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Tutorial: Photoshop Animation Series Part 2 | Timing

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It's time to have a talk about timing.

Remember how in Lesson 1 we talked a bit about 1 and 2 frame exposures? Now let's really get in there and see just how the difference between those two affects the look and feel of our animation.

We're also going to talk about spacing, how to get things to look smooth, and have some fun with the different brushes Photoshop has to offer. And we get to make another really cool GIF!

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:

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

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:



Tutorial Full Transcript Below 👇:

Amy Sundin (00:11):

Hello, again, Amy here at school of motion and welcome to lesson two of our cell animation and Photoshop series. Today we're covering one of the most important parts of animation timing. We're going to discuss the difference between one and two frame exposures and how they affect the overall look and feel of your work. Then we'll get to the fun stuff and animate this infinite looping Sprite that you see behind me. Make sure you sign up for a free student account so that you can access the project files from this lesson and from other lessons on the site. Now let's get started. All right, so let's get started with our infinite loop Sprite guy here. So what we want to do first is of course create our new documents scene. And Adam Dustin is automatically going to create a 1920 by 10 80 canvas, and it's going to bring up our timeline frame rate for us.

Amy Sundin (00:57):

So we're going to select 24 frames per second, and we're going to save our work really quick. The first thing that we're going to do when we're creating an animation like this is we're actually going to plan out a guide for ourselves. So, you know, this guy's kind of traveling along this infinite looping path that one's actually really bad, but we could spend, you know, all day trying to draw different variations of paths and getting this right. Or we can go in and create a more precise guide for ourself using the vector tools here in Photoshop. And if you've got a student account, I've already done all of the hard work of laying these guides out for you, all you need to do is download them. So if you already have that stuff downloaded, you can go up to file and hit place embedded. And you're going to select this infinite loop Sprite guide and just hit place and then enter to place it.

Amy Sundin (01:53):

And you are all set and ready to go onto the next part. Now we're not quite completely ready to actually start animating this. So first we're actually going to create some spacing guides. So if you remember back to the first lesson where I had that chart, that was just all these different lines. Well, we're going to be doing the same thing here. We're going to give ourselves some lines so that we can line up our spacing so that we know exactly which where the ball needs to be, or our Sprite in this case where the spray needs to be on each frame. So to do that, we're just going to come over here and we are going to select our line tool and we are going to just kind of make this look like spokes on a wheel. So let's start with our vertical line and try and get it kind of centered. You're going to hold shift to constrain and you just drag it down like that. And then across like this same thing, shift to constrain, and then we're going to add two more lines to divide each of these half. So we'll start somewhere kind of in the middle here. And this time I'm not actually going to use shift. I'm just going to kind of line it up with that center, cross hair and let go. And then same thing from here to here.

Amy Sundin (03:18):

So I want to shoot for probably about where I was. All right. And there you go, you have your wheel spokes and I'm going to change this to like a dark blue color. That's just one of my preferences. You can make it whatever color you want. I just like it because it's a little bit easier for me to see and differentiate between like the actual spacing and the path. And then I'm just going to group these off control G and now I have my spacing chart here. So I'm just going to go in and name the spacing, and then I'm actually going to duplicate this group, cause I'm going to need it on the other half here too. And we'll hit control T to transform it over. And you can just hold shift again to constrain kind of line it up in the middle, hit enter when you're done.

Amy Sundin (04:14):

And actually I always overshoot, this was nudge it back a little bit. Looks a little bit better. All right. So now we have our spacing guides. All right. So now we have all this planned out, except we need two more lines in this mid section. Otherwise, when we start drawing, our little spray guy is going to jump from this mark all the way up to here, and that's a little bit too far of a distance to cover. So we're going to draw in just a few more lines and actually this time I'm going to do it with the brush tool because I can just go really quickly with this. So I'm going to create a new layer. Now, if you notice my time slider was all the way over towards this five second mark here. I need to bring this all the way back to the beginning because it's going to create my layers wherever this time slider is. So I need this to be all the way back here at the beginning now. And it did the same thing for my spacing layer. So I just need to drag that back. Cool. So now I can go in and just hit B for brush and I'm going to go in and pick that blue color that I liked. And I'm just going to add those extra marks.

Amy Sundin (05:32):

So I initially thought that I was going to put my spacing here based off of an earlier test, but I actually feel like that's a little bit less correct this time. Um, each time you do one of these they're, they're going to be all a little bit unique. So this is the part where you're just going to have to use your best judgment as to where you want this portion of the frames to be. So you're going to kind of look at your spacing between here and here and then give it of like a relative position between here. It's okay to stretch this one a bit more because he is kind of going to be like zooming up through this part. So let's say, I think I'm going to put it in this middle part just because that feels a bit better. So this is where I'm going to have these frames from here, and it's going to come up to this position and then stretch over to this position, same thing over here.

