Manual: Animator’s Toolbar Pro

Below you’ll find descriptions for all functions. They’re ordered in tabs and by subject. Click on the subject to show more information. Pro features are indicated with a * (asterisk), Mac only features are indicated with ** (double asterisk).

I’m always open to suggestions and questions. You can reach me via @PatrickDeen on twitter or you can use the feedback form.

Animator's Toolbar Pro

Project

New Animation Project

Open the New Animation window to set the parameters for your Photoshop animation project. Photoshop’s new document window has video presets but does not provide the option to create and configure the Timeline. The panel is configured in four segments.

Name: The name of your Photoshop Animation Project. The default name on opening the panel can be changed in the “Toolbar Setting” accessible from the toolbar’s fly-out menu.

Canvas: Set the canvas size and background colour of your new Photoshop Animation Project. Use the Size preset drop-down menu or enter values manually. Use the Background drop-down to select a default background colour or select a custom colour.

Timeline: The default duration of the timeline can be changed by entering a value in a comma seperated timecode notation (i.e. mm,ss,ff) or a total number of frames (i.e. ff) in combination with a preferred frame rate. Note: Keep in mind that Video Layers inherit the frame rate and duration from the timeline. It’s not possible to change the actual duration of a video layer after it is created.

Content: Automatically generate an Art Layer or Video Layer on the timeline and choose if the layer is contained in a Video Group.

Make Default Button: Save all values as the default setting the next time the New Animation panel is opened.

Cancel Button: Closes the New Animation panel.

Ok Button: Creates a new document and creates and configures the timeline with the preferred settings.


Toggle Timeline Shortcuts

Turn the Timeline Keyboard Shortcut Keys on when they’re off and off when they’re on.


Toggle Favourite

This function gives you control over what is shown in the Timeline Panel without changing the visibility on the canvas. (If you are familiar with After Effects you can best think of this function as a reversed “Shy” button.) 

To make this work you start by selecting the Layers/Groups you’re working on. Then [ALT] click this button to mark the selected layers as favourites. All other Layers will be automatically hidden from view in the Timeline.

Clicking this button again will then toggle the visibility of the layers NOT marked as favourite in the Timeline, back on or off.

⌥ Set Favourite

[ALT] click this button to mark the selected layers as favourites.

Marking a new selection of Layers as favourite will override the current favourites setting.

Content

Paste Special

The Paste Special function allows for pasting ‘inside’ or ‘on’ the top most selected layer at the current time of the playhead. This makes it possible to paste on a single frame of a Video Layer or an Art Layer inside a Video Group.

⇧ Skip Auto Merge

The pasted content is placed above the selected layer or Video Group without merging them together. This enables repositioning of the pasted content before committing to merge the pasted content with the top most selected layer.


Clear Layer Content

Delete all content from the top most selected layer at the current time in the timeline. For Video Layers this will result in a empty frame while for Art Layers all content for the duration of the layer is deleted.

⌥ Split and Clear*

Split the layer at the current time in the timeline and delete all content from the cut off layer at the current time in the timeline.


Create Hold

Creates a new Art Layer from the content of the top most selected layer on the frame at the current time with a duration of the number of frames entered into the Hold Frame pop-up window. This works on both Art Layers and Video Layers. This method avoids adding duplicate frames to a Video Layer to create a Hold.

When no layer is selected a Snapshot with the specified duration is created instead.

⇧ Snapshot*

Is like Photoshop’s ‘Stamp Visible’ function but automatically trimmed back to the default duration of new frames (specified as ‘New Frame length’ in the Toolbar Settings).

⌥ No Background*

Creates a Snapshot with the Background Layer visibility turned off.


New Video Layer

Create a new Video Layer at the current time in the timeline with the same duration as the timeline. The speed of new Video Layers is set according to the Toolbar Settings. Video Layers can be optimized for animation on ‘ones’, ‘twos’, ‘threes’, or ‘fours’.

⇧ Load Footage*

Place a supported video file from your Hard Drive on the timeline.

⌥ Interpret Footage*

Open the “Interpret Footage” window for the selected Video Layer to adjust the frame rate of the Video Layer in relation to the Timeline. The toolbar will update the name of the selected Video Layer to the frame rate set in the Interpret Footage window.

Label

Apply Colour Label

When clicked, the Red, Orange, Yellow and Green label buttons apply the corresponding colour label to the selected Layers or Layer Groups in the Timeline or Layer Panel.

⇧ Label as “…”*

By holding [Shift] when clicking a label button, the layer name is changed to the pre-defined name (linked to the colour) in addition to the colour label.

