Stop Motion Gifs with Depth: Animating Layer-art with Photoshop | Rich Armstrong | Skillshare

Stop Motion Gifs with Depth: Animating Layer-art with Photoshop

Rich Armstrong, Product Designer

Stop Motion Gifs with Depth: Animating Layer-art with Photoshop

Rich Armstrong, Product Designer

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11 Lessons (27m)
    • 1. Stop Motion with Depth Intro

    • 2. Artboard Setup

    • 3. From Illustrator to Photoshop

    • 4. Animation Overview

    • 5. Constuction Animation

    • 6. Perspective Shift Animation

    • 7. Video Export

    • 8. Gif Export

    • 9. Bonus 1: Animating Layer Styles

    • 10. Bonus 2: Managing Multiple Frames

    • 11. The End

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About This Class


In this class we’re going to learn how to create stop motion animations with layer-art, using software we know and love: Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop (you don’t need to be that good). You’ll learn how to transform your static layer-art into animated masterpieces in this 21 minute class.

This short and practical class will ease you into the world of animation, and add a few tools and skills to your arsenal. And at the end you’ll have produced a layer-art piece in stop motion!

Don’t worry if you aren’t familiar with layer-art – enrol in my previous class, Illusions of Depth: Layer-art in Illustrator to get going.

Here's what we make during the class:



If you want to learn even more about animation, here are a few of my animation classes:

Meet Your Teacher

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Rich Armstrong

Product Designer

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Hey! I'm Rich Armstrong, the founder of TapTapKaboom and creator of The Free Creativity Mini Course. I’m a Product Designer who creates compulsively—I design, illustrate, animate, doodle, and code. Yeah! All that! And I love it. I want to upskill you, get you creating, and using creativity as much as possible.

I studied multimedia design, then graphic design, and taught myself how to code. I've freelanced, worked for agencies and startups, and now run my own studio with my wife in Amsterdam. Also, I have a wild imagination and can touch my nose with my tongue!

I've been teaching on Skillshare since 2015 and I frikken love it! Seeing what students create and how they change their lives because of what... See full profile

