Time to Animate

People had asked me what I used to animate the drawings, so I thought I’d do a brief run-down of my process.


At first I scanned all 460 drawings, which as you can guess takes a while. Depending on the colors used and how timid the artist was drawing it, the resulting image would sometimes be less than ideal. Lighter colors like yellow and pink are especially problematic, but I could usually get the drawings look decent. At first I would end up with something like this…

And get it looking more like this…

From here I “cut them out” in Adobe Photoshop so that the only thing Im working with is a nicely trimmed creature on a transparent background. From there, we move into Adobe After Effects.


After Effects is a program most people use for motion graphics and whatnot, but you can also do snazzy animations and special effects with it. Once I import all my cut out creatures and scenery I can begin. Normally you can move images over an x and y axis (up and down, left and right), and with a button press, you can go into the Z plane. This is how everything looks 3-D, with a virtual camera flying through a virtual space. In the image up there you can see how I set up all the objects in their proper spots and flew the camera through the scene, with things popping into view as needed. The view on the right is what the camera see, but the view on the left shows you all the elements lined up. You can see the bushes in the front there that block you view as the scene begins, and those two little rectangles on the bigger rectangle in the far back there are those two creatures in the tree that get eaten later on.

The camera itself has a bunch of controls that can do things like a “real camera”, and here you can see I have a really low F-Stop and Depth of Field enabled which will allow for the extremely shallow focus and blur that you can see in the animation.

But the main thing I used to actually make the creatures move is called the Puppet Tool. The Puppet Tool is now in both the newer versions of Photoshop as well as After Effects, and when you activate it, it breaks any image down into a series of polygons, like so.

It also works by the placing of “pins.” Here you can see the creature broken into polygons, and the pins Ive placed at his hips, shoulders, and feet. You can up the triangle count to get a smoother bend, but usually it isn’t necessary in something like this. Each pin adds a reference point that the others will bend around. You can use other tools like a stiffener if you don’t want to things to move, but because I wanted to extreme rubberyness I just tried to place minimal pins and let them do their thing.

By pulling a pin, you can see how the foot stretches out, but also how the head moves, as well as the rest of the body besides the area surrounding a pin. Again, this is something I want to give it those charming silly movements.

Look at him go! But that’s more or less “all there is to it.” Once I had my music selected, I went through and marked the timecodes on any heavy or interesting beat, and made sure to animate each little scene within those strict frame allowances. Once I was done with that, I just plopped them all down in a timeline, and they already synced correctly to the music because I had specifically designed them to!

Here is a basic tutorial from the handy guys at VideoCopilot if you wanted to try 3-D layers in After effects yourself, so give it a look if you’re interesting in getting into some basic After Effectsing. Good Luck and have fun animating!


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