How to Create Silly Animations from Old Public Domain Photos

Thank you to everyone who read the recent article about my short animations, and to all of the people who reached out to ask me for a tutorial. Since so many people were curious, I decided to put together a tutorial where I take you along for the ride while I create one of the animations from the original article.

To follow along, you’ll need some basic knowledge of Adobe Photoshop and Adobe After Effects, but this is really just intended as a starting point for anyone who wants to try their hand at basic animation. There are a lot of different techniques that can be added to this process. Whatever your skill level, I hope you enjoy the tutorial!

Here are the key takeaways:

  • A lot of the process is just trial and error, see what works best for you. 🙂
  • Cut out your layers in Photoshop by thinking about what’s moving, what’s behind it, and what’s in front of it.
  • In Adobe After Effects there are two main ways to animate the layers:
    • The puppet warp tool works best for stuff that needs to change its form. For example, a flag that’s blowing in the wind.
    • For layers that won’t change their form, like limbs, you’ll want to move the Anchor Point to the joint of the layer, and then rotate the layer around it.

If you create something with the help of the tutorial I’d love to take a look, so please tag me on Instagram @nicolatroehler.

About the author: Nicola Tröhler is a photographer and director based in switzerland. You can find more of his work on his website, or by following him on Instagram.

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