Step by Step: Jake Armstrong

With the boom of hand-drawn animation in the world of motion design, it’s a no-brainer that we do a Step by Step profile on the medium. Thankfully, Jake Armstrong is here to show us how it’s done!

There seems to be a gap between the two main worlds of production: working on cartoons and the network side of things, and that of the advertising-centric world of motion design. Jake is a rare breed who has been able to successfully traverse this gap throughout his career. He has worked on a handful of popular shows and even directing and creating his own content to working at many of the top motion design studios such as Buck and Psyop, to name a few. Add to that his role in Late Night Work Club and it’s safe to say he’s done a lot, and he’s good at it all!

Jake recently purchased a Microsoft Surface Pro and had some down time on a flight so he decided to test it out and create this animation for us.



Editor’s note: In the true spirit of animation the original recording was over 5hrs long. We made some cuts and sped some of the more tedious sections up to give you a more digestible view of Jake’s process. We are still learning with this series and our main hope is to create as authentic of a viewing experience as possible. We’d love to hear your thoughts! 

If you care to watch the videos at a faster than x2, go to the video on Youtube, open your Javascript Console in Chrome and type:

“$(‘.video-stream’).playbackRate = X”

Simply replace “X” with the speed you care to watch at. 


If you would like to be involved or request an artist for a Step by Step feature, please email us at:




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About the author

Joe Donaldson

Joe Donaldson is a director, designer, and animator who worked on Motionograpgher from 2014-2020. Previously, he was an art director at Buck. Over the past decade, he's lived and worked in Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles and has directed work for clients such as Apple, Google, Instagram, The New York Times, Unicef, Etsy, and The New Yorker. In addition to his creative work, in 2018 he started Holdframe. He's now working as a professor at Ringling College of Art and Design and when not teaching he can be found spending time with his family or out running.



If you want to try animating in photoshop make sure to get the plug in animdessin. It’s a toolbar for animation in photoshop and makes it alot easier. Here is a video explaining it and the creator recently made an update for CC17, his vimeo has a video explaining how to download.

Joe Donaldson

Definitely recommend Animdessin as well as Animators Toolbar. Both are great and REALLY speed up the process of Photoshop animation. It’s also crucial to make actions. Jake is just show boating not using them ?.

I believe Alex Griggs covers setting up the actions here:

Here are some other helpful links:


AnimDessin is great! I just am a crazy person and too stuck in my ways. But Joe and Dexter are right, that and Alex G’s tutorials are amazing tools to use.

Luis Landero

Totally agree! I started using animdessin and animcolour and it’s just the best way to animate in Photoshop using the brushes and filters that the app provides.


i was driving to work this morning and thought to myself, hmmm wonder when the next step by step is coming out….

Joe Donaldson

The hope is that we can keep putting these out monthly. This is technically January’s so we’re a few days late.

Leeanne Williams

Loving these Step by Steps! Thank you for doing this!

Lana Simanenkova

That was a great watch!


javascript didn’t work. googled it and this worked:

document.getElementsByTagName(“video”) [0].playbackRate = x

change the x to the speed you want

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