Animation for Illustration: Creating Layered GIFs with Photoshop & After Effects | Abbey Lossing | Skillshare

Animation for Illustration: Creating Layered GIFs with Photoshop & After Effects skillshare originals badge

Abbey Lossing, Illustrator

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10 Lessons (1h 25m)
    • 1. Introduction

      1:34
    • 2. Getting Started

      5:05
    • 3. Sketching Your Scene

      11:01
    • 4. Creating a Color Comp

      9:54
    • 5. Character Animation

      17:34
    • 6. Adding Color

      13:21
    • 7. Polishing Your Background

      4:39
    • 8. Animating in After Effects

      19:14
    • 9. Final Thoughts

      2:02
    • 10. Explore More Classes on Skillshare

      0:33
269 students are watching this class

About This Class

Want to take your GIFs to the next level? Combine Photoshop with simple steps in After Effects to create layered animations with a hand-drawn look!

In this comprehensive class, illustrator and animator Abbey Lossing shows you how to bring your Photoshop creations to life by adding a few introductory steps in Adobe After Effects. From sketching and coloring to timing out motion and exporting to share, Abbey will teach you everything you need to know to create show-stopping animations that marry the hand-drawn quality of Photoshop with the cinematic look of After Effects.

With accessible, step-by-step lessons you’ll learn how to:

  • Sketch and color a quirky scene with an eye toward motion
  • Use video layers in Photoshop to animate your character
  • Structure your files to stay organized and easily make changes
  • Activate your animation with introductory tools in After Effects

Plus, Abbey shares her favorite tips and tricks for transitioning seamlessly between Photoshop and After Effects.

Whether you’re an illustrator who’s curious about motion or a seasoned GIF-creator looking to make your next project pop, adding After Effects to your process is a natural next step that’s easier than you think. Follow along to unlock your ability to create hand-drawn animations with dynamic, expressive movement! 

Click the "Your Project" tab to share your sketches and final GIF!

