Unit 07 An integrated approach to time-based problem solving in art & design, Animation Techniques, Level 3 Graphics, After Effect basic Tutorial

This tutorial is for Unit 07 An integrated approach to time-based problem solving in art & design,  Level 3 Graphics. This is related to cut out project: Paper cut animation technique using Photoshop and AE Tut. All students should have had experimented with the paper cut animation (hand-crafted) prior to this tutorial.

Lesson Date: 25/02/16

Learning objectives:

  • Apply practical skills, understanding and methods to solve time-based problems in art and design.
    • Understand how to use Photoshop to prepare props for animation
    • Understand animation techniques using After Effects: Scrolling backgrounds, Moving objects, Using plugins & effects (star-fields, timeline)

Learning objectives:

  • Make a very short animation using techniques above

Starter session: discussing sketchbooks


Part 1 Photoshop 

Images you will need:

What you are going to produce:

1 -Search and find an interesting paper texture from Google, or scan your own paper texture. Find a large image preferably.

Find texture from google

2- Open your texture file in Photoshop and duplicate the background.

open-import-texture-in Photoshop
Duplicate layer Photoshop
open-import-texture-in Photoshop

3 Use the pen tool and create the shape below, your shape should look like hills.

4- Open the path palette and on the work path you’ve made right-click and select make selection.

5 Once the selection is made then go Select>invert on the menu bar and make sure you select the duplicated on the layer palette. Hit the delete key on your KB.

You should be left with the example below. If you find you don’t like the texture of the shape, you can select Image>levels and change the amount of grey black and white based on your fancy.

6 to add shadow to the layer select Layer>Layer Style>Drop Shadow on the menu bar and mess about with the shadow adjustment tools until you get something interesting.

7- Repeat steps 3 to 6 to add another layer of hills.

8 Importing props – import your drawing or props found on the Internet – make a selection of the imported prop and make another copy copy of the texture layer, and do step 5.

  • Select what you want to keep
  • With the selected object go on the duplicated texture layer
  • Select>Invert
  • Delete

9 Making a star using the shapes tool – Select the shape tool and select a star shape in the shape selection bar.

10 Add more props now that you know how to add props, you might need or not need them as you are make your animation, but have enough to make an interesting story.

11 Before you save your work to import in AE, make sure that you name all your layers so you don’t get confused in AE.

12 Save your work in a folder as a Photoshop file. Once you have save the document, export layers to file


1 Open After Effects and Create a new composition using the setting on the image below:

2 Import your Photoshop layers individually so each layer looks like a separate file.

3 Create a new solid layer: Layer>New>Solid,  and change the colour to white in the layer settings options box.

4 You will see the layer on the time line, select it, then right-click and select the CC Ball Action Effect in the Simulation options.

5 Change your options to the ones below.

6 Now that you have a star field, drag other layers to the time line; meaning drag all your props, and rearrange the layers:

  • white solid
  • hill1
  • hill2
  • tree

7 Make sure that these layers are all selected and press CTRL (CMD) +SHIF+C to create a new composition.

  • white solid
  • hill1
  • hill2
  • tree

8 A window will appear, select move all attributes into the new composition, name the new composition “parallax background”. Select  Open New Composition, before clicking ok.

9 check the new composition setting and change as per the image below.

10 Rearrange the layers if you want to do so

11 Do nothing just click on the word comp1 to close your new composition and go back to the main composition.

12 in the original composition you can now delete all layers.

13 Drag the parallax background composition into the timeline.

14 Right Click on the parallax background layer and select Effect>Stylize>Motion Tile

15 Click on the arrow next to the eye on the parallax background layer and a drop down list will appear, select  motion tile under the effects list.

15 Move the player heard to frame 1 and click on the watch and the diamond under the Tile Center heading, do not change any setting.

16  Move the player heard to last frame of your timeline  and click on the watch and the diamond under the Tile Center heading, change the setting as below.

17 Preview your movie.

18 Extend your timeline, you will also need to stretch your layer to extend to the time line

19 Drag the monkey layer to the timeline and click on the arrow and under the transform heading change the position of the monkey every now and then, make sure you click on both the diamond and the watch, each time you want to move the monkey.

Add more props on the timeline make your story experimenting with both the transform options on each layer you add. It has to make send

Once finish export the movie (Render).

Try some other story building (drawing your own props)

There is a more time-consuming method if you want to scroll the background manually. See bellow: