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Photoshop Animation: part III

2015-01-22 20:25:59 by dylan

hey bees and gees, 

remember when I said that part 3 of my photoshop tutorial would be up “this weekend maybe”? Well now it’s 5 months and 1 day later, and I’m posting it on a thursday. if you had your fingers crossed, they’re probably a bit cramped. The benefit of that god-awful wait is that I can now say that this particular workflow has been great to me for an entire year of photoshop animation.

before I get on with it, it's worth noting that some of this was dificult to articulate, so it could be a bit confusing to read at points. if you're having trouble getting what something means, let me know.

if you missed my 2014 year in review post, check that out here:
2014 overview

if you missed the other photoshop tuts I wrote-up, check them here:
part I
part II


my workflow:

So the thing about photoshop is that it’s not suited for creating an entire movie in one file. You’d fry the shit out of your computer just trying to create a minute long short. This means that when you’re working in Photoshop, you’ll be working in shots. Each shot has to have its own file, which can later be composited in the editing program of your choice (after effects, avid, final cut, etc.)

I typically start off using flash to get a basic idea of timing for my animation. I create a project and do some (incredibly) basic storyboarding in there. It’s like stick figures and strangely proportioned people with terrible line quality, but that’s cool since no one is ever gonna see that snazz. it's just for me to kind of realize what I'm going for.

I get my idea of timing, then I create a scratch track in pro tools (audio editing software, you can grab audacity for free). The scratch track just has the big, important moments. Things like explosions, gunshots, dialogue, that kinda stuff. I take that scratch track, put it back in Flash, and then mess with my animatic a bit more. Mostly just tweaking the timing to better fit my audio track. If you’d like, you can take this animatic and put it into your editing software to use as a base for adding finished animation onto.

Once I’m happy, I leave Flash and jump into Photoshop.

Start by adjusting your framerate. Can’t stress it enough, unless you enjoy working in/converting from 30fps, you need to change the framerate from the start.

Then I just create a regular ol’ layer with a 3-8 frame duration and begin to block out a shot from my animatic using my F1 hotkey whenever I want to create a new frame. Working forward, I go in large chunks of like 8 frames. Eventually, I’ve got all the key poses. Now to time it, drag the ends of the layers in or out to make them the proper length and slide them along the timeline into position. 

I start adding breakdowns and in-betweens on new layers between the poses until I’ve got my rough animation completed. At this point, I’ll generally color code my frames by right-clicking the little eye-icon, marking all of this character’s layers as green, and that character’s as blue, etc. in case I need to reference them later. Sometimes I’ll put them into folders as a quick way to label them and keep them out of the way.

Time to batch them on video layers! I create a new video layer above everything and hide all the layers (including that standard white background layer) except for the frames of one character/object/whathaveyou and the new blank-vid layer. Using the cmdF9 action to batch it all together, I end up with one video layer for each character in the scene. Repeat this step until all your animated bits have their own video layer.

Then I hide all of the original key layers, leaving only my video layers and BGs visible. The I create another set of blank vid-layers to do my cleanup on, and then color on a blank video-layer beneath them.

Yay! That shot is done. Time for the next one. And the next. Eventually I’m done with all my shots, and it’s time to export. Pretty much all the tutorials I posted cover that well, so I’ll let you refer to those, and adapt it to whatever editor you’re using. Then I create my finalized audio track based off the final animation (which was rendered out silently as something like ‘myAnimationVx_forSoundV1’), add that to my editor and render out the final products you see on my Newgrounds, Vimeo, and (gif’d) Tumblr. 

So that’s the Photoshop process, goes surprisingly quickly if you have all your actions set up. I should note that this is only the gist of it, there are plenty of little things and techniques I use that I haven't written. As you use the program, you'll start to develop your own workflow and technique that'll feel almost like your own language. This is just a sort of branching off point.

So, what’s next? What I like and dislike about photoshop. Maybe I’ll post it before 2016.

looking forward to it,
dylan


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