Transcripts

1. Introduction: I feel like almost any illustration could be better if it were made. Hi, my name is Abbey Lossing. I'm a illustrator and GIF maker base out of Brooklyn, New York. So I've had the pleasure of working with a large variety of clients over the past few years: The New York Times, and The Washington Post, Google, Facebook, Lyft, Etsy, and Target. In today's class, I'm going to be taking you off for my process of creating animations using a combination of Photoshop and After Effects. I like to combine those two programs because Photoshop allows you to keep that hand-drawn quality of your illustrations, but by using After Effects you can create a lot more movement in your final animation. So in this class, we're going to create an animation, and we'll start with a simple line sketch. Then, we'll go to animating the character. Then, we'll add color to the character and the background, and then we'll put it all together in After Effects. My background is not an animation. So when I started using After Effects it was definitely a bit of a learning process. Once you really learn the tools that you need to use and how to organize the file, using it is pretty straightforward. You should take this class if you enjoy illustrating and maybe you just want to add a little bit of movement to your illustrations. I think it really will help you streamline your work and create unique animations that maybe are a little bit different than stuff that you've made in the past. I'm excited you joining the class. Let's get started. 2. Getting Started: So I'm really excited that you've decided to take this class. In this lesson, I'm going to go over the different steps that will be going through throughout the class and also what tools you'll need. So this process that we'll be using in this class is great for creating a character animation moving through a scene. So we creating that character animation in Photoshop and then have them move to the scene and After Effects. For my project, I'm going to create a character animation of a girl peddling a bike, and then I'm going to have her be moving through a scene that's an urban landscape. In the class, we'll be using a combination of Photoshop and After Effects, and those are the programs that we'll use. But I'll also use a synthetic tablet which is something that I've grown fond of and feel really comfortable using. It allows me to hand-drawn more naturally in Photoshop. If you feel more comfortable using an iPad or maybe a different type of tablet with Photoshop, you can really use whatever it feels most comfortable to you. So to create the final animation, the first step is to create a sketch in Photoshop or however you feel most comfortable sketching. You maybe you want to sketch on paper or an iPad. But we're going to plan out the whole scene and what your sketchier character and how you want them to move, and really spend time here to create a really detailed and refined sketch because I think if you spend the time here, it's going to help you later on. So after you have a sketch that you feel comfortable with, the next step is to create a color comp. So this is where you're going to loosely plan out where colors are going to be within your scene. It's important to remember that your character is going to be moving through this scene. So you might want to move around. If you can work on layers, you might want to move your character around to different areas of the scene just to make sure that the colors work well in different areas. Then after you have a color comp that you think works out well, we're going to move on to the character animation. So we're going to do this in Photoshop using video layers. So we'll start out with just the sketch version. So even though you've planned out the colors, we're going to put that aside for the time being and focus on a sketch again because you want to do, you have your still sketch, but now we're going to do an animated sketch. So at the end of this process, you're going to have each frame of your animations sketched out. So then after that, we're going to go back into the colors and re-add your colors on top of your sketch and then we will export that as a PNG sequence. So the next step in the process is to create your final scene background illustration. So this isn't going to be animated. But you want to think about the layers of the scene. So maybe you have something really far back, and then something that's going to be closer to the character. So say you're driving through a field, the trees that are closer to you are going to seem like they're moving much faster than say the sun that's really far away. So anything that's in your scene, that's further back, you're going to put that on one layer and then the stuff that's in the foreground you're going to save that as another layer. I would say, maybe try to keep it around two layers. You could add as many as you want but just to keep it more simple since it's the first time you're going to be using this process, let's aim for two layers of depth. So you're going to save those as two separate PNG images. After you've saved your background files and your character animation as PNG and a PNG sequence, we're going to combine everything in After Effects. So you'll have your files and you'll import them into After Effects, and we're going to create a composition where you can have your background files move across the composition and have your character animation stay still in the center of the composition so that it will look like your character is moving through the scene. So the final animation is going to be similar to a film scene where I say the camera was following the person that was moving. So the person that's moving is always going to be in the center of focus. But the scene, the background is going to be moving from left to right or right to left. The last step of the process is going to be exporting your project. There's a couple of different ways to save it that are better for different. Then you use where you might want to share your work, and so we'll go through all those details. Also throughout the project, I'll be sharing different tips and tricks to help you stay organized and helps streamline the process, so that you can quickly and efficiently create final animation. So now we're going to get started on the project. So start thinking about what character you want and how you want them to be moving and also what type of scene you want them to be moving through. All right. So now we're going to get into the first step which is the sketch. 3. Sketching Your Scene: For this lesson we're going to be working with this sketch for our project. So we're going to decide what the character is going to be doing, how they're going to be moving and scene that they'll be moving through. The main goal for this stage of the process is to really plan out how everything is going to work together. So you want to get the proportions of your character, plan out the different levels of the background, and just make sure that the structure of everything works well together. If you really focus on that now, it's going to make your life easier later on in the project. So the first step that we're going to do is we're going to create our file in Photoshop. So we're going to start out with a dimensions of what the final animation is going to be. So when you're all done with your animation, you're going to export a file that's 1920 by 1080 pixels. So we'll create that. Then you should have something that looks like this. But for this sketch of the whole scene, it's going to be much longer than the box that we have because you're going to have this scene running through this composition. So we're going to use the crop tool and drag this out. I like to say maybe around three times wider or longer than your final composition. As a good ballpark to work with for your sketch. So now this is what we're going to use to plan out our sketch, but the final animation is going to be much more rectangular not as long as this. So I like to create the original document as the final composition size, just so that I have that in my head. Sometimes if you're doing something for Instagram and it might be a square. Videos are usually 1920 by 1080. But I just like that as a starting point just to visually see it before you expand out your scene. So the first step in this sketch stage is to plan out your character and how you're going to have them move for the scene. So it's important to think about how you can make this easier on yourself in terms of the animation acts. They animated aspect. So certain movements are a little bit easier than others. If you have someone on a skateboard or in a car that's going to be the easiest because the really their body isn't moving at all. They might just be sitting in the car and their hair might be waiving out the window or maybe they're just on a skateboard and they're going