Colorful art and looping animations come together for a striking composition in Adobe Photoshop. See how digital painter and pattern designer Shyama Golden makes a fun illustration more interesting with animated patterns.

Shyama Golden’s paintings exist in the space between the cute and the uncanny, inviting the viewer to discover new details through multiple viewings. Her work is influenced by science, graphic design, and the artistic tradition of magical realism.

Scale to size

To make sure the images she placed scaled properly, Golden set the general preferences by deselecting Resize Image During Place – Edit > Preferences (Windows) or Photoshop > Preferences (macOS).

Illustrated headshot shows Adobe Photoshop general preferences panel with the Resize Image During Place checkbox unchecked

Pick a pattern

Next, Golden placed the pattern as an embedded image (File > Place Embedded) to the Right Front Panel layer group, just above the RIGHT side layer. Photoshop placed the image as a Smart Object. She then right-clicked on the pattern layer and chose Create Clipping mask so the pattern fit within the shirt panel.

Adobe Photoshop Layers panel sits over headshot, shows the pattern layer is indented slightly, down arrow shows clipping mask

Prepare to animate

When Golden was ready to animate the pattern, she opened the Timeline (Window > Timeline) and dragged the playhead to the 00 mark. Then, she selected the shyama_golden_pattern layer in the timeline and moved it to align with the playhead.

Animation timeline overlaps bottom portion of illustrated headshot, playhead is at the beginning of the timeline

Transform Your art

To define the animation properties, Golden twirled open the pattern layer and clicked the stopwatch for the Transform property to create a Transform keyframe.

Then, she dragged the playhead to 05:00 and used Control+T (Windows), Command+T (macOS), to open Free Transform. She clicked the pyramid in the Control Bar to use Relative Positioning for the reference point – this converted X and Y to 0.00 px. She changed X to -500 and Y to 500 to move the pattern down and to the left. In order to get a perfectly looping animation, it is important to set the coordinates in increments of 500.

Golden completed the animation by clicking the checkmark, which created a new keyframe. Finally, she selected Loop Playback from the Timeline’s flyout menu and clicked Play to test the animation.

Adobe Photoshop animation timeline showing markers for keyframe animation

Make some waves

Liven up the composition by adding patterns to other parts of the illustration. Experiment with changing the positioning of the pattern in each section to create alternating waves of animation.

Woman with short black hair, glasses, and red lipstick wears a black and white shirt that appears to be moving

Note: Project files included with this tutorial are for practice purposes only.

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