Line-Up Layers For STOP MOTION in Dragonframe | Tortor Smith | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Line-Up Layers For STOP MOTION in Dragonframe

teacher avatar Tortor Smith, Animator, Artist and Writer

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (14m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Making A Line Up Image

    • 3. Using A Line Up Image

    • 4. Start At The End

    • 5. Animating Backwards

    • 6. Keep It Clean

    • 7. Play It Forwards

    • 8. Outroduction

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels
  • Beg/Int level
  • Int/Adv level

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Do you ever see a piece of stop motion animation and wonder how they got things to look so perfect? 

In this class you are going to learn one method of ensuring your stop motion always looks as you had planned. Using Dragonframe and the line-up Image features we are going to get things picture perfect, every time. 

In this course you will learn:

  • How to make a Line-up image in Photoshop
  • How to use a Line-Up image in Dragonframe
  • How/Why you should be animating backwards
  • How to clean up a dirty table when using clay

Some understanding of the stop motion technique is ideal, but even if you have never animated before if you follow the lessons step-by-step you should still be able to achieve something great.

Feel free to use the concepts I have given and extend the idea according to your own capabilities, and requirements, the only limit is your own imagination.

You will need:

  • A form of stop motion capture software like Dragonframe 4 (30-day FREE trial is fine) 
  • A DSLR (that is Dragonframe compatible). A full list of Dragonframe compatible cameras can be found here:
  • Something to animate with: clay, pasta, rice, Lego etc.
  • Photoshop software (or equivalent) for making Line-Up image


Learn even more with my tutorials on YouTube

Find other great Skillshare classes on animation.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Tortor Smith

