Animated Illustrations: Add Motion to your Drawings in Adobe Animate | Akeem Roberts | Skillshare

Animated Illustrations: Add Motion to your Drawings in Adobe Animate

Akeem Roberts, He/Him | Illustrator | Animator

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12 Lessons (29m) View My Notes
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Thumbnailing

    • 3. Illustrating in Photoshop

    • 4. Designing Characters

    • 5. Staging the Layout

    • 6. ARCs and Timing

    • 7. Applying Squash & Stretch

    • 8. Transitioning Big to Small Shapes

    • 9. Building Anticipation

    • 10. Understanding Arcs and Timing

    • 11. Exporting & Final Thoughts

    • 12. Conclusion

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About This Class

Are you interested in creating animations but don't know where to start? This class is for you! 

Using Adobe Animate, I will take you through the essentials of elevating a simple illustration into a fun and intriguing animation. We will focus on the following:

  • Timing
  • Spacing
  • Arcs
  • 12 principles of animation.

This class is for beginners but it can be useful for anyone looking to brush up on their animation essentials. You don’t need any experience, just grab your tablet and follow along. The skills you'll learn in this course will allow you to add exciting elements to your social media posts, increase your portfolio offerings, and gain the confidence to further explore animation.


1. Introduction: Have you ever been on YouTube and seen that girl chilling, working on her homework? We've all seen those Super Bowl animations and we really saw how the illustration vibe with the playlists. Have you ever thought about making one of those and it seems really daunting, like really, really daunting? Well, don't worry you're on luck. My name is Akeem Roberts, and I'm an illustrator based out of Brooklyn, New York. In this class, I'll teach the three essential elements of any animation: timing, spacing, and arcs. Don't worry, we'll also focus on the 12 principles of animation as well, but we're really be focusing in on timing, spacing, and arcs. Whether you're a beginner or just refresh neo and noggin, join me as I teach you how to take a simple illustration to the next level by adding some subtle animations. So grab your tablet, grab your mouse or whatever, and follow along. 2. Thumbnailing: All right. First things first, before we get started on any animation, we're going to need some thumbnails. Thumbnails is something that generally gets across the message very quickly in tiny, little illustrations. That way, you can do multiple ideas and find the best one very quickly. For the thumbnail stage, I love to use just a plain piece of paper. I feel like that's the fastest way to get my ideas across. From here, you want to make sure that you make tiny squares of figure illustration inside of it. I'm just going to do them one at a time. They don't necessarily have to be exactly the same. For instance, there's no need to pull out a ruler, but roughly, they should be around the same size. Now here's the last one. I like to do six at least. That way, you get enough to do at least your first couple of ideas that you think are great, and by 5 and 6, you're really struggling to pull something out, but sometimes those ideas are even better. Whenever you're doing a thumbnail sketch, I love to have the horizon point first. That way, I can know where this perspective is coming from. For this one, I'm thinking something beautiful like a sunset really hits the lines for what I'm thinking for the playlists. I'm thinking something very poppy and EDM-y. I just quickly gesturing the shapes of clouds, and the sunset, and the mountain. Then I start shading in. That way, I can know what everything sits into the foreground. Like something is the foreground, the background, the middle ground. I try to separate it by values. For instance, the one mountain is very dark and I'll leave the other one to be slightly lighter to say that it's a little bit farther away from the camera. Just some birds, add some life to the picture. Maybe some stars. For my thumbnail, I'm thinking of something completely different. The first one was very like nature and I'm thinking of something more man-made for this approach, maybe somewhere in a city, the character is just like skateboarding or something. I almost forgot to put my perspective point. Drawing in some small little trash cans, a stoop, little gates. This is small buildings in the distance. Little, tiny Brooks. Remember that thumbnails don't necessarily have to be as detailed as I'm making them. They can also be even a looser interpretation. They can also have a looser interpretation. Here it is. The character is skateboarding. That's what I'm thinking for this one. This one would just be like the city drop will be passing by while the character skateboards through. For this one, I'm thinking something simple. Something where a character is on the surfboard in the middle of the ocean just laying and chilling. I draw a shape for our surfboard, sorry if it seems maybe a little phallic. There's a character, he's just laying on it, I thought I'd add some waves, and maybe some fish are jumping. Like