Russ Murphy paints frame-by-frame loose, playful sketches and brings them to life through animation in Adobe Photoshop.
RUFFMERCY, aka Russ Murphy, is an animation director based in the United Kingdom. After cutting his teeth at MTV in the late ’90s as a promo producer, he moved on to become a freelance animator for broadcasting networks and agencies before jumping into the world of music videos. He is known for his loose hand-drawn animation style sometimes laid over live footage and often paired with hip-hop music.
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Step 1: Open the base texture
To start the project, Murphy opened the background texture video (available in the practice files) directly in Photoshop using File > Open. The document opened to show the Timeline with the video layer added by default. If the Timeline does not open for you right away, choose Window > Timeline. Additionally, if you see a frame animation instead of a video timeline, click the icon in the lower left of the Timeline to convert it to a video Timeline.
Step 2: Trim it down
The base video was longer than what Murphy needed for the project. To adjust this, he used the Set End of Work Area slider above the video layer to 2 seconds (or 14 frames).
Step 3: Work in layers
Murphy then added and renamed a video layer (Layer > Video Layers > New Blank Video Layer) on which he could start drawing.
Step 4: Start with a sketch
For this composition, Murphy used the Rough Carver brush from Kyle Webster’s MEGAPACK, then customized it in the Brush Settings (Window > Brush Settings). He set the brush size and color and drew the face on the starting frame. When he finished the face, he clicked the Go to next frame icon to advance the playhead one frame.
Feel free to use a textured brush of your choice. If you’d like to use the Rough Carver brush, select Get More Brushes from the flyout menu on the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes) and login with your Adobe ID. Scroll through the Brushes web page until you see the MEGAPACK and click the Download button. Select Import Brushes from the Brushes panel and find the .abr file you just downloaded. When you import the brush, it will appear in its own category in the Brushes panel.
Step 5: Use a guide
The Onion Skin feature guided Murphy as he drew the remaining frames. He selected Enable Onion Skins from the flyout menu, then chose Onion Skin Settings to define the options he wanted to use. With Onion Skin enabled, he could see a trace of the artwork he drew in the previous frame. He used this as a guide to draw another variation of the face on the current frame, then advanced to the next frame. He repeated this process, drawing and advancing, until he finished drawing on each of the frames in the segment.
Step 6: Make a pattern
Murphy added dimension with a new video layer by choosing Layer > Video Layers > New Blank Video Layer. Then he repeated the process of drawing frame by frame using a different size and color brush to create a pattern around the face.
Step 7: See it in action
When he was ready to preview the animation, Murphy clicked the Settings icon, checked Loop Playback, and clicked Play.
Step 8: Loop it
When it was ready for primetime, he saved his work as an animated GIF by choosing File > Export > Save for Web (Legacy), selecting a GIF preset, and setting Looping to Forever. He could also render it as a video using File > Export > Render Video and then use that rendered video in Adobe Premiere Pro or After Effects for further edits.
Make sketchy animations
Make doodling more fun by adding motion to your sketches with frame-by-frame animation in Photoshop.
Note: Project files included with this tutorial are for practice purposes only.