Little Illustrations, Fun Animations | Amarilys Henderson | Skillshare

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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.

      Illustrations Animations Intro


    • 2.

      About this Class


    • 3.

      Plan - Storyboarding


    • 4.

      Create - Illustrate


    • 5.

      Digitize - Scan & Clean


    • 6.

      Animate (The Easy Way)


    • 7.

      Animate (Like a Pro)


    • 8.

      Export & Tips


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About This Class


How much fun can you have with your illustrations? LOTS! The simplest illustrations come to life with a few clicks in Adobe Photoshop to make a GIF that's quirky, charming, and approachable.

You Will Need

  • Illustration Supplies of Choice
  • Scanner
  • Adobe Photoshop 

Amarilys began playing with her paintings to make add a little life to her pattern designs. The simplest steps turned to delightful results--and you'll be hooked, too!

You Will Learn

  • How to paint simple motifs with watercolor
  • How to remove the background from your artwork using Photoshop
  • Two ways to create your GIF: the easy way and the professional way
  • Tips for exporting your files

Have illustrations? Have an idea that you'd like to see come to life? Want to add a dash of personality to your social media feed?

You Will Want to Watch This Class If...

  • you have ideas waiting to be born
  • you wish to add GIF animation to your editorial illustration or interactive portfolio
  • you want to animate your website--without adding slow load time
  • you'd like to e-send a special to a loved one
  • you wish to be charmed by your own work again!


Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Amarilys Henderson

Watercolor Illustrator, Design Thinker

Top Teacher

Hello! I'm Amarilys. I process on paper and I problem-solve with keystrokes.

As a commercial illustrator, I've had the pleasure of bringing the dynamic vibrance of colorful watercolor strokes to everyday products. My work is licensed for greeting and Christmas cards, art prints, drawing books, and home decor items. My design background influences much of my recent work, revolving around typography and florals.

While my professional work in illustration is driven by trend, my personal work springs from my faith. Follow along on Instagram


Learn a variety of fun and on-trend techniques to improve your work!

