David Thorp use the SketchBook Motion app for adding movement to static drawings. In this tutorial, he shows how he makes something unique — an animated icon. You can create this in Motion and export it as an animated GIF. One great technique he uses that we think is a winner is adding guidelines to his layers to ensure everything lines up. It’s all about using layers in smart ways.
In this example I want to show you how I built a logo adding simple animation featuring a looping background image creating the illusion of depth and movement.
It’s smart to plan ahead to develop assets that can help you achieve the effects you are looking for. Similar to my last tutorial, I used temporary layers and graphics to help me with placement and animation.
The first challenge I had to deal with on this project was coming up with a way to develop a background utilizing a classic 2D animation method that hopefully will simulate depth and movement. The trick is to move about a central point with several layers – the background moving slowly compared to the mid-ground.
I imported the two sky images to a new layer in SketchBook Motion and added a Beeline rotation behavior to each. In this step, it is crucial to make sure the center point of the rotation is in the dead center of each graphic, so I added a temporary crosshair to guide me with this step.
I found I didn’t need the rotation to be very fast to make the animation look correct. I turned it nearly all the way down to zero.
Once I had everything in place I had this animation with the inner ring moving slightly faster than the outer ring.
This was working well, but I had a couple of problems. The animation needed to be moved down to accommodate the rest of the graphics, and the background was too small. The first problem was easy to take care of. I just used SketchBook Motion’s move tool and moved the two layers to the lowest point of the window. To make it easier to navigate, I turned the center ring’s layer off while I moved the outer ring.
Now here is where my center point crosshairs really come in handy. To place the center ring layer directly over the background ring’s center point, I turned on the center ring layer but reduced its opacity. Then I just lined up the two crosshairs and returned the center ring’s opacity to 100%.
Now as for the size of the animation, currently SketchBook Motion will allow you to import a 1024×768 image into the app. Anything larger will automatically be sized down to 1024×768. So to get around this I scaled up the two layers in the Advanced control panel by 200%
And now I have my background image. On to the next step.
I didn’t want the entire sky to be visible, so I built my background graphic with an alpha channel in the center that would mask the sky and landscape perfectly. I made sure to create the graphic at 1024×768 pixels so it would snap right into place.
Next would be importing the shadow and truck layers and adding a subtle Beeline movement up and down to simulate a bumpy road. This is a step where I use temporary layers to help guide me when developing the behavior.
Now for the final step: adding in the tires. This should be relatively simple since all I need is the graphic, a Beeline movement, and rotation. However, I really wanted reflections on the hubcaps, so now I had a problem. To make this look right the reflection would need to follow the Beeline movement behavior of the tires but not the rotation.
To match things up, I built the behavior of the tire in steps. First, I added in the up and down Beeline movement.
I needed to build a new layer that retained the behavior of the Beeline movement, so I started by duplicating the tire layer and moving the new layer above the original tire layer. I now had two tires, but the movement was not in sync.
To resolve this problem I pressed the Pause button to stop the animation and then activated each tire layer and pressed the Path button to reset the animation to the beginning of their respective Beeline behaviors. Then, both tires were synchronized so I could move on. To make sure I can see what I’m doing I turn off the bottom tire layer and erase away the top tire layer. I turned the bottom tire back on and then painted two small white circles on the erased tire layer. Once completed, I turned the animation back on to make sure the effect was working.
I had the behavior I wanted in movement up and down. I just needed to change the tire behavior to include rotation. I activated the tire layer and added rotation making sure that the center point of the animation was aligned with the center of the crosshair.
The last step is simple. Duplicate both the tire and the reflection and move them both to the rear tire crosshair. Delete the crosshair layer, and watch this truck go!