I recently wrote a blog post explaining the new text feature in Procreate. Another feature that Procreate added with the new update is the ability to make animated GIFs. In this blog post I’ll explain what I’ve learned about making GIFs in Procreate, briefly describe some GIF making methods, and share some examples I made in Procreate which show these methods.
Procreate also recently added the ability to make animated PNGs and animated MP4s. The information discussed in this post can be applied to these as well. I created a video to give an overview of animation in Procreate, provide some tips, and show some of the methods described in this post.
Once you’ve read this post, click here to learn some tips and tricks for animating in Procreate including working with layers, animating multiple objects, creating GIF transitions, cropping the canvas, and more!
NOTE: Procreate 5 includes some new animation features. Read more about these features including Animation Assist here.
Overview of Animated GIFs in Procreate
How it works
Each layer in Procreate is like a frame of a video, starting with the bottom layer and progressing to the top layer. The GIF will show the contents of each layer as the animation plays.
If you want the layer to show in the animation, make sure you turn the visibility checkbox for that layer on.
Previewing or exporting the GIF
In order to preview the GIF or export it, tap on the wrench, tap Share, and at the bottom of the menu tap Animated GIF.
On the Animated GIF options screen you can set the speed of the GIF. You can make it faster by increasing the Frames per second. It might take a moment for the GIF to process this change. You can set the frame rate from .1 frames per second to 60 frames per second. On this screen you can also give the GIF a Transparent background.
To export the GIF, tap on Web Ready or Full Resolution.
Methods For Making GIFs in Procreate
There are many ways to make GIFs in Procreate such as manipulating objects on the canvas and tracing artwork incrementally. Here I’ll briefly cover some of those methods and give examples.
Manipulating Objects on the Canvas
Move and rotate objects
If you have an object on the canvas such as text or a graphic, you can manipulate it in many ways.
You can move objects across the canvas.
For example, I drew a ball and moved it frame by frame across the canvas. When the ball hit the “floor,” I used the Warp option to flatten it slightly just like a rubber ball would flatten when it bounced.
You can also rotate the graphics. Here is the same ball graphic, but this time I rotated slightly on each layer so that it would roll across the canvas.
For this effect I simply created the ball and duplicated the layer. On the duplicated layer, I moved the ball slightly to the right and rotated it slightly.
I continued to duplicate and move the ball until it seemed to roll across the canvas. Here is what the finished canvas looks like with all of the layers turned on.
Change the size or color of objects on the canvas
Another way to manipulate objects to create an animation is to change the size of objects. For instance, you could start with a large object, duplicate the layer, use Uniform to size it down a bit, and continue to do this until the object shrinks. When enlarging an object, it may become blurry so you may want to have a larger reference object to work with.
You can also change the color of an object. Just duplicate the layer and give the object a different color on each layer.
Add objects to the canvas
You can add objects to the animation as it progresses while retaining previous objects. A good example of this is the effect of a word being typed or script being written. Often this means you’ll have to duplicate layers or merge them down.
In the example below, the word love appears one letter at a time. Instead of having four layers that are “L,” “O,” “V,” “E,” I needed four layers that were “L,” “LO,” LOV,” LOVE.” Otherwise the L would disappear in the second frame.
There are many more ways to manipulate objects that appear on the screen. You could draw on top of them using Alpha Lock, you could warp them, you could use Liquify to make their colors seem to swirl, etc.
Slowly reveal artwork
These are some methods that make it seem like finished artwork is being created in the animation.
Progressively draw artwork
This method is for simple artwork. Start with a single line, duplicate the layer and draw the next line, duplicate that layer and draw the next line, and continue until the artwork is done.
Here’s an animation I made doodling in stages with the symmetry feature turned on. Each doodle is on its own layer.
You can also paint the background in stages to create an interesting effect.
Here is another example using a similar method:
Trace your artwork in stages
This method creates more perfect results than the previous method. It is best for simple artwork which doesn’t have a lot of colors or textures. It would be ideal for something like revealing lettering or a simple object on the screen.
To do this, simply create the reference art layer. Then tap on the N on this layer and reduce its opacity.