Red: Key (Key)
Orange: Ext (Extreme)
Yellow: Brk (Breakdown or Passing position)
Green: Inb (Inbetween)

⌥ Create “…”*

By holding [Alt] while clicking a label button, the layer is split at the playhead position, in addition the colour label is applied, the name change and the new Layer’s content is deleted.

⇧⌥ Colour Label, Custom Name*

By holding [Shift]+[Alt] while clicking a label button, the colour label is applied and a custom layer name can be supplied to effectively rename and label multiple Layers at once.


Reset Colour Label

The Purple label button will reset/remove any previous applied colour label.

⇧ Reset Label and Name*

By holding [Shift] while clicking the purple label button, the layer name is reset to “Layer” and a previous applied colour label is removed.

⇧⌥ Reset Label, Custom Name*

By holding [Shift]+[Alt] while clicking the purple label button, a previous applied colour label is removed and a custom layer name can be supplied to effectively rename multiple Layers at once.

Frames

The frame functions work on  Art Layers and Video Layers. The commands are applied in similar fashion with the exception that only new Art Layer Frames are adjusted to the “New Frame length” as specified in the Toolbar Settings. The duration of new frames in Video Layers default to one frame.

Be aware of the lack of visual feedback when using the frame functions on Video Layers.

Tip: Click the right pointing arrow on a Video Layer to show it’s parameters, including the Altered Video track. 

Insert Blank Frame After

A new empty Frame (Video Layer) or Layer is added to the Timeline after the current selected Frame.

note: when multiple Layers are selected the first Layer of the selection is used as the reference point for inserting a new frame (i.e. The most left Layer in the Timeline or lowest Layer in the layer stack of the Layers Panel)

⇧ Insert Blank Frame Before*

A new empty Frame (Video Layer) or Layer is added to the Timeline before the current selected Frame.

⌥ Duplicate Frame*

The selected Frame (Video Layer) or Layer is duplicated and placed after the current selected Frame.


Adding and removing exposures works on both Art Layers and Video Layers. It’s important to understand the difference between the two layer kinds. Art Layers display a single piece of content over the layer’s duration on the Timeline where Video Layers can contain a multitude of unique frames.

For that reason it is possible to adjust the exposure of multiple Art Layers at the same time but adjusting exposure on Video Layers requires the selection of one layer at the time.

Be careful with removing exposures from a Video Layer because excess frames are deleted when removing exposures without distinguishing between content.

Add Exposure + Exposure value

Extends the selected Layers out point or duplicates the current video frame with the number of frames specified in “Add Exposure value” in the Toolbar Settings. (default is 1)

⇧ Remove Exposure – Exposure value

Contracts the selected Layers out point or deletes the number of frames, specified in “Add Exposure value” in the Toolbar Settings, from the Video Layer. (default is 1)

⌥ Insert Value to Add*

Extends the selected Layers out point or duplicates the current video frame with the number of frames entered in the input window.

⇧⌥ Insert Value to Remove*

Contracts the selected Layers out point or deletes the number of frames entered in the input window, from the Video Layer.

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VideoGroup Selected Layers

Create a Video Group containing the selected Layers. Video Groups keep nested Layers in sequence based on their stacking order in the Layers Panel. When no Layer is selected a new Video Group is created containing one (Layer) Frame.

⇧ New Group from Selected*

Create a Group containing the selected Layers. Groups combine Layers without changing the timing on the Timeline unless when placed inside a Video Group. When no Layer is selected a new empty Group is created.

⌥ Ungroup

The content of the selected Group is un-grouped without changing the timing of the Layers on the Timeline. When a Layer inside a Group is selected the Group in which the Layer resides is un-grouped.


Reverse Selected Frames

Reverse the stacking order of the selected Layers or reverse the stacking order of the content of the selected Video Group or Group.

Trim/Move

Trim Layer Start

Trim the start of the selected Layers at the current position of the Playhead in the Timeline. When a Group or Video Group is selected you will be asked if you would like to trim all layers inside the Group.

Move Layer/Group Start

Move the selected Layers to the current position of the Playhead in the Timeline based on the Layer’s in-point. When a Group or Video Group is selected the Group is moved to the current position of the Playhead in the Timeline, based on the Group’s in-point.

⌥ Trim and Sequence Layers

Trims the start of the selected Layers at the current position of the Playhead in the Timeline and attempts to sequence the Layers like a Video Group without placing the Layers inside a Video Group.

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There is a subtle but powerful difference between the Timeline scissors and the split functions of the toolbar. The Timeline scissors allow you to split multiple Layers at once while the toolbar split function only works on one Layer at the time and for good reason.

