How to Create a Simple Animation (with the Procreate app)

Over the summer I decided to teach myself digital art. I've long been occupied with traditional art, like watercolor and acrylic, but I felt, in order to stay relevant in my field and also cut down on preliminary sketches during commissions, digital art needed to become part of my toolkit.

I had fun doing some prompts any time I had a free minute - chasing a baby around doesn't allow many free minutes, but at least digital art is mess-free, compared with other mediums. To see some of my first tries at digital painting, check out my other post here.

As for animation - I've always enjoyed creating something that has a little magic to it. Two-dimensional animation is a laborious task, as it usually requires individual stills, that when put in succession, create a moving image.

Here's a breakdown of 30 images that I created for my "Beauty from Ashes" animation:

I did 2 things within this project:

1. I changed the background color gradually

2. I made the image of a fire morph into an image of a flower, growing from the ground; this includes

- darkening the logs in the fire

- diminishing the flames

- making the embers "glow" in the ashes

- giving the impression that the flower is growing and blooming

I worked in about 3 layers per image.

Layer 1. The background color, which could be shifted to give the feeling of "firelight" around the flames, then darkening because the flames were going out, and then lightening again because it became daylight as the flower bloomed.

Layer 2. The logs; these gradually turned black and then showed embers. Before the flower sprouted from the ground, the logs disintegrated into a patch of dirt.

Layer 3. The flames and the flower. I utilized the opacity spectrum when drawing each stage of the flames and the flower, so that I could see where the previous shape left off.

I used the simple brushes that are included in the Procreate app. My favorites are the Medium Hard Airbrush, under the Airbrush tab, and the 6B Pencil under the Sketching tab. I usually airbrush the initial base color and then erase around the edges, to make the outline more defined. Then I use the 6B Pencil to sketch over it the base layer, working in short, repeating strokes to give the art an organic, "illustrative" feel.

Below is a quick replay of my drawing process. I love the Procreate app, because the minute you begin drawing, it starts recording your process. If you select the wrench icon > video > timelapse replay, you can see you progress in a sped-up video.

As you can see, I went layer by layer and made the previous image "see-through" (opaque) in order to create the subsequent still.

Here's the final animation!

Disclaimer: this blog post was in no way supported or paid for by Procreate, but simply my personal review of the product. I used an iPad and an Apple Pencil along with the Procreate app to create this digital art.

Marni Manning - Artist

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