Animating in Photoshop With AnimDessin2

A free animation plugin that makes animating in photoshop great

Photoshop is becoming more and more popular to animate within. With artists like Alex Grigg doing it to great success, more and more people are giving it a try. There's one problem though, it's super clunky. Luckily for us though Stephane Baril has created a Photoshop extension that makes our lives as animators a lot simpler. It's called AnimDessin2, and if you have Adobe CC you can head over to the Adobe Add-ons page and add it to your suite.

Adding and Using the AnimDessin2 Plug-In

Once you've done that you can start up Photoshop and it will automatically add it to your program, so let's walk through its features and how to use it! Now super quickly before we start, this is taking you through how to animate in Photoshop using the AnimDessin2 extension.​

If you don't have that extension this won't be super helpful past some initial tests, and since AnimDessin2 is free we would really strongly recommend you get it even if you're just thinking of experimenting with animating in Photoshop. Anyway, let's get back to it.

Once Photoshop is open and AnimDessin2 has been added to your program, you're going to want to open it up in Photoshop. In the Window drop-down menu choose Extensions and then choose AnimDessin2. This will open up the AnimDessin2 toolbar, and we can now go through it and see how it works and how it streamlines the process within Photoshop. The first button on the left you'll want to hit, that brings up your timeline if it's not already open.

Now that our timeline is open we'll want to turn on keyboard shortcuts. We could do it the clunky Photoshop menu way, but AnimDessin2 makes this super easy and quick. The button all the way to the right that looks like a K key will toggle on or off keyboard shortcut keys.

The one annoyance is that it doesn't show it really, so you can double-check to make sure they're on by clicking the menu icon on the timeline all the way to the right that looks like a downward-facing arrow next to a box made of lines. If Enable Keyboard Shortcut Keys is checked we're all set to continue. This way we can use our arrow keys to go frame by frame and hit the space bar to preview our movie.

Making a Scene

Now let's make a new scene. The second button from the left that looks like a movie slate will create a new project for us that is automatically 1920 by 1080 (so handy) and will allow us to pick our frame rate. For now, let's just leave it at 24fps. Our next button is the canvas size, it looks like a little dot with arrows exploding out of it. You won't have to do this very often, you should always be working in 1920 by 1080 anyway. Then we have our save button, it looks like a floppy disk.

So AnimDessin makes our first video layer only 1 frame long, our next few buttons are the add and copy frames buttons. The first one, that looks like a page with a 1 on it, adds 1 new frame. The page with a 2 on it adds 2 frames, then we have two pages and that is copy selected frame. Finally, the trash can, delete the selected frame. The next two buttons we've never used so let's just skip those for now. The button next to the folder with the slash lines on it will add a new video layer to your project.

The big plus and minus will extend or contract your frames, turning a frame that is 1 frame long into a frame that is 2 frames long. Next, we have a red, green, and blue box followed by a white box with a slash through it. These boxes color code whatever video layer you have selected and the white box with a slash will remove the color-coding.

Our next buttons that are vertical bars with arrows and a plus sign will move our selected frames up a layer or down a layer. And finally, the little bracket-looking buttons that also kind of look like the top of an iPhone will change the area of your playback.

Exporting Your Movie

When you want to export your movie, simply go over to File > Export > Render Video and choose whatever settings you'd like. Or you could export it as an image sequence if you'd like to have them as individual images.

So there you have it. After you get used to the buttons you can draw away using all of Photoshop's nice features like their brushes and not have to worry about your style looking watered down like it might in Flash.

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