downhill so they don't even have to like move their leg and all. Other character animations are going to be a little bit more complicated. So if you have experience in animation and you really want to go for it, you can maybe introduce a walk cycle. So have the person walking through the scene, or you could have them maybe if you want to take the skateboarding aspect to step up, maybe it could have been skateboarding, but have their leg having to push them along. So all those are things to be thinking about when you're planning your character. Another thing to think about is to just keep everything more simple and streamlined. You're going to be creating a lot of different frames and this character animation. So if you have a lot of shading or lots of line work, that's going to be really time consuming to do each frame. So I like to keep it more shape-based and flat not any shading only maybe a couple of key lines that helped delineate. Maybe the character's chin line or if you want to add facial features that you can work with that too. But I try to keep it as minimal as possible. For this project, I've decided to have a character on a bike pedaling through an urban scene. Peddling, it's a little bit more simple than doing a walk cycle. So that's the main reason why I chose that. I didn't want this to be too time-consuming, but I also wanted the movement to be a little bit more interesting than say someone just standing more static. The character is going to be somewhat small. So we're going to zoom in. Something that can be helpful that I do sometimes is I'll create a box with the final size just so you can have that to reference. So out of this whole document, this size box is going to be what shows. So that it can be somewhat helpful when you're doing your character so that you don't have them to big. Now I'm going to get my brush tool, work on a separate layer just so that you can move it around if you need character. I like to use a pencil brush tool just because it works more naturally like for sketching how it normally would be. Draw it here. Yeah. Keep it as loose as possible because we'll go over this again and create a little bit more of a refined drawing, but this is really just your planning out where everything is going to be. So you don't want to waste a lot of time with the details. I have her drawn. She looks a little big in this space. So this seam you wouldn't be able to see a lot of the background scene of she was this big. So I'm going to hit Command T and then we're just going to scale this down, I think around this size will be better for the final composition. So now we have our character. I'm going to go in and start planning out the background now. So I like to organize my files and I like to maintain a lot of layers. Some people collapse them, but I like to keep them separate just so that you can keep thinking about how things are going to move. So the layer of buildings is going to be moving at the same speed. I'll keep that on one layer. Then if there's any buildings further on in the background that could be its own layer in the character is going to be moving by itself. So it keep the character on a separate layer as well. So I think I want to do an urban scene for the background. Yes, I like drawing buildings. The main thing to remember here is that you want two levels, and want to downshift and that makes your line shape. So let's have sidewalk. We're going to have some buildings. By creating several different layers in your background, you're going to be able to create more parallax effect when you go into the animation. We'll just as a little bit more visually interesting and just having a one layer of background move across at a steady speed. So we're going to have some buildings on our first layer like I said. We'll keep this fairly loose because we can go back in later and add more detail and change some things around if we need to. So another thing to think about when you're creating your scene is when this loops, you want this side to mash up perfectly on this side. So this building here, I want the other side of that building to be right here. So this doesn't need a door. The door is over there. Just remember when you're adding color or more detail that like say, I'm going to say I add brick onto this building, you'll want it to also be that same pattern to be over here. So that'll be my first layer of buildings. Then let's add something that's further off in the distance back here. So since this is an urban scene, let's add some taller buildings. Here like it's more urban landscape and further off in the distance. Then this is going to be some water like, some foliage or something just to kind of bring these two different layers together. So one thing that's nice when you work on layers. I can turn off the background if I need to. So I want to go back in and really focus on this character sketch. I think having the background, it's just a little distracting. So I'm going to turn that off. I work in lots of layers. So I'm going to lower the opacity of my original sketch to around 20. Then I'm going to create another layer. So now I can use this loose sketch as a guide, and I'm going to go back in and create a little bit more detailed refined sketch. It can be a little attempting in this step to rush through it and just go right to starting to animate this. But it's really important to get the drawling in a place that you're really happy with from the start because this is going to impact all your other frames. So this is like your guide and I other frames are going to be based off of this drawing. Now I'm going to continue working up this sketch, adding details, and really focusing on the composition and getting it to a level that I felt comfortable with. What we have here is a sketch of what the final animation or what the final scene is going to look like. We have everything planned out. There's a little bit of detail, but we'll add more when we go into the final. So now go ahead and create your sketch. Just remember to use lots of layers and keep in mind how your character is going to move and that your background needs to match up from one side to the other. So now I'm going to refine my sketch a little bit further and then I'm going to play an out how the color is going to work within the composition. 4. Creating a Color Comp: So now you should have your sketch all planned out. What we're going to do next is plan out our colors by doing a rough color comp. So this should also be loosed, and you're just planning out what colors are going to go where and just making sure that you have a really cohesive color composition. I like doing color comps to plan out where the colors are going to be, and then it's really easy. If you need to make slight color adjustments, you can do that at this stage so that when you go into your final illustration, you don't have to second guess yourself, you already know what colors are going where and what works well together. The step, although it takes time, and it may not feel like you're making progress towards your final illustration, it actually ends up saving you time because you can quickly plan out everything, and then you can just reference this when you're doing your final illustration. So I built it up. I built up the background and then added a character on top of that. But if feels more naturally to you to start with the character and then make the background work off of the character, you can do it that way or you can also work on both simultaneously and build up everything at the same time. The ultimate goal for this is to just really plan out your colors and make sure as the character is going to be moving that you have contrast in all the different areas. Open up your sketch and then do File Save As color comp. Just so in case you lose any of the detail from your sketch, you can go back and look at your sketch and the color comp in tandem. So you should have a few different layers of your sketch. But I'm going to group all those by hitting Command-G. This doesn't delete any of your layers. It just makes it look a little bit more organized by putting them all in one folder, and we'll call that sketch. So now, we're going to lower the opacity of this because we don't really need these sketch lines to be, they're more of a guide. We're going to plan out our colors. There's a couple of different ways of working. Sometimes I like to plan out my colors in advance. I might just make a little palette on my site, almost like it was a paint palette. Make sure this is on a separate layer because you are going to want to turn this off later. This maybe a nice brown color. Everyone will have a different color palette that maybe they're used working in. If you have a color palette that you like, I highly recommend figuring out a way to make that palette work with this illustration. Colors that I tend to use are more rich vibrant colors, paired with