Split Layer

Splits the selected Layer and keeps the last segment selected. This way you can immediately work on the Layer segment at the Playhead position without the need to deselect the off-screen Layer segment.

⌥ Split and Clear Content

Splits the selected Layer and keeps the last segment selected. The Layer’s content is deleted, effectively creating an empty Layer Frame without changing the timing of the adjacent Layers. Especially useful for inserting ones in a sequence on twos.

⇧⌥ Cut Layer into Frames

Quickly cut the selected Layer in smaller segments based on the Work Area and number of frames entered in the pop-up window.

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Trim Layer End

Trim the end of the selected Layers at the current position of the Playhead in the Timeline. When a Group or Video Group is selected you will be asked if you would like to trim all layers inside the Group.

Move Layer/Group End

Move the selected Layers to the current position of the Playhead in the Timeline based on the Layer’s out-point. When a Group or Video Group is selected the Group is moved to the current position of the Playhead in the Timeline, based on the Group’s out-point.

⌥ Trim and Sequence Layers*

Trims the end of the selected Layers at the current position of the Playhead in the Timeline and attempts to sequence the Layers like a Video Group without placing the Layers inside a Video Group.

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Do Roll-Edit

The technical term “Roll-Edit” comes from video editing jargon when the edit between two pieces of footage is “rolled” to a new position in time without changing the duration of the two segments combined.

To perform a Roll-Edit you’ll need to select two Layers. They can be inside a Video Group or by themselves on the timeline. Place the playhead somewhere between the starting point of the first Layer and the ending point of the last Layer and click the Do Roll-Edit button.

When this is done with Video Layers, be sure that both Video Layers contain enough frames to perform the trimming and extending of the start and end point.

Preview

You can save yourself some render time by defining a Work Area in the Timeline before you preview your animation. In addition the toolbar will automatically loop the Work Area when the toolbar’s  Step Forward/Backward buttons are used. Making it possible to do a basic form of “flipping”.

Set Start of Work Area

Mark the beginning of the Work Area at the current position of the playhead in the Timeline.

⇧ Go To Start of Work Area

Change the playhead position to the first frame of the Work Area on the Timeline.


Reset Work Area

Mark the Start and End of the Work Area to include all content on the Timeline.


Set End of Work Area

Mark the end of the Work Area at the current position of the playhead in the Timeline.

⇧ Go To End of Work Area

Change the playhead position to the last frame of the Work Area on the Timeline.


Go To Frame

Navigate to a specific frame on the Timeline  by entering the frame number useful for correcting specific frames or when working from a dope sheet.


The Step Backward and Step Forward function of the toolbar are similar to the animation playback controls with the exception that the toolbar buttons will automatically loop the Work Area.

Step Backward

Move the Playhead back one frame on the Timeline. When the beginning of the Work Area is reached the Playhead will jump to the end of the Work Area.

⇧ Go To First

Move the Playhead to the first frame on the Timeline.

⌥ Select and Step Backward**

*Mac only Hack – For this hack to work the Timeline option “Enable Timeline Shortcut Keys” has to be activated. This function simulates two key strokes to trigger keyboard shortcuts 1) Select the Previous Layer in the layer stack. 2) Place the Playhead at the Layer’s in point.


Step Forward

Move the Playhead forward one frame on the Timeline. When the end of the Work Area is reached the Playhead will jump to the beginning of the Work Area.

⇧ Go To Last

Move the Playhead to the last frame on the Timeline.

⌥ Select and Step Forward**

**Mac only Hack – For this hack to work the Timeline option “Enable Timeline Shortcut Keys” has to be activated. This function simulates two key strokes to trigger keyboard shortcuts 1) Select the Next Layer in the layer stack. 2) Place the Playhead at the Layer’s in point.


Toggle Onion Skinning

Turn the Timeline’s Onion Skinning function on when it’s off and off when it is on.

⌥ Open Onion Skin Settings

Quickly open the Timeline’s Onion Skin Settings.


Toggle Zoom/Fit

By clicking this button the zoom level toggles between the current zoom level and the “Fit Screen” command. If the current zoom level is the same as the zoom level to fit the screen, nothing happens.

⇧ Zoom 100%

Hold [SHIFT] to view the canvas at 100% zoom. Clicking this button again will return to the previous zoom level.

note: It’s not possible to adjust which part of the canvas is shown in the viewport. Switching between zoom levels often requires repositioning of the viewport.

At this point the toolbar doesn’t like it when the function is used when switching between multiple documents. This will be fixed in future updates.