Amy Sundin (06:27):

So now that let's name this guy, actually, while we're thinking about it, and we can throw this in the spacing group. And now that we have these charts drawn out and we kind of have a plan as to how our motion's going to be, we can get into the fun stuff with this and actually do some look development. So this is where frame by frame becomes really cool because you can do all kinds of stuff in Photoshop. And the brushes are probably the coolest feature of that because you can use all these brushes to create different textures and patterns and things to really give it your Sprite, your own personality to it. So I did actually pick out a color palette for myself earlier. So this is the palette that I'm going to be using, but I'm actually going to show you guys the brushes here.

Amy Sundin (07:14):

So I'm going to set up a background layer and I'm going to drop that below my guides. And I want my background to be purple. So I'm going to use alt backspace and that's going to fill in this entire layer with my background color, and now I'm going to make a new layer and I'm going to call this look development. And now we can just kind of start playing with these different brushes. So we're going to select our brush tool, which is B. And we're going to open up this brush presets panel here. So over in this brush presets panel, you can see all these different like brush strokes that we have going on here. And this is just the default set that I have loaded up right now. So if we wanted to look at even more of the Photoshop brushes, because they're not all displayed here right away, you can actually add any of these assorted brushes or I'm a fan of the dry media brushes.

Amy Sundin (08:15):

So I'm going to pick those ones and I'm going to grab dry media brushes. And I don't want to just replace them cause you hit, okay, right now, it's going to replace this entire list and you'll lose all these default brushes to I'm actually going to hit a pend and that's going to drop those dry media brushes into the bottom part of this long list of brushes. So I'm going to load in my dry media and my what media brushes, but again, feel free to play with whichever ones you want. And now it's just a matter of, you know, grabbing a color and just seeing what you like. Just draw a bunch of shapes, a bunch of squiggles. Um, if you see a brush like this, where it's kind of got these blunted ends and you want it to have this tapered look, all you have to do is go into brush.

Amy Sundin (09:07):

And I'm seeing that tapered look because I am using shape dynamics and I have a pressure sensitive tablet, which is this antique in this case, but any type of Wacom tablet will work this way. So, you know, like a, into OST or an into OST pro, and you're going to select pen pressure, and that's going to change this shape dynamic now so that you can get those nice edges and different strokes based on the pressure sensitivity and how much you're pushing here. So you can do the same thing and all of these different tabs. You can just play around with these different options and see what each of them does now, because I have that initial shape that I like picked out. I'm actually turning my guide, layers off to continue with developing this look for my little Sprite. Okay. So, because I kind of altered this brush in the way it's behaving a little bit, I'm going to make a new brush preset right now.

Amy Sundin (10:08):

So do that. All you do is go up to new brush preset, and I'm going to rename this too. We'll just keep it rough, dry brush, and I'm going to call it 20 pixels and hit. Okay. So now at the bottom here, I have this 20 pixel rough dry brush that I can reference very quickly when we come back and actually have to add these layers of color on at the end. And now I'm going to save it, that other brush that I was using to make the base of the Sprite so that I can get to that really quickly. And then I'm going to go in and add sort of a darker reddish orange shadow to the bottom, and then give them a little bit of a white orange highlight. And this will help make him stand up off of the background a bit more and give him a little bit more of a 3d look. Okay. So I'm liking the way that looks now. So I'm going to come in and I'm going to clean up those look dev layer. Cause I have all of these paint splatters kind of on this side. And we use my lasso tool, which is the L key and then just hit delete, and that'll bleed out everything else. Control D will de-select it. Now that we've done all that cool look development stuff. Before we get into the heavy drawing, let's take a look at a quick tip that can help improve your drawing skills.

Speaker 2 (11:28):

So if you don't draw a lot, you may have developed this bad habit of using too much of your wrist and your hand when you're trying to capture broad curved movements and you get something that looks kind of like this, when you're trying to use your hand a bit too much, or your wrist area too much, what you really want to do is come in and lock your wrist up. When you're trying to get a broad sweep like this, and you just guide it around using your whole arm and your whole shoulder, and they gives you a much better line. And it's just a lot easier to capture these curves in your drawings. And it does take a little bit of practice, but next time that you're drawing, definitely try to get in there and use more of your arm and not so much of your wrist in hand. So let's get in there and start animating now.