more pastel colors. So I've tried to bring that into this project. So I like to collect either just pictures that you see online, could be photographs or like ads, anything that you like the colors and how they are combined to each other. I highly recommend starting a collection of different images just so that I can go back and look through them and get inspiration. I like to pick a core palette maybe around five or six colors, but it really depends on your personal style. But then I don't limit myself to those exact colors as I'm working up the composition. It's okay to add a little bit of an accent color here and there that are outside your palette. So the nice thing about this process is we're going to be planning everything out, picking the colors. But when you get into the animation stage and After Effects, if you realize that certain colors aren't working or maybe I've contrast issue as the character moves in front of certain items, you can always go back into Photoshop and switch and change the colors. So I think these are going to be my main colors that I'm going to start with. But once you get into this, you can make changes as you go along. So I always start with the biggest areas of what's going to be a solid color. So thinking about the different buildings, what colors could work for each building. If you're doing more of a cohesive, seeing me with a landscape of grass or mountains, this would probably be a little bit less involved for you just because it'll be more solid colors throughout the entire background. So maybe you just have to do green for the grass and then a stony color for the mountains. I'm blocking out things just because that's the easiest way to block out the colors of these buildings because they're rectangles. But you could just quickly brush in the shapes of your scene or use the Lasso tool, just whatever. You just don't want to waste a lot of time with the details of this because you're really just trying to plan out what colors are going to go where. Besides, spend a few more minutes working on this, really getting the color composition to be more finalized and really just work on getting the colors to work well together within the composition. So now that I have my background planned out, I'm going to add color to the character. It's important to make sure that the character is going to be moving through the scene. So make sure you have contrast in all the different areas. So now I'm just going to group all those colored layers, the background so that they're all together. Now we'll create a new layer for the character. I don't want here to be black because you'll lose contrast here. So maybe a brown that's in between these two shades. So a little bit lighter than this. Actually, let's go with dark. If you go back and realize that certain color that you picked didn't work, that's why we're doing this. So it's really easy to make changes and adjustments if needed. Also, this should be loose too. I don't worry about. This is not going to be the final color version for your animation. We're just planning out the colors. I'm choosing a skin tone now. So some of my buildings are really dark. So I think I'm going to go with a lighter skin tone. But I'm a little worried about this window then. So I might have to lighten up the window a little bit. So another thing that I like to do is keep the girl on one layer. So then you can slide her along and see how the colors work in front of different parts of the scene, just to make sure there's enough contrast in the different areas. Like here, I can tell the skin it's not working against this building color. So I'm going to adjust that a little. So originally, I had planned for this building to be a brick. I was going to make it a brick color, but then I realize her skin tone was too similar. So I'm just going to make it a little bit lighter at the bottom and maybe brick at the top just so that I don't lose the contrast. Since she's riding her bike on the street, I thought it would be a little strange without having any cars or anything else moving around her, but just look a little deserted. So I decided to add one car into my scene, which is also going to be moving. But that's an additional element that you can add on if you decide that it might help your scene. So if you're going to do any additional moving elements, just be sure to keep them on their own separate layer just so that they can move independently. So now go ahead and take your sketch, make a new file titled Color Comp, and start planning out your colors. So now that I have my color comp, and I'm happy with how it's all working together, I'm going to take my character sketch, and I'm going to start animating the character. 5. Character Animation: So now that you have your color comp in your sketch all planned out. We're going to go back to the initial sketch and we're going to take the character from that sketch, and we're going to animate it. So right now, I'm going to sketch the frames of the parts that are moving, so that I can use those as a guide when I'm adding the color. To do this, we're going to use video layers in Photoshop. Video layers in Photoshop have a few more capabilities and just doing something frame-by-frame in Photoshop. One of those things that we're going to use is called Onion Skins, which just allows you to see the previous frame from your animation as you're drawing the next frame. So in this step, we're just going to be focusing on the body movement of your character. We're not going to worry about the background moving, and then moving through the scene, we're just focusing on how their limbs are moving, or if their hair is waving, that's what we're focusing on at this point. So we're going to create a new file; File, New. I like to make this, the character animation, I like to make it a little bit larger than it would be in the final animation. So you can zoom in a little bit and not lose the quality of the drawing and we'll get pixelated. I'm going to make mine six inches by six. So then drag your character that you have from your sketch, into this composition. So it'll probably be smaller because it's smaller within the final composition, but we want like I said I like to have a few extra pixels to work with, so we're going to scale this up a bit. So now we're going to set this up for animating. So what you need to do, is go to Window, Workspace, switch to Motion, then Window. Sometimes your timeline might come up automatically, but if it doesn't, go to Window and then click the Timeline. Now, I'll bring this up. So there's two options that when you bring up your timeline, it's most likely going to say create frame animation, which is what we're not going to do in this project. So if you click on this little drop down arrow, it'll say Create Video Timeline, and I'm going to switch to that. What will come up is a timeline, the default is five seconds, and you'll have your layers in this timeline. So right now I only have a couple layers. So I'm only seeing two here, but we're going to create more. So the next thing you need to take notice of is down here, it'll say your frame rate. So right now, mine is actually set to 30 frames per seconds, but we are going to switch that. So go up to this drop down menu right here, and click on Set Timeline Frame Rate. We're going to switch this to 24 frames per second. So now you'll see down here it says 24 frames per second. Frame rate is how many frames per seconds there are in the animation. So 24 frames per second is standard for animation really. So that's what I recommend everyone using. You can also do, if you do 12 frames per second, then your animation might be a little bit more rigid, but for this style, it's not always, I think that that's fine and then you can do less drawings per second. So I would say set your timeline to 24, but then you can have each frame be a little bit longer, so you're really only doing 12 drawings per second. So this is your guideline, and I know that I want her legs to be pedaling, and I think I'm going to add her hair have a little wave to it. So we'll keep this on a separate layer and then I'm going to create a few frames. I know I want the leg to be moving a little bit less. It can be a little bit more rigid, so I'm just going to pull this out. This would be one frame, so if I double that, that's two frames. So I'll start here and we're going to do just a simple wireframe, to use as a guideline for the movement of her legs. So I'm just kind of creating circles where joints are, and then connecting those. I know that her leg is on a pedal that is going around. So as a guide for this path, where is that the guide? I'm going to do a circle. This circle I have here, I'm just using that as a guide, the pedal, which the foot will be on, would be moving in a circle. So if I have the foot follow the path of the circle, then the movement of the leg will look more natural. It's just a guide, it