Procreate Keyframes: Tips for Seamless Animation
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. Keyframes in Procreate: What are they?
  2. How to create keyframes
  3. Tips for adding and editing keyframes
  4. How to position and move keyframes
  5. How to create smooth transitions
  6. Tips for working with multiple layers
  7. How to export your animation
  8. Troubleshooting common keyframe issues

Ever had a rough time finalising keyframes in Procreate? Or perhaps you're just getting started in the animation world and need a helping hand to navigate the process? Whatever your situation, you're in the right place. This guide will walk you through the ins and outs of creating, managing, and finalising keyframes in Procreate, turning you from a beginner into a pro in no time. Let's get started!

Keyframes in Procreate: What are they?

Before we dive into the deep end, let's get our feet wet with some basics. When it comes to animation, keyframes are a bit like the cornerstones of a building - they hold everything together. In Procreate, keyframes are the primary frames in your animation that define the start and end points of any smooth transition. You can think of them as snapshots of your animation at specific moments. They capture the essential pose, position, or state of your animated object.

For example, if you're animating a bouncing ball, your keyframes might be the moments when the ball is at the peak of its bounce, and when it hits the ground. Everything else — the ball's ascent, descent, and deformation on impact — is built around these keyframes.

But why are keyframes so important, you ask? Well, they play a big part in defining the pacing and flow of your animation. By adjusting the distance and timing between keyframes, you can make your animation move faster or slower, smoother or choppier — the control is in your hands.

Now that you understand what keyframes are and their role in animation, you're ready to start creating and finalising keyframes in Procreate. Let's move on to the practical part!

How to create keyframes

Feeling ready to create your first keyframe in Procreate? Excellent! Let's dive into the process, step by step.

First, open up Procreate and create a new canvas. This blank space is just waiting for your creative ideas to fill it. Once you've got your canvas ready, it's time to start sketching. This could be anything from a simple shape to a complex character, depending on your animation project.

Now, here's where the magic starts — turning your static sketch into an animated masterpiece. To do this, tap on the layers panel and select "Animation Assist". This will activate Procreate's animation tools. Next, add a new layer. This layer will become your first keyframe.

Draw your starting position on this layer. Remember, this will be the first snapshot of your animation, so make it count. Once you're happy with your starting position, create another layer. This will be your second keyframe. Draw the final position of your object on this layer.

There you have it! You've created your first set of keyframes in Procreate. But don't stop here. The fun part is just getting started. You're now ready to continue adding more keyframes, refining your animation, and eventually finalising keyframes in Procreate. Keep going!

Tips for adding and editing keyframes

Now that you're comfortable with creating keyframes, let's look at some tips to help you add and edit them effectively:

1. Use Onion Skins: Ever heard of the 'Onion Skin' feature? It's a fantastic tool in Procreate that allows you to see a faint outline of the previous and next keyframes while you're working on the current one. This makes adding and adjusting your keyframes much easier, helping you maintain the continuity of your animation.

2. Play with the Timing: Remember, not all your keyframes need to be evenly spaced. By adjusting the time between your keyframes, you can create a variety of effects. For example, if you want to create a bouncing ball, you can make the ball move faster by placing the keyframes closer together and slower by spacing them further apart.

3. Use Hold Frames: Want your animation to pause for a moment? Procreate's got you covered. Just add a hold frame. This tells Procreate to hold on a particular keyframe for a certain number of frames, creating a pause in your animation.

4. Don't Forget to Preview: Always preview your animation before finalising your keyframes in Procreate. This allows you to spot any inconsistencies or mistakes early on, saving you time and effort in the long run.

Remember, practice makes perfect. The more you experiment with adding and editing keyframes, the better your animations will become.

How to position and move keyframes

Moving your keyframes around might seem tricky, but with a few tips, it becomes a breeze. Here's how you do it:

1. Select Your Keyframe: The first step is to select the keyframe you want to move. Simply tap on it in the timeline, and it'll be highlighted, indicating it's ready for action.

2. Drag and Drop: Now the fun part. Touch and hold the selected keyframe, then drag it to the desired position in your timeline. Release your hold, and voila—it's moved!

3. Adjust Position: Sometimes, you'll need to adjust the position of your keyframe on the canvas. To do this, tap on the "Transform" tool, then move your artwork as needed. You can even adjust the size or rotation without affecting the rest of your animation. Pretty neat, right?

4. Copy and Paste: Want to duplicate a keyframe? No problem. Just select the keyframe you want to copy, tap on the "Copy" button, and then paste it wherever you want. This feature is great when you need to repeat certain actions in your animation.

