with them. These two scenes are getting a little more complicated but are still consumable to many I imagine. You can imagine a skier barely touching the Higgs field as he slides by.
Common Craft leap3
But then it makes an intellectual leap:
Common Craft Leap 4

“The quarks that make up protons and neutrons”

Quarks make up protons? What’s a quark again?
The audience goes from thinking about snow and skiers to language that may feel unfamiliar to many. When confronted with the words above, we must ask: how does this impact confidence? Does this language compromise the rest of the explanation?
The first time I experienced this explainer, I came to this scene and felt that it took a turn.  What was so beautifully designed and explained to that point didn’t matter. My confidence was shaken. I couldn’t easily make the intellectual leap and it impacted my ability to feel confident about the rest of the explanation.
My guess: This is the Curse of Knowledge at work. To the authors of this piece, electrons, quarks, protons and neutrons are physics 101.  Everyone should know the basics. To them, I imagine, this scene didn't represent an intellectual leap at all.  It's perfectly clear.  But what about readers of the New York Times Science page? Is it a leap for the average reader? It's hard to know.  
Here's the real question in my mind: could this scene have been more relatable to a larger audience without the specifics? Did it require quarks, protons and neutrons to be effective? Or could the point have been made more clearly with more general points about different particles interacting with the boson/snow field?
I only use this as an example because it highlights the idea of intellectual leaps. When you’re explaining an idea, think about the small, consumable steps that will build and sustain confidence. You, like everyone, suffer from the Curse of Knowledge and it may cause you to make incorrect assumptions about your audience. Beware language and examples that may represent a leap too high. What may seem normal and harmless to you could compromise your explanation.

Find more explainer tips.

The animation referenced in this post appeared on the New York Times website and contained drawings by Nigel Holmes; Graphic by Jonathan Corum, Alicia DeSantis, Xaquín G.V. and Josh Williams.