Create an Animated Steampunk Robot in Photoshop

Create an Animated Robot in Photoshop

As promised in my previous post on creating an animated GIF in Photoshop, here is a tutorial on creating one from scratch. You will learn a lot more techniques in this tutorial so I hope you will stick through to the end. Well, we are just going to make an animated robot -- with steampunk flair!

Details

  • Created in: Photoshop CS3

Steps

  1. Creating a new document
  2. Adding a background
  3. Building the robot
  4. Adding the animation
  5. Saving your file

Just note that the colors/gradients mentioned in the steps are simply suggestions. You need not follow the exact values unless you want to achieve the same effect.

Aaand.. although I won't be saying it throughout the tutorial, don't forget to save your PSD file from time to time! With that said, let's begin!

Step 1: Creating a new document

Create a new document. My final dimensions are 368x263 pixels but you can use a bigger size if you feel it's too small. You can just use the Crop tool (C) to remove the excess areas later on. A resolution of 72 pixels/inch will be fine in this kind of project.

Step 2: Adding a background

Next is adding the background. Let's first add a background color using a Color Fill Layer (Layer » New Fill Layer » Solid Color). Set the color to #94836b.

Set Color Fill Layer to #94836b.
Set Color Fill Layer to #94836b.

Then, let's add a texture. Grab a coffee-stained paper texture here (opens in a new tab) - you can pick a different texture if you want, I used the 3rd one.

Open the texture of your choice in Photoshop. Select it (Ctrl+A) then Copy (Ctrl+C) and Paste (Ctrl+V) above the Color Fill layer. Resize (Ctrl+T) the texture to your liking and set its Blending Mode to Multiply.

Add a Texture with its Blending Mode set to Multiply.
Add a Texture with its Blending Mode set to Multiply.

TIP: Renaming your layers helps keep things organized and lessens the confusion when you already have tons of layers to work with. Just double click on the layer name to change it or right click the layer and select Layer Properties....

Step 3: Building the robot

Now let's work on our robot!

Creating the head

The steps we will use in building the head are pretty much the same for the rest of the robot. If you think the steps are too long, don't worry. You'll get the hang of it and find it's quite easy and fun.

First, create a New Layer (Ctrl+Shift+N) and name it as head. On this layer, just create a rectangular selection using the Rectangular Marquee (M) near the center of your document. Fill the selection using the Paint Bucket (G) with any color as we will use a Layer style on it anyway.

Create a rectangle for the head.
Create a rectangle for the head.

Now, let's add the Layer style. Double click on the head layer or you can Right click » Blending Options... to open the Layer Style dialogue. Add an Inner Glow and Gradient Overlay effect to it. You can see the settings I used below.

Layer Style for the head layer
Layer Style for the head layer

Now for the eyes. Create another layer (Ctrl+Shift+N) and name it eye. Then using a big round hard brush (B), paint a big black dot on one side of the head (or you can use the Elliptical Marquee (M) if you want).

Add a big black dot for the eye.
Add a big black dot for the eye.

Similar to the head, we add a Layer Style to the eye layer. This time, we add an Outer Glow and Gradient Overlay effect with the settings used below.

Layer Style for the eye layer
Layer Style for the eye layer

Now for some texture! First, download this texture brush (opens in a new tab) and load it into Photoshop.

TIP: You can load your brushes by simply double-clicking it or by dragging it to Photoshop. If neither of those work, open your brushes window (F5), click on the tiny downward arrow on the top right side of the window, and select Load Brushes... then navigate to the folder location of your brush.

Create a New Layer (Ctrl+Shift+N) named texture above the eye layer. Then using the first brush in the pack, adjust the brush size ('[' decreases while ']' increases brush size) to make it just enough to fill the entire eye. Don't worry if it exceeds the eye. Paint in the texture with its color set to black.

To remove the excess texture around the eye layer, Ctrl+click the thumbnail of your eye layer. This will load a selection of the eye. Then, go to the texture layer and click on the Add layer mask button at the bottom of the Layers window.

Adding a Layer Mask
[GIF] Adding a Layer Mask

Add a Layer style to the texture and use the Color Overlay effect. Set the Blend Mode to Overlay and the color to #3a2801. Then, set the texture layer's Blending Mode to Screen.

Blending the texture
Blending the texture

Group the eye and texture layer together (Ctrl+G) and name it as left eye. Duplicate this group (Right click » Duplicate Group...) and name it as right eye. Move(V) the right eye group (hold down Shift to keep it aligned) to the right side of the head and there you have it! Your right eye in less that a minute.

