Cel Animation:  Animated Alphabet in After Effects

In this daily explorations series, I focused on cel animation using Photoshop and After Effects to create an animated alphabet. This is my first attempt at 2D cel animation, it’s a great technique but very time consuming. For this project, I drew 3,552 images in Photoshop to create this 8 second animation.

Cel animation is the process of creating frame-by-frame animation just like the traditional animators at Disney used to do. Traditional animations were hand-drawn on transparent sheets called celluloid. The main difference today is that most cel animation is created using software such as Photoshop rather than pencil and paper.

To help make the animation look a bit more like stop motion I used a frame rate of 12. Once all the animation was complete in Photoshop, I imported my working PSD file into After Effects. From there I duplicated every letter twice and assigned a fill effect to the two bottom duplicates. Then I offset the two bottom layers by 1 frame each to give the letters a trailing effect.

I’d love to learn more about cel animation. If you are using this technique for motion graphics, please leave a comment below with any suggestions or references. 

About the author

Hi, I’m Pete Maric. I grew up in Cleveland and graduated from CIA. After freelancing for a number of years, I launched Triplet 3D in 2013. I am interested in anything design related, from architecture to animation and am inspired by good books, progressive ideas, art and music. I also play guitar and gig regularly in the Cleveland area.

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