won't be in that final animation. I'll turn it off. So we'll lower this. So this is my first frame. So if you drag this down, it'll group these automatically. So now these are in their own folder, over here in your timeline. So I'm going to call this Wireframe. Then we're going to go to the drop down menu, and we're going to say Enable Onion Skins. So what that does, is when I'm on my first frame here, and then I go to my next frame, now I can still see the previous frame, it just lowers the opacity automatically. So I can use that as a guide for this next frame. This group of layers right here, I basically did in the timeline what would be, when like grouping layers in your Photoshop file, it's doing that but with video layers. So it basically just brings all of these layers together, which can be helpful, later on in the process if you need to lower the opacity, but you don't want to go through layer by layer and lower the opacity of each layer. You can just lower the opacity of the group, and then it does the same to every layer within that group. So basically, now I know this needs to be a complete loop, because we want this motion to loop seamlessly for the animation. So basically, what I'm going to do is have this leg move into each position, until it gets back to this point. So we'll go to the next frame. We see our guide here. This hip is never going to move, be as it's sitting down. So this circle is pretty much always going to stay in that point. The foot is going to move back and down a tad. This is going to move that way. So essentially, you're just going through and mapping out this movement. So now we'll go on to the next layer. So you can see your last frame is right there. I'll turn this off. So we're going to move this up a little. So as the foot moves back, the knee is moving forward and up a tad. So you want to keep the distance in between all your points about the same. So these lines should always be about the same length because even though your leg is moving, it's not like your joints are going to get any shorter, just the position of them is changing, and the angle. So depending on what your movement is you might need more frames or you may be need less, but it doesn't necessarily matter how much time your animation takes. So just right now focus on creating an animation that's smooth, and then we can adjust for, if your animation is shorter or longer we can adjust for that in after effects. If you're unsure how many frames you need, I would say start really with what you think might look rough when it's all placed together like too jagged, and then you can always go back in and add frames in between your previously drawn frames. So maybe if you're doing someone waving, you could just draw them here, here, and here, and then that's going to look like really fast, and jagged when you play it but then you can go in between those two, turn your Onion Skins on and you'll be able to see the first, and second frame and you can draw a line in between, so you use it as a guide to draw your in-betweens. So now we have the wire frame of the leg moving, and for this movement I know both legs are going to be moving the same way just at opposite times, when one leg is up, the other leg is going to be straight. So I'm only going to animate one leg and then I can just copy that group of layers, and switch the order of them, and then I'll have the other leg done also, somewhat like this. So I'm going to copy these then you have, let's see when this is up at the highest point, which is right here, that's why I want this one to start, so then you have both legs. So now that I see that this is working well, I'm going to add this into more of what's going to look like that final animation and I'm going to do the actual leg, pant leg around this wireframe. This second leg was so that you could visually see that this is going to work but I'm only going to worry about one leg during this next stage. So turn on your initial sketch again, and now we're going to use this as a guide. So right now I'm only going to worry about what I'm animating because I can add on layers of the other elements later, so we're going to be animating this leg so I'm only going to draw the one leg. Create a new layer and you're basically just doing the same thing that you did for the wireframe, but each frame you're going to add a little bit more detail. So I did the first initial line wireframe as a guide for this step but that's really optional. If you just want to go straight to this step, you can. It's going to be a little bit more difficult to get a really smooth movement but depending on the type of movement that your character is doing, it might be unnecessary to do the wireframe. So this first frame is just going to be what our initial sketch was. So I'm just going to trace an original leg then make sure you have Onion Skins turned on, and once you've traced over your initial leg or whatever as part of the drawing is going to be moving, I would turn off your initial sketch because it's just going to be confusing later on. So now we're going to create our frames, that only add for the final animation, but for the final sketch. You need to use select these, drag them down. That's how you create a video layer. So there's frame one, and now we're just going to go through, and draw the pant leg for each frame using the wireframe as a guide. [inaudible] I'm just going to keep on drawing these frames until I've made the complete circles so that it creates a continuous loop. So here are my legs that I have finished, it's just the one leg, but I just repeated it for the second. So the next part that I'm going to animate is the hair. So I want everything else is going to be pretty static but I would like this hair to be waving a little. So this type of animation is going to be a little bit different than the light movement that we did. So I wanted to be a waving but I know there's going to be a static point right around here. So that's going to be the start of the wave. So this point is going to stay the same and that's going to be my guide for all the other frames. So I'm going to leave that point there, and then I want the hair to be really smooth, so for the leg I did two frames per drawing but for this one I'm going to keep it at one frame. So create some link layers, you can drag those down so they're all together. On the first one I always start to make the first frame, whatever I've drawn from my sketch. Then once you've drawn that turn off the sketch because it's just going to be confusing, and then be sure to have Onion Skins on. Then for a wave you just want this point to stay the same but you want each depth and value to move a little bit each time so that it creates a continuous wave. This is going to go a little bit. So basically you're just switching the high points, you're just moving them a little bit down but you want it to end at the same point and you want it to start at the same point. You're just going to barely change it each time, and then you're going to keep doing that until you get back to your initial frame. So right now this is a curve this way. So I'll keep doing that until this curve is back arched upwards. You're just making sure that it loops though. Mainly you're worried about the loop, and that the last frame lines up with the first frame of the animation, so let's say I didn't have a solid of a loop. If I needed a few more frames, it would look more like this and see how that just looks wrong. So you just want to make sure no part of the animation jumps. So if you're like, if it doesn't loop correctly or if you've tried to shortcut it a bit and skipped some frames, and you need to go back in and add some, it would look jumpy like that. This is your guide for when you're coloring each frame, so there's a lot of movement in the hair and the legs. It'll be hard to do that off the bat with color. So I like to do a pencil drawing first just so I can reference that when I'm doing each frame and color. So the other parts of this drawing aren't going to move so I don't really need to resketch those out for each frame just because they're going to pretty much stay the same. If you're following along now just go ahead and draw all your frames. It can be a time-consuming process, but it is worth it in the end in order to have a smooth animation. All right, and the next step will be to add color to your character animation. 