29th Apr 2021

Vector Animation with puppet warp tool in Adobe Illustrator

Game Design

Written By, Mansi Umraniya


Hello friends,

A major part of game development services includes making amazing graphics for your game. As we know, the puppet warp tool in Photoshop helps us to manipulate shapes by adding pins and moving them.

But the puppet warp tool in Adobe Illustrator will take us to a whole new level. We are going to learn how to use this tool to make frame by frame animations in illustrator.

Let’s get started!

Creating artwork and apply puppet warp pins

Create the artwork that you need to use for animation. I made this character and I am going to apply the puppet warp effect to it.
Select the artwork you want to animate. You can find the puppet warp tool in the tool bar under the free transform tool. Select the puppet warp tool from the toolbar and then you can see that it will create some points automatically. You need to re-arrange that according to your requirement. Also, note that without selecting your artwork you will not be able to apply the puppet warp tool.
Step 1: Select puppet tool and Delete extra pins by selecting those points and then hit the delete button.

Step 2: Create pins as much as the animation requires but try to use fewer points otherwise it can create some issues in the vector.

Step 3: After adding pins pick any pin you want and move it.

Step 4: You can also rotate it and can change the design of your shape.

Step 5: When you are working with a big vector and many points, the mesh must be distracting. It can get pretty messy. You can turn on and off the mesh from the properties option if it’s distracting.

Step 6: Now you can start moving points as per your animation requirement.

How to create animation sprites using the puppet warp tool

The best part of this tool is that we can change the positions of our characters without drawing them all over again so it can speed up the animation. You need to copy-paste your last frame and then keep making changes in mesh and pins to show the effect of movements. In general, when we are making frame by frame animation we need to make a lot of details to make it look smooth. But it’s amazing how it can present the idea that how smooth your animation will look just by playing with these pins on your vector. It can even help you get the idea of how or what you want to show in this animation.

How to set up timeline animation in Photoshop

I guess our character is ready to export. Export separate PNG images from Illustrator and import PNG in photoshop.
I have used the timeline option in photoshop to create the animation.
Step 1: Import all PNG files here.
Step 2: Go to the window tab and on the timeline.
Step 3: Right-click in timeline tab and select “Make frames from layers”
Step 4: Adjust time delay as per your requirement. I have used 0.1 sec here.
Step 5: Set the looping option to forever.

How to create a gif file

I want to create a GIF file of this animation. You can slow down or fasten your animation with the timeline options.
In exporting options select a GIF option and preset to 128 dithered and then click Save.

green alien



This is it. With this tool, you can create some funny, cute, and short animations. Draw and create your cool ideas and try this tool.

Hope you find this helpful.


Written By,

Game Designer at Yudiz Solutions Pvt. Ltd