Behind the Scenes: Wynonna Earp Animation

Greetings!

It’s been a while since my last post. One of my goals for 2018 is to begin blogging more regularly, but so far, I have not been so successful. Posts may continue to be sporadic through the next few months, as I’m taking on some additional responsibilities in my day job temporarily. Nevertheless, I’m still going to make an effort to share things here once in a while.

Today, I thought I’d share some of the background process that went into a recent piece of Wynonna Earp fan art. I created a short animation of Wynonna crying from Season One, Episode Ten. This was my first experience making a hand drawn animation and turning it into a GIF. I’d like to start incorporating more animation into my work, but that will definitely be a slow-growing process.

I don’t think I’ve discussed my experience in the act of creating in much detail before. In some ways, it’s a little bit like having a blackout. I have a hard time recalling what I am doing or how I end up with the finished product. I believe the popular name for this type of creative experience is Flow. Anyways, this experience can make it hard for me to relay a detailed step-by-step of my process. So, I’m going to walk through the process of making this piece as best I can.

First, I had to draw the main illustration, which I call “Frame 0.” I sketched the initial outlines in using the 6B Pencil tool in Procreate. Then, on a separate layer, I began inking everything except for Wynonna’s eyes. To this end, I used two imported brushes: the TurtlePress Fountain Pen brush and the Charlie Chisel brush.

I typically ink the outlines on one layer, then large areas of black and hair on separate layers. Once I’m satisfied with how each component looks, I’ll merge the three layers together. At some point during this process, I’ll usually drop in the flat gray background and the paper textures on top (which are usually in Multiply or Normal modes with a low opacity setting).

With the main inks complete, I moved onto the eyes, where the animation appears. Since I knew I was going to need to draw a lot of modified versions of the tears falling for the actual animation, I kept the layers distinct (see above: main inks, partially complete eyes, and a final layer with the tears added). 

With the tears added, I exported Frame 0 to use as a static illustration. To create the frames for the animation, I duplicated Frame 0 approximately 30 or so times, only modifying the layer containing the tear to move it down Wynonna’s cheek.

By the time I was finished with inking the frames, I had nearly 40 frames in total. Here’s a peek at the majority of the frames:

With all of my frames complete, I exported each one as a PNG. I opened them in Photoshop and created the GIF following instructions in a tutorial. This was an easy process, although it was a little time consuming while I tinkered with the export settings.

At the end of the day, I’m really happy with how this project turned
out! I’m not sure that I’ll start animating all of my illustrations, but
it is something I’d like to try again. Do you have any tips or tricks
for animating traditional style illustrations like this in Procreate or
other apps? I’d love to hear about your animation experiences.

Signing off,

S.

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