I said, these thumbnails do not have to be that detailed. It's really just for you to understand what you're thinking. Basically a shorthand for your creative brain. This one, I'm thinking we'll go back to something more city-like, thinking of this character driving a car and just listening to music. His hair is flowing in the wind. That BG is standing in for the background and that basically the background would be moving as the character is just driving along. This one, I'm still continuing with the car theme. I think maybe there's a cool way that you could be driving through things while looking through the car's window. Then maybe you would see his face in the rear view mirror and he would just be nodding along to the Beats. He's just driving through maybe the mountains, a little sun peaking through. Of course, I'm putting the shading again to show what's closer to the camera and something that doesn't have shading, it's really, really far out. This is the final sketch. For this one, I'm thinking going back to a nature root, maybe something that's almost like the beginning one where there's a sunset and the character is looking at it. I'm thinking that maybe there's a tree up here. It looks like a character just sitting on the tree, just looking at the sunset, admiring the views. I'm just roughing in some clouds. Let me make sure I do the shading again to show what's closer to the camera, what's further away. Of course, I don't necessarily do this for everything, but it's just like a little shorthand for me personally so I know what to do when moving onto the next step. There's a little town down there as well. He's not staring at the sunset. Now that we have all the thumbnails done, you get to choose which one you want to move forward with. I personally love this one at the bottom right here. See you in the next video. 3. Illustrating in Photoshop: Whoa. Before we get started on anything, we need an illustration. This actually reminds me of one of the principles of animation: Solid drawing. Solid drawing is when you take a 2D shape and give it form, like turning a triangle into a pyramid or a square into a cube. We just open up the Photoshop or whatever program you're drawing in. I like to have the file size set up for a 1920 by 1080P with the DPI of 300. But the setting is really up to you as long as you keep your animation the same size as your illustration. The main thing you want to focus on when you're drawing the background is solid drawing and we do that by adding perspective lines into the illustration. That way you can know exactly the depth of your illustration and be able to plan your middle ground, your background, and your foreground. I try to have my values reflect what I want the viewer to focus on in an illustration. By having higher contrasts in the area that the viewer should key in on. I also try to draw ideally where I want the character to be within this moment, but I'm not really sure. Once you've completed your illustration, be sure to export it as two separate PNGs. One where it's just illustration and then the other one where it's the illustration with the character wrapped in. There you go. You have an illustration. You can use your own, or you can download the one for [inaudible] for this video and follow along. 4. Designing Characters: Okay. Now that we have the background done, it's time for us to move to the character design. This actually reminds me of a principle of animation known as Appeal. Appeal is when you give a character a story. In animation, the artists use the appeal principle to create interesting characters that appeal to the audience. Appealing animation doesn't necessarily mean that it needs to be fluffy and cute, but create a clear visual design that will capture the audience interest. For instance, this character could have just been an apple with big eyes smiling at you, but instead, I gave it a little bit of story about having a worm coming out of it. How'd that one get there? When did they first meet? How old is this apple? These are the type of questions are just rummaging through your head as you look through this character design, and you can tell that they are not enemies, they're friends, and so much more. Another tip for creating good, appealing characters is always use the small, medium, large principle. It's when you make sure you have shapes that fit each of those sizes. For instance, the big apple shape is the large shape from my character, the eyes are the medium, and the legs are the small. All right. Now that we have our character done, it's time for us to put it inside the animation. Now, as I said before, you can use the files I've also provided in this video where the character is already instilled to the illustration, or you can make your own. 5. Staging the Layout: Now that we've got the character done, all that we have to do is put it inside of the animation. Once we get that done, we'll move on to the next steps. Let's start putting this together. First, we're going to open up the document and make sure that it's 1920 by 1080p at 12 frames per second. From here, we're going to import both for those PNGs that you have earlier, whether it's yours or the ones that are provided with this video. You're