By Mark Knight

This guide will show you how to use Hexels to create a dynamic, comic book style sequence with an orbital parallax effect.

What is a Parallax Effect?

A parallax effect is an illusion of depth using layered 2D elements. Foreground layers move at a different speed to background layers depending on their perceived distance from the camera.

This animation is an example of Asymmetrical Scrolling. It’s created by looping multiple tiling planes at varying speeds.

An Orbital Parallax effect, on the other hand, simulates a camera orbiting a pivot point.


Elements beyond the pivot point move in the opposite direction to those ahead of the pivot point. The closer an object is to the pivot point, the less it appears to move.

Scene Setup!

I started with the Pixels Trixels 1080p template and doubled the canvas size from 1920×1080 to 3840×2160.

I drew a cityscape on a Pixel layer using the Line tool (L) with my pencil size set to 5.

Animating the Orbital Parallax

In order to animate the parallax effect, the buildings and bridges needed to be cut and pasted into their own pixel layers.

I added my characters and arranged all the layers in order of depth The top layer contained the nearest element and the bottom layer contained the farthest.

I’ve switched to Timeline mode and added 7 frames to the animation track. Layer 0 (shaded grey in the image) is our static pivot point that other elements orbit around. The Transform Tool (T) was used to keyframe the Transform of Frame 1 for Layer 1 moving slightly to the right, then another at Frame 5 moving in the opposite direction. To end the animation at the starting position, Frame 1’s Transform keyframe was copied and pasted to Frame 8.

An isometric diagram of the final animation. Remember, layers beyond the pivot point (Layer 0) move in opposite directions to layers ahead of the pivot point.

Time to Export!

The Frame tool (F) was used to crop any unwanted layer edges from view.

The Frame Tweening values were increased in the Animation Settings window. This creates invisible frames in between every frame to smooth out and slow down the final animation.


The Final Result

The illusion of depth was enhanced by reducing the opacity for layers in the distance. Explosions, boats and lettering were added to existing layers to fill out the scene.

Create your own parallax animations using the 14 day trial of Hexels. Share them with fellow artists in the Facebook Hexels User Group.