How to Make a Doll Come Alive in Photoshop

Written by paul kemp
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Adobe Photoshop allows users to create animated scenes and greetings in the GIF file format. GIF files contain a series of images shown in sequence, similar to a flipbook, that will display in your browser and many e-mail programs. Using the program's frame animation capabilities, you can create a custom GIF animation of a doll's eyes opening and arms lifting to give the illusion that the doll is coming to life.

Skill level:


    Creating Your Doll

  1. 1

    Create a new project space in Photoshop by selecting "File," then "New" from the menu bar atop the screen. Enter your desired dimensions for the canvass your animated doll will appear on.

  2. 2

    Select the "Layer" option from the menu bar and select "New," then "Layer."

  3. 3

    Use Photoshop's effects, drawing and shape tools, such as the "Brush Tool" or the "Ellipse Tool," to create the parts of your doll that will remain still during the animation. These might include the torso, legs, hair, etc. Open the "Layers" palette to the right of your canvass and merge any separate shape or other static layers by clicking on the top layer, then clicking while holding the "Shift" key on the bottom layer and selecting "Layer," then "Merge Layers" from the menu bar.

  4. 4

    Create a new layer by selecting "Layer > New > Layer" from the menu bar and add an element of your doll that will represent the doll before coming to life. This may be a set of closed eyes or arms that are down at the doll's side.

  5. 5

    Create another new layer for the element that will represent the doll as it comes to life through animation. This would be the set of open eyes or raised arms.

  6. 6

    Repeat steps 4 and 5 for any elements you want to animate to show your doll coming to life.

    Bringing Your Doll to Life

  1. 1

    Select "Window," then "Animation" from the menu bar to display the animation interface at the bottom of your screen.

  2. 2

    Open the "Layers" palette. Click on the eyeball icon to the left of each layer containing an element of your doll as it will be shown after coming to life (open eyes, raised arms, etc.). These elements will now be hidden in your first animation frame. This is how you want the doll to look before it comes to life.

  3. 3

    Select the "Duplicate Selected Frame" option at the bottom of the "Animation" panel. This icon looks like a page being flipped.

  4. 4

    Return to the "Layers" palette and click on the eyeball icons next to the static-state element layers (closed eyes, lowered arms, etc.). Click on the empty box to the left of the animated-state element layers (open eyes, raised arms, etc.) to show them in your new frame, which will display your doll after it comes to life.

  5. 5

    Create any additional animation frames you may want to display and set the duration of which you want each animation frame to be displayed. Do this by clicking at the bottom of each frame and selecting a time from the flyout menu. Save your doll animation by selecting "File" from the menu bar and choosing "Save for Web & Devices." The animation will automatically be set to GIF format so you can click "Save" at the bottom-right corner of the resulting dialogue box.

Tips and warnings

  • Depending on how intricate you want your doll animation to be, you can create additional layers to your canvass to create transitional frames in your animation, such as half-open eyes or half-raised arms. You can also add other new elements to hide and show at different times during the animation by simply creating new layers and hiding or showing them in the desired frame.

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