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1. Stop Motion with Depth Intro: Hey, I'm Rich Armstrong. In this class, I'm going to show you how to create stop motion animations with layer art using Photoshop and Illustrator. What you'll need is a piece of layer art. I've provided a starting file if you don't want to create your own. If you're new to layer art, and want to learn more, watch my other class called Illusions of Depth. Okay, let's get animated. 2. Artboard Setup: We have this beautiful piece of layer art, this lake, this cave, whatever you want to call it. We're going to take it from Illustrator into Photoshop, but before I export it, let me tell you about my artboard dimensions. If we select the artboard tool, you'll see that my artboard size is 1080 pixels wide by 810 pixels high. I made it this size so it can easily be resized to work as a GIF on Dribble, a square video on Instagram, and a normal video elsewhere. Yes, I said GIF not JIF, even though JIF is politically correct. I'm going to say GIF for the rest of this class. Before you begin animating, you need to ask yourself what format it's going to be in and where you'll be posting it. I've attached a PDF to the class project that gives you extra info about various platforms, image, and video sizes. Have a look at it to see what sizes your videos and GIFs need to be if you intend to publish your work there. For what is the point of creating an awesome GIF or video if you aren't going to share it with the world? 3. From Illustrator to Photoshop: Let's take this baby into Photoshop. Let's go to File, Export Export As, and choose Photoshop. I'm going to save it in my Downloads folder and I just call it the same as my Illustrator file, so and lake.psd. Then I say Use Artboards, so it retains the Artboard's size and I go Export. You want to keep the color mode to RGB because you're working video or GIF which is all going to be on-screen. Resolution screen 72 ppi, fantastic. Make sure you Write Layers, you want all your layers to be accessible in Photoshop. Maximum Editability, yes please all the rest is okay. You go "Okay", and it exports a Photoshop file for you. You could remove the drop shadows and reapply them in Photoshop, but for now we're going to keep it simple. I'll show you how to use an animate layer styles in a later video. You go to your Finder and you open up your psd, which I will rename to lake.psd. Open that up and here you have your psd file, it looks pretty similar to Illustrator file, fantastic. The first thing I want to do is just remove these groups, so what we can do here is we can just go right-click and say Merge Group, and they're group because we use compound shapes in Illustrator. I'm just going to right-click and say Merge Group. I'm merging these groups so that it makes it really simple to hide and show layers in the future, and now we have all of our layers. We need some tools to do some animating. The tool that you need, or the window, or the panel that you need is called the Timeline panel. You go to Window, you scroll down almost all the way to the bottom and you tap on timeline, and you get this little panel called Timeline. I'd like to just dock it at the bottom here like so. If you don't see Create Frame Animation tap on this right arrow, and you may see something like Create Video Timeline. So tap on that arrow, click "Create Frame Animation", and then click that Create Frame Animation button, and you'll see that you have this starting frame. Voila. 4. Animation Overview: Before we just jump into animation, let me show you around and explain a few things. This timeline panel is where Photoshop houses each frame of your animation. To create a new frame you press this button and what it does is actually duplicates the selected frames. If you hold ''Shift'' and you select both of these frames and you press this button, there we go. It makes a duplicate of those two frames. Now, what is a frame? A frame contains all of the information pertaining to the layers in your documents. It will remember the layers position, its visibility, so whether it's hidden or not, its opacity and whether any layer styles are applied to it. For example, on frame 2, we can move layer 1's position to about here. Frame 1, like so frame 2, like so, it remembers that difference. Frame 3, we can hide layer 1, hide layer 2, it remembers all of these states. Fantastic. Layer 4, hey, why don't we apply a color overlay to layer 1? It remembers all of this. So 1, 2, 3, 4, it remembers that. All we have to do is just press ''Play.'' We can change this two forever if we want to and we'll just keep on playing, keep on playing and maybe hurting your eyes. The next thing we can do is change this from zero seconds or no delay to one or five, or we can even change it to a customer amount like seven seconds. If we join just to one and we press ''Play,'' you can see it delays for a bit and now it's delaying for seven seconds on this frame before continuing to frame 1. That is the basics of frame animation in Photoshop. You'll see that you can delete your frames here which I'll do and you can also access all of the animation options in this menu over here. You can create new frames, delete them, copy frames, paste frames, you can reverse them. You can do a bunch of things. We'll get to some of them but I encourage you to explore, play around and experiment. 