Menu Options

About the Animator's Toolbar

The “about” pop-up window displays some basic information about the toolbar version and developer.

Tablet Mode

Tablet Mode is intended for but not limited to the use with HD tablet displays like the Wacom Cintiq 13 HD Interactive Pen Display.
Tablet Mode is started from the fly-out menu. In Tablet Mode the toolbar buttons are doubled in size and the tool tips are hidden. You may need to adjust the height of the panel to avoid the buttons being hidden from view.

Tablet Mode is closed by clicking the green Tablet Mode indicator in the upper right corner of the toolbar.

Toolbar Settings

Project prefix

This value is used as the default name in the “New Animation Project” window. If you use a specific naming convention like “SC0001SH0001” (SCene 1 and SHot 1) you can enter that here and then only the last digits have to be changed every time you create a new document for a new shot or sequence.

New Frame length

If you like to change the default duration of new (Layer) Frames created with the toolbar, you can enter the preferred value here in number of frames.

Add Exposure value

This is the number of frames that are added or removed every time you click the add/remove exposure button.

Toolbar Settings Window

New Video Layers default to

This setting will change the default frame rate of new Video Layers created with the toolbar in relation to the timeline’s frame rate.

e.g. On a Timeline with a frame rate of 25 f/s and with this setting on “Twos”; Every new Video Layer’s frame rate is automatically set to 12.5 f/s.

Ask before selecting Video Group content

Some functions (like add/remove exposure) can be applied to all layers inside a Video Group by selecting only the Video Group. To avoid mistakes the toolbar will ask you to confirm this action. If you do this often the warning can be turned off for a smoother experience.

Online Manual

I guess you already found this because you’re reading it :-)

Send Feedback

Clicking this item in the fly-out menu will take you straight to the feedback form (for the Animator’s Toolbar Pro) on my site.

I’m always looking for feedback, new input, suggestions etc. Let me know what you like and what can be improved, maybe you’ll see your suggestions implemented in the next update.

Go To Feedback form ››

That’s exactly how the “Paste Special” function came about. Which started as a simple suggestion by Nicolas Ménard an avid Photoshop animator.

Animated loop from “Wednesday with Goddard” by Nicolas Ménard
More by Patrick Deen

A link to everything I’m currently offering on the Adobe Add-ons (Adobe Exchange) website.

The Animator’s Toolbar Pro comes with a bundle of scripts that can be assigned to keyboard shortcuts. Before the keyboard scripts can be used you have to open the Animator’s Toolbar at least once to activate them.

The toolbar scripts can be found in a subfolder named Animators Toolbar in Photoshop’s Scripts folder. It’s recommendable to create a custom workspace for animation. From that point on it’s safe to change the panel configuration and keyboard shortcuts to your liking without losing any of your previous settings.

Only scripts that perform actions beyond Photoshop’s standard accessible behaviours are included.

e.g. Only the “Reset Work Area” script is included because the commands “Work Area > Set Start at Playhead” and “Work Area > Set End at Playhead” can be assigned through Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts > shortcuts for Panel Menus (timeline panel).

Follow these steps to assign a Keyboard Script to a Keyboard Shortcut.

Included scripts are:

Exposure Add.jsxbin
Exposure Remove.jsxbin
Frame Duplicate.jsxbin
Frame Insert Before.jsxbin
Frame Insert.jsxbin
Frame Reverse.jsxbin
Layer Clear Content.jsxbin
Layer Paste Special.jsxbin
Layer Split At Playhead.jsxbin
Layer Trim End.jsxbin
Layer Trim Start.jsxbin
Roll Edit.jsxbin
Video Group Selected.jsxbin
Video Layer New.jsxbin
Work Area Reset.jsxbin

When you install the Animator’s Toolbar Pro a few extra’s are installed in the folder “AnimatorsToolbar” in your documents folder.

Printable Cheat Sheet

Acquaint yourself with all that the Animator’s Toolbar Pro has to offer with the printable cheat sheet.

I’d suggest you open the demo psd-files and try all combinations to see what each function does.


In that same folder you’ll find two psd-files containing a simple animation of a spider-like creature running off screen.

The files are named:

Demo_ArtLayers.psd
Demo_VideoLayers.psd

Both files contain the same animation sequence but with different solutions. The Demo_ArtLayers.psd shows how a sequence can be built using Art Layers while the Demo_VideoLayers.psd shows how the same result can be achieved using Video Layers.

(I have to say I created this sequence using Art Layers first and then converted the Layer-animation to Video Layers using my Rostrum script)