going to grab them and also put them inside of this document. Make sure you align it and die everything looks good. You also want to make sure that they're on separate layers so that the sketch is really above it. That way we get rid of the sketch later on in the process, the animation will sit finally into the illustration. We also pull up the character design so that everything stays on model. This actually reminds me of another principle of animation. Staging. Staging is a presentation of an idea that is completely in unmistakably clear. While we're here, this actually reminds me of something very important. It's used very often in anime. It's called character holds. This is when the whole character isn't moving except for a certain part of their body. In anime, usually it's the mouth or just the hair and sometimes just the eyes. These are things that are used to make the animation simple and easy to do but still feels high budget. Now for this animation, I know that I want the character to be still, except for his hair or leaf, to be flowing in the wind, and his body to be vibing as well. That way the main body is just going to be the body hold. I can just easily color this in. The staging is complete. For the next part of this class, we are going to be talking about movement, how everything moves in, you guessed it, arts. 6. ARCs and Timing: It took us a long time to go airborne, finally doing some animation, and that actually brings me up to an important principle of animation. I mean, all the principles are important. But I really like this one it's called Arcs. Arcs is about the movement of the animation. Nothing really moves linear if it's organic and animation. For instance, the way I turned around that's an arc, and the way that I move my arms is an arc, and the way there is hair flows in the wind is an arc. How do we actually establish an arc in animation? The way that I do it is by drawing the shape that's going to be moving first, and then I draw the arc, and then I divide the arc with lines as though it's a timeline. Each moment and that line represents a frame, and to make sure that I have the timing correct, I always go outside of it on a separate layer and put it down on the side of it. That way when I play it back, I can know exactly how the time is moving or whether it's too fast or too slow without actually having to animate anything. Now that I had that planned out, I'm going to move into drawing the actual arc for the animation. I started my arc at the top of the leaf. That way I can know exactly where I'm keeping this going. From there, I make sure I draw the same timelines, and then I move the middle point of the leaf through all of those points, and then I just work my way back up, and there you have it the leaf flowing beautifully in the wind. All right, and now that we have the arc done, it's time to move on and start from scratch. 7. Applying Squash & Stretch: One of the first principles of animation is squash and stretch. But what does that actually mean? In this section, I'm going to break it down for you. Now we're going to animate the worm or seed as I like to call them. First, I start off with planning the movement because movement is an up and down movement, I'm just making a quick gesture that makes sure that the movement and the keyframes are really aligned. In squash and stretch it gives a sense of weight and flexibility to an animated object like this dancing that seed is going to do. The highest point of his animation as a stretch and the lowest point is as squash. Having squashing stretch here gives little weight to that dance and it shows that seed as part of Johnny Applene just as in floating in space. This actually gives me an opportunity to talk about another principle of animation, straight ahead animation versus pose to pose animation. Straight ahead animation is when the animation is done straight ahead, like how I did the leaf for Johnny's head. While, pose to pose is where you create important keyframes, sometimes known as extremes that describe the whole action, and then go back and create the keyframes in-between. Sort of how I'm doing this dance for one. All right, so that was squash and stretch on the next video we're going to focus on the exaggeration and for animating from big to small shapes. 8. Transitioning Big to Small Shapes: That we don't lose any momentum, we're just going to jump right back in where we left off. Something that's super important and understated in the animation community are pencil tests. Now, back in the day pencil test required grabbing all of your frames and taking pictures of them one by one, and hoping that your timing was correct. Likely things are a little faster these days, for instance, I was playing back this animation of Sid and it really didn't seem like he was bouncing enough for me. That was because there wasn't enough exaggeration on the top pose of his animation. Exaggeration is used to amplify an action or an idea. Basically, you have to exaggerate emotion so the audience catches it. Now, you see here for Sid, I'm drawing his little turtleneck thing, I don't actually know the name for earthworms but that's what I've been calling it. Basically, by drawing his whole body first, and then focusing on this small detail, it makes it easier for me to have the consistency of form and shape. Whenever you're animating something, don't forget to always go from big to small, that way you can keep your volume as consistent as possible. Now that you got the gist of this, let's speed this bad boy up. Now, that Apple Jack and Sid are animated, and I'm looking at them all together, they don't seem to really fit the background. For my characters, I add a little tint on top of it. I pull a color from the background and I tint it on top of them, that way that they feel more in sync with the background, and everything seems to be working together. Now that we have seen animated, it's time for us to focus on small details in the next video. 