5. Constuction Animation: The first type of Stop Motion Animation I'm going to show you how to create is a layer out construction gift and video. The way I go about doing this is just by starting with my background layer. I then duplicates the states or this frame by clicking on this button and then showing the next layer. It's now when it goes from frame one to frame two, you'll see the next layer. I then create a new frame and show the next layer, and I carry on doing this until we get to the top layer. Just like so. Then when I play, it looks pretty good, doesn't it? It's maybe a little bit fast. The way that we can change the speed or the delay of each frame is by selecting the first one, holding Shift and then selecting the last one. You now have all of your frame selected. Now in anyone you can tap this drop down and then select your delay. You can put in some custom delay if you want, but I really just want 0.01. seconds just to make it feel a little bit like a stop motion animation. Yeah, that looks really beautiful. I like that. But now I want this to loop, so I'm going to say forever, forever, forever. There we go. That looks really good. Now, it doesn't really paused along here. So if you want to change individual frames delays, you just got to select on one frame and then you tap us on drop-down arrow and change it. I'm going to change just the two, so that when it plays, it plays and then pauses on the last frame so that your audience can get a good look at it. The next thing that I'm really concerned about is that, well, undrawbal , the first frame of your gift is what everybody sees. Now, I don't want everybody to see just the blue rectangle. That's really boring. What I'm going to do is I'm going to start with this frame here so that my audience has something nice to look at, and because then it can loop really well. So at the moment, it doesn't loop, it goes there and then it starts again. So what I want to do is, I want to construct it and then deconstruct it or start with the initial artwork, deconstruct it and then reconstruct it. Let's do this. Select your frames except for the first frame, then you go to this menu over here. Tap it, say copy frames. You select your first frame and then again you paste frames. Then you select paste before selection. But now it's the wrong way around. While there's still all selected, you can tap this menu again, and then you can just reverse frames, just like that. I'm going to select this. I'm going to change this to one second over here. I still want to place. It doesn't stay too long on the first frame so that people may not even realize it's a piece of motion work. They go, okay, one second, let's have a look at it. A quick good look at it and then it plays. I'm also going to pause here for 0.2 seconds. Just let them know if it come to an end and then it's going back up. Let's see how this looks. Looks a bit slow there. Okay, let's stop there. I'm just going to change these to 0.1 seconds instead of all being one second. Let's play.Yeah, I reckon that looks pretty good. Now, your audience can also appreciate your layer art as a non-moving piece of art before it plays, and it loops. Now looping gifts are amazing. 6. Perspective Shift Animation: The next type of stop motion animation I'm going to show you how to create is a living perspective shift animation, which suits layer art perfectly. I think you'll like this a lot. We're going to be dealing with layer position and tweening. The way I go about doing this is by creating four pillar frames for the animation. Two for the center, one for the far right, and another for the far left. So frame 2 is going be my far left pillar, and on my far left pillar, I want to shift the whole artwork to the left. I'm going to select all of my layers except for the background layer, hold down "Shift" and press "Left" on my keyboard. Deselect layer 5 because we are going for a perspective shift, we're not just moving the layers, and do the same for all of those layers. Deselect layer 4 and do the same for those. Deselect layer 3 and do the same for those. Deselect layer 2 and just move Layer 1. You'll see that on the right-hand side, all of our layers are being exposed. We'll deal with that in a moment. So we go from one to the left, back to the center, and then to the right. We're going to do exactly the same for these layers except move them to the right. So I select all of my layers, hold down "Shift" and press right on my keyboard. Deselect layer 5, right, deselect layer 4, right. I carry on doing this until I've done all of my layers. Now from 1 to 2 to 3 to 4, and then I'm going to go back to frame 1. So I don't really need another pillar, and that's why I have four pillars. Now, how do I fill in the frames between these? Because at the moment, well, it's a bit fast. There is a better perspective there, but wow, it's too fast. You select two frames and you press this button over here, which says "Tween". You can say tween or selection, which is great. Frames add three, you can add as many as you want to make it really long or really short. Three is great for me. I'm going to say all layers and choose to select all of these parameters. Now it actually does a lot of the hard work for us, which is fantastic. Now I've got these three frames which it just added. I'm going to