Catch your dreams and they may come true.
GIF files or moving graphics don’t need to have masses of animation and effects, as long as you try and tell a story.
Now that Instagram has the video option (although, shot only and not file choose, as of yet), a nice touch to your digital manipulation would be to re-visit the GIF file type style animation and incorporate that into your feed. Inject a little animation and motion graphics into your image.
Photoshop CS6 extended has a great feature for this very thing. CS6 extended has the ability to animate using layers and certain layer effects which is a quick way of animating without looking at frames.
Photoshop CS6 Extended Manipulation/Animation Tutorial/Tips
First I grabbed my images and the stock I used came from the great stock of http://sinned-angel-stock.deviantart.com/
The problem you have is many of the photos will have different light, shadow, hue and tone values and they will probably need adjusting. Two of my favourite ways of bringing all your elements and stock together are the colour matching feature and the colour overlay with colour blend mode.
Image/Adjustments/Match Colour is where you can find it and all you need is to select your first photo and then the second photo and it should do a good job in creating a colour match to bring the stock together. Use curves, levels and hue adjustment layers to bring it into your scene. Below the image shows the before and after effect of the curve adjustment. Slight bends on the main curve and changing the blue and green channels can blend it better together. Always use these adjustments in a none destructive way by using clipping masks as well to effect different elements. Don’t forget to try a different blending mode on the layer adjustment; it creates interesting tones and you can always use the opacity slider to create a more subtle effect.
The colour overlay can be found in the layer styles menu. Make sure you set the blend mood to colour in the colour overlay panel, choose a source from the photo you want to match and see what it looks like. Again, always use curves to tone it, levels to balance the contrast and hue adjustments. The saturation is one quick way of matching your stock together – bring the saturation down on all elements and then you can start getting the tone and light correct before adjusting the colour.
Use the layer masks at the bottom of the layers panel to mask out parts of each element and start blending them in where needed. Black brush to take away and white brush to re-paint in. Hard brush, soft brush and opacity are the things to experiment with and to use when doing this type of work.
Using the many types of blur’s in the filter menu will give you depth of field options and as long as you understand the light and shadows of the scene your creating, the overall composition should be tight.
First you need to decide what you want to animate and make sure you have a way of animating it with layers and layer styles. You can go frame by frame, using the layers as frames if you wanted, but the quick way of animating pattern types such as snow, rain and light beams is using the layer styles. The snow moving animation was done just like that; using a pattern overlay and manipulating the layer to get the frames automatically without seeing them.
I first got my snow layers sorted by creating them using a new layer and adding noise. You can then blur that noise and use a level adjustment to make the snow. There is a better way which really makes it look like snow. First create your noise or render clouds work as well. Then blur it a little then go to the Filter Gallery under the Filter menu. Use the Dry Brush filer under Artistic. This will create great looking snow.
So use the render options and, blur, levels and the dry brush filter to get your snow.
Don’t include just one lot of snow. For it to look realistic you need depth of field so use 3-4 different layers of snow. Large, medium, small and distant. Also make sure you use the gaussian blur and the motion blur for some of the different levels. This will create a great depth of field. Don’t use the same snow render either, snow is not the same shape and size as it falls, create different snow renders for each layer.
When you have your layers sorted we need to create a pattern out of them so we can move the snow layers over the main composition later on. To do this make sure whatever it is you want to turn into a pattern is at the top of your layer stack. When creating a pattern you want a continues looking edge. With snow or rain and smaller type patterns the quick and easy way is to go Filter/Other/Offset. This will shift the layers edges. Play around and shift the edges, you will offset find a line or something not quite right so use the clone tool to edit it and then offset it again and keep doing it till it looks correct.
Now do this to all your snow layers, once done you can save each one as a pattern by bringing it to the top of your layer stack and go to Edit/Define Pattern and name it.
Give each of your snow layers a pattern overlay by the layer style button at the bottom of you layers panel.
Make sure you put the blend mode to screen as we don’t wont the black background. Also after the pattern has been applied, go to the same layer and drop the fill slider down to zero. We already have the snow pattern overlay and don’t want to see anything else.
You should now have some great looking snow layers creating an amazing depth of field effect.