See full profile

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1. Illustrations Animations Intro: It is scary simple. I'm Amarilys Henderson, I'm going to show you how I took my illustrations and brought this to just a touch of life into them, make it more engaging. All you need are your illustrations. Then bring them to life in Photoshop. I will be doing watercolor and showing you how I do that. If you want to use specifically the kind of paints that I'm using, I will be using fluid watercolors. I'll be using those paints, but you can use whatever art supplies you feel comfortable with. You'll need a scanner and you also need Photoshop. There is no other software that you will need. You'll be amazed at how simple it is to put these little animations together. It gives them a little personality, a little life, something to engage with. 2. About this Class: Before we get started, I want to give you a big picture of what we're going to do by starting with the scraps of paintings that I've put together to create an animation. So this is the mermaid animation. These are the fish in the background. They just go back and forth just a little bit to add a touch of movement. That was done by my son, he's four, and I used it in the background just for kicks. Here's my mermaid. So I have my mermaid, which was my main image. I also did an extra set of hair and an extra tail. I didn't end up using the hair, I only used the tail, but I just wanted to show you that that was all I needed for that particular animation. These are all the pieces that I used. So a quick overview of how we're going to go about this. First we're going to plan, we're going to create some thumbnail sketches, create our art, be it however you would like, digitize it, i.e bring it into Photoshop, animate it, and then export it to share. I'm going to show you how to do a very simple animation. We're going to be creating very simple shapes because what I want to show you is the method, and once you've mastered that method, you could do a world of things beyond that. 3. Plan - Storyboarding: All you are going to do for this first step is find some paper, which can be hard for me sometimes. I have a lot of sketchbooks that I have started out. One of these days, we'll finish it. The most important thing to do is to plan out what your animation is going to look like. It just helps to solidify where you're going, because it can be easy to create several frames and then get a little lost. Or if you're like me, have so many ideas that it's difficult to nail down exactly what you want to do. I know that we're doing hearts. I'm going to create just three frames really. I don't need to map out everything. We're not going to get very technical because we want to keep it fun, and simple, and quick. We're just going to do a quick little GIPHY, and it's going to be a GIPHY. I'm going to do these hearts. Now, I envisioned these hearts overlapping. Once we get all those watercolor bleeds, it's going to look so nice to have these beautiful things overlapping. I challenge you to the next time you go look at greeting cards, you will see several designs with overlapping or just simple watercolor hearts. Just a little challenge. I know that at first I want to start with a lot of hearts. Then I just want them to float away, maybe break in the middle, some go up and some go down. Then the final image, let's do two hearts, that say, you. I'm going to put them higher than me, little plus sign. Here we're saying the hearts go up, seeing half of them go down, and then we land at this. Whatever you do, create a little outline of what you want your animation to look like, how you want it to go. It'll make the next part of painting and putting it into Photoshop a lot simpler, because you'll know exactly what your road map looks like. 4. Create - Illustrate: My favorite part is always the hands-on part. You don't need to create your animation watercolor by any means, but since that's what I do, I am going to show you how I create these hearts very easily, very simply with these concentrated watercolors. They are Dr. Ph Martin's brand, and we'll only use a couple of drops, put them in our paints, and mix them with water. Here are the colors that I'm using and you can sample what each one looks like. Take note, if you want to use these exact colors, each heart is its own thing. Don't feel like you have to use these colors. I want to drop in color. I don't want to blend. I want the paints to blend themselves. I start with water, and then I add in the colors. It'll create a nice lead. I'm also trying to use somewhat contrasting colors, have an analogous color scheme, meaning that all the colors would be next to each other on the color wheel. But I want to combine a hot pink with a red orange so that you can really appreciate the differences there. I'm working very wet. I wanted to be wet because like I said, I want the paints to blend themselves. The more water you give it, the more they're going to do that. On the other end of the spectrum, if you put too much water in, then it'll blend so well, that it'll become one beautiful color that doesn't have that beautiful bleed to it. That's stained look. Some tips with using fluid watercolors. Don't use very much. I just use a couple of draft. It is hard to not take your paint with water because your brush will be very wet. This is a wet process. What happens is that you put your wet brush into your palate, you paint well, and you'd take out some color, and while you're doing that, you're adding a little water. This color, this pigment is getting watered down, and the third, fourth, fifth time that you go back to that color, it's just not going to have that same pungent before. Another tip is to not use complementary colors. Use colors that are similar to each other, but to add that interests, maybe one is brighter, more saturated, more vibrant, and one is more of a darker tone down here. If you don't have fluid watercolors, that is okay. The only difference is that your hearts will not blend as fluidly. Here's a comparison of what a heart might look like when you're using regular watercolors, whether they be baked already in a pan for you, or if they are tubes squeezed out onto a palette. This is the blend that you can expect. 