Clean up thumbnails for animation

Having always been a lover of comic books and graphic novels, I’ve recently become interested in the development of phone and tablet apps as a destination and market for animated comic strips. My own design and illustration work tends toward a graphic style with blocked areas of colour, which works well for print but can feel somewhat flat when used for motion graphics.

However, there are plenty of tricks we can apply to help things feel slicker and look more optical, using just curves, blurs and blending modes. One of the neat things about After effects is that if you want to add an extra layer of finish and subtlety to otherwise flat images, you can add that extra level of texture and polish to your 2D designs while simultaneously preparing them to be animated. In this tutorial I’ll show you how I took some recent comic strip thumbnails and prepped them for animation, before using a few compositing tricks to style them up.

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