How to Master Sketch Brush for Animation: Step-by-Step Guide
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


  1. Get familiar with Sketch Brush tool
  2. Adjust the brush settings for animation
  3. Practice basic strokes and lines
  4. Learn how to create textures
  5. Understand the use of colors and shading
  6. Create basic sketches for animation
  7. Incorporate depth and perspective in your sketches
  8. Animate your sketches step by step
  9. Refine and improve your animation sketches
  10. Explore advanced techniques

Imagine being able to bring your sketches to life, the strokes and lines dancing on the screen in a vibrant animation. This isn't just a dream—it's entirely possible with the Sketch Brush tool. Whether you're a seasoned artist or just starting out, this guide will walk you through how to use brush in Sketch for animation. So, let's dive into the exciting world of animation!

Get familiar with Sketch Brush tool

The first step in mastering how to use brush in Sketch for animation is to get a good grip on the Sketch Brush tool itself. It's a versatile tool that allows you to create everything from basic lines to intricate textures. Here's what you need to know to get started:

  • Accessing the Tool: You can find the Brush tool in the toolbar on the left side of the Sketch application. It's represented by an icon that looks like a paintbrush.
  • Using the Brush: To use the brush, simply select it and start drawing on your canvas. The brush will follow the movement of your cursor, creating a line where you draw.
  • Brush Size: You can adjust the size of your brush in the tool settings. A larger brush size will create thicker lines, while a smaller size will create thinner lines.
  • Brush Opacity: This setting controls how transparent or opaque your brush strokes are. This can be important when you're layering colors or textures.

Now, let's get your hands dirty. Try drawing some basic shapes and lines to get a feel for the tool. Remember, practice makes perfect. You'll soon be able to handle the Sketch Brush like a pro, setting the stage for how to use brush in Sketch for animation.

Adjust the brush settings for animation

Now that you've got the hang of the basic brush tool, the next step in learning how to use brush in Sketch for animation is to fine-tune your brush settings. Adjusting these settings is crucial for creating animations that captivate the viewer. Let's explore:

  • Pressure Sensitivity: This setting allows your brush strokes to respond to the pressure you apply while drawing. A harder press will result in a thicker line, while a lighter touch will create a thinner line. This can add a dynamic quality to your animation.
  • Flow Rate: This determines how quickly the 'ink' flows from the brush. A higher flow rate can make your lines denser and your colors more vibrant, which can be especially useful when you're animating.
  • Hardness: This setting controls the sharpness of your brush strokes' edges. A harder brush will give you sharper, more defined lines—perfect for adding detail to your animation.
  • Spacing: This adjusts the distance between each 'stamp' of the brush stroke. A smaller spacing value will create a smoother stroke, which can make your animation look more fluid.

Feel free to experiment with these settings. Every animation is unique, and finding the right brush settings can make a world of difference. The key is to keep testing until you find what works best for your project. Remember, there's no such thing as a 'wrong' setting—only the one that helps you bring your vision to life.

Practice basic strokes and lines

Alright, you've adjusted your brush settings. Now let's put them to use! The best way to get comfortable with how to use brush in Sketch for animation is to practice basic strokes and lines. This familiarizes you with how the brush moves and lays down color.

The first exercise you can try is simple: draw straight lines. I know, it sounds too easy, right? But it's a great way to start. Draw lines in varying lengths and directions. Experiment with using different pressures and see how the tool responds. This will give you a feel for how the brush behaves and how you can manipulate it to produce the lines you want.

Next, let's move on to curved lines. Start with a simple wave pattern, then try spirals, loops, and circles. Curved lines can be a bit trickier than straight ones, so don't worry if you don't get them perfect at first. Remember, the goal here is to familiarize yourself with the brush tool, not to create a masterpiece.

Lastly, try to combine straight and curved lines to create simple shapes and patterns. This will help you understand the brush's versatility and how it can be used to create different effects. Remember, practice makes perfect. So, keep at it, and soon you'll see your lines becoming smoother and your control over the brush improving.

