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Tutorial: Photoshop Animation Series Part 1 | Basics

Amy Sundin

Are you ready for adventure?

Do you love drawing? Do you often feel limited by the confines of software like After Effects? Do you ever look at a Buck or Giant Ant piece and wonder "How the heck did they do THAT?"We’ll will let you in on the secret; it's patience, practice, experience, and many times traditional animation techniques.As with everything you have to start at the very beginning, you must learn to sit up before you can crawl. In this Lesson we're going to learn those basics to get us up off the ground and start moving toward cel animation mastery.

To start out let's make a GIF! Everyone loves GIFs. They're fun, easy to make, and easy to share. Once you're done making yours tweet it to us, @schoolofmotion with the tag #SOMSquiggles.In all of the lessons in this series I use an extension called AnimDessin. It's a game changer if you're into doing traditional animation in Photoshop. If you want to check out more info on AnimDessin you can find that here: https://vimeo.com/96689934

And the creator of AnimDessin, Stephane Baril, has a whole blog dedicated to people who do Photoshop Animation that you can find here: http://sbaril.tumblr.com/

Once again a huge thank you to Wacom for being amazing supporters of School of Motion.Have Fun!

Having trouble installing AnimDessin? Check out this video: https://vimeo.com/193246288



Tutorial Full Transcript Below 👇:

Amy Sundin (00:11):

Hello, everyone. Amy here at School of Motion. Welcome to part one of our cell animation and Photoshop series. These five videos will give you a jumpstart into the art of doing animation, the old fashioned way. Real quick, we'd like to thank Wacom for being an amazing supporter of school of motion. And for making this antique a beautiful tool that makes this sort of animation much easier to do today, we're going to cover the basics. We'll install a Photoshop extension called AnimDessin and then we'll see how to make a squiggle vision style GIF. We've got a lot to cover, so let's get started.

Amy Sundin (00:44):

All right, everyone. So let's get started with frame-by-frame animation and Photoshop. So Photoshop wasn't really made with animation in mind. So there's an extension that we're going to go and grab from the Adobe exchange that makes animating in Photoshop a lot easier to get to go up to a window and browse extensions online. And then you're going to close Photoshop while we're installing this, or it might give you an error. All right. So that should have brought you over to this Adobe ad-ons area. And once you're here, you're going to go down to the search bar and you're going to type in Amin A N I M Dessin, D E S S I N. And that will bring you to the AnimDessin to extension. And you're going to click on that guy and hit install, and that's all you should have to do. It will automatically sync through your creative cloud account.

Amy Sundin (01:42):

All right. So now that that's installed, we can actually go back into Photoshop and start working on stuff. So the first thing we're going to do is we're going to load that extension that we just installed and to do that, you just go to window extensions and I'm destined to, and that will bring up this little panel here. So the first thing we'll open the timeline using this key here. Now, most of you haven't even seen the timeline yet, but here it is, it exists. So I like to dock mine over onto the left side because I'm honest, antique and I have a lot of screen real estate to work with. Um, when I was on a normal 10 80 monitor, I actually just kind of kept at the bottom here. So just put it wherever it's comfortable for you. And the other thing that I like to do is I like to tear off my layers palette because I do access this a lot. And sometimes I'd like to move it around the screen with me while I'm working.

Amy Sundin (02:38):

So you can set up your workspace, however you want. I'm actually going to load a preset that I have saved off for myself. Okay. So let's talk about frames here. This is the first very important step to being able to animate really cool stuff in Photoshop is we just need to know how to add frames and how the exposure time of those frames affects where animation's going to look now, the best way to figure that out is to just kind of get in there and do it. So for those of you, with a free student account, I've created this Photoshop document that you can download. Now what's up with these lines. So if you feel so inclined, you can actually count the lines and you'll see that there's 24 of them here. Or you can just kind of trust me that I didn't screw this up.

