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How to Animate a Photoshop Character in After Effects (Walkthrough)

In this guide, Ina shows how she has animated a photoshop character in After Effects. The character represents a Bulgarian Kuker – a person dressed in a traditional costume who “chases away” evil spirits. This amazing character was created by our talented illustrator Stella. Follow her Instagram – @ssketched_ –  for more magical illustrations.

1. Preparation

First, think about the exact movement you want to animate. Since this illustration was not originally created to be animated in After Effects, the layers are not divided in a convenient way. That is why it’s important to know what your animation will be so that you can organize your layers accordingly.

2. Body

Originally, the upper and lower parts of the body were on the same layer. However, animating them together created a robotic and unnatural movement. This is why Ina separated the two parts into different layers and animated them separately. They are still parented, however.

3. Bells

All the bells were drawn on a single layer. But making them move together would have looked strange and unappealing. In order to animate them separately, Ina copied the layer as many times as the number of the bells, masked each of them, and animated the rotation. Some of the bells had to be completed with parented additional shapes to avoid holes in the animation.

4. Arm

The arm is duplicated three times. One of the copies is parented to the body, but the other two are not. This is done because if Ina only parented the single layer to the body, the arm movement would have been strange once the body bounces up. That is why when the body goes up, the arm is not parented to the body. The arm is animated by adding rotation keyframes.

6. Hand

The hand is not parented to any of the elements but is animated by itself so that a smoother motion is created. The added keyframes are for position, rotation, and scale.

7. Stick

The stick is animated to go up and down to create a “stomp”. The decoration on the stick is also animated with the help of masks (see 3. Bells). The position and rotation keyframes are very sharp to reflect the stomping of the stick. 

8. Eyes

The eyes are animated with shapes and masks. The pupils are moving very lightly to create a cartoony effect.

9. Mouth

For a starting point of the mouth, Ina drew a simple path and changed its options. The endpoint is the original illustration. 

10. Surrounding

Ina used CC Particle World to create falling snow and random scale and rotation keyframes to set up the texture.

So here is the end result – an adorable snow Kuker born out of Stela’s brush and Ina’s keyframe mastery. To see more, watch the video in the guide.

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    Kashu Team
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