Edited in Canva Pro.
Sources and Materials
Below are the materials I used in this art.
Edited in Canva Pro.
I saw in my social media that one of my little nephew is having his birthday in a few days. Since I wanted to improve on my emotes, I made a happy birthday emote using Splinterland's Prince Julian.
Since this is based on a Splinterlands character, anyone who would be stumbling on this post is also free to use this animated emote for their loved ones.
Also, before we start, I would once again apologize for the delays. The animation itself was already done before Monday and I was planning to post it on Monday. I didn't realize that there are a lot of minor details needed to be explained and the documentation took more time than what I was expecting. Even if it was a bit longer than Wood Nymph Guide, I hope this serves as a useful guide for those who are into doing emotes and entering the world of Adobe After Effects.
Table of Contents
Since this is a long guide, below is the table of contents for this guide. Use ctrl + F to easily find the section you are in.
PART I: Lineart and Coloring
Step 1 Draft
First, unlike my other works, I decided to just do a pencil draft this time. I didn't use ink because I would still then re-draw it digitally using the pen tool in Photoshop CS5.
and the second one will be a collection of mouth for the "Happy Birthday" like this:
Step 2 Digital Lineart
I used a big 2000 x 2000 canvas. I saw this in a youtube tutorial and I realized that using a bigger canvas and a square one, instead of a rectangle has a lot of benefits. You can downscale it to twitch requirement of 128 x 128, 56 x 56, and 28 x 28.
If you're planning on doing advertisment or merch, you can also use this for T-Shirt printing. Higher resolution allows for a better quality for those prints as well.
Downsizing it also avoids loss of data or stretching unlike from a lower size going to a higher one.
I normally uses 1000 px x 1000 px but for this one, I decided to use 2000 px x 2000 px. For 1000 px x 1000 px, you just use half of the brush size.
Step 2.1 Mouth Digital Lineart and Coloring
I'll first show the mouths just to get it out of the way. We're going to use a 40 px brush for outer lineart and 20 px brush for the more detail design.
Simply trace the lineart using a 40 px brush. For the inner ones, use the 20 px.
For the colored ones, we'll use these color swatches:
Make a new layer for the color, put it below the lineart layer, then color it in using the color provided above. Use this coloring guide below for easier instructions.
The resulting piece should be these four, or five if you include the main drawing. (It has it's own mouth attached for balance and guide which we will detach before the animation stage)
Since all the steps in the lineart is the same, which is simply trace the draft, I'll skip this part and go in more deeper at coloring and animation stages. Just remember to use 40 px for the outer part, and 20px for the details. You can mix and match but that's the standard for me right now.
Step 3 Crown
I didn't copy 100% the crown from the original but used the same idea. At first, you may feel that the shadow and other details seems flat and out of place, but once the whole picture is made, that hesitation will certainly disappear.
Step 3.1 Crown Swatches
For the crown base, we use 3 colors, the base the shadow and highlight:
Step 3.1.1 Crown Base
First, create a new layer. Name it, "Crown Base." Place it under the Crown Lineart. Fill in the crown with the base color.
After that, lock the layer using the Lock Transparent Pixels tool on the top of your layer panel.
Step 3.1.2 Crown Shadow
Duplicate that layer, then we'll proceed with applying the shadows on the crown.
For the shadow, click on your brush tool, make the size 60 px. Use the shadow swatch, then using the pen tool, make straight lines, right click stroke brush. This makes dark lines on the crown which would serve as shadows. Also, put shadow on all the back part of the crown like in this part:
You can use the line tool as well but I prefer the pen tool. The imperfection makes the shadow more realistic than perfect lines.
Also, use different sizes of shadows if you want like in this final product.
Step 3.1.3 Crown Highlights
The highlights works exactly the same as the shadow. Every bit is exactly the same. The only difference and kind of a note to take is to keep the highlights on one side.
This allows your viewers to imagine that you only have one light source.
Step 3.2 Gem Swatches
For the finishing touches, there's 4 gems in the middle of the crown. They both have the same colors so we're using these three swatches for the base, shadow and highlights:
Step 3.2.1 Gem Shadow Color
Since the bigger part is the shadow, we'll start with it for convenience.
Create a new layer and name it, "Gem Shadow." Since the area is small, just use a brush to fill in the area with the base swatch like in this:
Step 3.2.2 Gem Base Color
Duplicate the Gem Shadow Layer then hide it. Rename the new layer, "Gem Base." Click the Lock Transparent Pixels option on the top of the layers panel.You can skip this part and just use the base layer for the coloring but it's always good to have a backup.