Amy Sundin (03:22):

And there are 24. Now we're going to go over to our, in our timeline. We have this little dropdown menu here. We're going to go and do set timeline frame rate. And if you look Photoshop defaults to 30 frames per second, well, we want to be at the animation frame rate of 24 frames per second. So one line for each frame. Now we're actually going to start adding frames and we need 24 frames on ones to make one second of animation. So how do we actually start doing that? Well, you're going to go up and hit new one frame exposure, and we're going to draw a little ball here. But if you look it says I can't do it. And that's because the current time is outside of the range for the target layer, which is Photoshops fancy way of saying that our time slider here needs to be moved back.

Amy Sundin (04:30):

So that it's over this frame, because right now it's trying to read a frame that doesn't exist. So we're going to hit our arrow keys, uh, the left arrow more specifically to go back in time. And we're going to see that it's not working because those aren't turned on by default. So we need to go over to the ANAM desen panel and hit timeline, shortcut keys on off, and now we should be able to hit our left arrow to go back a frame, or if we need to go forward, you hit our right arrow really easy. So now we can actually draw just a little simple circle, or if you want to go crazy with it, draw a line, draw Xs, whatever you want, but I'm going to stick with circles because they're the easiest to see in this case. And you just draw a ball right above this line.

Amy Sundin (05:23):

That is frame one. So since we're going to be doing ones or one frame exposures, first, we're going to hit another one frame exposure. And we're going to drop this down into here and that's going to create a video group. So video groups are like containers that hold all of our frames so that Photoshop can play them back sequentially to make an animation. So we're just going to name this as ones and we're going to keep drawing, but now we can't see where our ball was previously in the frame before. And that's kind of important because we need to be able to line this up so that our ball's not kind of all over the place when we're drawing these. So we're actually going to turn on our onion skins. Now, onion skins, give us the ability to be able to be on different frames and actually see the frames before.

Amy Sundin (06:19):

And after that current frame that you're on. So if we actually opened our onions can settings, you can see we'll have frames before frames after, and then our blend mode. So I'm going to leave this on Photoshops default setting of multiply, and then I'm just going to draw my next frame. And it's okay if you need to control Z and redo things a couple of times just to get it looking. Right. Okay. So I'm just going to make another frame and you'll see this time. It'll just add it right after the other ones. And I'm just going to continue going all the way across here. One dot above each of these lines. So I should end up with 24 layers when I'm done.

Amy Sundin (07:07):

So you might be wondering why I'm drawing all of these dots out instead of just using the lasso tool and duplicating these frames and then transforming them. It's just because I want to get some practice in drawing, even though these are relatively simple shapes later on, we're going to get into some more complex stuff. And that's where all of this practice drawing really comes in handy. All right. So there you have it. And we now have 24 frames up here. And if you look up at our timeline, that is one second of animation right there. So I'm going to set our work area and at that 24th frame, and we're going to turn our onion skins off, and we're going to play this back really quick just by hitting the play button or the space bar. And there you go. You've just animated something.

Amy Sundin (08:06):

So this is just one frame exposures again. And now we're going to go ahead and we're going to go back and we're actually going to do the twos. So what are these twos? The short answer to this is that on ones, each drawing is being displayed for only one frame. So we had drawn it 24 times on twos. Each frame is being displayed for two frames. So we're only going to have to draw each frame of animation 12 times. Now let's add some two frame exposures. Don't select that just hit new to frame exposure. Make sure you're not selected on this, or we'll try and add it somewhere in that group sometimes. So we've added our new to frame exposure, and we're going to go back. We'll pick a different color, say orange time. And this time we're only going to draw every other line.

Amy Sundin (09:00):

So we'll start here. And now that we've got our orange ball, we'll add another two frame exposure. And look, it's skipped this line here. So we want to draw it above every other frame. So all of these dashed lines here, and again, I'm going to have to do this to make our video group we'll name twos, and we can turn our onion skins on again, for the same reason we did before so that we can see things and keep things in line. And now we're going to go through and just draw underneath every other one of those dashed lines. Okay. And you're going to notice, we're going to end one spot on here, shy of the ones and that's okay, because we only needed half as many frames, so only 12 frames to get here. And that is exactly where it would end. So no worries that this frame of travel gets clipped off so we can turn our onion skins off and let's play this back and you notice right away how different these two feel this one at the bottom, the two's has a more steppy kind of feel to it.

