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Animating a drawing with brush strokes?

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Jeremy McCloudAnimating a drawing with brush strokes?
by on Oct 10, 2014 at 5:23:24 pm

I have a photoshop file with layers that make up a drawing. First layer is the line edges, second layer is the shading and the last layer is the coloring.

What I'd like to do is bring the layers into after effects and as realistically as possible, have it be drawn on the screen, in the order of the layers.

I'm looking for the result that will give a nice animated look, but not be too time consuming to create and I'm not sure what the best approach is.

One thing I thought to do, is use the brush tool to trace over the areas I want drawn first and convert that into a Track Mat and animated the strokes. If there is a better way, please let me know.

So far, it's not at all working like I thought! I'm a little new to AE(been using for 2 or 3 months now) but the process in my head seemed easy, like how I might trace something in Photoshop. Anyway, at first I couldn't even get it to draw, but found I have to double click the solid and then draw. Once I got that figured out I see I can animate the brush strokes, and it's giving the effect I want, but I don't want to have to animate several brush strokes, I'd like to some how combine them and do it in one go. Any way to do that?

OK, so I thought I had this somewhat figured out, I import my photoshop drawing, but now I can't figure out how to trace it by drawing on a separate solid layer so I can convert to a track mat. I have to double click the solid and my image disappears!

So I thought I might try drawing directly on the photoshop image in AE and might find some way to copy and paste the paint layers into a solid layer latter. I double click it and start to draw and now my brush strokes keep disappearing!!

Any help would be appreciated, or if there are some good resources online that could help me get started in the right direction, that would be great also!


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Daniel WaldronRe: Animating a drawing with brush strokes?
by on Oct 10, 2014 at 9:07:27 pm

You have the right idea with the track matte, but are approaching it a little wrong. Instead of using the brush, use the pen tool to draw a mask. Here's what I would do:

Make a new black solid above your Photoshop composition. Click the eye to the left to make it invisible. Use the Pen Tool to draw a mask on this invisible solid layer in the order you want your lines to be drawn on. Once that is done, add the Stroke effect to this solid layer. Set it to Mask 1. Make sure your stroke color is white and adjust the size to cover your drawing. In the Stroke effect, set a keyframe in the "end" parameter at 100% and move this keyframe on your timeline to where you want your drawing to complete. Set it to 0% where you want it to begin. Finally, set the track matte mode of your Photoshop layer to Luma matte and, voila, it will draw on.

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Jeremy McCloudRe: Animating a drawing with brush strokes?
by on Oct 11, 2014 at 2:53:52 am

Thanks for the feedback! That might work, but I'm thinking that it would take too long for such a detailed sketch. Plus I'm looking for more of a sketching feel, more like the movement of a pencil, going back and forth.

I'll give it a try and see, maybe it's just what I'm looking for, but from experimenting with the brush tool, and looking how it animates my strokes, I think is more of the feel I'm looking for if I can use it.

Another option I'm thinking of is if there might be away to convert the sketch into paths and somehow apply the brush strokes automatically and animate them?

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Daniel WaldronRe: Animating a drawing with brush strokes?
by on Oct 11, 2014 at 6:21:04 pm

Ah, I see. I wasn't sure how detailed your drawing was. You could try the auto-trace function in he Layer menu on your photoshop layer. Then apply the stroke effect to that. Maybe use the roughen edges effect to make it less smooth. I'm just throwing some ideas out now. Check out

too. Maybe it's more of what you're looking for, minus the cartoon effect.

It will likely take time and some creativity to get what you want. You're certainly on the right track. Keep experimenting and you'll learn more and more.

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Jeremy McCloudRe: Animating a drawing with brush strokes?
by on Oct 11, 2014 at 7:15:18 pm

Nice dude! This is much closer to what I want. I used the auto-trace and placed a stroke effect on it using a stroke of like 5 pixels, and then made it a trackmat to reveal the sketch. Certainly quick and easy just one problem though.... The client wants the illustration drawn in a certain order, they want the foreground drawn first and the background drawn last, here it just randomly draws different areas of the image, however, I might be able to create several layers in Photoshop to split the foreground from the background to control that. Also, it doesn't draw a continuous line, for example, the client wants the outline of the characters drawn first, one at a time. I'll try separating them into layers and see what happens.

Also, just so you know, I did manage to use the brush tool to create the effect I want, and it looks amazing!

The only downside to that is that I'm literally redrawing the entire sketch, taking a couple of hours sometimes more. After I was done, it was made up of 350 plus brush strokes! But I was able to control where the drawing starts, the going back and forth motion, drawing foreground to background, drawing the outlines first, etc. But if I can some how use auto-trace, I could save tons of time! They have many illustrations to sketch out.

Anyway, thanks for the tip, I think I might can get it to work. I'll let you know how it goes!

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