Animate Drawings in Seconds With This Free Tool

Meta's AI research lab has a new demo that could change the future of animation

animated drawings from meta demo

If you’ve ever experimented with animation before, you’ll know the sense of wonder that comes from watching your drawings spring to motion. Even something as simple as a bouncing ball feels like magic.

Animation can also be tedious as hell.

With 24 frames per second, just a 1 minute clip can take over 1400 individual drawings! It takes an extraordinary amount of patience, even for those with the skills to animate beautifully.

But if you’d like to watch your drawing come to life WITHOUT years of training, we have a solution. Albeit a simple one.

Animated Drawings from Meta

Facebook’s parent company Meta has become a major player in AI over the past year. Their large language model Llama is one of the most popular open source AI projects out there, along with many other burgeoning tools.

In tune with Meta’s AI ventures, the company has now released a new tool for creating animations. Animated Drawings applies AI technology to isolate a static sketch and animate it in just a few seconds.

While you can hardly create the next Fantasia, Animated Drawings can generate simple things like running, waving, and dancing. Meta says it’s intended for children’s drawings, but the core technology works for any figure art.

Animated Drawings uses public code projects Detectron2, AlphaPose, CMU Graphics Motion Capture Lab and Mixamo to isolate an image, apply a digital armature and apply the animation.

How to animate a drawing for free online

Meta’s Animated Drawing tool is super simple and only has a few requirements:

  • There can be only one character on the page
  • The arms and legs can’t overlap the body (or each other)
  • The drawing needs to be on well-lit white paper

Meta also gives user the option to contribute the image to a public dataset, but you can opt out of this (or so they say).

Once you upload an image, the tool automatically identifies the character on the page and puts a box around it. You can adjust the box, or click next.

Character pose generated with JustSketchMe

It then isolates the character from the background, but you can fine-tune this process with the pen and eraser tool. It’s very similar to the quick selection tool in Photoshop.

The final step is applying an armature over the character. These constitute the bones and joints of the figure. In my experience the tool was excellent at finding the correct place for each joint, but you can make adjustments by dragging the joint balls.

Your drawing should now be moving! There are currently 32 animation presets to choose from ranging from jumping, dancing, boxing and outright wiggling.

Bro might be looking like Gumby, but it only took a few seconds.

How to share your Animated Drawing

Meta provides several options to share animated drawings:

  • Download the animation as an MP4
  • Get a direct link like this
  • Post on Facebook, WhatsApp or X

Final thoughts

Animated Drawings from Meta is an simple, beginner-friendly tool for igniting the joy of animation. Though it’s not going to equip you for a career in Pixar, it does give one a taste of how animation brings illustrations to life.

Ideally we’d like to see them open up the animation process more and allow users to create their own motions. Presets are easy, but limited.

Give it a try and share your animated drawings with us in the comments!

© Efrain Malo

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