6. Adding Color: Now that you have a line work up your animation, I'll play it out, we're going to go back in and add color into your character animation. So we've already planned out the colors for the character and the color comp, so you're going to want to reference that for this. Really trust the decisions that you made in the color calm, don't try to make too many changes at this point because you've already planned out your character and how it would interact with background when it was in the scene and since we don't have the background here, I tried not to make any changes at this point. So if you have multiple video layers or groups with a mirror sketch, your outline of your animated sketch, I like to group those all together just so that it's less silicate and title that sketch, and you can lower the opacity. Then for coloring in your animation, I still like to keep it all the different aspects on different layers. So I'm going to basically do the same step over again by in color of the paints, and I'm going to keep them on separate layers just in case I need to go back in and tweak maybe the shade of the paints isn't quite right. If I keep them on in their own separate group, then I can go back in and make that change. So I'm keeping the color on a separate layer, then the sketch that I just done. I'm also keeping each element of the color on a separate layer or a video group. So the paints will be their own video group. I'll put this shirt and one on its own separate layer, and the hair on a separate layer. Here's my color comps, so I'm going to go in. That's the color of the paints. So just basically trace the nice how lines drawing that you just did. If you draw your shape of their paint leg, you can paintbrush this, and then it will be a solid shape, that's the fastest. I like the texture of the brush, so I can color in the frames just I maintain that texture. So this takes longer, you definitely don't have to do this, or you could pick a brush that's fatter. So even if you want to add some texture, there's a lot of different ways to add texture. You just have to figure out what works best for you, but I like the colored pencil line drawing luck. So that's how I color in my frame, but really this is up to you, what works best for you. So for this step, you're basically doing the same process that you did previously for the line drawing, but you're adding color and you're making all the shapes into solid shapes. After you finish tracing me a pencil drawing, and then you should have something that looks like this. So now you have your one paint leg, and you're just going to copy that. So now we have two video group layers of your paint. So this leg is moving at the opposite position as your other leg. So when this one is at its highest point, the other leg is straight. So we'll take this second copied layer, and this is where it's at its highest point. So we want to take from that point on and move the order of those to the beginning. So now we have the two legs, but notice how you can't really, it's a little confusing because they're both the same color. So we're going to take this leg that's in the background, and we're going to adjust the color a little so that even when they pass in front, you can differentiate the two legs. So that's another nice thing about using video layers, is I was able to change the color of all of those layers with just a click of a button, Layer, Layer Style, Color Overlay, and that's going to change the color of that entire video layer. So next, I would do the hair. So just basically doing the same thing that you just said with the paints, but with this hair layer. So create new layers. Her hair was a dark brown. So I like to get my layer is already formed me before I start drawings, so that you don't have to keep creating them as you go along. Then just to trace your sketch that you've already drawn. So for this, there is a little bit here that I need to draw. So this line is going to stay the same for each frame. So the only part of this as it's going to be moving is this. So it will turn on skins, so now here you are going to go through and do the same thing I just did with the paints. I'm going to go ahead and color in [inaudible]. Now that I've colored in all of the frames of the hair waving, I have something that looks like this, and I'd recommend playing it back just to be sure that everything's moving correctly and that you're happy with everything at this stage. Luckily, you should've worked out most of the movement issues that you might be having in that sketch stage. So at this point, you're just making sure color is solid at all the different on every frame and that everything is working well together. The last thing that we need to do with this character animation is to color in the rest of the parts of her body and the bicycle, and those aren't really animated at all. So this may be a much faster step of the character animation. Basically, I'm just going to color in each aspect of her shirt, and her skin, and the bike frame. But if you just draw this once and have it be completely still while the legs are moving more rapidly, it's going to look a little strange. So something that I like to do is just to create a boil of the layers that are staying still, which is just basically drawing it three times and then having those re-frames limp endlessly. Now I'm going to go in and create three new layers for the shirt. So for boules, I just make them two or three frames long. You want it to be more like atleast wavy, you don't want it to be like really jagged and fast. So we can make it a little bit longer, won't make it to fast. You're just going to trace here a drawing. Then for this, I'm just not going to worry about the texture as much because it's a lighter color you probably wouldn't be able to see the texture. Anyways, I just use that paint bucket tool. So as long as the shape is close, it will fill the entire shape. So just do that. You're just going to repeat this three times. Now you have the three shirt layers and you're just going to copy those so that they last for the entire length of your animation. So there, now you can see that. It goes until the end. So this is your shirt, I like to title these just I know what things are, and we don't want the shirt be with the hair is actually going to be on top of the shirts. So just drag that. There you go, you can see it has that little wiggle. So we want to get rid of these little faint lines that you can see, but it should look basically like this when you're finished. I like to do this just to create a little bit of more movement for that items that are most aren't actually animated, but that's completely optional. I'm going to go ahead and color in the rest of the elements of this character animation. So this is what I have now. I just created a couple more boules for the bicycle and the arm, and I also added some a little bit of a line work the same way I added what I boule for the shirt, I just added a few lines. As you can see, she doesn't have feet because this is going to be cropped like right here in the final, and I had just a few boules, a little bit of boule on these bike lines. But yeah, this is the character animation and I'm pretty happy with that. So I'm going to go ahead and export this file and get it ready for taking in After Effects. To save this, the first thing you need to do is make sure that your background layer is turned off. So you should be able to see this checkered pattern on your desktop here and I create a new folder. File, new folder. You're going to say files_ae_skillshare. Then within this file, I'm going to create a new folder that's character animationed. So now I have that, let's go back into Photoshop. You have your background layer turned off. Go to File, Export, Render Video. So now it's going to bring up this menu and you have a few different options here. So the first one is the name, we can keep that the same, I've already title that character animation. This is where all these files are going to be saved. So you hit Select Folder, you want to be sure that this is in that folder that we just created. So files A in character animation. So now all of these files are going to be saved in this folder. So hit Choose. Now this is probably most likely going to be set to this Adobe Media Encoder, but you want to switch it to Photoshop Image Sequence. So basically, what this is going to do is it's going to save a still image of each frame. We've turned off the background, but we want to switch this to PNGs. The PNG allows for you to have transparency within the files. So you want to make sure that that says PNG. You want to make sure that the size is your document size. If you are working a lot bigger, you might need to make the export a little bit smaller, and you could do that here just by changing these numbers. But this is a pretty good size. I'm going to leave that as is, and then the last thing you need to take notice of is down here the render options, Alpha Channel, that's your transparency. Right now it's set to none, and you want to switch it to Straight-Unmatted. Then you're going to hit render. I'd keep it large files fast saving. If you go into this folder now, you have each frame of our animation and you can tell it's on a transparent background because you didn't see the background of my desktop there. So we have each frame right here. So go ahead now and finish adding color to your character animation, and then export it as a PNG sequence. Next step, we're just going to create the final illustration for our background. 