Using your Ellipse Tool, draw a smaller circle. Change your foreground color to the Base Swatch. Once done, Right click on your workspace, then fill path, then click ok. You can use the picture below as a guide.
Step 3.2.3 Gem Highlight Color
Duplicate the Gem Shadow Layer then hide it. Rename the new layer, "Gem Highlights".
Using your Ellipse Tool, draw a smaller circle than before. Change your foreground color to the Gem Highlight Swatch. Once done, Right click on your workspace, then fill path, then click ok. You can use the picture below as a guide.
Step 3.3 Coloring the Smaller Gems
Duplicate the 3 layers, Gem Base, Gem Shadow, and Gem Highlights, Merge it then resize to the size of the smaller ones. Once you're done with one, duplicate it 2 more times, and add it to the other two.
Step 4 Head
For the head, it's the same as my other art tutorial/guides. We will also do the color of the mouth but we'll color also under it since we're going to separate the mouth before the animation stage.
Step 4.1 Head Color Swatches
We're going to be using 4 colors for the head, including the earrings:
Step 4.2 Head Base Color
First, using the Lasso Tool, crop out the mouth. Right click, then Layer via Cut. Rename the layer, "Mouth Lineart."
Create a new layer and name it. "Head Base Color." Put the Head Base Color layer below the mouth layer. For the color base, simply fill the whole head with the head base color. Select a big brush like 100 px to 200 px so you can fill the color faster. Remember to fill the part under the mouth as well because we're going to change the mouth in the animation part. Hide the Mouth Layer so you can see which part is not yet filled.
Step 4.3 Head Shadow Color
Duplicate the Head Base Color layer by right clicking on it and selecting duplicate layer. Rename it, "Head Shadow Color." Use the Lock Transparent Pixel button so you won't affect the outside of the colored area.
Take out your pen tool and fill in the sides and parts of the head that would cast a shadow like this:
Step 4.4 Earrings
For the earrings, create a new layer and rename it, "Earrings Color." Put the Earrings Color layer below the Head Color Base Layer.
After that, use the Earrings Swatch given above, and color the earring part on the earlobes. It should be like this:
Step 4.5 Mouth
I put the mouth on a separate section because on Step 4.2, we cut it or separated the mouth to form a new layer called, "Mouth Lineart."
Right now, the mouth should look like this:
This is because the layer is currently transparent and the color you see is actually the Skin Base Color Layer.
Create a new layer, put it below the Mouth Lineart layer, and above the Skin Base Color layer. Rename it. "Mouth Color."
Step 4.5.1 Mouth Swatches
Same as the other mouths, we're going to use 4 colors:
Step 4.5.2 Coloring
Color in the bases for the Teeth, Tongue and the back of the mouth using the appropriate swatches.
For the tongue, we also apply shadow at the back. Just follow the line of the lineart. The full mouth after everything is colored should look like this:
Step 5 Clothes
Prince Julian's Clothes is a blue robe with purple belt. It has golden lining on the arms and a lighter one on the middle of the body.
For the whole Step 5, I will show you the fully made one, with both base and shadows applied. The steps are basically the same as each other steps above. Just fill in the base color, lock the color layer, then apply the shadow.
Step 5.1 Clothes Upper
This is for the majority part of Prince Julian's Clothes. The blue one.
Step 5.1.1 Swatches
I copied the two colors from the original art. These are the two color swatches we're going to use for the base and the shadow:
Step 5.2 Clothes Lining
The clothes lining are the gold parts found in the middle of the clothes and on the arms.
Step 5.2.1 Lining Swatches
For the lining, I used 4 kinds of colors in this, 2 for the base and shadow on the middle, then another base and shadow on the arms :
Step 5.3 Belt
The belt part can be found under the hands and below the cake area.
Step 5.3.1 Belt Swatches
Since the belt is too dark already, I didn't use any swatch. Also, since it's below the cake part, it feels like the whole thing is shadowed. I used this color for the belt:
Step 5.4 Hands
The colors of the hand is the same as the skin on the face. I put it in a separate layer just for clarity.
Step 5.4.1 Hands Swatches
We'll use these 2 swatches for the base and shadow.