5. Digitize - Scan & Clean: Now we're going to take that beautiful work that we created with watercolor or whatever else and scan it. If you work in a traditional medium, you might be used to this already. I put my work down on the bed of my scanner, I always scan it at 600 DPI, which is overkill, but 300 DPI would be just fine, and I then bring it into Photoshop for some editing. If you've taken my classes before, you know that I worked traditionally and then I bring it in to work digitally, so you might be used to this layout. I'm looking at the image size of my piece here that I've scanned and cropped to be just the artwork. You can see that it's about eight inches square. The first thing that I always do is I create an adjustment layer. You'll find it down there in that circle with the half black-half white icon, and I adjust the levels, go to the levels palette, and use that white dropper. I drop it at the whitest white I want in my piece and it freshens everything up, it automatically color corrects, it creates a layer on top. Since I know that this is how I want it to be, I'm going to go ahead and merge those layers just to simplify my layers palette here, because this is going to get a little complicated. I'm going to go to the magic wand, and I'm simply just going to magic wand everything that's white. Now it's going to pick up little pieces of dirt that were on the scanner, little bits of the paper, things like that. I'm going to have to play with this tolerance. Am making the magic wand select things that are contiguous. It's not going to pick up the inside of those hollow hearts that have white in them. The reason I'm doing that is it gives me a little more flexibility, and I can always add that in later. Along with the magic wand, I use the lasso tool. Those both are right next to each other on the left-hand palette. The lasso tool helps me select pieces that were chosen along with the white that I don't want selected, or pieces of artwork that weren't selected, and I want selected. To be able to use these together, I am holding down one hand on the Alt button, which means that I can subtract from whatever is selected with the lasso tool. So I'll hold that down, hold the lasso tool, select whatever I want, and it'll deselect whatever has been chosen. Or I use the Shift button on my keyboard while I'm selecting something and that will add it into what is being selected. You just have to be very clear about what you want to be selected and what you don't want to be selected. In this case, it's just white, so it's very easy to keep track, but it can also be very easy to get tangled up. Essentially, you just want to focus on, I'm trying to grab all that background layer and remove it. I've got all the white selected, now I'm going to inverse select, and I'm going to copy and paste. I've created a new layer that just has those hearts. I chose not to mess with those little dashes that I created just to get a feel for the colors. I have a new layer that I created. I filled it with a white background, and then I've got my layer on top with just hearts. To make sure that I cleaned everything up well, I double-click on that layer and brings me this layer styled palette. I'm going to add a stroke, and you can see how there are some rough edges, maybe some dots here and there that I can clean up. It's just a visual reference for me, so I feel pretty happy with it. Sometimes I'll find some dots that I need to clean up, but I think I'm going to leave it just like that. I don't mind the rough edges that the watercolor paper leaves. The next step is still some groundwork basically, where I'm going to take this one layer and select with that lasso, each piece, each heart, circle around it, cut, paste, circle around another one, making sure that I'm on that main layer that has all the hearts, cut and then paste. That way I have a separate layer for all my hearts. Now, I always have my artwork at high resolution. But since we're creating an animation, I am going to scale down the image size so that it's easier to work with. I'm going to create the image width and image height to be 1,200 pixels. There's nothing magical about this number. I've just found it to be a good amount, a good proportion to keep those details and yet also make it easy to work with and easy to export. I'm going to save as an animation. I also created a folder because you're going to create several JPEGs. So they're altogether in one folder, I won't need this background image anymore since we're just doing the animation now, and this is a completely different file that is just dedicated to that. Now the next order of business is to take these hearts and arrange them in a visually pleasing way. I selected all my layers, and I've made them the blending mode of multiply that way when they overlap each other, you can still see the one behind it, and I want to create a glass effect. I'm duplicating layers, making them bigger or smaller to really fill up my page, these are going to be the main hearts that I talked about at the end of my little storyboard that are going to say you and me. So I'm making that much bigger, playing with opacity, playing with duplicating these hearts, creating a color in the background. Hopefully you can just watch me do all these things. It really comes down to personal preference. As long as you know how to fill in the background color, how to put all the layers and multiply, how to duplicate layers and resize them, I always keep those controls out when you are on your arrow tool here in the upper left, always make sure that it says show transform controls, that way you can always know how big your little piece within your larger file is, and you can resize it however you want. Now I'm even going to take some of these layers, have got enough multiply going on here, it's getting a little dark. I put them on the screen blending mode. Obviously that made these hearts much lighter. Again, it's going to have that great overlapping. It's affecting the colors, it's not just a white. Almost like you're putting these hearts up in the window and they're just overlapping with each other. I wanted to create an effect that it's a little more airy, they're floating around. Now I've got a lot of layers going on here. I'm going to select several layers at a time by holding down the Shift key while I'm hitting those layers, and I'm going to group them using that drop-down palette. Now this is the background layer. These are going to be the hearts that don't move, so to speak. 