Canvas Selection for Photoshop Animation Tips
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 11 min read


  1. Pick the right canvas size
  2. Adjust canvas resolution
  3. Select the ideal color mode
  4. How to set up the animation timeline
  5. Create animation frames
  6. Manage layer visibility
  7. How to animate with keyframes
  8. Apply easing for smoother animations
  9. Export your animation
  10. Tips to avoid common pitfalls

When it comes to creating mind-blowing animations in Photoshop, choosing the right canvas is like laying the foundation for a masterpiece. It's that first crucial step that sets the tone for the rest of your project. Understanding how to pick the perfect canvas for your animation Photoshop project can be the difference between a successful animation and one that falls flat. So, let's dive in and get our hands a little digital-dirty, shall we?

Pick the right canvas size

The first major decision you'll make is about the size of your canvas. This isn't a task to take lightly—picking the wrong size could mean your animation ends up looking squished or stretched out of proportion. So, where do you start?

First, think about where your animation is going to live. If you're designing for a website, you might want to stick to standard web sizes. A common choice is the 1920x1080 pixels, often referred to as 1080p. But if you're creating animations for a mobile app, you might want to opt for sizes that are more in line with mobile screen dimensions, like 1080x1920 pixels.

Next, consider the aspect ratio of your project. The aspect ratio is the proportion between the width and height of your canvas. For instance, an aspect ratio of 16:9 is common for video projects, while a 1:1 ratio may be ideal for social media posts.

Remember: choosing a canvas for your animation photoshop project is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. What works for one project may not work for another. So, don't be afraid to play around with different sizes until you find the one that fits your animation just right.

Also, keep in mind that you can always resize your canvas later on if you need to. To do this, simply go to the Image menu, select Canvas Size, and adjust the width and height as needed. But be careful—resizing your canvas could affect your animation's quality, so it's best to get the size right from the start.

Picking the right canvas size is just the first step towards a successful animation. So, buckle up because we still have a lot to cover. But don't worry, with each step, you'll be getting closer to creating the animation of your dreams.

Adjust canvas resolution

Next up on our journey of choosing a canvas for your animation photoshop project is adjusting the canvas resolution. This might sound technical, but don't worry, I've got you covered.

Resolution refers to the number of pixels in an image. The more pixels, the higher the resolution, and the sharper your animation will appear. If you've ever seen an image or video that looked fuzzy or pixelated, it probably had a low resolution.

So, how do you adjust the resolution? In Photoshop, you can do this by going to the Image menu, selecting Image Size, and then entering the desired resolution in the Resolution box. A good rule of thumb is to start with a resolution of 72 pixels per inch (ppi) for animations that will be viewed on a screen.

But remember: Higher resolution means more detail, but it also means larger file sizes. So, if you're working on a complex animation, or if you need to keep your file size down, you might want to stick with a lower resolution. It's all about finding the right balance for your specific project.

Now, you might be wondering: "What if I'm creating an animation that will be printed, not viewed on a screen?" Well, in that case, you'll need a higher resolution, typically 300 ppi or more. This is because printers can reproduce more detail than screens can.

Adjusting the canvas resolution might seem like a small step, but it can make a big difference in the quality of your animation. So, don't skip this part of the process when you're choosing a canvas for your animation photoshop project.

Select the ideal color mode

Choosing the ideal color mode is a crucial step when you're prepping your canvas for a Photoshop animation. In the world of digital artistry, color is king and Photoshop provides you with a few different options. But here’s the deal: not all color modes are created equal when it comes to animation.

If you're new to this, you might be asking, "What’s a color mode?" It’s simply the range of colors that you can use in your project. The two modes you'll most likely use are RGB and CMYK.

Let's start with RGB, which stands for Red, Green, Blue. It’s the color mode used by screens and digital displays. So, if your animation is destined for the web or any digital platform, RGB is your go-to. Plus, it has the added benefit of a wider color range, giving you more vibrant colors to play with.

On the other hand, if your animation is going to be printed, you'll want to use CMYK, which stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (black). Printers use this color mode to produce a wide range of colors, but it doesn’t have quite the same vibrancy as RGB.

To select your color mode in Photoshop, just go to the Image menu, select Mode, and then choose the color mode that suits your needs. It’s as simple as that!

