Creating Storyboard Animations in Photoshop | Michelle Tran | Skillshare

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Creating Storyboard Animations in Photoshop

teacher avatar Michelle Tran, Graphic Designer/Illustrator/Animator

Watch this class and thousands more

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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

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Your Class Project


    • 3.

      Creating Your Story


    • 4.

      Setting Up Your Storyboard


    • 5.

      Drawing and Adding Frames


    • 6.

      Facial Expressions and Backgrounds


    • 7.

      Adding Music and Sound Effects


    • 8.

      Exporting the Final File


    • 9.

      You Made It!


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About This Class

Every story begins with an idea.

Have you always had a cool story in mind that you wanted to visually bring to life?

Or have been inspired by something that has happened to you in your life, and want to create a simple animation of that memory?

If you’ve answered yes, you’re in the perfect spot to create your first storyboard animation! ✏️

All you will need to complete this class is:

✔️A story idea


✔️A tablet to draw digitally

I designed this class to be suitable for all drawing levels, even beginners in Photoshop. The most important part of the animation is the storyline, so as long as the story is clear to the viewer, you’re all set!

This class covers the basic steps to creating a storyboard animation in Photoshop, which are:

  • Creating a story
  • Setting up a Photoshop document
  • Drawing a frame-by-frame animation with a tablet
  • Adding sound effects and music
  • Exporting the final file

Upon completion of this class, you will have the skills you need to make any story visually come to life through a simple storyboard in Photoshop. These skills can be applied towards more complex animations or concepts for film production.

I hope you walk away from this class learning that animating is for everyone - regardless of drawing abilities and Photoshop experience!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Michelle Tran

Graphic Designer/Illustrator/Animator


I'm a graphic designer/freelance illustrator & animator from Calgary, who is currently living and working in Melbourne.

I graduated from Alberta University of the Arts (AUArts) in 2011 with a Bachelor of Design, and fell in love with ink illustrations, storyboard animations, and creating mini comics based on true events.

My online portfolio can be viewed here.

My passions lie in art, music, and film. In my spare time, you’ll see me:

doodling and journalling playing the piano watching Pixar and Studio Ghibli films staying active exploring new restaurants