6. Animate (The Easy Way): If you're familiar with Photoshop, you probably breezed through that last part and if you're not, you probably had to listen to it again and that is totally okay. At this point, we're going to take these hearts that are floating around and animate them. I'm going to group them into two layers. One is going to be hearts that are moving down, and the other half of the group is going to be moving up. Now this is essentially my first frame, so I'm going to save as a JPEG, and this is going to be the image that you're first going to see when you see my animation start. First image down. Now what I'm going to do is take each one of these groups, move them just a little bit. Save that as a JPEG. Do it again, save that as a JPEG so that I have each step in the progression. I am moving these down about 30 hits on my arrow key and 30 hits up for the group that goes up with my keyboard arrow key. Even as I look in my folder with these JPEGs that I put all in that animation folder, I'm going to see how these progress. I have about eight slides here. I'm going to do my final one soon but just for a fun preview, I'm going to hit the "Space bar" on my Mac so that I see as I scroll down through my images how this looks, and it's already looking pretty good. Now we're going to work on that last slide, which is going to have that "You and Me" text. I'm going to hide those two groups of the hearts up and down. They're gone now and I'm going to use the type character tool. Going over to that, I will write down you create a new layer by again going to the type tool, writing me, hitting that checkmark that I'm done, and arranging them to be my last image. It's time to put it all together. I'm going to show you the easiest way first. There are lots of apps you could use, today we're going to use The format is really simple. They'll ask you to upload your images, they'll ask you what speed you would like your images to animate in and even give you a little preview of what it will look like. You can also decide how many times it repeats. If it's on a website, it will only repeat a certain number of times. If you're using it on Instagram, it'll repeat forever. I'm going to put in four, and then I just hit "Create GIF Animation". It'll take a minute, but then I will need to just right-click on that downloadable file and save it to my computer. Now if you're going to be using it on Instagram, I do recommend that you also create a video animation. It works the same way. Creates it for you, you save it, and you have this to share. 7. Animate (Like a Pro): Now, for those of you who are interested in creating animations that you'd use as editorial illustration maybe for a website or something like that, a blog, then you're going to want to create your work in Photoshop. If you're working with an art director or any authority over you, you want to be able to make edits that you might not have foreseen. You can create your animation in Photoshop. Now, I've saved you from having to watch me create these eight folders of images, but each one is basically a step in that animation. You can do your groundwork of creating your thumbnails, creating your artwork, creating the visual steps that it takes to get there, but I'm just going to show you how to export it, how to animate it from Photoshop. Here are all the images I've created and you can get a feel for how this is going. I opened up that timeline bar at the bottom, and I go down here and I'm going to hit "Create Frame Animation". The next thing I'm going to do is I'm going to make all these folders into flattened images. I like to use the keystroke command Alt Shift E to merge everything that's visible into one layer. The reason I'm doing that is because each layer is going to be a frame. I deleted all those groups, don't need them, but now I'm going to make all my layers visible, select them all by hitting the Shift key while selecting them all, and here in this drop-down menu after I've created a new animation, I'm going to make frames from layers. Instantly, all those layers became the square little tiles on the bottom in my timeline, and you can see how the animation goes. I'm going to need to reorganize them. With each tile I have the option of how long I want that frame to show. It's a great option if you want some frames to be held longer, to show longer than others, if you want other ones go quicker. Given that luxury, I made the first frame a little longer, since I want the viewer to reset that this is starting over again. It's going to be hard to see, but at the bottom bar, you can just see that once. There's a check bar that pops up with how many times you would want this animation to show, like how we did with the GIF maker. Same deal if you want it once, if you want it a few times, or forever. Let's say an art director comes to me and says, "We want it to be a little faster," I can adjust that time very easily, I can adjust obviously how many times it shows, and here I made it a little faster just because I could. Again, I test out how it looks. Now I'm not seeing the legs shift as much as I want them to, so I'm actually going to make an edit. I'm going to select the leg that is furthest from the viewer and make that darker in each one of the moving slides. So that when you see the legs moving, you can get a little more sense of depth and faster movement. I'm using my trusty magic wand, I am playing with the hue, just going a little darker, I like to hit Command Hue to get to that hue palette very quickly, and I'll do that for all of the pant legs. As you'll see, it updates what these layers look like right in my timeline. I don't have to reload them, they're already there and it's really easy to make edits. Now when I hit "Play", I can see how it looks right away. Once you're happy with it, Save for Web, it will pop up this dialog box with all options of how many colors you want to use, and what quality, what size. Since I work in watercolor, I like to use a lot of colors so you get those blends because it's those gradients, those lights or darks that get gypped when I don't have all the colors showing. But if your illustration is simpler than that or done digitally in a vector format or something like that, then using fewer colors would be great because you'll have a smaller file size. I just saved it as a GIF, I can also save it as a movie. I go to File Export, Render Video, and it'll give me similar options. Going with most of the default options is just fine, depending on what format you want, how higher quality, how large the file you want. Those are all options that you can take advantage of. Now I have my file as a GIF, as a movie, and it's done in Photoshop, so if I need to open it back up and make any edits, it is much easier. 8. Export & Tips: I am eager to see your GIFs. When you upload your project onto Skillshare, do not make your project that main image. You can, but we won't be able to see it animated. So re-upload it, upload it to the actual body of the text of your project, and then we can actually see it moving, which is the fun part. Another tip is if you're sharing your GIF animation on Instagram. Instagram does not support GIF files. It does support movie files, so you'll need to be exporting them as movies as well. I'm looking forward to seeing what you create. It is such a simple process, and I think you'll really enjoy it.