Then tap on this layer and in the pop-out menu press Select. Now if you add layers above the selection you can only draw within the boundaries of the selected object.
Tap on the plus sign to create a new layer above the artwork layer.
Choose the same brush you made your artwork with and choose a color. Then begin to trace the layer in stages. Draw a line, duplicate the layer, draw another line extending from the first, duplicate the layer, add to the drawing, etc.
When you’re done, make sure to turn the visibility checkbox off for the original reference layer.
You can do this for all sorts of artwork.
I also created a star graphic by drawing the star, then selecting it, adding a new layer on top of it, and painting it progressively with different colors.
Use a mask to slowly reveal artwork
If you have artwork in Procreate that you’d like to make appear as if it were being drawn, you can use a mask to slowly reveal it using the steps below.
Create a layer mask
On the artwork layer, tap on the N and reduce the Opacity to about 50%.
Swipe left on the layer and press Duplicate. Increase the opacity of the duplicated layer to 100%.
Tap on the duplicated layer and in the pop-out menu press Mask.
A layer mask appears above the duplicated layer. Tap on the Layer Mask and in the pop-out menu press Invert.
Select a brush and use white for the color
Choose a brush and choose white for the color. You can do this by tapping twice in the area indicated below.
Paint over the artwork
Paint over a small part of the artwork. Where you paint will become slightly darker than the rest of the artwork.
Swipe left on the duplicated layer and press Duplicate. This will duplicate both it and the Layer Mask.
Tap on the top Layer Mask. Paint over the next part of the artwork you want to expose.
Continue to duplicate each layer and its mask, tap on the new Layer Mask, and paint to expose part of the artwork, and repeat the process.
NOTE: If you’re finished with a layer, you can tap on its Layer Mask and use Merge Down in the pop-out menu to merge it with the layer below it. This can be helpful if you need a lot of layers to create the animation. Just make sure not to merge down the top two layers while you’re still completing this process since you’ll need to duplicate the layer and the layer mask to continue working.
Continue the process until you’ve painted over the entire artwork.
Turn off the visibility of the original layer and add a few more layers
When you’re done, turn off the original layer’s visibility. You can also add a blank layer to the beginning of the animation so it starts with a blank screen. You may also want to duplicate the final layer a few times so that it stays on the screen for awhile.
Erase and then reverse the layers
A method you can use to progressively reveal a simple graphic is to erase it it over a number of layers and then reverse the layers. This method can get complicated if there are too many layers.
Duplicate the original layer
To start, duplicate the original artwork layer and then turn off the visibility of the original layer.
Erase a bit from the duplicated layer
Then select the new layer, choose an eraser and erase a bit from the graphic. What you erase will be the last area that is revealed in the animation, so start erasing where you want the animation to end. For instance, with this branch, I want it to grow from the branch to the leaves so I’ll begin by erasing a leaf at the end of the branch.
Now duplicate the layer, turn off the previous layer, and erase a bit more.
Continue this process until on the final layer all of the artwork is erased.
Turn on the visibility of all of the layers and rename them
Now turn on the visibility of all of the layers including the original artwork layer.
Tap on the top layer and in the pop-out menu tap Rename. Rename it as “1.”
Rename the layer below the top layer “2,” the layer underneath that “3,” and so on.
Reverse the order of the layers
Drag layer “2” above layer “1.” Drag “3” above “2,” “4” above “3,” and continue this process until all of the layers have been moved to the top in reverse order.
The first layer should now be blank and the top layer should be the original artwork layer.
Now it appears as if the artwork is revealed rather than erased.
This is just an overview of what I’ve learned so far about making GIFs in Procreate. I hope to include more detailed information about some of these methods at a later time.
If you want to learn some tips and tricks for animating in Procreate, click here.
Start Making GIFs
There are a lot of different ways to make GIFs in Procreate. Just remember the basics. Each layer represents a different frame in the animation. Animations run from the bottom layer to the top layer. The Animated GIF options screen lets you preview the animation, change frame rate and quality, and save the GIF. Ingenuity, patience, and creativity are the key to creating really interesting GIFs.
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