Amy Sundin (12:17):

So what we want to do is we need our new video group and that creates this sorry, annum layer. And I'm going to call this my base because we're not going to try and go crazy and do all of this stuff at once. We're just going to do this one layer at a time now. So we're going to start with just this orange base color here. So let's go in and we're going to grab that brush that we had before, make sure that we're on the right layer, hit B for brush, and we're going to start with whatever brush we decided for our base and our color. And we're just going to start drawing. Now, if you notice I extended this tail all the way back and extra space, and there's a reason for that. It's because we want to create an overlap as this goes around, to keep it looking nice and smooth. Otherwise our animation will start to look steppy. So let's go from one line here, midline. And then this back line is where you're going to want to hit your end of your tail.

Amy Sundin (13:32):

Now, as you're drawing this noticing, keeping this ball end, where I drew that circle, I'm keeping that in the middle and I'm trying to shoot for this midline using this guide as the middle of my shape. And that will help me keep consistent and on track as I'm drawing this. So once you have your first frame done, you're going to make a new one frame exposure. And we are going to turn our onion skins on. I recommend on dark backgrounds that you do change from a blend mode of multiply, which is the Photoshop default to something like a normal, and then your max opacity to be around 10% because otherwise you're not going to be able to see what you're drawing. So with a 10%, you can see that it's nice and clear. Well, if I change that to say something like a 75% notice how faded that is, and that's almost impossible to see. So we're going to stick with a 10% men opacity. I have said the 50, because that works fine and we're going to hit, okay. And we're going to continue drawing and remember this tail needs to stretch all the way back to this line here.

Amy Sundin (14:48):

And we're just going to continue all the way around this entire loop now and just draw this base shape. So this is the part of the project where I recommend that you go and find a really good music playlist and just put that on in the background and relaxed while you are drawing all these frames. Because from here out, all you're going to be doing is a whole lot of drawing. So just a quick note here with these couple of middle frames, notice how I really stretched this shape out. And that's going to change the way that this looks when it's going in and out of this loop, but it'll give it a nice kind of stretching effect. So I just made sure to thin this tail as I was getting down to this part, because there is such a big gap here. I didn't want to leave it too thick.

Amy Sundin (15:40):

I do want it to have this appearance that it's like trailing off when it goes through here. So we want to dig a quick look at where we're at with this loop. We're going to set our work area. I need to go one more frame forward. And now we can set our work area and here, oops, I accidentally colorized a frame. So now I'm going to turn my onion skins off and let's play this loop back and you can already see how that's looking. It's got like a nice kind of flow to it. And with this overlap between the frames, it's not looking really steppy. We are on one frame exposure. So that's why it's going so quick. Also. Now, if you're looking here, you've noticed all of a sudden, why is it going really slow? Well, my computers is not keeping up with this very well right now.

Amy Sundin (16:29):

So down here at the bottom where my mouse pointer is, that's going to tell you how many frames per second your playback is going at. Um, sometimes Photoshop does get picky about stuff. So if that does happen to you, what you can do is you can come up here and change your quality setting to say 50 or 25%. And that sometimes helps with this playback. Um, you will get a little bit of, artifacting kind of like as if you were reducing your Ram preview quality in after effects, it's going to do that same sort of thing. So just be aware of that. See, now we're back at our full 24 frames per second, and we can continue on because this is actually looking pretty good.

Amy Sundin (17:30):

All right. So let's take a look at what we've got going on here now that we've completed all of our frames. So I've got, I'm going to turn off my guides and I'm just going to hit this play button and you can see there he goes. So this is very similar to that look, um, that animation that showed you guys earlier and you just kind of flies around like that. So before we move on to adding all of those additional colors in, I want to mention something about, you know, how the timing on this is it's all ones. So it's all going at the same rate and it's going really fast, but we can actually tweak this by extending some frame exposures to give them a little bit of pause at the top of these curves. So say when he's hitting up through this section here and in this curve, we can actually change this just slightly and we'll start it. We'll start the change with this frame. And we'll just increase the frame exposure on just a few of these. So we'll go with this one, this one, and let's try this third one here. And this is going to change the way that this speed feels as it's coming up into this top part and then coming back out again. So let's hit play and see how that feels. Do you see the difference is very, very noticeable and how this is moving now.

Amy Sundin (19:05):

Now maybe I don't want this frame to be a two. Maybe I only want, let's try with these three frames being a two. I feel like it's a little too slow at the end. So maybe we only want a couple frames at twos and we'll go back to that first option. And this is a nice thing about working in this kind of a manner is that you can tweak the timing even after you've drawn things just by changing these frame exposure times. So I'm going to actually change that on both sides. Now let's reflect that change over to this side. So that means we're going to extend it here and on this frame. And then I want my first frame, see how that looks there we go. Now he kind of has a little bit of a different feel to his movement and his speed changes. So he's not just uniformly constantly going at one rate. It feels almost like he's dipping down with some force and coming back up and slowing a bit.