duplicate these or copy them, go to frame 5, which is our pillar. I'm then going to paste the frames. Paste after selection, fantastic. Nine is frame 1 again. So I'm going to go from frame 9 to frame 10 and tween these ones. Exactly the same settings. Then from frame 10 to frame 12, I'm going to duplicate these. So copy frames and paste frames. Okay. Now I need to reverse these frames and I also need to reverse the ones in between pillar 2 and pillar 3. So 2, 3, 4, there will be a pillar again, 6, 7, 8, will be the tweened ones. I'm going to select those and I'm going to reverse those frames. So 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, I feel like a ballet teacher there. Ten goes the other way. Then it should come back to frame 1, and now only play this. Yeah, that looks really good. There's so much depth there, so much perspective. Now we have to deal with these shown layers on the sides. So I just grab a shape tool and we just put a shape. There we go. Now we play. Fantastic. Let's play. It looks really good. Now what we need to do is just select all of our frames and choose a frame duration. I'm going to say other, and I'm going to say 0, 05. So this will play really quickly. Okay, let's play. Yeah, that looks really good. There we have our looping perspective shift animation. 7. Video Export: So we have our animation, fantastic. Now, let's export it. I'm going to show you how with the construction animation, but the same principles apply for exporting the perspective shift animation. I'm going to export it as a video first, and because I want it to be a square video, I'm actually going to resize my canvas. I go image, canvas size, and I'm going to change the width to 810. It's going to say, hey, you're going to crop some stuff and I'm going to go proceed, fantastic. Then go, File, Export, Render Video, my formats, I changed this to QuickTime, my preset to Animation High Quality, can select your folder, my size, I always keep the Document Size unless I'm trying something weird and wonderful, frame rate 30 FPS, frames per second is great. Everything looks good. So I go to Render, and it's rendered. So we go to our Finder, and we can't predict because it's on that animation presets, so let's just open it up, a QuickTime convert it for us, and we play. Looks really good except it doesn't loop. We'll just have to keep on pressing play, which is just a bit disappointing. Thanks, QuickTime. No, I don't want to save. What I like to do now, because I'd like to take into Photoshop. So they've got lake.psd and, and now we're actually opening an MOV file in Photoshop, which is weird. Then I right click on my Layer and I say Duplicate Layer. Then in this timeline, you'll see that I have the duplicate layer. This will run over almost eight seconds. I'm just going to duplicate this again. Duplicate Layer, Okay, and all of a sudden, I've got almost 12 seconds of looping footage. Fantastic. Now, we can export again. I go to File, Export, and I say Render Video. But now, I don't say Format QuickTime, I say H.264, and I keep it at High Quality. This means that exports at an mp4, I can share this to my phone, I can upload it to Instagram, it works. Fantastic, the file size is pretty compressed. I go Render. This may take a little bit of time depending on your quality, depending on your settings, depending on how long your movie is. Then you go to lake.mp4 and press, "Space." There we go, a looping video. It just loops three times, it doesn't really loop but it's great for Instagram, great for Facebook. 8. Gif Export: So now for our GIF export or our GIF export. So we go to File, Export, and Safe for Web Legacy. Here on CSX, it will just say Safe for Web. So you go [inaudible] , Safe for Web, and here it starts off with 201.2 kilobytes, that's really good. Any GIF that's under megabyte is a win for me. So you can start with the presets, scroll up, and start with GIF 128 dithered. That means that the shadows are dithered. Let's just see what this does if I drag a dither all the way down. You may see some changes in the shadows, maybe not. We can pull that all the way up just because it's not a really big GIF and my colors, I'm going to change on a 128 colors to 256. Fantastic. The looping options, make sure this is what you want. If you only want it to loop once, click Once; otherwise, click Forever. I want mine to loop, loop, loop, and loop, fantastic. If you uncheck this Transparency checkbox, you'll see that the file size dramatically increases. I have no idea why this is, but it does. So I always make sure I check Transparency. If you need to make things smaller, you can always reduce the amount of colors. 