Remember, choosing the right color mode is an important step in the process of choosing a canvas for your animation photoshop project. It can affect the final look of your animation, so it's worth taking a moment to make sure you've got it right.

How to set up the animation timeline

Setting up the animation timeline is your next step after choosing a canvas for your animation in Photoshop. The timeline is where the magic happens—it's your conductor's baton, your director's chair. It's where you'll orchestrate the movement and flow of your animation.

First things first: to open your timeline, go to Window, then Timeline. A panel will appear at the bottom of your screen. It might look a bit daunting at first, but don't worry, we'll break it down.

The timeline is divided into frames, and every Photoshop animation is a series of these frames. Think of it like a flipbook—you draw something on each page, and when you flip through it quickly, your drawings come to life. That's what you'll be doing with the frames on your timeline.

You'll have two options: Create Video Timeline and Create Frame Animation. For simple animations, we'll go with Create Frame Animation. Click on it, then click the little dropdown arrow to set how long each frame will be displayed. You can choose anything from 0.1 seconds to 10 seconds, or even a custom duration.

So there you go! You've set up your timeline. Now you're ready to bring your drawings to life. Remember, the timeline is your friend in the animation process, so don't be afraid to experiment and find what works best for you.

Create Animation Frames

Now that you've chosen a canvas for your animation in Photoshop and set up the timeline, it's time to create the animation frames. Think of each frame as a snapshot of a moment. Put together, they create a wonderful flow of motion—your animation!

Start by creating your first frame. This could be the starting point of your animation. You might want to sketch out your main character or object, or perhaps set the scene with a cool background. Once you're happy with your first frame, go to the Timeline panel and click on the 'Duplicate Selected Frames' button. This will create a second frame exactly like the first one.

Now, you can start building your animation. In the second frame, make a small change to your drawing. Maybe your character starts to lift an arm, or a ball begins to bounce. The change should be small—you're capturing just a fraction of a second. This is the heart of animation. Each tiny change brings your characters and objects to life.

Continue this process, duplicating frames and making small changes, until you've built up your entire animation. Remember, patience is key here. It might seem like a slow process, but it's worth it when you see your creation come to life.

And there you have it! You've created your animation frames in Photoshop. Each frame is a stepping stone, leading your audience through the story you're telling. Now, let's take a look at how to manage layer visibility, the next stop in our animation journey.

Manage Layer Visibility

Animation in Photoshop is all about layers and their visibility. But why is this so important? Well, it's simple. Each layer in your animation can hold a different element. For example, one layer might have your main character and another could have the background. Managing these layers and their visibility can make your animation process smoother and more efficient.

So, how do you manage layer visibility? It's as easy as pie. In the Layers panel, you'll see an eye icon next to each layer. This icon shows whether a layer is visible or not. If the eye is there, the layer is visible. If it's not, the layer is hidden. You can click on the eye to toggle visibility on and off.

Remember, when you're choosing a canvas for your animation Photoshop project, you're also choosing how many layers you'll have to manage. It can be tricky to keep track of everything, especially if you have a lot of layers. So, it's a good idea to name your layers. This way, you won't lose track of which layer is for the character's eyes, and which one is for the cute little dog in the background.

Managing layer visibility is a neat trick that can help you create more complex animations without getting overwhelmed. It's like having a superpower in your animation toolkit. With it, you'll be able to create animations that are rich, detailed, and full of life. So go ahead and give it a try!

How to Animate with Keyframes

Remember when you were a kid and you used to flip through the corners of your notebook to make stick figures come to life? That's essentially what keyframing is in the digital world. It's the heart of animation. When choosing a canvas for your animation Photoshop project, consider how keyframes can bring your creation to life.

Keyframes are, simply put, the main frames in your animation. They define the start and end points of any transition in an animation. This means that keyframes hold the information about changes in the animation over time. For example, if you want your character to wave, you would create keyframes for the start and end of the wave.

Here's how you can animate with keyframes in Photoshop:

  1. Step 1: Open the Timeline panel. If it's not visible, go to 'Window' and then click 'Timeline'.
  2. Step 2: Click 'Create Video Timeline' if your canvas is set to video. If it's set to frame, click 'Create Frame Animation'.
  3. Step 3: Now, let's create a keyframe. Click the stopwatch icon next to the layer property you want to animate. This will automatically create a keyframe.
  4. Step 4: Move the playhead to the point where you want the animation to end and change the layer property. This will create another keyframe.
  5. Step 5: Hit the spacebar to play your animation. Voila! You've just created an animation with keyframes.