7. Polishing Your Background: So now that you have your character animation done and exported, we're going to work on creating the final illustrations for the background layers and saving those as PNG files. So open up your color comp that you had created earlier. Basically, we're just going to go in and finish this illustration. You already have the colors planned out and you should have a pretty solid sketch. So basically, you're just going to go in and refine all these details and finish this illustration so that it looks finalized. So if you're breaking up your background into foreground, middle- ground background, you want to be sure to keep all those different level layers on their own layer within Photoshop so that you can move them definitely in After Effects. So I'm just going to go ahead and go into this file and add details in line work and get this drawing in marginal of final stage. So I have my final drawing here. Each layer of the scene, I've kept on its own layer. So I have my background here, that thing that's going to be furthest away. Then I have my next layer of buildings. I have the car on a separate layer. Then I decided to add in one more building that's going to be enough floor ground just to create a little bit more interests in one more layer of the scene. So if you want to keep as a little bit more simple, you can just create one layer for the background and you don't need to separate it out, and then you're only going to have one thing to time out and after effects. So what that would look like with this file as you could just either have this whole buildings instead of having this cut out where you can see that skyline in the background. You can just have this be few more buildings so there's less layers in your scene. So now you're just going to export this for After Effects. So go back to your file that you created earlier where your character animation is, and create a new folder and call this background layers. So now you're going to save all these files into that folder. We're going to say these the same way that we saved that character animation. So you want to be sure that you have your background layer turned off so that you can see that's checkered pattern. You're going to save each layer as its own separate PNG. So we have this as our third layer. Let's hit file, save as. We'll call this skyline. Switch this to PNG, and make sure you're saving it into that folder that we just created. Hit save. So there's your first one. Next, we'll save these buildings. This building layer so, File, Save As, call this one buildings. Make sure it's a PNG, and in the correct folder, save. I added a car, which is totally optional. It's just one more element that I thought would be fun to animate. So we're going to save that. File save as, PNG, we title it car. Then the last element, this is foreground building, File, Save as. Sometimes odyssey as FG and BG as foreground and background. I'll just abbreviate it foreground building. So go ahead now and finish your background layers, and be sure to save them as PNGs with transparent backgrounds, and make sure that the title of the file is something that will make sense to you because you're going to be looking back and referencing these in After Effects. 8. Animating in After Effects: Now that you have all your files saved as PNGs and they're all organized in folders on your desktop or wherever you chose to save them, we're going to open up After Effects. So within After Effects, we'll create a main composition which is similar to your canvas in Photoshop. We'll create a couple of different compositions, one for each layer. We'll call those precomps and then we're going to drag those all into the final composition with an After Effects and then we'll be able to move things from there. We're going to create our composition, new composition. So this is going to be the composition that is your final export of your animation and this size, 1920 by 1080, that's what we're going to save the final MP4 file as. So that's a great size for Instagram and sharing other places online. It's the standard video size. So we can call this Skillshare. So now we have this composition right here in this black box. Go to a composition, composition settings. I actually prefer to work on a light background not that it will never show, but it's just more similar to Photoshop and that's what I'm used to. Change this to 24. You want to make sure that's the same frame rate that you are working in Photoshop. So we are working in 24 frames per second. So you just want to make sure that this is set the same. So the first thing that you'll do in After Effects is you'll bring in all your files. I like to create a file folder with an After Effects and just keep them all in there just so that they don't get mixed up with anything else. We're going to go into this folder, go to our character animation and drag this entire folder into the files folder. Now we have your character animation in there. We're going to go ahead and take these background layers. Now, when you're taking the background layers, you don't want to drag the whole folder, drag all the individual files into a folder. So we drag the folder of the character animation. We grab the whole folder because we want those files to stay together because they're one animation. But for the background layers, we want them each to be their own separate file with an After Effects. So we're going to drive those in individually. So you'll make one composition for your character animation, one composition for your background layers, however, many background layers you have. So if you have three background layers, you'll need three compositions for those. You'll move all those into your final composition and you'll adjust the timing there until you get a seamless loop that looks timed out correctly. So now, I'm going to make another folder and I'm going to call this precomps. This is a little bit of an extra step, but it makes it easier to make changes later on if you need to. So basically, I'm just going to make a bunch of separate compositions and I'm going to base them off the size of these. So I'll start with the character animation and if you click on it, you can see that the size of that file is two or 2,220 pixels by 1,800 pixels. So composition, new composition and I want it to be that size. You have to unclick lock aspect ratios so that you can have it be a different sized rectangle. So create that. Put it in this folder. So let's drag it into precomps. Click this open. To rename a file and After Effects, you just hit enter. We'll call this character. So now, drag this into this precomp. Now you have this file with an After Effects. So this only lasts for less than one second and we know that our final animation is going to be longer than that. I try to keep your final animation under 12 seconds. So if you click on the layer and hit Command D, it makes a copy. So basically, we're just copying all those layers. You can do multiple at a time. Then if you hit Shift Command bracket, it brings all those layers to the front. So there you go. We've gotten all copied, so that it will last for the whole 12 seconds. Now the final animation probably won't be this long, but it's good just to give yourself a little bit of extra room. So the last step for this composition, trim come to work area and that's just going to trim it down. Trim out all the extra time that we had on the end. So now there's composition, there's 12 seconds. We're just going to do the same thing for all these other layers. We're just going to create their own compositions. For all their background files, there's no animation. So it's just going to be a still layer so you don't need to do any adjustments when you're bringing them into these compositions within After Effects. The only reason why I do this is later on if you need to go back and make changes to the files, you can replace these files. If you've done any animation, that'll stay within the precomp. No, it's not within the file. So we'll make one for the car and then drag the car into this. I guessed wrong here, so see how this is cutting off with this composition, composition settings and then it needs to be a little bit wider. So if you just drag the width of this, it makes your composition wider, or you can go in and enter. So let's make it 2,200. There we go. Do one for the skyline. I'm seeing here that 7,496 by 1,080. You can change the time here too. I know I want all these to be 12 seconds, so we'll still change that there. Skyline and then drag your skyline here. For these, let's make sure that the box lines up just so that when you place all of them the same composition, they'll line up the same way that they did in Photoshop. We're going to do the building layer. These