Procreate Animation for Beginners

Procreate Animation for Beginners main article image
Posted on December 14, 2021 by Kymmie J.
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Have you heard about GIFs?

GIF or Graphics Interchange Format is a type of image file that moves or is commonly known as a short looping animated image. This can be seen on different websites and social media platforms. This is used when you want to convey a message that’s difficult to explain electronically such as emotions, reactions, and even promotions.

Several retail brands use GIFs to let customers know about their ongoing sales or promotions on their websites. Some bloggers also use GIFs to add a bit of personality to their blog posts. You might even have used GIFs when posting on Instagram stories or when sending funny memes to your friends and family.

GIF has a smaller file size compared to MP4 or any video file type as it is still considered an image file. As you may have noticed, when you search for a GIF on Instagram stories, or even in any messaging app that supports GIF, the search result shows almost immediately when you type your keywords.

Did you know?

You can create GIF using Procreate? It is super easy and fun! Once you get the hang of it, you can create a whole collection and maybe sell it or just make it available for the public to use.

With Procreate, learn how to bring your digital illustrations to life through the Animation Assist feature and share it with everyone in a variety of formats.

Tools you need

  1. The app, Procreate 5X or later (currently works with iPadOS only)
  2. Any pressure-sensitive stylus that is compatible with any iPad version. I recommend using an Apple Pencil
  3. iPad tablet

Step A: Prepare Canvas

  1. Open Procreate app
  2. Create a new canvas by tapping the + icon then use any size you want, or create a custom one.

If you are creating an animation to be posted on Instagram, make sure that the canvas is Square or 1800 x 1800 and 300 DPI.

Step B: Enable Animation Assist

To enable the Animation Assist interface,

  1. Tap Actions (wrench icon) > Canvas
  2. Toggle the Animation Assist to enable it

After enabling it, you will see a timeline below that shows frames and settings.

Step C: Animation Interface Overview

The Timeline acts as the Layers panel when Animation Assist is enabled.

1. Canvas – Your artwork is displayed here. When you select a layer or a frame, you will notice that the canvas will also change depending on what specific frame you have selected.

2. Timeline – The bar represents every frame of your animation. Your animation will run starting from left to right. You can also consider this as the Layers panel where the animation will run starting from bottom to top. The currently selected frame is marked with a blue underline.

3. Play – This allows you to preview the animation before you export it. You can press tap this to Play or Pause.

4. Add Frame – This is the same as adding a new layer. Try adding a new frame and it will automatically create a new one on the right side of the currently selected frame or a new layer on top of the currently selected layer.

5. Frame Options – When you tap on a specific frame, you can see more options for that frame alone. You can duplicate, delete or even adjust the hold duration for the selected frame only.

  • Duplicate
    • Create a copy of your selected frame
  • Delete
    • Remove your unwanted frame
  • Hold Duration
    • Drag the slider to increase or decrease the hold duration. This allows you to prolong a specific animation without affecting other frames. Ahold creates a pause to adjust the timing. If you drag the slide to 5, you will see 5 grayed-out frames in the Timeline which means that the animation will play the 5 frames which creates a still image before it plays a different one.
  • Foreground
    • When you tap on the right-most frame, you will see this option. This allows you to lock the selected frame as a consistent element, meaning it’ll stay as it is while other frames are moving. You can use Foreground for your watermarks or logo so it won’t disappear while running your animation.
  • Background
    • Same as the foreground, but this one appears underneath other frames. You can only enable the Background option when you tap on the leftmost frame. Once you enabled this, you cannot move the frame as part of another animation.

6. Settings – It displays different options for your animation. This applies to all frames. You can adjust the speed and loop of your animation, change onion skin settings, and more.

  • Loop
    • The animation will play all frames and then immediately loop back to the start to play it again. This can be used for continuous repeating movements. This is the most commonly used for GIFs.
  • Ping Pong
    • The animation will play all frames and then goes back and forth. This can be used for animation that bounces or reverse.
  • One-Shot
    • The animation will play all frames and then stop. This is most likely to be used for a simple narrative animation with multiple frames.
  • Frames Per Second
    • This option lets you adjust the speed of your animation. Try to explore this by dragging the slider to see how fast or slow the animation is, this will affect all frames. To change a specific frame only, tap on the frame then select the Hold Duration instead.
  • Onion Skin Frames
    • Let’s you set the number of frames to be shown on the canvas. When you set the number to None, it will only show the current frame but if you try to drag the slider, you will see other frames depending on the number set here. This helps you to see the previous frames or drawings to guide you on the next frame.
  • Onion Skin Opacity
    • Set the transparency of the onion skin frames by dragging the slider. When you set this to 0%, the other frames will be invisible whereas when setting this to 100% will make the onion skin frames to opaque or solid
  • Blend Primary Frame
    • This will allow you to give a smoother transparent look from your current frame to your other surrounding frames
  • Onion Skin Colors
    • Edit the colors to your current and secondary frames to be able to distinguish which frame it is.

If you have multiple layers or elements in separate layers, you can group these and it will act as one frame.

Step D: Export and Share your Animation

Save your animation in a variety of formats. You can export your animation as an animated GIF (moving image) or MP4 (video). To do this,

  1. Tap on the Actions (wrench icon) > Share
  2. You can either use Animated GIF or MP4 and once you select either one of them, you will see another option. Both allow you to preview the animation by dragging the Frames per second slider
  3. Once satisfied, tap Export

Note: When posting on Instagram, you need to save your work as MP4 (and should be longer than 3 seconds) so your animation runs automatically, whereas GIF shows a static image only.

You are now ready to create more complex animations! Keep practicing and explore more options on how you can play with different modes of animations. Once you learn the basics, it’ll be easier to animate your digital illustrations.

Happy creating!


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