Amy Sundin (20:27):

So this is looking really good. Now let's actually go back to that look development frame that we had. And now we're going to start adding in some of these paint effects in this tail on him. And that's going to get this guy to look really special and not just like a flat vector piece of artwork, because the whole point of being in Photoshop to do this kind of work is you get to use these tools like the brushes. So we're going to go and add his tail in here now. And to do that, all we're going to do is create a new video layer or new video group again. Now, see, see what I did here. This is, this is what always happens. So I can just add a new frame inside of there, not a big deal. And I'm actually going to leave this base up in here, even though I'm going to close it down here. And this is how I can see my timing so I can match this up. So I'm going to increase my frame exposure. I'm going to decide, okay, I'm going to start with the pink. We'll say, you know what, actually, I'm gonna start with this orange shadow. So I'm going to pick my dark red color and I'm going to turn off my look development after I kind of figure out what this looks like, and I'm just going to draw this onto our new frame.

Amy Sundin (21:45):

So once we've done the first frame, that means we're designed to go all the way through the whole animation and do the same thing over every single frame again. So about that music playlist, you might want to make sure that it's a nice long one because the whole rest of this tutorial is going to be just a lot of drawing. Also, don't forget the standup every once in a while, I know your legs can fall asleep. If you're sitting in a weird position while you're doing this for too long. So just some practical advice there. Now just sit back, relax and have some fun.

Amy Sundin (22:25):

All right. So now we have that second layer done and we can go through and rename this layer. We're going to name it with its color or what it's functioning as. I mean, I guess I could call this one dark red in this case. And actually I'm going to go through and I'm going to color these layers conveniently. I have an orange and red. So now up here at a glance, I know which one's, which it's pretty neat. And the reason that I did this on a separate layer, instead of going back through and just drawing that color onto these layers is because when my friend or my client or myself decides that, Hey, that red color doesn't look so good. All I have to do is get rid of that whole group. Instead of going back through and redrawing all of this other stuff that was on that same color layer.

Amy Sundin (23:19):

I like to be able to go back through and do changes to stuff after I've done it, because there's nothing worse than locking yourself into a decision. And then not being able to change that later on when you realize that something didn't work out, or if a client wants you to do frame-by-frame animation, you can't do that change very easily. So let's take a look and that's, I mean, it doesn't look that much different, but definitely did add something to it. Now, once we start adding these tales in that's, what's going to really make a difference here. So I'm going to add first the highlight, and then I'm going to go through and brush in the tails. So I may have mentioned that this is a lot of drawing and through the wonders of technology, I'm able to speed all of this up. But to be honest, I think this took me a couple of hours to do from the time that I set up the guides through like the look development phase and to the end.

Amy Sundin (24:17):

And this was actually one of the shorter things I've done. I've definitely worked on projects where I've dumped more than 40 hours into them very easily. So yes, lots of drawing now for this pink tail here, we don't really have to be precise. Every time we go from one frame to the next, we can kind of leave this a little bit, like fast and loose here, and it won't make any difference when you're actually watching this playback through definitely scrubbed back and forth between frames occasionally, and just kind of check your work and play it back and make sure that you're on the right track because sometimes you'll get so absorbed into what you're doing. Then you'll just keep working and going straight ahead like this, and you'll completely forget and get off track. And then when you play back at the end, you realize, oh crap, I made a huge mistake and you're going to have to redo a lot of work.

Amy Sundin (25:09):

So just check every once in a while. All right. So we've got our pink tail and now we just have to add, lastly, this yellow tail. So one more piece of advice I would give you guys is if you think something isn't looking right, it probably isn't looking right. So trust your instincts. And if you think something is looking like a turd, it's probably looking like a turd. If like one frame just kind of looks a little off, it could affect your whole animation. So go back and fix that frame while you can, before it kind of propagates through the whole thing and you start drawing all of them that way. Um, just treat every frame as if it's kind of its own painting. You know, don't spend like five years on each frame, but definitely pay attention to how it's looking as you're drawing and don't try and cheat too much stuff.

Amy Sundin (26:15):

All right. So let's take a look at our completed animation. Now actually I'll make this yellow real quick. It's an odd yellow. There we go, yellow, and there it is tail and all. So now we have a really cool infinite looping animation here, and we can go ahead and export this guy as a gift again. So file export save for web legacy and same options as before. Just make sure this always, always does this. No matter how many times you said it. So for looping option forever and hit save, and then you can save it out. And now you're ready to share it with everyone.

Speaker 2 (27:06):

That's all for lesson two, hopefully you learned a thing or two about traditional animation. Just like last time we want to see what you come up with. Send us a tweet at school of motion with the hashtag som loopy. So we can check out your looping GIF. We've covered quite a bit in this lesson, but we're still not done yet. We have some more important concepts to cover in the next few lessons. So stay tuned for those. See you next time.

Speaker 3 (27:38):



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