Working with hand-drawn animation in After Effects/Adobe CC (creative replies welcome)

Community Beginner ,
Nov 08, 2020 Nov 08, 2020

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Hello,

 

I am starting my journey as an animator and I wanted to make my first ever animation the old way with hand drawn frames on real paper. My plan was to import the foreground frames as a JPEG sequence into After Effects. Then I was planning on using the roto brush to remove the (white, empty) background and replace it with the background that was intended. But as good as the roto brush is at removing backgrounds of complex images, for drawings it seems to be terrible. Anyway, if anyone has any experience with this kind of thing or ideas I would be so happy to hear. I am also soliciting improvements on my workflow, the one thing I am not willing to change is that I would like to draw each frame on a piece of paper. Thank you so much.

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correct answers 3 Correct answers

Adobe Community Professional , Nov 09, 2020 Nov 09, 2020
The problem with Rotobrush for something like this is that your lines can easily move too far between frames and the lack of background detail makes it impossible to calculate the difference between frames. Pencil sketches are going to be harder to work with than illustrations that have been drawn with a pen. Traditionally, hand-drawn animation is created by tracing over the pencil on paper sketches with pen and ink on transparent acetate animation cells. The process is called Ink and Paint. If ...

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Adobe Community Professional , Nov 09, 2020 Nov 09, 2020
Your drawings need better-defined edges and no gaps in the important lines. From your two images, I was able to get these two masks in Photoshop in under a minute an image by using the Select and Mask tool. They are pretty close. You can easily create a Photoshop action that loads the next image and opens the tool. A couple of clicks and then a save and close action and you are on to the next image. That's the best I can recommend with this artwork.   You might also have some better luck if you...

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Adobe Community Professional , Nov 09, 2020 Nov 09, 2020
Battleaxe has just released Timelord which speeds up rotoscoping tasks. Timelord which allows you to transfer assets from Adobe Animate and Adobe Photoshop timelines into AE's timeline. https://www.battleaxe.co/timelord

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 08, 2020 Nov 08, 2020

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Since you already draw this on paper, so why you don't remove the background on photoshop and save it as PSD then imported to AE ready with transparent background

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Community Beginner ,
Nov 09, 2020 Nov 09, 2020

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Is there a way to do this quickly? I have over 3600 frames to do it on and I am not trying to get out my pen tool every one.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 09, 2020 Nov 09, 2020

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The problem with Rotobrush for something like this is that your lines can easily move too far between frames and the lack of background detail makes it impossible to calculate the difference between frames. Pencil sketches are going to be harder to work with than illustrations that have been drawn with a pen. Traditionally, hand-drawn animation is created by tracing over the pencil on paper sketches with pen and ink on transparent acetate animation cells. The process is called Ink and Paint. If you are going to stick with paper, you are still going to have to do some painting by hand to eliminate the background. You might be able to use Photoshop to speed up the process, but most hand-drawn animation that is pencil or ink drawings on white paper is not going to be able to be automatically processed. 

 

If we saw a couple of your drawings (cells) we might be able to give you some suggestions that would speed up the process.

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Community Beginner ,
Nov 09, 2020 Nov 09, 2020

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Hi! Thank you so much for your thurough and knowledgable reply! I don't want to use thousands of sheets of acetate so I tried to avoid that part of the Ink and Paint process. Though what is looking like the best option is to trace my cells in Adobe Animate like I would on acetate and then I would have vector images that I could easily place over a background. But ideally I wouldn't do that. I have drawn a very short and low-effort animation that I am using to try and develop the workflow before I dive into making cells for the longer animation I am planning. Two of those prototype cells are attatched here. A friend suggested writing a photoshop script to take care of every cell but I have never done that before, does that seem plausible? Thanks again!IMG_4986.JPGIMG_4994.JPG

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 09, 2020 Nov 09, 2020

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Your drawings need better-defined edges and no gaps in the important lines. From your two images, I was able to get these two masks in Photoshop in under a minute an image by using the Select and Mask tool. They are pretty close. You can easily create a Photoshop action that loads the next image and opens the tool. A couple of clicks and then a save and close action and you are on to the next image. That's the best I can recommend with this artwork.  

Screenshot_2020-11-09 14.49.32_tvsx75.pngScreenshot_2020-11-09 14.47.56_1YqCrw.png

You might also have some better luck if you use Lightroom to increase the contrast of the outlines and maybe increase saturation so that the Select and mask took has more information to work with.

 

A few more minutes with each image would improve the result. Both screenshots are the first pass at creating the mask.

 

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Community Beginner ,
Nov 10, 2020 Nov 10, 2020

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Wow, honestly this is the most thorough and helpful response I could ever hope for. Thank you so much!! I'll do some experimenting with what you suggested.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 09, 2020 Nov 09, 2020

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Battleaxe has just released Timelord which speeds up rotoscoping tasks.

Timelord which allows you to transfer assets from Adobe Animate and Adobe Photoshop timelines into AE's timeline.

https://www.battleaxe.co/timelord

Motion Graphics Brand Guidelines & Motion Graphics Responsive Design Toolkits

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Community Beginner ,
Nov 10, 2020 Nov 10, 2020

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Thanks! I'll check it out.

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