16 is normally okay, but you see what starts to happen. My file size is a bunch smaller. You can decrease the dither; again, that helps, and you can see what happens to the shadows here, massive difference. But anything under a mega in my mind, especially for such a big GIF, is amazing. This put us up to 256 and we can export it now. The only problem is, is that my width and height are not the same as dribbles. But because of how I've sized it, I can change this to 800 and the height will automatically go down to 600. You'll notice that my file size also decreased. So if you want to make things really small, decrease your dimensions and that will automatically decrease your file size. So 800 by 600, the looping option is forever, I've got maxed out settings here, let's save it; lake.gif, save. Then we go back to our finder, lake.gif, let's play this. Yeah, looks beautiful, simple, well done. You can give yourself a high-five now. 9. Bonus 1: Animating Layer Styles: When you're working with animation and Photoshop, you can apply layer styles to your layers.That means that, hey, we don't actually have to export our layers with drop shadows from illustrator. If there's something that you fancy, you can go to your layers. Just unlocked all of your layers accepting your background layer, selector your layers, go to your appearance panel and delete your job shadow appearance. Now everything's flat. Got to your file, exports, export as, I'm going to say, use artboards. I'm going to call this, Lake flat. The format should be PSD exports. Make sure you write the layers. Now when you go to finder, you can open up link flat, and I'm just going to flatten all of these groups. Instead of just right-clicking and saying merge group, we're going to go command E, command E, command E, command E, or control E if you're on a Windows computer. Then going to tap this layer, go to my Effects button and click "Drop Shadow". Now I can change my capacity, 40 percent is good. I'm going to change the angle to 90. You can use global lights if you want. I don't really like using that for animation stuff. It just means I can animate my drop shadow, which can be quite fun. Distance 10, spread zero, size 10. Then right-click this and say copy layer styles, select the rest of my layers and then paste layer style. Just like that, we have drop shadows on our layers in Photoshop. We can change them in Photoshop, and we can animate them. If we create frame animation and duplicate this frame, we can double-click on structural changes to negative 90. Look at that. If I right-click here, and I say copy layer style, and I select the rest of the layers, right-click and say paste layer style. All of a sudden we have different shadows or shadows being cast from the different lights. If we go from frame 1 to frame 2, hey, check that out. Maybe make this loop forever. You can come up with some really cool effects. If you want to see if you can animate drop shadows, you can also apply and animate any other effects or less styles that you can think of. This may be dangerous. I'm not quite sure I want to tell you this. You may make a bunch of cheese, but you may make amazing stuff. You can do bivalent on buses. You can do strokes in the shadows and enclose all of those layer styles you can animate, which is super powerful. 10. Bonus 2: Managing Multiple Frames: When we work with long animations or animations with a lot of layers, we sometimes need to change a layer on every single frame. There are a few tools we can use to help us out jack, rather than changing layers frame by frame. You'll notice this little bar up here, unifying with the three little buttons and Propagate Frame 1. Propagate Frame 1 is the first tool I'd like to show you. If you check it, and it comes checked by default, it means that if you change something on Frame 1, it will affect all the frames after it. If we move Layer 2 slightly to the left, it'll affect Frame 2, Frame 10, and Frame 11. This is really cool, but sometimes really frustrating. If you don't want to propagate these changes across all of the frames, uncheck Propagate Frame 1, and then move it. You'll see that on Frame 2, that layer will still be in the same place. The next thing is this unify your position. If we go to Frame 2, and we're like, actually, I don't want this to be here. Let's move it back here. We can then click this "Unify Position", and I'll say, make the position in other frames and states match the current position in order to begin unifying it and we go match. You'll see that on Frame 1, Frame 11, and Frame 10, it matches this frame. But now on Frame 10, if we move it, it will update across the board, which is really powerful, really cool, sometimes frustrating. Be aware of these buttons. The same applies for hidden, invisible. Let's match that and you'll see that it just made it all visible across the board. We then hide it. It hides it across the board as well. The same applies to fx. On Layer 5, if you double-click this, if you put that awesome color overlay on it, you press "OK" and then you say, okay, I want to apply this to every single Layer 5 in the document, unify layer style, you go match, and just like that, the same layer style is applied to all layers in all frames. 11. The End: What we're doing here is basically stop motion animation, but with layer art. It's fun, it's pretty simple and you can use it to tell short stories, animate layer art construction and deconstruction sequences, or even make longer stop motion scenes. By changing your layers position, opacity, visibility, and layer styles, frame by frame, you can create some amazing animations with a stop motion style. So all that's left for you to do now is to upload your animations to your project gallery, either as a gif or an embedded video. Then you can share on Dribble, Instagram, and wherever else you hang out on the internet. Mention me and follow me on Instagram, I'm @Taptapkaboom, thanks for taking the class and as always, I'm looking forward to what you create. I hope you have fun with this. Bye for now.