Amy Sundin (10:14):

So this is actually more commonly used in most animation, like Looney tunes and things like that. Everything is done. Our most things are done on twos and that's because it's a huge time-saver that was half the amount of effort, but it still looks good. And when you're doing animation, it's still plays back nicely. So the difference between the two is in use, at least it's typically with the ones you're going to see those for more fluid and fast traveling stuff, capes and liquid and drops and things like that. That's what you're going to use your ones for now. Your twos are pretty much going to be used for everything else when you're animating things, unless you want that super, super smooth look, and then you can do every single frame. So that's the difference in how ones and twos look, and now we can actually get into really cool stuff like animating a GIF that's looping in a squiggle vision style.

Amy Sundin (11:15):

All right. So now that we have that very basic foundation of just how to add frames going for us, we can actually start to do much cooler stuff. Like I said, what that gift that will create now, and to do that, we're actually going to create a document from scratch this time. So let's do, we don't have to open our timeline panel because that's already up. So let's do a new documents scene and this time, and I'm Dustin is actually going to bring up our timeline frame rate for us. So we can just set it right here instead of going into that menu. So we'll stick with 24. And the other thing annum Dustin is going to do for us at this point, since we made a new document that it's going to create this video layer for us and actually add a one frame exposure in there.

Amy Sundin (12:01):

So if we zoom in, there's our tiny little one frame, there it is one frame. So if we wanted to stick with twos, all we have to do is increase that frame exposure by one. And now we have our two frame exposure like before. So let's actually, I want to change my document size too. I want to get this to be square. So I'm going to do 10 80 by 10 80 and hit. Okay. And we don't care about the clipping in this case. So let's actually make a candle with like a flame that's doing like the squiggle visiony flickering thing. Um, squiggle vision is a great example of just how a slight shift in your line work can actually have a dramatic effect on the appearance of something when it's going one frame at a time. So we're going to make our candle base. And for that, I just want a normal layer in Photoshop. So I'm just going to make a new layer and it's going to drop it. I actually want it below my animation. So we'll drop it down there and we'll call this our candled face. And I'm going to pick a color. I'm going to do this purple. And I'm just going to quickly draw kind of a loose sketchy candle over here.

Amy Sundin (13:26):

All right. So we just kind of have a nice, fun, loose candle hanging out over here. It doesn't have to be anything super realistic. We can just have something fun and stylized for this. And before

Amy Sundin (13:38):

Actually start animating, let's take a quick look at some drawing tips that will help you get the same look for this candle that I did. All right, let me show you something really quick.

Amy Sundin (13:52):

So you see these two lines here, and if you notice this top line is just kind of like uniform and there's not a whole lot of variation to it. Whereas the one on the bottom has much more variation. We start with a thinner stroke and then we're moving over to this thicker stroke. And that's something called line quality. Basically, it's a variation and how your line looks. And this is what really brings an illustration to life. It makes it more dynamic to look at because let's face it looking at something that has a uniform stroke all the time is actually pretty boring. So the way we're going to get this look in Photoshop is you're going to have to make sure that you have some sort of pressure sensitive tablet, or in my case, I'm using this antique. You're going to go up to the brush options panel.

Amy Sundin (14:33):

Sometimes they're docked over here on the side. Other times you're actually going to have to go into window and brush, and then you'll see that this comes up. Um, and then we're going to make sure that shaped dynamics is turned on and you're going to want your control to be pen pressure. And then you also need to make sure that this little toggle switch up here is turned on because that's, what's going to control this kind of globally. So that's all you have to do to get it set up to work. And then you just have to practice a bunch with varying how hard you are pressing on the screen or the tablet. And it says simple as that,

Amy Sundin (15:13):

We can just have something fun and stylized for this. And we're going to go back into our animation layer and we're going to draw a flame on it. So let's pick our orange color and just draw that first frame. All right. So we've got our first frame drawn out and now we're going to do another two frame exposure like we did before. Turn on our onion skins and draw a second frame. Now we don't have to be real precise while we're drawing this. We just kind of want to get close ish, but not too dramatically off from where we're at to give it a nice squiggly kind of wiggly feel to it.

