How I Did It: Skater Dude Animation


I started studying lots of skateboarding gifs that other animators had done to try and get the motion of the driving leg right. Without doing this it simply wouldn’t look right.


I began with a lot of sketching, frame by frame if you like so I got the leg positions right and then traced this a few times in ink as I wanted to get the a wobbly line effect like my ink drawings had some life to them. I ended up with various sheets which looked like the below. These formed the various leg positions and were scanned sorted in Photoshop.


From there I added shoes, colour and texture and ended up with various limbs that when seperate looked like the below.

Animating in Photoshop

So I worked at 25fps (don’t know why but I heard it’s good) and used multiple video timelines to compile it all together, a separate layer per limb. My timeline and layers looked like this:

Now, unless I take you through every layer in person it would be a bit hard to explain how I did it, which doesn’t help I know. There are some links at the end to some tutorials so you can learn a bit for yourself about video timelines etc.

The above timeline of layers resulted in this motion:

It’s literally only a 4 second clip but enough for me to take into After Effects and add more movement and a bit of wizardry. Before I did this though I turned off the background layer and saved a transparent video. This would give me with more flex when animating in After Effects.

Animating in After Effects

To be honest, I’m not a seasoned vet when it comes to this programme so there was a lot of Googling involved. You hit a problem, just Google it is my advice. A list of what I did in After Effects is as follow:

  • Added the jerk movement of the skateboard moving forward
  • Gave our friend features using shapes
  • Added movement to the eyes
  • Re-scaled him at various points so he could avoid the cars
  • Used time remapping so the skateboarding clip would last the duration of the timeline
  • Added motion blur for a more ‘real’ moving effect
  • Added in a moving background to give a greater sense of speed

So that’s about it for After Effects… as I mentioned before it would be easier to show in person how I did it but at least this gives you a good overview of what I have done. Remember Google is you friend!

Back to Photoshop

As with a lot of my illustrations I like to add expressive lines to denote movement the same is when I animate too.

So after rendering the video from After Effects I took it back into Photoshop to add in the expressive movement lines again using video layers to draw these frame by frame.

The Result

Further Research

Tutorial by Animade

Tutorial by Alex Grigg