Okey so this is the way I animate, and I dont say there is a right or wrong way, but if you guys are making an animation and take these tips in consideration it will probably help you out alot!
I decided to make my animations in photoshop animate, after trying out several other programs and realizing that this is best for the top-down view I am going for.
So starting from the beginning its important to get the frames to have their own group of pictures so that it is easy to just change some details while making an animation.
So before I start to do anything else, I decided what my animation building parts are and then I make a category for each part. Let's call these "frame-groups".
In the example we have the first frame-group called Group 1 with the subcategories , Muscle Flash, arms(Right and left), upper body and lower body. These are large groups that consist of smaller groups.
Since the camera or view, always will be from the top and face down (there for the name top-down view) I start the animation from the feet, legs and lower body and from there I go up towards the head as the last part.
I decided that these animations will not need more than 3 different parts for the legs.
Using my self as reference I start to build a pose putting all pieces together.
in this example I made a women character and she is about to use bolt action with the L96, but more of that later.
As we now focus on the basics I will explain the mechanic behind my theory. So I start with the feet going up legs, waist and decided a pose. After this I put the torso on place, clothes that the character has and the shoulders in an neutral position. Next step is deciding what the character does. Shooting, running, dying, attacking, punching and choose how to set the arms according to this.
When you are done with the first frame I should look like following.
Notice the Grav R and L layers, these are just loose parts on the character that will react to gravitation, to get that little more "smooth" feel to the animation.
Next up I will go quickly trough the weapon animations...