Animator, Artist and Writer


Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • Exceeded!
  • Yes
  • Somewhat
  • Not really
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: I'm [inaudible] and I'm a freelance creative from London. My specialism is stop motion animation. In this class, you're going to learn how to create a word coming together using some form of object. Now it may be clay, it might be Lego, it might even be rice. Whatever you want to use, I'm going to show you how you can do it. To create my animations, I use a piece of software called Dragonframe. I'm going to talk you through one of the features which is to load a lineup image, and that's going to really help you get the best results in this animation. This is a class for people of all levels in stop motion animation. I expect you to have some basic understanding, but literally, anybody that knows how to animate, will be able to recreate this effect. So choose yourself a word, decide what you want to use to animate, and let's learn. 2. Making A Line Up Image: Now that you've chosen your word, you want to make your lineup layer, and I'm doing this in Photoshop, so I'm going to go to File New, and I am going to select film and video and I'm going to HDTV 10 ATP, which is 1920 by 1080 shapes. You know that this is going to be correct for your video, and then I'm just going to go to the text layer and create textbooks, and I've gone for a nice bold font I'm using the font impact, and I'm just going to write out my word. Now, the first animation I'm going to create, I want to use the word pride because it's pride month. I thought it would be nice to do something with multicolored rainbow type effects. I'm making this as large as I want it, and I am going to centralize this in the frame so that it's in the correct position where I want it in my actual composition. Now, when you use an image as a lineup layer in Dragonframe it is on a dropped opacity. It's like a ghost layer there to guide you to get everything in the right place. Sometimes it's better to have the text as white and the background as dark color. It makes it clearer for you to see what you're doing, so I am going to rasterize my text layer, just right-click, rasterize the type, and then I'm going to merge that with the background and I'm going to go up to image adjustments, invert, and I'm going to switch the black for white and the white for black, so we've now got black background and white text, and that's it. That's what you want to do for your line up image. If you don't want to make your own, you can use any image so you could find something on Google search or anything that you've got a picture that you've taken you could use as a lineup layer as well. But I've made mine in Photoshop, so I'm just going to save that as a JPEG, that's all you need to do and then this will be ready to import into Dragonframe before we start our animation. So in the next lesson, I'm going to show you how to do that. 3. Using A Line Up Image: We are in Dragonframe now. It's really simple to put a lineup layer in here. We have got two methods for doing this. There's this floating panel on the left hand side. If you go to the filmstrip icon, you can on media layers, hit the plus and then load image. This will then take you to a window where you can select your image and import it. First animation I wanted to do was involving bricks. Sort of bringing in the word bricks, and then you can see here, you can just slide the opacity and then use that to get all of your bricks or wherever you are using in the correct place. Now there's also another way that you can bring a line up layer in if you don't want to use the floating panel in Dragonframe. The second way that you can bring in your lineup layer is to go to file, load, line up image. Simply click there and it will come to the same window where you can select your file. Choose the one you want. This time I'm going with rice, bring that in and in exactly the same place on that floating window, go to the film strip and you can drop the opacity on your lineup layer and then start arranging your stuff to fill that shape. In the next lesson, we're going to start the animation. 4. Start At The End: With this specific technique, you need to start at the end. I've put in the word pride. I'm going to show you how I'm setting up that pride animation, and I've got my lineup layer there. I want to use all these different blobs of plasticine that are in different rainbow colors to outline that word. Now, the reason that you want to start at the end, is because you want that final frame to be absolutely perfect and that's what the lineup layer is there for. I'm arranging all these balls around the word to perfectly outline that word and get things looking exactly as I want them. Then to do the animation, we will work backwards from this point. So this is how things will finish up. So we're going to take the final image first where our animation ends up, we'll look perfect and from that point, we will animate things backwards. We will deconstruct frame by frame until the frame is completely empty. When we play it backwards, the word will end up exactly as we wanted because we used our lineup layer and everything is positioned perfectly. If you try to animate this going forward to framework frame, it will be very hard to achieve the exact result you wanted at the end with your word. It's far easier to create that perfect word first and then deconstruct it and it's not as difficult as it sounds. In the next lesson, I'm going to show you how you animate backwards and you can use this method of animating in so many different ways. You can reveal any word you want in this way. In fact, it doesn't even have to be a word, you could use the lineup layer feature to put a shape or a logo and make it absolutely perfect and then animate backwards. So when you play it the right way round, it would reveal your logo coming in. So now everything's in place. Let's move on to how to animate backwards. 5. Animating Backwards: Now, animating backwards really isn't that hard. To begin with, you want to take 10 images of that word in its final position, because we want to hold on that at the end. Then you want to make a very subtle adjustment to maybe one or two of the items. In my case, colored balls to ease into that final position of the animation. Like with a lot of animation, you then want to make those movements a little bit bigger per picture to ease into the movement. I'm moving all of these balls outwards. The actual challenge here is not in the animation itself, it is in simply remembering to move everything. The best technique I've got here as you can see I'm going around. I choose a ball to start on and I move all the balls outwards a little bit and then I move around in a clockwise direction. I make sure that everything has been moved. Then I can flip between the picture before and the picture that I'm on to just double-check that I have in fact moved everything. Now, you'll see that I'm also going in with a cotton bud, like the ear buds that you use to clean your ears. Now that's because in this animation, I'm using plasticine on a white table. No matter how careful you are, the plasticine leaves literal marks. I leaves a residue and it just looks a bit messy. I'm going in there with a cotton bud, it's nice and small and I'm just rubbing away on the table at the marks to reduce the marks and keep the clean white surface. I'll show you in greater detail what difference this makes in the next lesson. Don't worry about that for now. But the most important thing when you're animating your word is to make sure that you're moving everything. If you forget to move something and it stays still for too many frames it's going to ruin the illusion and it's going to look weird. Do take a little bit of care. It's going to take time as well. This took me about two hours to animate and the actual animation only last about three seconds. Be prepared to invest a little bit of time if you want to do this well and make sure that you are moving every single item as you are dismantling your word. The easiest way to do this is to flick between the frame before and the frame you're on. You'll get a really clear idea as to whether you have moved everything. You'll start to notice if there's something that hasn't moved, in which case just go back in and move that thing as well. With this, I wanted to make the colored balls join together. As they are rolling outwards, balls that are close to each other are combining and making a multi-colored ball that's a bit bigger. I thought that this might look nice. When you've reversed the animation, these multi-colored balls would roll in and split into the separate colors. The nice thing about using plasticine is that you can do whatever you want. It's so flexible, you can make this into whatever shapes you want. Like I've got these little balls and the balls combine and you can do some really nice things. Hopefully seeing how I've done this has inspired you and perhaps got your creative juices flowing as to what you can do yourself. I'm really excited to see what you come up with and do make sure you share it in the project window because I really want to see and I will definitely leave you a comment. Animating backwards in slow motion is more common than you would think. I often find myself doing things backwards, especially if there is something that you want to look a particular way. Like with a word coming in or with a logo reveal, you want that finished word or logo to look perfect. By using the lineup layer technique and then dismantling whatever it is that you're creating, you know that the finished frame is going to look exactly perfect. If you haven't animated backwards before, I definitely encourage you to try it, and this is the perfect opportunity to give it a go. In the next lesson, I'm going to show you what difference it makes to take the time to clean your table between frames when you're using plasticine. 6. Keep It Clean: Here we are. You can see I'm using the ear bud, to wipe up all the marks on the plasticine. It's hard for you to see here exactly, how much of a difference this is making. I'm going to show you a quick before, and after. You will be able to see the difference, that it does make. I honestly think it's worth taking the time, to do this if you want something to look super professional. Here we have the before, you can see all those dirty smudges. Then here's the after, absolutely clean. I definitely recommend taking the time to clean up any smudges in-between pictures if we're using plasticine, and a simple cotton bud is a really quick, and easy way of doing that. 7. Play It Forwards: Now that you've finished to animation, you want to see what it looks like. You want to be able to play it forwards and a Dragon frame, and this is really easy, we want to is go down to the bottom of the interface and you'll see this backwards arrow. Now make sure that you've clicked on that it will turn this yellow color, and that is going to reverse the sequence, and now when you press play, it all comes in and creates your word or image or logo wherever you've decided to do. It really is as simple as that, but if you want your animation to keep playing over and over, also select the loop icon on the other side, and it would just keep repeating. You don't have to keep pressing Play. 8. Outroduction: Thank you so much for taking my class today. I hope you've learned something and if you did enjoy it, don't forget to leave a review because it helps other students know whether there's value to be had in this class, and hopefully there was. I can't wait to see what you animate. Make sure to choose a word, find something. Plasticine, paster, lego. Put it down in the project window and I'll leave you a comment. If you need any further tips or advice, just start a discussion. Use the community tab below and I'll be more than happy to help you out. I'm hoping to post skill share classes at least once a month, hopefully twice so make sure you're following me to be the first to be notified of new classes from me as well. If you want to find me elsewhere on the Internet, I'm @tortorsmith or @animatortor. Practically everywhere. I'm on Twitter, Instagram, tiktok, YouTube. You name it, I'm probably on it and every single week on my YouTube channel I post a behind the scenes of stop motion animation. It's completely different content to here on skill share so if you like what I do, you can get even more value by subscribing to my YouTube channel. I hope that you're having a fantastic day and I'll catch you again in the next class.