I love interacting with an innovative group of people in a dynamic environment that inspires everyone to be as creative as they can be. This is why I'm h... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Have you ever wondered how animations have their story visualize before they go to the final production. If you guess storyboards, you are correct. My name is Michelle and I am a graphic designer, illustrator, and animator from Canada. I started drawing and playing the piano at the age of four. So for my whole life, I've always been passionate about art, music, and film. That's why I'm so excited to show you how to create your first storyboard animation in Photoshop. All you'll need is Photoshop, a tablet, and a story that you want to bring to life. Storyboards are essential for animations and films because they pre visualize how the entire story and production will flow. Animation studios like Pixar highly depend on storyboard animations before 3D animators are involved in the final production. I designed this class to guide you on your very first storyboard animation. We're going to do it by, mapping out your story's, setting up a Photoshop document with a white background, connecting your tablets so you can get ready to draw, creating a frame animation using layers, adding music and sound effects, and finally, exporting the file to an HD video. Once you're finished, remember to share your project in the class project gallery so that everyone can see your amazing creation. Having basic knowledge of Photoshop would be handy, but don't sweat it. I'll be walking you through everything you'll need to know in this class. Now, let's bring your story idea to life and I'll see you in the first lesson. 2. Your Class Project: Welcome to your class project. In this class, we're going to go over how to create a frame animation in Photoshop by layering drawings in your timeline, refining the characters' expressions and any backgrounds, and topping it off with sound effects and music. This class is suitable for anyone, but it's a great start for beginners who are new to Photoshop, want to tell a story, and want to know the basics and fundamentals of animation. Your goal is to make it as clear as possible to the viewer what is happening in the storyboard animation, so all drawing skills are welcome. Remember to post your projects or even your progress in the project gallery so that other students in the Skillshare community can check all your awesome work along the way and provide feedback. All we're going to do is pan out a story, dive into Photoshop, and start drawing with your tablet. Let's get started. 3. Creating Your Story: Before you begin drawing your storyboard, make sure you establish the setting, the characters, and the beginning to end of your story. If you're stuck on an idea for a story, think of something that has happened in your life that you find really memorable. For instance, this story idea was inspired by my co-worker, locking up another co-worker in our office after setting the alarm on him. This storyboard is about a bus driver who simply falls in love with the passenger, which was written by my sister. It can even be about something really mundane, like putting your clothes in the washer and trying to find that missing sock. It can be about taking that first sip of coffee in the morning and being jolted back to life. It can be about your dog becoming a superhero. Just remember, it doesn't have to be anything complicated. The purpose of this class is to work on a really simple storyboard animation. As long as the storyboard is clear and effective, the possibilities are endless, so be as creative as you want. I can't wait to see what you come up with. Once you've finished creating your story, we're going to set up your Photoshop document. See you there. 4. Setting Up Your Storyboard: Let's create your storyboard by creating a new file. We're going to select the film and video settings so that your storyboard will automatically be set in HD video format, which is 1920 by 1080p resolution at 72 pixels and a color mode of RGB. We're going to name this file "My First Storyboard" and hit ''Create''. Create a new layer, which essentially is a layer that you'll be drawing on. Open your timeline by clicking on ''Window'' and then ''Timeline'', then create a video timeline. Make sure your tablet is plugged in and get ready to draw. Now that we're done setting up your storyboard, we're going to draw and add frames. See you there. 5. Drawing and Adding Frames: In this lesson, I'm going to show you what a video timeline typically looks like when you create layers in your timeline and stack them so that they play in a sequence. We're going to call this layer 1 and click and drag the layer time to one second. We're going to create layer 2, shorten the clip in the timeline to one second and drag it over so that it plays after layer 1. Make sure you click and select the layer in the timeline that you want to draw on, which can be indicated by where the red vertical line is. Create another layer called layer 3, click and drag the layer 3 clips to come after layer 2 and draw layer 3. Now we're going to go to the start of the timeline, play the video clip, and preview the sequence of layers in the animation. Now for this part of the lesson, I'm going to animate a sad face, going to a happy face. We're going to apply the same knowledge from the beginning of the lesson, except this time we're actually drawing, we're going to click and drag the second layer over and adjust the length of the first layer. But, this time we're going to slightly overlap the two layers, which will allow us to see the previous layer while we draw the current layer, kind of like a tracing paper effect. Let's change the opacity of layer 1 to 50 percent. Select layer 2, which automatically has an opacity of 100 percent and start drawing. Create another layer, line it up. Shorten the second layer. Slightly overlap layer 3 with layer 2 so you can draw on layer 3 knowing what layer 2 looks like underneath. Again, like the tracing paper effect, change the opacity of layer 2 to 50 percent. Select layer 3 to draw on and draw your final frame which has a happy face. Now that we're done, we're going to change the opacity of all the layers to 100 percent. Playback your timeline by hitting the play button and turn that frown upside down. Make sure you post this practice exercise as a progress step in the project gallery to make sure you're completing this step before working on your main project. This will ultimately help you familiarize yourself with the process before we dive further into animating. Now that we're done drawing and adding frames, we're going to add facial expressions and backgrounds in the next lesson. See you there. 