Amy Sundin (16:02):

And I'm going to do 12 frames of this. I'll just keep going into so that I have a complete one second animation going, all right. So now we have all 12 of those frames drawn and we can turn our onion skins off and let's zoom out here so we can see everything zoom out, even more. There we go. And we'll end our work area and let's hit play. So there you go. It's squiggly and it's wiggly and it's moving now. I was just going really like fast and loose with that line work. And for something like this, it's really stylized. This totally works. So this isn't really looping. We're getting a pop here when it's coming back to the beginning. So if we wanted to make this thing loop, we want it to go from all the way up here and then come back to the beginning.

Amy Sundin (17:21):

So the easiest way to do this is to take our animation and we're actually going to duplicate this, but we have to put into a group first. So let's group, it we'll do control G to group. We'll call this fire. And if you look, this is now a solid line, kind of like you would see in like an aftereffects timeline layer and this just makes it easier to grab things and them around instead of having to select a whole giant range of frames and try and grab them and move them back and forth. So let's get this thing to ping pong back the other way now. So we'll duplicate our fire group and slide this over and we want to zoom in so we can see a bit better and then move our work area over. Now, of course, if we play this back, it's just going to cycle through like it did before.

Amy Sundin (18:20):

So we need to reverse these layers. So that layer 12, which would be this end frame is all the way back at the beginning here. So let's move all of these. So that layer one will be at the top and layer 12 will be at the bottom. Now I wanted to point out really quick in your timeline, even though this is kind of at the top of your layer stack, it's your last frame. And over here, frame one corresponds to this end. So whatever's at the bottom of your layer stack is going to be the first frame that it plays and whatever's at the top will be the last frame. So let's flip these guys around.

Amy Sundin (19:06):

All right, so now it will go forward and then it'll go all the way back to the beginning. Now, why are we getting these weird pauses here? Well, that's because we didn't really make our loops seamless. Technically what it's doing since we left frames one and 12 in the second group is we now have a four frame hold each time. So if we check this out, this would be frame 12 and it's playing for two frames and here's frame 12 again for a second set of two frames. Now we don't want that. If we're trying to get something to loop nicely. So dropout frame 12, and then the same, thing's going to happen at frame one, because this is doing the same deal here playing for two frames, and then two more frames creating that four frame hold. So we don't want that. So we will delete that out and sure. We ended up dropping, you know, a couple of frames off the end here, but that's okay in this instance. So we will just nudge that back. And now our candle flame, continuously cycles back and forth and kind of like a ping pong type of expression here. A little bit of after effects came out in me. So it's ping pong and back and forth and looping.

Amy Sundin (20:31):

So we're going to say that we're totally happy with this right now, and we're going to see how to export a GIF. So we'll go up to file and then we're going to do, I believe it's export. Yep. And it's in 15, save for web has been moved to a legacy item under this export feature. It used to be out in the normal menu here as save for web in 2014. Well, for some reason, you can't export a GIF using this new export as feature. I don't know why, but that's what they chose to do. So you're going to go to save for web web legacy if you're in 2015 and that's where you're gonna find all of your gift options. So we select gift and we don't need the, um, did there, which is like that noise stuff. I think I said that, right? Maybe I didn't, but we don't need the noise in there. We're going to stick with 256 colors. We can kind of zoom out so we can see our whole thing. Now, the other thing I'm going to mention is that our looping options are always defaulted to once. So we want this to go on and on for forever. And then once you've got all of that set up, you're just going to hit save, and then save it out to wherever you would like.

Amy Sundin (21:57):

So that's it for less than one. Now go make something. We want to see what you came up with. Send us a tweet to add school motion with the hashtag as so I'm squiggles so we can check it out. Make sure you sign up for free student account so that you can access the project files from this lesson and from other lessons on the site. And you'll also get a couple of other cool perks like weekly MoGraph updates and exclusive discounts. I hope you all had a lot of fun with this lesson and I'll see you in the next one.

Music (22:27):

[outro music].

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