Now let's add some texture to the head layer as it is looking plain. Download this set of grunge brushes (opens in a new tab) and load it into Photoshop.

Just as what we have done in adding texture to the eye, we create a New Layer (Ctrl+Shift+N) named texture above the head layer. Load the selection for the head (Ctrl+click) then Add a Layer Mask to the texture layer. Select a grunge brush (B) and paint in your texture. Try switching brushes and changing the brush size and opacity to get different effects.

To keep the layers organized, group together (Ctrl+G) the head layer, texture layer and the left eye and right eye groups and name the group as head.

The head group
The head group

Now let's add the ears. Inside the head group, duplicate the head layer (Ctrl+J or Right click » Duplicate layer...). Name this layer as ears. Using the Transform tool (Ctrl+T), cut the height of the ears by half and extend the width on both ends. Move this layer behind the head layer.

Let's adjust the Layer style of the ears layer a bit. On the Gradient Overlay effect, set the angle to 90 degrees and adjust the first stop's location to 21% and the second to 61%.

And now, we have completed the head!

Adding the neck

Above the head group, create a New Layer (Ctrl+Shift+N) and name it as neck. Group (Ctrl+G) this layer and name it also as neck.

Select the Rounded Rectangle Tool (U) and make sure to set it to Fill pixels. You can see this option just below the menu bar. Still on the settings, set the Radius to 10 px.

Rounded Rectangle Tool Settings
Rounded Rectangle Tool Settings

Set the color to #665f46. On the neck layer, create the neck just below the eyes. Make sure you overlap the neck with the head. This is needed for the animation we will add later on.

Adding the neck
Adding the neck

Next is adding a Layer style. For the neck layer, apply an Inner Shadow and Gradient Overlay effect.

Adding Layer styles to the neck
Adding Layer styles to the neck

So now, the neck should be something like this:

Let's add some details. Create a New Layer (Ctrl+Shift+N) and name it as ridges. Set the color to #2f2517 then create a vertical bar on the end of the neck using the Rectangular Marquee (M). Fill the selection with the Paint Bucket (G) or simply use Alt+Del (fill with foreground color). Duplicate this layer by using the Move tool (V) and holding down Alt and dragging. To keep the duplicate aligned, also hold down Shift.

Just keep duplicating the bars until you reach the other end of the neck. Don't worry too much about the spacing, we will fix this later but remember to position the last bar properly.

Select all the bars you created and press V for the Move tool. On the options found below the menu bar, click on the Distribute horizontal centers button and there, the spacing is now even! We don't need to have these multiple layers, while still having them selected, merge them together by hitting Ctrl+E or by Right clicking any of the selected layers and choosing Merge Layers.

Adding ridges
Adding ridges

Then, set the ridges layer's Blending Mode to Overlay and Opacity to 77%.

And finally, add some texture the same way we did earlier.

Adding texture
Adding texture
Creating the body

And now we will add the robot body.

Go to the head layer and duplicate (Ctrl+J) it. Name the duplicate as body and move it below the head group. Group (Ctrl+G) the body layer as the body group.

Transform (Ctrl+T) the body layer. Make it wider and taller than the head and move it just below the neck. We won't be changing the Layer style this time. And once again, add some texture.

Adding the body
Adding the body

And now the gauges! Create a New Layer (Ctrl+Shift+N) named base above the texture layer of the body. Group the base layer (Ctrl+G) as gauge.

On the base layer, as what we have done with the eyes, paint a big dot with a round hard brush (B) on the center of the body. The color doesn't really matter as we will apply a Layer style to it anyway.

Adding the base of the gauge
Adding the base of the gauge

Let's now add the following layer styles:

Layer style settings of the gauge
Layer style settings of the gauge

Once you added the layer styles, hide the Inner Glow effect by clicking on the eye icon next to it. This effect is for the flashes in the animation which we will be using later.

Apply the Layer style.
Apply the Layer style.

Ok so now we add the numbers (you can use letters too) inside the gauge. You might want to zoom in (Ctrl +) the gauge to get a better view.

We will put the text in a circular pattern. To do this, activate the Ellipse tool (U) and set it to Paths (remember earlier, we used Fill pixels for the neck). Then, hold down Shift to create a perfect circle inside the gauge. Now, select the Type tool (T) and move your mouse over the path you created. Your cursor should change from having an ellipse to a slanted line. Once you see it, click on the path.

TIP: Hold down Space if you want to drag your selection while keeping its shape and not finalizing it just yet.