Step 5.4.2 Hands Base Color
Start by creating a new layer, naming it, "Hands Base Color." Place it below the Body Lineart. Fill in the color with the base swatch above:
Step 5.4.3 Hands Shadow
Duplicate the layer, and name it "Hands Shadow. Lock the Transparent Pixels. Using the Pen Tool, fill in the sides of the skin, towards the clothes and under the hands as well like in this example:
Step 6 Cake
The cake part also has multiple sections. This may be the hardest section in the coloring stage due to its little nooks and cranny but this is also the part that I enjoyed the most.
Step 6.1 Swatches
For the Main Cake, we're going to use 2 colors:
For the Cake Icing, we're going to use 2 colors:
For the Cake Candles, we're going to use 2 colors:
For the Cake Cherries, we're going to use 2 colors:
For the Cake Holder, we're going to use 2 colors:
Since we're going to use these swatches all throughout this section, I suggest copying them and saving it on your computer temporarily so you're not going to scroll up and down while working on this part.
Step 6.2 Main Cake
We're going a chocolate cake with vanilla frosting! Yummy! For the base, we're going to use the brown-ish swatches listed above.
Create a new layer and name it, "Main Cake Color". Use the guide below to fill in the appropriate parts.
For the shadow, duplicate the Main Cake Color layer, rename it as Shadow Layer and lock it. Place the Shadow Layer above the Main Cake Color Layer. Using the Pen tool, create a line on this part and fill it.
Step 6.3 Cake Icing
Create a new layer and name it Icing Base Color. Using the swatch of the same name, fill in our vanilla frosting. Use a brush size of 40 pixels to fill it. Lastly, place the said layer above the Shadow Layer of the Main Cake.
For the Shadow part, duplicate the layer and name it "Shadow." Click the Lock Transparent Layer found on top of the layer panel. Besides the sides of the cake, just smidge it here and there. I don't really have a rule in here and just randomly placed it.
Step 6.4 Cake Candle
Create a new layer. Name it as "Candle Base Color." Fill in the color of the candle. Place it on top of the icing layer.
Duplicate the layer, name it, "Candle Design." Lock Transparent Pixels. Put small lines on the candles using an 8 px brush. It should look like this:
Step 6.5 Cake Cherry
Fill in the cherries using the swatches above. Use a small brush size like 8 px for more comfort.
There's no shadows on this part due to the shadow part being hidden.
Step 6.6 Cake Holder
First, create a new layer and name it "Cake Holder Base." Fill it in with the swatch color above. It should look like this:
Duplicate the layer, name it, "Cake Holder Shadow." Lock Transparent Pixels. Color the sides of the cake holder using the swatch provided. It should look like this:
If we combine everything, the final part without the animation should look like this:
PART II: Animation
During this unintended break, I managed to get my hands on Adobe After Effects 7.0. A relative gave me this old 2012 laptop and Adobe After Effects 7.0 is the latest version you can run on it being a 32 bit Windows.
This guide should still work if you're using newer versions of Adobe After Effects. Actually, you may skip some of the steps in this as the later versions included some of my work-arounds based on my research.
Without further ado, let's get animating!
Step 7 Familiarizing with the AE Workspace
You will see here in the picture that the animation has already been done but I will take you on the step by step process still.
1 Project Area
This is where you can see all the assets or files you will be using or imported in After Effects. It is alphabetically arranged and you cannot rearrange it unless you use folders which can be found on its tools below the panel.
This is both the view area and an editing area. You can see how your animations move, while being able to edit where and how it moves.
3 Editing Area
This is where most of the editing takes place. Rearranging the elements also affects which comes in front or at the back. Imagine it as same as layers panel in Photoshop.
There are also specific editing that we can do here like rotating the image to a specific exact degree. This part is, without a doubt, where you will be working most.
After Effects, to me, is like combined Photoshop and Movie Maker. If you had any experience with any video editing software, this program might be your jam. You can edit the timeline for each element to control what happens at specific times. Moving the blue arrow going down at the top of timeline panel also shows you what happens in the Workspace area in real time.
5 Other Info Panel
I categorized this as "Other Info" because I don't use or know what to do with this. This part is like a quick menu for effects and other information on your workspace but since I'm not yet that advanced, you can just skip this for the meantime.
We may use this in the future once I got the hang of using After Effects.
Step 8 Importing the Assets
From your folder, simply drag and drop the files you will be using in the Project Area. The project area then will rearrange it alphabetically. This can be useful or destructive depending on how many files you're using. If you're using a bunch of small files, then either rename them so they would be in a group or...
