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How to Make Animations on Krita

Krita makes for great 2D art. That’s obvious enough. But what makes it even better is that you can turn your 2D art into digital animations on Krita. This article is going to show you how to do exactly that.

How Animation on Krita Works

Krita lets you animate your drawings one frame at a time. This is called a frame-by-frame animation. It’s a technique that has been used by animators everywhere to make cartoons on paper.

Unlike drawing on pen and paper, however, Krita lets you copy layers of content from a previous frame over to a new one. That way, you won’t have to redraw whatever was in the previous frame all the time. Plus, all of its 2D art tools can give you plenty of control over the look and feel of the finished animation.

You can even use it to edit AI art and give the AI-generated artwork some life. Or at the very least, fix whatever misdrawn fingers it makes.

Setting up Krita for Animation

  1. Like with any Krita project, you will need to make a new file. Press Ctrl + N or go to “File -> New” to start a new one.
  1. The “Create a new document” window should pop up. Pick a width and height then click on the “Create” button.
Krita Create New Document Red Arrows On Height Width Create Screenshot

Alternatively: you can use an existing image file by pressing Ctrl + O or going to “File -> Open.”

  1. This should give you a blank canvas and a bunch of drawing tools. But the tools you need won’t be found here. Go to “Window -> Workspace -> Animation” to open the animation workspace. This lets you access everything you’ll need for doing any kind of animation.
Krita Red Arrows To Animation Workspace

How to Make Frame-by-frame Animation on Krita

  1. By default, the Background’s opacity is set to 0%. This means that whatever you draw on it will not show up. You can change this by selecting the Background layer and then dragging the Opacity.
Krita Animation Background Opacity
  1. You can now draw the background of your animation on Krita.
Krita Animation Drawing The Background For The Animation Screenshot
  1. To animate your object, you will need to make a new Paint Layer. Go to the Layers bar and click on the big cross sign to make a new one.
Krita Animation Workspace New Paint Layer
  1. With that, you can now draw objects that can move together on the canvas.
Krita Drawing On New Paint Layer
  1. On the Animation Timeline at the bottom, you should see the timeline for Paint Layer 1. Right-click on the box below frame 0 and click on the “Create Duplicate Frame” option.
Krita Animation Create Duplicate Frame

Note: this makes a sort of an “editable” frame. Whatever change you make on this frame will show up on all the other frames to its right unless there is another editable frame deeper down the line.

  1. With the move tool, you can move the current layer around to give the impression that it’s moving.
Krita Animation Move Tool Red Arrows
  1. Select the next frame then repeat steps 5 and 6 until you’ve finished your animation.
Krita Animation Select Next Frame
  1. To see a preview of your animation, there is a play button on the top part of the Animation Timeline. You can also use the other keys to stop, play the next frame, play the previous frame, and move to the first and last ends of the animation.

Tip: if the preview takes a long time to reach the end, you can right-click on any frame and select “Set End Time” to make the preview stop there.

How to Set Up Onion-skinning

The onion-skinning effect lets you see what the previous frame looked like while working on a new frame. It’s a handy tool for animating moving objects.

  1. The onion-skinning button will not be visible until your layer has already had its first frame. This should be a light bulb right next to the layer’s name on the Layers tab or at the right-most setting on the layer area in the Animation Timeline.
  1. Once your layer has already had its first frame, you can click on the onion-skinning light bulb to activate it.
Krita Animation Onion Skinning Button For Paint Layer
  1. If you move an object in the layer one frame at a time, the onion-skinning effect should show the object’s location in the previous frame as a red silhouette. It should also show the object’s next position as a green silhouette.
Krita Animation Onion Skinning Effect On White Cloud
  1. You can edit how far back into the timeline you’d see by going to the Onion Skins settings tab. This is open on the lower-right side by default.
Krita Animation Red Box On Onion Skinning Settings

Note: if the Onion Skins settings tab is not open, click on the “onion bulb” button on the right side of the Animation Timeline.

Krita Animation Red Arrow On Onion Skin Button
  1. Click on the numbers to set how many frames back and forth the current frame that the onion-skinning effect will show.
Krita Animation Red Box On Onion Skinning Settings Frame Distance Number
  1. To set the opacity of the onion-skinning effect per slide, click on the blue (or gray) bars below the numbers.
Krita Animation Red Box On Onion Skinning Settings Frame Color Strength
  1. To change the color of the previous and next slides, click on the red button for the previous and the green button for the next.
Krita Animation Red Box On Onion Skinning Color

How to Render Video Animations on Krita

Krita normally saves your file as a series of images – one image per frame. To make it render into a video animation, you will need to set it up with FFmpeg first.

  1. Download FFmpeg for your operating system from the FFmpeg official download page.
  1. Extract the files.
  1. On Krita, go to “File -> Render Animation.”
Krita Animation Red Arrow On File Render Animation
  1. Click on the Video option.
Krita Animation Render Animation Settings Red Arrow On Video Option
  1. On the “FFMpeg” textbox, click on the folder icon and navigate to the “ffmpeg.exe” file you extracted beforehand.
Krita Animation Ffmpeg Folder Icon
  1. In the “Render as” dropdown, select the file type you want your animation to render as.
Krita Animation Render As
  1. On the “Video Location” textbox, click on the folder icon to select where to save the file and its filename.
Krita Animation File Path Folder Icon
  1. Click “OK.”
  1. Wait until Krita finishes rendering your file. Once it’s done, check the file in the folder you specified earlier. You should now find your animation there.
Krita Animation Cloud Passing By A Tree

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a shortcut for “Create Duplicate Frame” in Krita?

There isn’t, but you can make a new one by going to “Settings -> Configure Krita -> Keyboard Shortcuts -> Animation -> Create Duplicate Frame.”

Why is it called onion-skinning in animation?

Animators back in the day used to draw on thin, translucent paper made from onion skins. This paper would show a silhouette of the previous page which the animator could trace to make sure that things aligned perfectly. Nowadays, digital tools can render animation slides that give the same effect.

Can you animate in 3D using Krita?

Why does Krita stop working while rendering?

Rendering takes a lot of RAM to work. Unless you have a good RAM card or can make FFmpeg work with a GPU, you might want to reduce your animation’s length by a bit to help lessen the load.

Images and screenshots by Terenz Jomar Dela Cruz

Terenz Jomar Dela Cruz
Terenz Jomar Dela Cruz

Terenz is a hobbyist roboticist trying to build the most awesome robot the world has ever seen. He could have done that already if he wasn’t so busy burning through LEDs as a second hobby.

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