You can test how the pattern looks as well by selecting anyone of your snow layers and bringing up your pattern overlay panel, drag it to one side and then move the layer over the main image. It should look like falling snow and the pattern will never stop so you can use this to animate the scene.
To quickly get started in Photoshop animation click the timeline panel (found in Window/Timeline).
It should look like this -
Click the create video timeline button and it will put your layers into a timeline style like this:
If you did want to animate frame by frame then you can click on the triple icon button -
I am not doing this frame by frame so I left this alone. To set up the first snow fall I find the layer down the left hand side and click the arrow button to bring the layer styles up; these are what you can control to animate the snow. We are looking to animate the style.
Make sure your at the first frame on your timeline and click the stopwatch looking icon. It will bring up a yellow marker to indicate its taken that layer as the first frame. Its the start of your animation.
Now drag the timeline to the end of your animation or to where you want this layer animation to stop. I wanted it to continue all the way to the end. I have it as a 10 second long clip. You can see it says 10:00f, which means 10 seconds and each second has its frames. I am running this at 30 frames per second which will create a smooth animation but a large file size. So I have 30 frames per second at 10 seconds long. I have a total of 300 frames and animating these individually would be a long job but the next step does this all for you without going into the frames.
Make sure you drag your timeline to the end of wherever you want the animation to stop, and go to your main layers and open up your pattern overlay panel.
You can now move the pattern overlay around. Its a good idea to mess about with this and drag the pattern (snow) around a few times. When you click on the style stopwatch icon again it will take that as the last frame in the layer animation and create all other frames in between.
Getting the speed correct may take trial and error but you can also drag the yellow stopwatch icons about to increase and decrease the speed.
We animated and created the frames with the style type. There is position and opacity as well which can be animated separately on each layer. I only wanted to animate the pattern overlay (style).
That’s one layer of snow done. Do the same with all other snow layers by doing the same thing. When you move the pattern overlay layer to create the end frame, experiment with moving it freely, if you hold shift and move it, then its only moving in a straight line which is not true for real life. There is also an amazing way of shifting the snow or whatever your animating around a bit, just like real life, each snow element will take on its own life. To do this you need to create a displacement map for the layer you want to effect.
Experimentation can come into play here as well, but create a new document the same size as your animation/layer and render it with clouds. Gaussian blur it (I used an 8 pixel blur, but it all depends on the size of your document and the effect your after).
Save and close it.
To use it you will have to convert the snow layer to a smart object by right clicking the layer and select smart object. This is non-destructive so you can turn it off if you don’t like it. When you do this the blend mode will change to normal but just change it back to screen to get rid of the black background. Go to Filter/Distort/Displace and choose the file you just created. Because you have changed the layer you have just animated into a smart object the stopwatch icons on the timeline may go but your layer animation and frames are still there. Now check the animation out and press play. You should see the displacement map take effect.
Do this displacement to all the snow layers and use different displacement maps as well to get a real falling effect.
Depth of field is very important and to create an even more realistic effect make sure your snow falling at the front is faster then the next snow layer. The back snow layer should be slow falling.
Also set up your snow layers to be in between the landscape layers. You don’t want large snow falling behind the mountain and you don’t want the small snow layer falling over the front cliff or foreground elements.
You can start to experiment and add other layer animations and using the puppet warp and other tools, you can come up with some real good animations without heading over to Flash Builder or a dedicated animation program.
You can save as a GIF (although saving a 300 frame file as a GIF would result in a massive file), or render the video out as an MP4 file.
I wanted to start posting motion graphics on my Instagram feed. Instagram only has a shoot video button and not a file select option (as of 14th July 2013).
Filming computer screens is a nightmare due to the different re-fresh rates. I needed to film the video with my phone from the TV. This way the frame rate will be a better match then filming straight off of the computer screen. I found the best solution is to run your computer into an LCD TV, set up a tripod and film the video playing on the TV. For music you can drop it into the animation layer or in this case as it was for Instagram, just play the sound clip so your phone will pick it up.
Check out my Instagram feed to see it in action - http://instagram.com/mindsqueeze @mindsqueeze
Or check out the video on YouTube - http://www.youtube.com/mindsqueezedesign
Full high quality version over at - http://mindsqueezedesign.deviantart.com/art/Be-Free-385122103