Doing Hand-Drawn Animation Using Photoshop & After Effects CS6 (PART 2)

To see part 1 of this tutorial please click here:  Doing Hand-Drawn Animation Using Photoshop & After Effects CS6 (PART 1)


Open up After Effects CS6 and go to Window – Workspace – Animation so your set up looks like the screenshot below.

11.  Go to File – Import – File OR double click the Project panel OR press Command I on the Mac.  In the Import File dialogue box locate the layer files you exported from After Effects with the Export Layers to Files Script and choose import as Footage – PNG Sequence – Force alphabetical order.  The dialogue box should look like the following screenshot.

12.  Once imported, click on the PNG Sequence in the project panel.  To rename the file in the After Effects project press return and change the name to Hand_Drawn_Bouncing_Ball.  Then right click the PNG Sequence and go to Interpret Footage.  Then follow the steps in the screenshot below to change the Frame Rate.

13.  Next go to Composition – New Composition or press Command N on the Mac.  Follow the steps in the screenshot below to change your Composition Settings.

a.)  Change the Composition Name to Hand_Drawn_Bouncing_Ball.

b.)  Choose the Preset HDTV 1080 24.

c.)  Change the duration to 0:00:10:00.

d.)  When the settings look like the screenshot click OK.

14.  Now drag your Hand_Drawn_Bouncing_Ball PNG Sequence onto the timeline of the Hand_Drawn_Bouncing_Ball composition and click the little checkerboard button to toggle the transparency of your background.

15. If you press space bar to play back your animation you’ll notice that it won’t play in real time.  In order to see your animation play back in real time you have to do a RAM Preview by either pressing Control 0 on the Mac or pressing the RAM Preview button on the Preview panel.  The Info panel above the preview panel will tell you the frame rate it’s playing back at.  If it’s correct it should say “fps: 24 (realtime).”

NOTE:  You may remember that I asked you to interpret the PNG Sequence as 12fps, yet we’re playing it back in a 24fps comp.  This makes it so that the interpreted 12 fps footage will play at the speed of 24fps and therefore it will play on “2s” just like we had it set up in the Photoshop timeline.  If you needed to interpret the footage the same as your comp, which is often the case, you can also change the speed by right clicking the sequence in the timeline and going to Time – Time Stretch.  If your sequence and your comp were set to play back at 24fps, then a stretch factor of 200 will make the sequence play back twice as slow and therefore make your sequence play back at 12fps.

16.  The next thing you’ll notice when you play back your animation is that it’s playing backwards.  To fix this, right click on the sequence and go to Time – Time-Reverse Layer or press Option Command R on the Mac.  This will make your animation play forwards.

17.  You’ll also probably notice that your animation still stops on the way back.  To complete the bouncing ball loop, find the peak of the first bounce by stepping forward through the animation.  Hold Command and press the arrow keys on the Mac to move forward or backward frame by frame or  use the Next Frame and Previous Frame buttons on the Preview Panel.  Stop on the last frame after the first bounce before your ball starts to fall down again.  Remember that since you have a 12fps sequence in a 24fps comp, each frame will actually be two frames long.  After Effects always displays the frame in front of the playhead so you’re going to want the frame after the peak to be displayed.  Then, split the layer by going to Edit – Split Layer or press Shift Command D.  The correct split point is about here in my animation.

18.  Once the layer is split, click the first layer and go to Edit – Copy or Command C on the Mac.  then go to Edit – Paste or Command V on the Mac.  The Layer will be duplicated above the first layer.  Click on that layer and change it so it plays forward by right clicking it and going to Time – Time- Reverse Layer.  Then drag that Layer so it’s above all the other layers in the Timeline window.  Hold Shift and snap it to the end of second layer so it looks like this.

19.  When you play the loop back you’ll notice a bump from a rogue frame on the last layer that appears when we switch the Time-Reverse back to normal.  Just hover over the beginning of that layer and pull it forward so that frame disappears.

20.  Then hold shift and move the layer back so it snaps to the end of the previous layer.

21.  Hold Shift and snap your playhead to the end of the layer and pull the last frame back so the same frame from the beginning of the animation won’t duplicate when it loops.

22. Hold shift and drag the work area bar so it snaps to the very end of the layer.  You can also use the N key to snap to the end of the work area and the B key to snap to the beginning.

23.  Click the Ram Preview button or press Command 0 on the Mac to watch your animation loop.  If there are any issues  in the moving of the animation you most likely have an unwanted frame somewhere and you may have to adjust the ends of the layers so the animation plays back correctly.

24.  Since the background of your composition is transparent it will render to black and your black ball most likely won’t show up.  Therefore you may want to put a white solid underneath your ball layers so the animation shows up.  Go to Layer – New – Solid or press Command Y on the Mac.  Click Color and change the B setting to 100% or drag the circle to the upper left corner of the color picker so B changes to 100%.

When you click OK in both boxes, the new white solid will show up above all of your other Ball layers.  Move it underneath all of them so the balls show up.

25. To Render this animation to a movie file you can go to Composition – Add to Render Queue or press Command M on the Mac or Control M on Windows.   In the Render Queue, click Best Settings and change the frame rate in the Render Settings box to 23.976, so it’s using a standard video frame rate instead of 24fps, which is cinematic frame rate.

NOTE:  I like to work in After Effects in true 24 frames per second compositions, so  the full frame lengths show up.  If you work at 23.976 in After Effects the lengths of the individual frames are slightly shorter than normal and I find this confusing for animation work, which is so dependent on individual frames.

26.  Then select Output Module and change the format to whatever you like.  After Effects defaults to using the Animation codec, which is lossless, yields very large file sizes and may not necessarily play back on the desktop.  Then click the “Format Options…” button to change the codec.  Here’s an Adobe FAQ forum post by Todd Kopriva concerning best render settings for After Effects.

27.  Finally, click your composition name next to the “Output To” section and choose where you’d like to save your render.  Then press the caps lock key (this stops the video refreshing and can therefore speed up render time) and press render.  The animation is very short so your render should be done quickly.


11 thoughts on “Doing Hand-Drawn Animation Using Photoshop & After Effects CS6 (PART 2)

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