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I have a game project, and I also have a side-view character I want to put in it.

I have the character separated in multiple pieces: head, torso, arms, hands, legs... etc. Because I plan to make rather fluid animations.

I need to make my animations frame-by-frame(Frame1.png,frame2.png...).

I have managed to put all the body parts in Photoshop and animate him. Since you can't use timeline animation for rotating objects, I had to do it using the visibility tools (which was quite a pain).

Such technique works: it does output my animation alright. But it is very time-consuming.

So I'd like to know: do you have any better software ideas to do this? Something to make the animation easier to produce & export it?

I have considered Flash (you could even use tweening to make smoother animations and it also allows rotation alright) - but it might be a bit overkill for my purposes (I wouldn't mind using it if there were no other choices though)

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have you considered using some 2d engine that supports ragdoll physics? i think it would be much less time consuming that frame-by-frame animations. example: box2dflash.org –  weberik Oct 17 '12 at 20:00
    
also check the game development section, here you will get mostly 'where to click' photoshop answers ;) –  weberik Oct 17 '12 at 20:01

2 Answers 2

You have multiple options - depending on your budget:

In the past I would recommend Combustion, but Autodesk purchased it and put it to dead (as with other things they purchase).

Animation software:

Or video editing software:

  • Adobe Premier Pro
  • After Effects

and similar

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If you are a programmer, you might look into scripting. PS supports javascript, vbscript and applescript (launched from within the application, but also as objects which can be referenced from the OS).

If you have a sufficiently well-structured psd file, some careful planning can get you a list of individual actions which can be used to animate and export frame-by-frame.

The docs are available at adobe's website: the PDF docs I have locally are for cs4 and have a prefix "photoshop_cs4_" and "javascript_ref"; "vbscript_ref"; "scripting_guide".

An alternative: I would probably be using an open source 2d physics package. Some of the demos probably have the basic structure of animating a stick figure already. I would probably try and adapt that as a proof of concept at least. This has the advantage of being able to move the placement of the hands and feet etc without having to animate the arms as well (since they would be "attached" by "pins")

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