At the bottom part of the panel, I underlined the icon which adds a new folder. Rename it to the group you needed after creating and drag and drop the other assets to it so they would be in that group. This doesn't affect any editing, just so you can easily get the files you needed for the current project.
Step 8.1 Fire Element
During the Animation process, I made a quick fire element for the cake.
You can just use this for your work, or if you want to make your own, you can follow these simple steps:
- Make a 1000 px x 1000 px Project in Photoshop.
- Create a new layer and make a tear drop lineart using the pen tool.
- Create a new layer and put it below the lineart layer. Use colors Yellow, Orange and Red to fill it.
- Lock Transparent Pixels.
- Using the Smudge Tool, make a few smudges upwards by dragging your mouse upwards.
- For added effect, you can also color the lineart by locking the transparent pixels, then use the appropriate colors based on the flame.
Step 9 Making a New Composition
Composition is like the current project you're working on. On the menu bar, click on Composition, then New Composition. You can also press ctrl + N.
This creates a new composition where we can add our assets to make the animation. Rename the composition name if you want.
We're going to do a 2000 x 2000 pixel project with 24 frames per second. The higher the frames, the higher the quality. 24 Frames per second is the lowest you can go without damaging the quality. Lowering frame rates, also lowers the file size, which in turns makes the rendering or saving process faster.
Click ok once you're done and this will create a new composition on the project area. This will also initially give you a blank workspace.
Step 10 Adding Assets to the Composition
Toggle Transparency Grid
Clicking this part eliminates the black background that originally comes with creating the composition. This also makes your emote have a transparent background at rendering phase.
Adding Assets on the Composition
It is as simple as dragging and dropping your assets and elements you will be using from the Project Area to the Workspace. Add them all then rearrange it on the workspace so it would look like one whole picture.
Use your mouse scroll wheel to zoom in and zoom out of your Workspace.
Step 10.1 Adding Green Screen
I'm not sure if my After Effects is bugged or it's really like this on the older versions. Applying the Transparency Grid does not make the end product transparent.
For this, I made a workaround using green screen.
Make a picture in MS Paint or Photoshop. Any size would be okay. Using the Paint Bucket Tool, just fill it with a green color. Any shade of green is also okay. Just don't make it so dark that it would be close to black as your lines would be damaged later.
The green screen is any color that is not in your emote. If you're using every shade of color in your emote, this workaround will not work as the screen will be deleted at the end with all the colors close to its shade.
Add the Green Screen by dragging it from the Project Area to the Workspace. Make it as big, if not more, as the composition. Make sure everything is filled.
On the Editing Area, drag your green screen element to the bottom most part so it would serve as your background. You can hide it for now or leave it be by clicking the eye icon on the left side of the element in the Editing Area.
Step 11 Rearranging Layers
On the Editing Area, rearrange the elements in the order above.
A few notes to consider:
- The 3 fires are made by drag and dropping the Fire element thrice from the Project Area to the Worskpace area.
- The name of the elements used in this emote is as follows:
The mouth is named based on the shape of the mouth when making the sound. It's not perfect but it's good enough when sped up at the animation stage.
Step 11.1 The Editing Area
Before proceeding to the timeline, where we'll start moving parts, I think it's best to arrange the Editing Area first for easier modifications later.
I'll be a bit more in depth on explaining its parts as we'll be using this most later.
I will not explain everything but only the parts that we will be using. This is an emote animation guide, after all, and not an After Effects tutorial.
Clicking on this box allows you to set a color for the Timeline. This doesn't group the layers but it allows you to provide color groups on the timeline page for easier editing.
This can be considered as linking. At the example, since the Fire.png has Body.png as its parent, then on the editing phase, when we move the parent, Body.png, it also moves its child, the Fire.png. Any edits on the Body.png affects all its child or the elements with it as its parent.
Having the eye icon means it's visible and the blank box means that the layer is hidden. It works the same as in Photoshop. Good to know if you have overlapping layers.
I really don't know what this is called so we'll call it the Transform Options instead. You can change the values that is highlighted as blue and it will take effect on the elements in the Workspace. Moving or editing in the Workspace also affects these values and vice versa.
Clicking on the stopwatch allows us to edit that part. This allows us to edit only certain factors of each element based on what we need.
