I have a simple file. The underlying layer (normal layer) has two islands. Above this is a video layer. I drew a man in a canoe on the first frame. Then I copied this (cntrl-A cntrl-C) and moved to the next frame. Then I pasted this selection (Cntrl-V). I used onion skinning to see how to place the selection just to the right. I repeated this about 20 times. Ok. Great; now I have my animation of the man-in-boat moving from one island to another,
But! Now I realise that it would be better if the canoe was filled in. What can I do? It was a selection and I don't want to manually fill it in on each frame. Is there a way that this can be some kind of an object so that I can edit it once and then it would look like that on all frames? (I have distant memories of doing something like this with maybe Macromedia Flash).
You can use Smart Objects. You can think of them sort of like symbols. You'll make them all Smart Objects, fill in one, and then relink the others to the filled in one. Here's how:
Select the first canoe
Convert the canoe into a Smart Object (either right-click to the right of the layer name in the Layers panel and select Convert to Smart Object or go to Layer > Smart Objects > Convert to Smart Object)
Double-click on the Smart Object layer to edit it
Fill in the canoe
Go to File > Save As to save the .psb file with a name you'll recognize (Photoshop will automatically name it based on the layer name) and in a location where you can find it
Close the .psb file and return to the original document
Convert the other layers of canoes to Smart Objects
Select a non-filled in Smart Object layer, right-click to the right of the layer name in the Layers panel, and select Relink to File... or go to Layer > Smart Objects > Relink to File...)
Navigate to the filled in saved .psb file
Repeat for all the other non-filled in Smart Objects
This doesn't quite work for me. I create a new video layer and on the first frame draw a canoe. In my original approach I then selected the layer (cntrl-A), incremented one frame and pasted my copy. This pastes separate raster images (I think) and hence my edit problem.
But when I try with Smart Objects the following happens: I create the video layer. I draw a canoe on the first frame. I convert this to a Smart Object. (I can double-click and edit it). But when I try to copy and paste it to the next frame instead of pasting it onto the next frame on my video layer it creates a new (non video) layer. Now the canoe stays on the canvas for the whole duration of the clip - because it is not frame in a video but a whole layer.
Ok. I got it. Thank you. The Smart Objects part deals with the editable object. The other part (that I was missing) was that the actual animation is created using the Transform option in the video timeline, Then add keyframes and position the canoe where I want it to be at certain points in the whole time line. (So my canoe/smart object only exists on one layer)