Ellipse and Type tool settings
(A) Ellipse tool settings. (B) Hover the Type tool on the path until it changes to having a slanted line.

Type in your numbers, letters or whatever symbols you want. I just placed 10..90. Once you're done, adjust the font size and color (I used #7b6e64) and use the Transform tool (Ctrl+T) to further fit in your dials.

As for the font, I used Kelly Slab. You may also try other fonts if you want to.

Add the dial markings.
Add the dial markings.

Next, let's add the needle. Create a New Layer (Ctrl+Shift+N) above the markings we just added. Name and group it (Ctrl+G) as needle.

Create a dot in the center of the gauge with the color #844702. You can either use a solid hard brush (B) like we did earlier with the base or use the Elliptical Marquee tool (M), whichever you are comfortable with.

Then we add the pointer. Still on the same layer, using the Elliptical Marquee tool (M), shape it into needle sticking out of the dot. Fill it with the same color with the Paint Bucket (Ctrl+G) or Fill with foreground color (Alt+Del). You can add more details to the needle by painting extra colors on the dot.

Creating the needle
Creating the needle
Add the needle.
Add the needle.

Ok so before we make more of the gauges, there's a couple more details we need to do to prepare the animation of the needle. You may be wondering why we are doing this only for the needle. Well, you will see why later when we are adding the animation.

So for the needle's animation, duplicate the needle layer (Ctrl+J). Make sure you are on the copy then hit Ctrl+T. We will rotate the needle to point elsewhere on the dial. But to keep it in place, we first adjust the pivot point. Drag the pivot point (if you can't drag the pivot point, hold down Alt to enable it) and move it to the center of the needle's dot (the needle's own pivot point). Now you can rotate the needle without losing its position in the center.

Rotating the needle
Rotating the needle

Duplicate the needle until you have 4 copies. Make each of this copies point in a different direction. When you are done, hide these copies by clicking on the eye icon of each of the duplicates.

And finally, to aid us in animating it later, right click the eye icon of the needle group, and select a color. Doing this highlights our needles and help us to easily identify it when going through the layers later on.

Here is a quick demo on adding the gauge details - markings and needles.

Adding the gauge's details

And now, let's add two more gauges. Duplicate the gauge group (Right click » Duplicate group) and move the copy below it.

Select the copied group and hit Ctrl+T to Transform it. Drag it to the lower left side (or wherever you prefer) of the original gauge, make smaller and rotate so as to add variation. Repeat the same step to create the third gauge on the right side.

If you want to add texture to the gauges, create a New Layer (Ctrl+Shift+N) named texture above all of the gauge groups. Ctrl+Shift+click each of the groups' base layer then add a Layer Mask on your texture layer. I would suggest to lower the opacity of your brush to around 5%-15% so as to keep the effect subtle, otherwise you might lose the details of your gauge.

The gauge groups
The gauge groups

We are almost done with our robot, just one more little thing to do for our animation later on. Load the selection of our entire robot by Shift+clicking the head, ears, neck and body layers (the same thing we did with our gauges earlier). Then, create a New Layer (Ctrl+Shift+N) named outer glow and fill it with any color then move it below the body group. Set its Fill to 0%.

Add an outer glow layer.
Add an outer glow layer.

And we are now done with our robot!! But.. the image seems kinda dark and dull, no? So before we continue, let's brighten it up a bit with some Curves.

Let's first fix the background color. Go to the texture layer (of the background) then click on the Create new fill or adjustment layer button found at the bottom of the Layers window and select Curves.... Adjust the curve by clicking and dragging on the line. Click ok when you are done. Then for the entire image, go the topmost layer and create another curve adjustment layer (see the figure below for the settings I used).

Curve settings
Curve settings
Add the curve adjustment layer.
Add the curve adjustment layer.

Step 4: Adding the animation

Ok now we can work on the animation. Open the Animation window (Window » Animation) and make sure you are on the frame-based animation mode of the window.

Switching from Timeline to Frames mode
Switching from Timeline to Frames mode

Now that that's set, change the Frame delay to 0.1 sec. and the Loop count to Forever. Then, duplicate Frame 1 by clicking on the duplicate button at the bottom.

Setting up the animation
Setting up the animation

Make sure you are on Frame 2. All the layer style changes we will make will be done on Frame 2 unless otherwise specified. Ok then, let's proceed to animating the robot parts!

Eyes

Let's start with the eyes. Go to the eye layer on the left eye group. Open the Layer styles dialogue and make the following changes:

Eye layer style changes
Eye layer style changes

Then, simply copy the Layer style (Right click layer » Copy layer style) of the left eye eye layer and Paste (Right click layer » Paste layer style) to that of the right eye's.