Learn how to create textures

Texturing is a fundamental skill in animation. It brings depth and realism to your sketches. So, let's figure out how to use brush in Sketch for creating textures, shall we?

Imagine you're sketching a furry creature. A smooth brush stroke won't quite capture the fluffiness of its coat, right? Instead, you'd want to create a texture that mimics fur. This is where certain brushes come in handy. Sketch offers a variety of textured brushes designed to mimic different materials and surfaces. Experiment with these to see which ones give you the desired effect.

Creating texture isn't just about the brush you use, though. It's also about how you use it. For example, short, quick strokes can create the illusion of fur or grass, while longer, smoother strokes can look like silk or water. Don't be afraid to mix and match different strokes and brushes to create the texture you're looking for.

Another element to consider is color. Varying the hue and saturation can create the illusion of texture and depth. For instance, using darker and lighter shades of the same color can give the impression of shadows and highlights, enhancing the texture of your sketch.

At the end of the day, creating texture is all about practice and experimentation. So, grab your digital pen, select a brush, and start creating!

Understand the use of colors and shading

Colors and shading are like the seasoning in your favorite dish—they can transform your animation sketches from good to fantastic. So, let's explore how to use brush in Sketch for effective color application and shading.

Choosing the right colors is the first step. Sketch provides a rich color palette for you to choose from. Don't worry if you feel overwhelmed at first. Start with basic colors and gradually experiment with different shades and tones. Remember, colors can evoke emotions, so choose them wisely based on what you want your animation to convey.

Now, let's talk about shading. It's an art of adding depth to your drawings, making them feel three-dimensional. You can use brush in Sketch to apply shading in a number of ways. For example, you can vary the pressure on your digital pen to get a range of light and dark shades. The lighter the pressure, the lighter the shade, and vice versa.

Also, consider the direction of light in your sketch. Where is it coming from? This will influence where you place your shadows and highlights, which are crucial for creating depth and realism. Sketching a light source in your scene can help guide your shading.

Remember, mastering colors and shading takes time. But with practice, you'll soon see your animations coming to life in ways you never imagined. So, why wait? Let's get coloring and shading!

Create basic sketches for animation

Now that you've gotten the hang of colors and shading, let's move onto sketching. Sketching is the foundation of your animation, and learning how to use brush in Sketch for basic sketches will be your next step.

It might be tempting to jump right into complex characters and scenes, but let's start small. Think simple shapes—circles, squares, triangles. These basic shapes are the building blocks of all your future sketches.

Start by practicing these shapes using the brush tool in Sketch. You might be surprised how tricky it can be to draw a perfect circle or a straight line on a digital platform! But don't worry, it gets easier with practice.

Once you're comfortable with basic shapes, try combining them to create more complex objects or characters. A circle atop a square can suddenly become a quaint little house, or a combination of circles and triangles can transform into a charming cartoon character. The possibilities are endless!

Remember, the aim isn't perfection, but progress. Each sketch you draw is a step towards mastering how to use brush in Sketch for animation. So, keep sketching, keep experimenting, and most importantly, keep having fun!

Incorporate depth and perspective in your sketches

Once you've nailed down basic sketching, it's time to add a touch of reality to your sketches. How, you ask? By incorporating depth and perspective. Adding these elements can transform your flat sketches into lifelike animations.

Understanding depth in your sketches is quite straightforward. The closer an object is, the larger it appears, and vice versa. Start by playing around with sizes of your sketches. Try drawing a tree in the foreground larger than the one in the background. Notice how it instantly creates a sense of depth? That's the magic of perspective in action!

Creating perspective, on the other hand, might be a bit more challenging. It's all about angles and lines. So, if you're sketching a road, you won't draw it as a straight rectangle, right? Instead, you'd want it to narrow down towards the end, giving a sense of distance.

And that's not all. You can also play around with the positioning of your sketches. Try placing your character a little lower on your sketch pad. See how it appears to be standing on the ground? Now move it up, and it looks like it's flying!

All these techniques might seem a little overwhelming at first, but don't worry. You'll get the hang of it with practice. And remember, when learning how to use brush in sketch for animation, it's always good to experiment and find what works best for you. So, don't be afraid to make mistakes and learn from them.

Animate your sketches step by step

It's time to breathe life into your sketches. This is where the magic happens. So, how do you go from static sketches to dynamic animations? Let's break it down step by step.

First, start with a simple sketch. It could be a character, an object, or even a landscape. The key here is to keep it simple so you can focus on the animation process.

Next, on a new layer, draw the next stage of your sketch's movement. If it's a character, it could be the next step in their walk cycle. If it's an object, it might be the next stage in its transformation.

Now, reduce the opacity of your new layer to see both stages of movement at once. This is your reference for the next step - creating in-between movements, also known as 'tweening'. These are the frames that connect the start and end points of your animation.

Repeat these steps until your character or object has completed a full cycle of movement. Then, play it back. Does it look like one fluid movement? If not, don't worry. Adjust the spacing between your frames, play around with the timing, and keep tweaking until it does.

Learning how to use brush in sketch for animation can be daunting. But remember, it's all about practice. The more you animate, the better you'll get. So, keep sketching, keep animating, and most importantly, keep having fun with it!

Refine and improve your animation sketches

Now that you've got the basics down, it's time to take your animation to the next level. Here are some pointers on how to refine and improve your animation sketches.

The first step is to review your work. Look at your animation from start to finish. Does it flow smoothly? Do the movements make sense? If something feels off, don’t hesitate to make adjustments.

Next, consider the pacing of your animation. Variation in speed can make your animation more dynamic and interesting. Slow things down for important moments, and speed them up for fast actions. Remember, animation is all about creating the illusion of movement and life, and pacing plays a big role in that.

Another way to improve your animation is to pay attention to the little details. The flick of a tail, the blink of an eye, or the rustling of leaves in the wind—these small touches can add a lot of charm and personality to your animation.

Lastly, don't forget to use colors and shading to your advantage. They can add depth and dimension to your sketches, making your animation more visually appealing and realistic.

It's important to remember that learning how to use brush in sketch for animation is a journey, not a destination. There's always more to learn, more to explore, and more to improve. So keep pushing yourself, keep experimenting, and most importantly, keep enjoying the process.

Explore advanced techniques

Once you've got the basics down pat and your animation sketches are up to speed, it's time to explore the more advanced techniques. These techniques will help you create more sophisticated and detailed animations.

For starters, let's talk about the smear technique. It's a classic trick used in hand-drawn animations to depict fast motion. When a character or object moves quickly, it can leave a "smear" or a trail of shapes that represent its movement. This can add a lot of dynamism and fluidity to your animations.

Next up is the squash and stretch technique. This technique helps to give your animations weight and flexibility. The idea is to "squash" or compress an object when it hits something, and "stretch" it when it moves quickly. This can make your animations feel more lively and organic.

Another advanced technique is the use of anticipation and follow through. Anticipation is about setting up an action. For example, if a character is about to jump, they might bend their knees and lower their body first. Follow through, on the other hand, is about the aftermath of an action. If a character swings a baseball bat, their body might continue to turn even after they've hit the ball.

Finally, don't be afraid to experiment with different styles and techniques. Try combining traditional sketching with digital tools, or experiment with different types of brushes and textures. The sky's the limit when it comes to how to use brush in sketch for animation.

Remember, becoming proficient at these techniques takes time and practice. So be patient with yourself, keep experimenting, and most importantly, have fun with it!

If you enjoyed this step-by-step guide on mastering the sketch brush for animation and want to learn more about digital art tools, check out the workshop 'Introduction to Adobe Fresco' by Agamsujenkins. This workshop will help you explore the potentials of Adobe Fresco and enhance your digital art skills, making it a perfect companion to your animation journey.