Now that you know how to move and position keyframes, you're one step closer to finalising keyframes in Procreate and bringing your animation to life. Remember, it's all about playing around and seeing what works best for your unique animation.

How to create smooth transitions

Creating smooth transitions between keyframes can really bring your animation to life. It's like adding the perfect spice to your favorite dish—it just makes everything taste better. Here's how you can make your animation transitions smoother:

1. Use the Onion Skin Setting: Onion skinning is a technique that allows you to see several frames at once. This makes it easier to create a smooth transition from one frame to another. To turn it on, just tap the "Onion Skin" button in the timeline settings.

2. Adjust Opacity: One cool thing about the Onion Skin setting is that you can adjust the opacity of the previous and next frames. This can help you see how much each frame overlaps with the others, leading to smoother transitions.

3. Play with Timing: When finalising keyframes in Procreate, timing is everything. A quicker transition might make an action look fast and energetic, while a slower transition can give a calm and relaxed vibe. So, don't be afraid to experiment with different timings to find what works for your animation.

4. Use the Ease In and Ease Out Functions: These functions can make your animation look more natural by gradually speeding up or slowing down the movement. Just select the keyframe and adjust the Ease In or Ease Out slider in the settings.

Smooth transitions can make a huge difference in the flow of your animation. So, take the time to refine them, and you'll be amazed at how much better your animation looks and feels!

Tips for working with multiple layers

Working with multiple layers in Procreate can feel like juggling—fun when you get the hang of it, but a bit tricky at first. These tips will make it easier to manage multiple layers when finalising keyframes in Procreate.

1. Organize Your Layers: Keeping your layers well-organized is a must. Name each layer according to what it contains or its function in the animation. This will save you from the confusion of searching through unnamed layers.

2. Use Layer Groups: Layer groups are your best friends when working with complex animations. Group related layers together to keep your workspace tidy. To create a group, simply swipe right on the layers you want to group and then tap "Group".

3. Merge Layers Strategically: Merging layers can help manage your layer count. However, be mindful about which layers you merge. Once merged, the individual layers can't be edited separately. So, only merge layers when you're sure they're final.

4. Use Alpha Lock: The Alpha Lock feature allows you to draw only on the existing artwork of a layer. This is handy for adding shading or textures without affecting the rest of your animation.

5. Remember to Duplicate: Before making significant changes to a layer, duplicate it. This gives you a backup if you need to revert your changes. To duplicate a layer, swipe it to the left and tap "Duplicate".

Remember, with a little practice, managing multiple layers can become second nature. Happy animating!

How to export your animation

After creating and finalising keyframes in Procreate, the next step is to share your masterpiece with the world. Here's how to export your animation.

1. Check Your Animation: Before exporting, make sure your animation is perfect. Play it back a few times to ensure there are no errors or glitches.

2. Go to the Actions Menu: Tap on the wrench icon on the top left of your screen. This will open the actions menu.

3. Choose 'Share': Under the 'Share' tab, you'll find several export options.

4. Select the Right Format: Procreate allows you to export your animations as GIFs, MP4s, or HEVCs. Choose the one that suits your needs best. If you're not sure which format to use, MP4 is a safe bet as it is widely supported.

5. Save Your File: After choosing the format, Procreate will render your animation. Once it's ready, you can save it to your device or share it directly from Procreate.

Remember, the key is to choose the right format for your needs. And just like that, your animation is ready to dazzle everyone. Go ahead, take a bow—you've earned it!

Troubleshooting common keyframe issues

Despite our best efforts, we can sometimes run into a few bumps when finalising keyframes in Procreate. Don't panic, though. Here are some common issues and how to fix them:

1. The Animation Doesn't Play: If your animation refuses to play, double-check the animation assist settings. Make sure it's turned on, and that you've set the correct frame rate.

2. The Keyframe Disappears: Lost a keyframe? It's possible you accidentally deleted it. If it's not there in the timeline, you might need to redraw it. Remember, a good animator always keeps backups!

3. The Animation is Too Fast or Too Slow: This is generally because of the frame rate. A high frame rate speeds up the animation, while a low one slows it down. Adjust the frame rate in the animation assist settings until it feels just right.

4. The Animation Jumps: If the animation seems to 'jump' between keyframes, it’s possible your keyframes are too far apart. Add more keyframes in between or adjust the position of the existing ones.

Remember, even the best animators face these issues. With patience and practice, you'll be able to create seamless animations and finalise keyframes in Procreate like a pro.

If you're looking to improve your animation skills using Procreate, 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!