Tomographic particle image velocimetry was used to explore the evolution of three-dimensional flow structures of revolving low-aspect-ratio flat plates in combination with force measurements at a Reynolds number of 10,000. Two motion kinematics are compared that result in the same terminal condition (revolution with constant angular velocity and 45. angle of attack) but differ in the motion during the buildup phase: pitching while revolving at a constant angular velocity; or surging with a constant acceleration at a fixed angle of attack. Comparison of force histories shows that the pitching wing generates considerably higher forces during the buildup phase which is also predicted by a quasi-steady model quite accurately. The difference in the buildup phases affects the force histories until six chords of travel after the end of buildup phase. In both cases, a vortex system that is comprised of a leading-edge vortex (LEV), a tip vortex and a trailing edge vortex is formed during the initial period of the motion. The LEV lifts off, forms an arch-shaped structure and bursts into substructures, which occur at slightly different phases of the motions, such that the revolving-surging wing flow evolution precedes that of the revolving-pitching wing. The delay is shown to be in accordance with the behavior of the spanwise flow which is affected by the interaction between the tip vortex and revolving dynamics. Further analysis shows that the enhanced force generation of the revolving-pitching wing during the pitch-up phase originates from: (1) increased magnitude and growth rate of the LEV circulation; (2) relatively favorable position and trajectory of the LEV and the starting vortex; and (3) generation of bound circulation during the pitching motion, whereas that of the revolving-surging wing is negligible in the acceleration phase.