are all the same size. So now I have all of these precomps with my files from Photoshop. So down here you'll see, these are all compositions that I have open, and you want to be sure that you're working on the right one. So I'm going to go to this Skillshare animation. So click that, you can either click it there, or you could click it here. But make sure we're back to the 1920 by 1080 composition. Now we're going to be focusing on this precomp. So leave your files folder, we're not dragging anything from those into this final comp, we're only using these precomps right here. So grab your character, and we're going to drag that into this composition. So I worked bigger for this because I want it just be easier to create more details. But now we need to scale this down because it's too large. So if you click this little drop-down menu, we get all these different options for transforming, and we want to scale. We're not animating this transformation, we don't need to create a movement within the timeline. So we're just going to drag this down. So now we have the character there, and this composition is little long as well, we want it to be 12 seconds. So I'll drag down that and composition which can come toward work area. So now we have her and she's on the final composition. Basically, After Effects recognizes files, so it knows that this is a PNG sequence that I want it to recognize as an animation, so it just has the same animation that we had exported from Photoshop. So now we'll take our skyline. The skyline is going to be behind her, this buildings are going to be behind her. You can change the order of the layers by dragging these to different positions within your timeline down here. So now basically, the last step in creating this animation is having the position of these change, so that it looks like she's riding her bike past these buildings. So let's start with this layer of buildings. You can turn off, if you turn off with a little, if you click on this little I icon, it makes that layer invisible, so we'll do that. So we're going to select this layer of buildings whatever, background layer you think takes up the most amount of space. So is the one that you're going to see mainly throughout the animation, I think it's good to focus on that one first, and then you can base the timing of the other layers off of the main background layer. So I'm going to start with these buildings. Make sure that you've started this background which shouldn't loop, while these you should have set up your file so that one side match the other side. So start either at the end, I'm going to start in the middle just so I can pledge timing, click the position little clock. So this keyframe is our start, so that's where it's going to start. Then go to the end of your timeline and pull this all the way till the background matches up. Now as you can see I have a little bit of blank space that's showing here, and a way that you can fix that is if you go to your buildings, you're just going to want to create a duplicate of your background layer. So go to your building precomp, I'll make this a lot longer, let's make it. Then duplicate this. Make sure it's behind your other layers so that you can see. So within that building precomp, just going in you're basically just duplicating your background layer so that you basically have to be a background layers. So that when the position of the background changes where it starts you want two of them, so it can run through and in the beginning of it, can run through again so that you're seeing the first frame is the same as your last frame. All right. Then we'll go back, so see now we don't have that blank space anymore that used to be right there, this was blank before. So now, this is the animation at its current state. So as you can see we have the buildings going by, basically the only blank space we have is right there where the second layered background is going to be, but if you decided to only have a one layer background, basically this is your final product. We have this part of the skyline back here, I just had made it invisible for the time being. So let's see when it should show up is right around here. So right when you can first start to see that file, that's where you want it to start moving. So we'll go to transform and we're going to do the same thing that we did for the first one. So position, so now you can see I haven't created the second position point yet, so it's not moving at all. We'll go to the last point where you would be able to see the background, which is right around here. So we're going to move it over. This is further off from the viewer, so you want this layer to be moving slower. So now I'll play this there. You can see it's moving too fast. So just slip there. So this part is just a little bit more finicky. You just are going to work with the timing of these, thorough just the timing you basically just move these within your timeline. You just going to be sure that those keyframes are right when that layer comes into view. So right there is when they can stop moving, and right here is when it needs to start. You're just going to play around with these keyframes, and how much you want each layer to move until you find something that works well. The only real law is what is further off in the distance should be moving slower than what's closer to the viewer. So now I'm going to add in the car and the foreground building. So here I've added in the car, I just created two position keyframes and After Effects handles the rest knows at one. Moving from this point to this point, there we go, then put it behind there. Now, I'll do the last step, I'm going to add in the foreground building. This is completely optional. I like the main character to be cut from your viewpoint throughout the animation, I think it creates a little bit of interests. When you can't see the character for a little bit, so I'm going to have her go behind this building. So just be sure that this layer is in the most foreground so you want it to be in front of your character layer. So position, same thing that we've done for all the other layers. This is the closest to you so it's going to be moving the fastest. So we wanted to know pretty quickly. Here we go. Then the only issue that's going to create is with your final loop because here at the end we don't have this building which is going to be an issue as you can see. There you go. So what we're going to do to fix that is duplicate this, hit this little drop-down menu so you can see a transform keyframes. So this keyframe is our start. So we're just going to drag this to the end so that that's the final frame. So now if you go to here, you can see that's correct. So delete this one. So now we have this final frame which is what we need to create the complete loop. But now this has no animation to it. So just go back in time a little and create one more position keyframe right here so that it will come into frame and then come out of frame, and there is your final animation. So now that you have all your files created, bring them all into After Effects and create the final animation. Next up, we're going to explore our final animation and save it as an MP4 so that you can share. 9. Final Thoughts: So now, you have your final animation within After Effects. So now, we need to export this. So click File, Export, Add to Render Queue. So now, it'll bring up your render queue. There's a few different options. We're not going to worry about many of these, except for, if you click right here, this is going to be where it saves your MOV file. So let's just save. I'm just going to save it to my desktop so that it's accessible, so click Save. Now, that's where it's going to output to, and then, you're just going to click Render. So now, you have your MOV file that you saved from After Effects saved to your desktop. So we're going to drag that MOV file that we created in After Effects back into Photoshop. PS, from Photoshop, we can save MP4 files, which is what you'll want if you want to share it on Instagram or most other places online. From Photoshop, you can also save it as a GIF if you wanted to have a GIF as well. So you're going to click File, Export, Render Video. You're going to switch this to Adobe Media Encoder. You want the H.264, High Quality, and then, you want to make sure this is set to Document Size, which will be 1920 by 1080, and then, click Render. Once you have your MP4 file, be sure to upload it to the project gallery because I'm really excited to see what you've created. Now that you've finished this project, I hope you take some of the things that you've learned here and really continue to experiment with video layers in Photoshop and also within After Effects because it's a great tool to have in your toolbox. I'm so glad you decided to take this class. I'm really excited to see what you create. 10. Explore More Classes on Skillshare: