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How to Animate in Procreate with Animation Assist
  • By Nadine Spires
  • 16 Feb 2023
  • 14 Mins
  • Intermediate
  • Procreate Tutorials

How to Animate in Procreate with Animation Assist

In our step-by-step tutorial you will learn how to animate in Procreate using Animation Assist

In today’s exciting tutorial, you will discover how to use Animation Assist in Procreate! Use this incredibly powerful tool in Procreate V5 to easily assist in creating animation. If you are using an earlier version, we have an alternative tutorial on how to animate in Procreate that you can follow.

How to Animate in Procreate with Animation Assist

You can use any design to create your animation sequence. We are going to use a blooming wildflowers image and these butterfly Procreate brushes from the Plus Hub.

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First install the butterfly brush, and then unzip your downloaded image by tapping on the zip file.

Step 1 - Create a New Canvas and Import File

We created a new canvas of about 2000 x 2000px. The length of your animation will depend on your canvas size and device storage. You can check the number of layers available by tapping on Actions > Canvas > Crop & Resize.

Crop and Resize - Check available layers in Procreate

You can briefly see the number of layers available at the top, and then tap on Done to exit.

Layers available in Procreate for animation

Activate Animation Assist by going Actions > Canvas > Animation Assist. The animation toolbar will open at the bottom of the screen.

Activate Animation Assist in Procreate

Import your file by tapping on Actions > Add > Insert a file.

Insert a file - How to animate in Procreate

Adjust the design with the Transform tool (or arrow tool). When you are done, tap on the Transform Tool to deselect.

Edit image with Transform tool in Procreate

Step 2 - Add Animation Frames

For each "moving" element, a new frame needs to be added. In the Animation Assist menu at the bottom, tap on Add Frame to add a new blank frame. The image will change color depending on your Onion settings. We will talk more about these settings in a moment.

Animation Assist in Procreate - Add a new frame

Add a butterfly to this frame using the butterfly brush. Tap once to add the butterfly stamp to your canvas. You can change the color using the Color Palette but for now we left the color as is.

Use the butterfly brush in Procreate

We have an excellent tutorial on how to use Procreate to help you navigate the interface.

Add another frame and choose a different butterfly. Use the Transform tool if you want to flip the butterfly around like we did. The butterfly size was increased and angled slightly down to indicate the direction of flight.

Edit butterfly brush stamp - Procreate tutorial

Step 3 - Adjust the Animation Settings

The Onion settings allow you to see multiple frames at once, even though you are working on a selected frame. You can see the frame(s) before and after the selected frame. This helps to guide you when designing.

Onion Color Settings

The colors of the frames can be adjusted, but are currently set as red for the frame before and green for the frame after. The selected frame is considered the “present”, so it will show as the color of the design. To change the colors, tap on the Settings button then select Onion skin colors.

Onion skin colors in Animation Assist - Procreate free guide

Adjust the colors as you want, keeping in mind that the first color (red) is the frame that comes before the selected frame. The second color (green) is for the frame that comes after the selected frame.

Change onion skin colors in Procreate

Onion Skin Frames

Adjust the Onion skins frames so a certain number of frames are visible at any given point. Around three to four visible frames is a good start.

Edit Onion skin frames in Procreate

Onion Skin Opacity

Change the Opacity of the onion skins to better see how the animation looks. The frames should be just visible enough so as not to interfere with the design process.

Change opacity of Onion skins in Procreate

Set the Background

For this animation, the flowers should be visible throughout the animation. As more frames are added, the flower frame disappears. You can adjust the number of onion frames. But, as we want it to be part of the background, we need to change one setting.

Procreate Animation - Set the background

Tap on the flower frame on the left side. Then, tap the frame again to bring up the settings. Tap on the slider to set as the Background.

Activate animation background - Procreate tutorial

The frame will now have a blue line on the side and remain as a background throughout the animation.

Background selected in animation - Procreate

The background frame will always be the first frame in the sequence. You can also set a foreground frame but this can only be applied to the last frame in the sequence. The foreground will be the top most frame, which means that everything else will be placed behind it.

You can see how the layers are arranged as well as edit them under the Layers Panel. Grouped layers don't work with Animation Assist. New layers or frames can be added and edited in the Layers Panel, including editing with Alpha Lock.

Layers panel - Procreate animation guide

Frames Per Second

At any time you can play your animation by tapping the Play button. Change the Frames per second in the Settings menu to increase or decrease the speed. A high number speeds up the animation while a lower number slows the animation down.

Adjust Frames per second - Procreate animation tutorial

Change how the animation sequence runs by selecting Loop (carries on in a continuous loop), One shot (it plays once) or Ping Pong.

With Ping Pong, the frames bounce back and forth. When it reaches the end, it plays in reverse back to the beginning and repeats the sequence.

Edit the playback settings for animation in Procreate

Blend Primary Frame

The setting simply adds opacity to the current or active frame (instead of it being a solid color).

More butterflies were added where one was placed on a flower, appearing to rest. The second stamp shows the butterfly flying away.

Edit butterfly stamp images - animate in Procreate

Step 4 - Edit the Frame Settings

Double tapping on any of the frames will open up additional settings with the following options:

Hold duration - how long the frame remains still. When you increase the number, duplicate frames are added after the selected frame. These duplicates will be grayed out to indicate the hold or lack of motion during this time.

Duplicate - you can quickly duplicate the current layer.

Delete - delete the current layer.

We carried on to add more butterflies. The Hold duration was set to 3 for the butterfly on the flower to keep it in place for a short while.

Hold duration settings in Procreate

Next, we duplicated the one butterfly by double tapping the frame and selecting Duplicate.

This duplicate was adjusted and the other butterfly designs tweaked a little bit more. Look at what we have achieved so far. Next, we will be adding color to our animation.

How to Animate in Procreate with Animation Assist 27

Step 5 - Add Color to your Animation

Add color to your animation by using the Recolor Tool and the Color Panel with any Procreate palette you like.

Add color to your animation in Procreate

We chose to use Alpha Lock to change the outline color of each butterfly layer. You are welcome to add color fills to each part of the butterflies if you want.

Procreate animation tutorial - Use Alpha Lock

Carry on to edit the layers however you choose. Once done, we can save the animation. Tap on the Actions menu, select Share > Animated GIF.

Export animation in Procreate as Animated GIF

In the export settings window, choose Max Resolution or Web Ready (for a smaller file size). Leave the other settings as is, and then tap on Export.

Procreate export settings - Animated GIF

Here is the final result.Final result of animation in Procreate

We hope that this Procreate tutorial has helped you to understand how Animation Assist works. Now that you know how to animate in Procreate, you can create anything that you want.


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