You can also click the stopwatch button while holding alt on your keyboard to open up the Expressions Menu. This includes a more specific effects and options but we'll not use this for the meantime. This would open a whole new can of worms.
For now, copy all the options provided in the photo so you can follow along much easier.
Step 12 Editing Timeline
Initially, when you inserted the elements, you'll get big blocks of uncolored bars on Timeline Area. Editing the label allows us to work on them easier.
On the bottom part of the Timeline Panel, click the mountain-like icon to zoom in on the timeline.
For all the mouth, crop it by dragging the silver bracket from right to left. Except for the last one, make it 03f length. I think this means 3 frames.
What this does is it tells After Effects to show these elements for only 3 frames long. After that duration, it removes them from the animation. You can press the space button to play the animation to see better what it does.
We'll adjust the last mouth part after you've done the other mouths.
Step 12.1 Body Swap Method
I call this part the Body Swap Method. Rearrange the mouth's timeline. When one ends, the next one starts.
Then for the last mouth, drag the left silver bracket to the last mouth's duration.
I call this the body swap method because we're actually using different elements while making it look like it's one element from start to finish.
Step 13 Shortening the Animation
On the Composition Menu, click the Composition Setting. On the Duration, set it to 3 seconds.
Step 14 Making the Fire Move
To make the illusion that the fire is moving, I decided to change it's scale throughout the animation. This makes it smaller then bigger like an actual flame.
- Click on the drop down arrow of the Fire.png on the Editing Area to show the Transform Options. Click on the stopwatch.
- On the Timeline Panel, move the blue down arrow to 12f. Set the scale to 16.1, 21.0%.
Move to 24f. Set scale to 18.7, 21.0%
To its right, move to 09f. Set scale to 15.7, 21.0%
To its right, move to 24f. Set scale to 17.0, 21.0%
To its right, move to 24f. Set scale to 17.0, 21.0%
Since we set the Frame Rate to 24 at the start, we have 3 sets of 24f for the 3 second duration. It's 24 Frames per Second.
On the other two fires, do the same but change the initial value. Keep the percentage to 21.0%. Experiment as you can set any value on those Fire elements.
Step 14.1 Checking the Animation
Set the blue down arrow on the Timeline Panel to the very start. Press Space on your keyboard to make the animation move. It should now move like this:
Step 15 Saving the Animation
Unhide the Green Screen (If it's hidden). On the menu bar, click on Composition, then Add to Render Queue.
This would show these options below. I haven't tried to mess around this part so just click on Render Button for now.
It may take a few seconds but this will save your After Effects animation to an AVI file. AVI is a video file and we'll need to change this to a GIF so we'll be able to use it in our blogs or streams as emotes.
Step 16 Converting AVI to GIF
There's a lot of converters out there, both online and offline. I like to use EffectMatrix's Total Video Converter
Drag and drop the emote, select GIF. Below, there's an option to resize the video before editing. Let's put it at 300 x 300 pixels for now. Then, clicking on the drop down, there's another option for inverse image meaning if the image is upside down.
This sometimes happen to me and I am happy that this converter has an option to counter that.
Select Convert Now found on the top and wait until finished.
Step 17 Removing the Green Screen
Searching online, I've found this wonderful website called, "Online GIF Tools". We'll use this website to remove the green screen on our emote.
Drag and drop the image to import it.
On the gif background remover option, copy the rgb option I added. This is for the green background. If it didn't work, click on the paint icon that I highlighted and select the closest color you use as your green screen. Keep other settings as it is.
Above it, shows the emote we made with the removed background. Save it on your PC and we're done.
I hope this guide would be useful on how to make animated emotes with the help of After Effects and a few more tools.
This is actually my first time using After Effects. If even on an old laptop, I can do this, I can't imagine what more you can do with yours.
Im in the process of saving money to get a better laptop so I can get my hands on Photoshop CC and After Effects CC, the latest versions that we can use and provides a lot more options for making emotes.
For the meantime, I will practice and make sure the next guide is a bit more efficient. I apologize if my guides were long as it's hard for me not to detail the parts as you may miss some steps especially if you're a new user of After Effects just like me.
- This post is an entry for Splinterland's art contest.
- Other sources that I do not own are cited under their respective photos. Photos and drawings without cited sources are mine and made for this post.
- I used Canva and/or Photoshop on some of the photo guides for clarity.
If you're interested in playing the game, support me by registering using my referral link here
Have Fun Drawing!