And that's it! You've just learned how to animate with keyframes in Photoshop. With this skill, you can create animations that are dynamic and full of movement. So, go ahead and start keyframing. Don't forget to have fun while you're at it!

Apply Easing for Smoother Animations

So, you've got your keyframes set up and your animation is looking good. But, can we make it better? Absolutely! It's time to talk about easing. This little trick can make a huge difference in the flow of your animation. When you're choosing a canvas for your animation Photoshop project, easing is something you should always keep in mind.

What is easing, you ask? Well, easing is a technique that makes the movement in your animations more natural by adjusting the speed of the animation between keyframes. Without easing, your animation moves at a constant speed from one keyframe to the next. This might sound okay, but in reality, it can make your animations look robotic and unnatural.

Here's how you can apply easing in Photoshop:

  1. Step 1: Open up the Timeline panel and make sure you're in the 'Video Timeline' mode.
  2. Step 2: Select the layer that you want to apply easing to.
  3. Step 3: Right-click on a keyframe and select 'Keyframe Interpolation'.
  4. Step 4: In the dialog box that pops up, you'll see an option for 'Temporal Interpolation'. Here, you can select an easing option. 'Ease In' will slow down the animation towards the end, and 'Ease Out' will slow it down at the beginning.
  5. Step 5: Click 'OK' to apply the easing.

And there you have it! With easing, your animations will look much smoother and more natural. So, next time you're choosing a canvas for your animation in Photoshop, remember to apply easing for a more professional finish.

Export your animation

So, you've chosen your canvas, created your frames, and even applied some smooth easing to your animation in Photoshop. Now comes the exciting part—exporting your work. This is your chance to share your creation with the world! So, here are some easy steps to follow while exporting your animation:

  1. Step 1: Check your work. Take a moment to play back your animation and ensure everything looks as you want it to.
  2. Step 2: Head to the 'File' menu and select 'Export'. A drop-down menu will appear, giving you several options for how to export your work. For animations, you'll likely want to choose 'Save for Web (Legacy)'.
  3. Step 3: A new window will appear with a bunch of options. Don't panic! Here, you can choose the format for your animation. GIF is a popular option, as it supports multiple frames. Make sure to also select 'Looping' so your animation plays continuously.
  4. Step 4: Once you're happy with your settings, click 'Save'. Choose where to save your file, give it a name, and hit 'Save' again.

And voila! You've successfully exported your animation. It's ready to be shared, admired, and enjoyed. Remember, choosing a canvas for your animation Photoshop project is just the beginning. It's what you create on that canvas, and how you share it with the world, that truly makes a difference.

Tips to avoid common pitfalls

Animation in Photoshop can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it can also be a bit tricky. There are a few common pitfalls that can trip you up if you're not careful. But don't worry, we've got you covered. Let's go through some tips to help you avoid these common mistakes when choosing a canvas for your animation Photoshop project.

  1. Tip 1: Don't overlook the importance of canvas size. A canvas that's too small can limit your animation's detail, while a canvas that's too big can make the animation process slower and more difficult.
  2. Tip 2: Keep an eye on your resolution. A lower resolution might make your work quicker, but it could also result in a grainy final product. Try to find a balance that works for your specific project.
  3. Tip 3: Be mindful of color mode. RGB is the standard for digital work, but if you're planning to print your animation, CMYK might be a better choice. Knowing your end goal can help guide your decision.
  4. Tip 4: Don't forget to save your work often. It's easy to get caught up in the creative process and forget to save. Losing work due to a computer crash or power outage is a pitfall no artist wants to experience!

By keeping these tips in mind, you can navigate the process of creating an animation in Photoshop with confidence. Remember, mistakes are just opportunities for learning. Happy animating!

If you enjoyed learning about canvas selection for Photoshop animation and want to expand your skills even further, don't miss out on learning from our 'Daisie Original Animation Course' with none another than Alex Jenkins who will you take you through his complete animation process. Dive in and take your animation skills to the next level!