Procreate is a great tool for drawing and illustrating. Adding an element of animation to your work is a great skill you can add to your repertoire. Animation in Procreate is easy and doesn’t require much more learning than using Procreate itself, but there are various techniques to ensure smooth animation.
In this article, we are going to show you how to create motion animation in Procreate.
How to create motion in an animation
When creating an animation, it is not always enough to have a new frame with a new object position. You should draw each picture with realistic, but exaggerated movements to really show the movement involved. We will use the stretch and squeeze technique to show our subject’s movements.
We’ll be using Procreate for iPad and an Apple Pencil, but you can follow the tutorial if you use other drawing programs or equipment. We are going to make an animation of a ball bouncing on a hard surface.
Draw your animation scene
We’re not going to get into animation yet. First, you need an idea of the scene you are going to animate. To add complexity, we’ll make a simple horizon line with a blue sky background and a gray concrete floor where the ball will bounce.
To start, on the first layer, draw a pencil sketch of your scene. Next, draw about five or six landmarks for your bullet location in each animation frame. You need to give enough space for the ball to change shape as it moves through the motions.
We’re going to use a casual, raw style for this animation because it gives it a fun energy. On a new layer, draw your background scene in detail. Keep your sketch layer as the top layer, so you can see it as you color and draw your background scene.
Using layers for animation
To create an animation, Procreate uses each layer as an animation frame. Since the background will remain the same, you can lock the background layer. Open a new layer for your first ball position.
Whether you want to draw a perfect circle or a rougher, less precise circle is up to you and your style. First we will draw the ball in an airborne position.
Open a new layer and move it under the first bullet layer. Fire a second bullet into the position immediately below the first. This should be similar in size and shape to the first ball; you can draw it by hand or just duplicate the first layer and move the position.
For the bottom ball – the one that hits the ground – it must crash. To make this squash smoother in the animation, the second ball from the bottom needs to start squishing a little first. Draw a shape similar in size to the previous two balls, but make this one slightly wider and a little shorter.
The ball that hits the ground will be the most crushed of all. On a new layer, draw the final squashed ball in a fairly exaggerated squashed motion. Make sure the layer is the lowest layer.
For the two tallest ball frames, you’re going to do the opposite: stretch. The topmost ball will be exaggerated with a long, thin stretch, while the ball just below will be only slightly stretched.
Once you are happy with the placement of all the balls in your layers, you need to add shadows on the ground for each frame. This will add more depth to your final animation by showing the shadow change with the height of the ball.
To add the shadows, add a new layer below the ball you are drawing the shadow for. Draw a dark gray circle on the ground in the shape and size of the height of the ball. Since we are drawing the shadow on the ground, we are going to use a rougher brush: Aurora from the Artistic category.
Unlike the frames with the moving balls, the shadow will always be in the same place, just a different size or shade. You can toggle the visibility on other layers to see how best to draw each ball shadow.
Our simple technique is on a new layer under each ball, just draw around the ball in the shadow color and color it. Then click on the selection tool – the white arrow – and move the shadow down to where the shadow will be on the terrain. Do this for each ball and layer. The end result should have a layer palette with alternating layers of balls and shadows, and you should have an image with a bunch of shadows at the bottom.
Point: Naming your layers will help avoid confusion.
Once all the shadow layers are drawn and they correspond to a bullet layer, merge the layer pairs. Using two fingers (one on each layer), push your fingers together to merge the layers. Now, instead of one layer for each shadow and one layer for each ball, you will have one layer containing one shadow and one ball for each ball.
The premise of the animation is complete here. If you want to add other elements to your drawing, such as shadows on the balls, now is the time to do so. You can delete the sketch layer now because you don’t need it anymore.
Using Procreate Animation Assist
To turn your layered image into an animation, you need to enable Procreate’s Animation help to toggle. Click it Shares menu (the key in the toolbar) and activate the animation assistant. This brings up an animated timeline at the bottom of your screen.
Since Animation Assist doesn’t know that your background layer should be the background for all the animation, you have to double click on the background image in the toolbar animation. This brings up a Frame option menu. Toggle where it says Background. This will set your background as the background for all the animation.
Click it To play on the animation timeline to see what your animation looks like first. Does it do what you want it to do?
To change speed, loop style, or frame styles, click Settings. For a continuous looping animation (to make the ball bounce), click table tennis. Using onion skin frames gives more fluidity to the animation, allowing the ball to go up in the air and come down again seamlessly. The opacity of the onion skin will also affect this, so it’s worth playing around with these features.
Changing the frames per second will change the speed at which your animation runs on each frame. If you’re happy with the speed, leave it alone. If you want it faster, move the bar to the right, or for slower, move it to the left.
You can press To play between any changes you make to see how it affects your animation. Once you are satisfied, you can save it.
To save your animation, click the Shares toolbar and press the To share button. To save it as a moving animation rather than a flat, useless image, you have the choice of GIF, PNG, MP4, and HEVC.
Animate your future drawings
Procreate brings a great new avenue to digital art. Now that you’ve experienced the fun of Procreate’s animation wizard, you can use it to add extra functionality to your artwork or add animations to videos or web pages. Experiment with your new skill and see how far you can work the magic of animation.