9. Building Anticipation: Now that Apple, Jack, and Seed are animated. It's time for us to focus on the small details like the night sky, it's so vibrant and perfect. But only if there was something more, something like a shooting star. Another principle of animation is anticipation, a pose or drawing that is a main action of an animated scene. For instance, Apple and Seed are in a constant loop of animation, so there's no way to anticipate any action. For this animation, I decided the anticipation will come through the stars, a shooting star in fact. What I start to do for this is by making a glimmer of the star. That way you see that first before it actually streaks across the screen, thus giving it an anticipation before the action. There you go. Apple, Jack, and Seed watching the night sky. In the next video, we're going to focus on some other small details, something like [inaudible] 10. Understanding Arcs and Timing: Like I said, we're going to focus on the wind. Remember how I made Apple Jack's hair or leaf flow into the wind? We need something else to exaggerate that motion. We have everything working from the shooting star for with anticipation to see it in this little dancing. But now it's just like Apple Jack's leaf is flowing for no reason. But if we add a semblance of wind in there, that way it will make sense. So what's the best way to do that? By adding a leaf. All right, this is were we bring everything that we've talked about this whole video together. Since we're doing the wind and we'd like to do a very free of form organic shape that shows the path which, delete this guy. From there we have mark all the key frames. This way you can have a good idea of exactly where the leaf is going to be and how many frames it will take. Now that we have all three of those paths lined out and marked up for our time. We put the dots in place. Once all the dots are in place, we play it back to see if it's exactly what we want. If the timing looks right from there, you should draw all your leaves straight ahead and you will have your final animation. All right, now that we have everything animated, it's time for us to export this bad boy. I'll go over in more detail about that in the next video. 11. Exporting & Final Thoughts: We are on the final video, exporting your animation and putting your playlist music all together. How do we do that? All right. Now that everything is set up, you make sure you export it by 1920 by1080P and you make sure the location is somewhere that you can easily find. I set mine up for the desktop. Just so that I can find the copy for this video. Once you do that, you open up After Effects, open up a new project and import multiple files. The files that I actually should grab is the animation and the playlist. Once imported, I open up a brand new comp and I make sure to name the comp, playlists animation and set it to 1920 by 1080P. I changed the timing too about the length of the playlist. Once I have that comp made, I make sure to import all those files directly into that comp, the playlist and the animation. As you see, the animation is a little bit small, right now, it only runs about three seconds. To change that, I go up to the animation file, right-click and do interpret footage. From there. You just see that the footage is at 12 frames per second, and from there you can loop the footage all the way at the bottom. I loop it about 20 times. All right, now that it's fully there, we're able to export this video for the playlist animation. We're going to go to Adobe Encoder in order to export it. From there, you want to make sure that you are set on the H0.264 and that your beat source is matching. That way you can export MP4. I choose to export it on the desktop. Then from there you just click it and check it. There you go. You have your finished animation ready to upload in video platform. There you go. Now you have a playlist animation of your own. 12. Conclusion: There you go. We made an animation for YouTube and uploaded it. Looks like that Lo-Fi Girl's going to have some competition. Also, if you want do your own or just need a little help, I also have it right below, a GIF chichi. I'll teach you all the principles that I've taught in here, but in a faster, more digestible way, just in case you don't want to go through the video again. Whatever you make on your own, I'd love to see it just below, so don't forget to add it and tag me in. That's all from me. I can't wait to see what you'll put below.