Head

Next, click on the head group layer and activate the Move tool (V). Nudge the head upwards (Up Arrow key) until the bottom edge is sitting on the neck - make sure you don't create a gap between the neck and head.

So far, our animation would be like this: (For the sake of quick loading and ease of viewing of the gifs, I set the frame delay to 1 sec. and lowered the quality of the samples I posted.)

Eye and head animation
Eye and head animation
Neck

Next stop is the neck. Again, make the following changes to the Layer style of the neck layer:

Neck layer style changes
Neck layer style changes
Neck animation
Neck animation
Outer glow

Remember the invisible outer glow layer we created earlier? Well, we will now be animating it. As the name implies, just add an Outer Glow Layer style to it.

Outer glow layer style
Outer glow layer style
Tweening

Once again, take note that all the changes we made are all done on Frame 2. So now, we will be doing some tweening. As you can see in the samples above, our animation isn't smooth at all. To make it smooth, we need to have more frames in between. Doing this manually will be quite tough but happily, Photoshop has a tween feature - creating frames in-between our key frames, namely, Frames 1 and 2.

Onto the tweening! On the Animation window, select both Frames 1 and 2 (Ctrl+click both frames). Then on the bottom of the Animation window to the left of the Duplicate frame button, we have the Tween button (or click on the Options button » Tween...). Click on it and a dialogue box will pop open. Apply the following settings:

Tween settings
Tween settings

Now that we have added the tween, try hitting the Play button on the Animation window (or press Space). You will notice that the animation became smooth except for the last (12th) frame wherein it loops back to the first frame. To fix this, we tween the last frame with the first frame.

Tween added between Frames 1 and 2
Tween added between Frames 1 and 2

Go to the last frame then click the tween button. For the Tween With option, select First Frame and change the Frames to Add value to 5. Leave the rest of the options the same as the settings we used earlier (All Layers, All Parameters are checked).

Once again, hit the Play button. Now you will have a gradual transition of the last frame back to the first frame.

Tween added between last and first frame
Tween added between last and first frame
Gauges: Flashes and Rotating Needles

We are almost done! Just a few more steps and we will complete our animation.

Let's first add the flashing of the gauges. Just select any random frame from the Animation window for each gauge and enable its base layer's Inner Glow effect. I chose the 2nd frame for my right gauge, the 7th for my left gauge and the 12th for the center/main gauge. In these chosen frames will the Inner Glow effect only appear thus producing a flashing effect.

Now for the needles. You may have noticed that in the Tween dialogue box, we can only tween the Position, Opacity and Effects. This does not apply to Transformations which include Rotation hence, we made multiple layers of needles rotated at different angles earlier.

Since we have 5 copies of needles for each of the gauges, we can distribute each of these copies across the frames. So dividing the frames into 5 parts, I settled with Frame 1 for the first copy, Frames 2-7 for the next, then Frames 8-11, 12-14 and 15-17 for the third, fourth and fifth copies respectively.

Frame 1 is all set up for us since we already have our starting needle showing for our gauges. So we move onto the next needle copy. Select Frames 2 to 7 by clicking on Frame 2 then Shift+clicking Frame 7. Then for all the gauges, hide the 1st needle and show the needle copy (2nd needle). We repeat this step for rest of the frames. Select Frames 8 to 11, hide the 1st needle and show the 3rd one. Continue on until you reach the last needle copy.

And here is a video demonstrating the animation of the gauge flashing and needles rotating.

Animating the gauge flashes and needle rotation

Step 5: Saving your file

And we finally made it! The last step is simply saving your GIF. Hit Ctrl+Shift+S (Save for Web & Devices...) and preview your final file. Set the File type to GIF. If you need to lessen the file size, try lowering the number of Colors used. Keep in my mind that the quality of your resulting GIF will be affected by the number of colors. Just input a value suited to your needs.

And that's it! I hope you found this tutorial helpful and easy to follow.. Anyway, feel free to leave me a comment below if you have any questions, suggestions or whatever feedback. It'll also be a big help in improving my writing of tutorials for next time. Thanks and cheers guys!!

Found this tutorial useful?
Show your support
Any amount is awesome!

5 comments:

  1. Hey nice post.. Though why doesnt my animation move when i save it as a .gif?

    ReplyDelete
  2. excellent!!
    but no animation is there when i save it as filename.gif :(

    ReplyDelete
  3. Lot of detail but well worth the effort - works great! thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. very creative, I love your works.

    ReplyDelete