6. Facial Expressions and Backgrounds: Now that we're going to get started with your animation, consider the beginning, middle, and end of your story before you start animating. For this storyboard animation, I was inspired by my friend Jennifer reuniting with her dog, and have always imagined, this is how the reunion happened. I've already drawn the first frame, but I'm going to draw the next two frames and show how excited Jane gets when the dog appears, and with the two reuniting with each other. With your storyboard. You can play with the sequence of events of your frame animation. For instance, with the progression of drinking a cup of coffee and instantly waking up. The first frame can be the person being really exhausted. The second frame can be them sipping the coffee, and the third frame can show them being jolted awake. I'm going to start drawing my next two frames. First, I'm going to create a new layer, slightly overlap the two layers in my timeline, to create a tracing layer effect, and shorten my clips as I go along, since I want each frame to be about one second. As we learned in the last lesson, I'm going to change the opacity of the previous layer to 25-50 percent, and keep my working layer as 100 percent. If you want to utilize as much space as possible for drawing, you can hide the timeline by clicking here. Feel free to adjust the opacity of your brush tool as you work along. There's no rule to this. So it's all about your drawing preference. For me, I like to work with a very light opacity first, then go darker as I refine the detail. As I draw Jen's face, I'm going to slightly over-exaggerate for expression by giving her bigger eyes, a bigger mouth, tears coming out of her eyes, and a wider stance. When you're done drawing your layer, make your timeline reappear. Move the clip over, so that two clips aren't overlapping, and change the opacity of your tracing layer back to 100 percent. One of my favorite things to do is just toggle between the two frames, so that you can have an idea of where your animation is going. Create a new layer which is layer three, and adjust the opacity of the previous layer in your timeline to make the tracing layer effect. This is the layer where I draw Jan reuniting with her dog. I'm clearly making them both very happy to see each other. When you're done drawing the third layer, turn the opacity of all the layers back to 100 percent. Now you can play back your animation. For this part of the lesson, I'm going to illustrate a very simple background. I want the main focus to be on the characters. So I'm not going to go into too much detail, but I do want to illustrate the reunion happening in a park or a forest. So in that case, I'm going to create a layer right above my background layer called forest. Depending on the story that you've decided to draw, backgrounds are completely optional. As long as you can make it clear to the viewer, what is happening in the story, you're already on the right track towards creating a successful animation. If your characters appear transparent after you've drawn your background, you can create a white layer underneath your drawing layer, so that your characters don't appear transparent in front of the background. Adjust the size, and opacity of the brush tool that suits you, and start painting white underneath your drawing layer. Go back into your timeline and make sure that the length of the white layer, matches with the corresponding drawing layer. Then proceed to apply the same white layers, underneath the remaining drawing layers. Now you can play back your animation with your characters successfully appearing in front of the background. These next steps are completely optional, but they're recommended, if you want to simplify your timeline, instead of having a bunch of layers in your timeline. To simplify your timeline, select the layer with the corresponding white layer and group them together by doing so. This way, you are able to group both the drawing layer and white layer, so that they're both editable. Another way to do this is by merging the layers together, which will simply merge the drawing layer with the white layer, which does not make the white layer editable. This option is great if you know for sure you don't need to touch the white layer underneath the drawing layer again, a good shortcut to merge layers is by selecting the two layers you want to merge and hitting Ctrl ''E'' or Command ''E'' on a Mac. Now that you've finished polishing off your storyboard animation with facial expressions and any backgrounds. We're going to add sound effects and music. In the next lesson. You can check our websites like this YouTube page called audio library from music creators to get started. See you there. 7. Adding Music and Sound Effects: To add audio to your storyboard, go to the bottom left of your timeline, make sure that your audio is unmuted, click on the "Music Note" icon and "Add Audio." Select the audio clip you want to insert. I'm going to insert a sound clip of a puppy barking. I want to line it up with the layer where the dog appears. I'm going to click and drag the audio clip to start at that point. Play your timeline to preview your sound clip to make sure you're happy with the placement of audio. To add another audio track, click on the "Music Note" icon again and click on "New Audio Track". Another audio track layer will appear in your timeline. Click on "Add Audio" and add your second audio track. In this case I'm going to throw in a music clip that starts at the very beginning of my storyboard. Play your timeline to preview both audio tracks. If your audio track is too long, you can zoom out of the timeline and click and drag the audio track to adjust the length. As a finishing touch, you can fade the audio track out by clicking on the edge of your audio track and adjusting the audio to fade out for one second. When you're done, hit "Enter." Now, when you play the animation, you'll have your sound effect and music, which nicely fades out at the end. Now, that we finished adding music and sound effects, we're going to export the final file. See you there. 8. Exporting the Final File: To export the final file, go to File, Export and click on Render Video. Your settings should already be in an HD video format, which is 1920 by 1080 and 30 frames per second. Once you're happy with the file name and where you want to save the file, click on Render. When it's done rendering, play the entire storyboard animation. If you haven't spotted any errors and your animation is exactly the way you wanted it to turn out, you're all done. 9. You Made It!: Congratulations, you made it. You've successfully learned how to create a simple storyboard animation in Photoshop. I hope you enjoyed this class and can turn some fun ideas or memories into storyboards. If there's one thing that I want you to take away from this class is that you're capable of creating a simple animation regardless of your drawing skills or your expertise in Photoshop, because trust me, anyone can do this. Remember to post your class project in the project gallery, leave a review or follow me on my Skillshare journey. Thank you so much again, and I'll see you next time.