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Animated Plane Flying Through Clouds

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4. Animate the plane

In this step I'm going to show how to animate a plane in ImageReady to make it look as if were flying through the clouds.

Continue by clicking on the Edit in ImageReady button ImageReady at the bottom of the tools palette in Photoshop; this will open our current file in ImageReady..
Make sure that the animation palette in ImageReady is visible and if not, select in the menu Window / Animation

Look at the next three screenshots:


Move Object

You'll notice that by looking at the animation palette that you only have one frame (it has the number 1 in the top left corner). What we need to do first is duplicate this frame by clicking on the Duplicate current frame iconDuplicate Frame(A)at the bottom of the animation palette.

With the second frame active, go to the document window and make sure that the tab Original is selected (F).
Select the Move tool Move Toolin the tool bar.
Hold down the shift key and press the cursor left key Cursor Right on your keyboard a few times until both plane and the complete (!) contrail have totally disappeared out of the image.

Return to the animation palette when you're done.

We now need to select both frames; we can do this by clicking on each one while holding down the Ctrl key (Command key on the Mac). Both frames are selected if their background in the animation palette has become a darker gray.
: you can also select multiple frames by clicking on the first frame, then holding down the shift key and clicking on the last frame.

The next step is to select the Frame delay time; normally we would click on the area marked with a red rectangle (B) and select the number of seconds. We however need a value of 0 sec and since this is the default value we don't have to change anything.
Note: you can always change that value later on if you have to, even if you have more than 2 frames; just use the shift-click trick that I mentioned earlier.

We now have two frames; frame 1 contains the object at its starting position, frame 2 contains the object at the location when the animation ends. We now have to instruct ImageReady to fill in the missing frames.
We do this by clicking on the tween button Tween at the bottom of the animation palette (C).

In the window that opens up you'll notice that the current setting for Tween With reads: Selection. That's good, because that's exactly what we want. The important question is; how many frames do we want to add? I'm suggesting in the screenshot to go for 60, but you can choose any value that you prefer. Keep a few things in mind;

  • More frames means a smoother animation, but a larger file.
  • Fewer frames means "jumpy" animation, but a smaller file
  • Make sure that the image you're working on is rather small. How small? Well that depends on the number of frames you're planning to use. In this tutorial we will resize the image to make the animation faster.

After you have selected the number of frames and you made sure that all other settings (layers/parameters) are the same (they probably are, because they are default values) you can click on the OK button.

We are now adding a delay to our animation. We can add that delay to our first or last frame. In this tutorial we're going to add it to our first frame. Move the slider (marked J in the screenshot below) all the way to the left so that we can see our first frame.
Click inside the area marked with K and select in the drop-down menu a value of 2 sec:


Select the Optimize tab in your document window (marked H in one of our previous screenshots) and wait a few seconds. The optimized tab allows you to see how the frame(s) or animation looks like with the current optimize settings in the Optimize palette (more about his palette later in this tutorial).

You can now play the animation by clicking on the PlayPlaybutton (marked with E in the first screenshot of this page).

The animation will now play in your document window.
Note: the final animation will be faster than the one you're watching now if you're on a slow computer.

Like I said earlier; the animation uses the currents settings of the Optimize palette:

Optimize Palette

Notice that at the bottom of the optimize window (not the optimize palette) you can see the predicted size of the final animation, in my case it reads 403.1K:

File Size

Let's see how we can reduce that number. Note: in your case this number is probably higher or lower.

Take another look at the earlier screenshot of the optimize palette. It would take a complete new tutorial to go through all the settings, so I will mention two things;

  • For this tutorial I've selected for the format (A) GIF since GIF is a format that supports animation. Don't select Jpeg; it doesn't support animation.
  • For the amount of colors (B) I've selected 256. This will make the image look better but will make the final file slightly larger.

Like I said earlier; the predicted file size for the GIF file is about 403.1K. Since this is rather big, we need to do something about his. Let's first crop the image; select the crop tool Cropin the tool bar and select in the option bar for Cropped Area: Hide:

Crop Hide

We have to select hide because we don't want to delete the invisible parts of our plane and contrail that will be part of our animation.

Click on frame 20 in the animation palette if you can't see the plane.
We will do 3 optimizations to bring the file size down. Optimization #1 is our crop:

Optimization 1: Crop the image in such a way that you cut off a part of the top and bottom section of the sky. In my case this resulted in a new file size of 330.4K which is a reduction of about 20%.

Optimization 2: Go to the menu and select Image / Image Size and select a width of 400 pixels and click OK. The new file is now (in my case) 149.5K which is a reduction of about 55% of my previous size.

Optimization 3: By changing the default setting for Dither Method (C) from Diffusion to No Dither I was able to reduce the size to 120.1K which is a reduction of about 20%.

The file can now be saved as a GIF file with File / Save Optimized As...


Your animation should look something like this:

Animated plane

It's not a perfectly smooth animation, but that's because of the limitations of ImageReady

Final words

Even if you don't plan to create any animations, then consider to use what you've learned in the first part of this tutorial to create static images in combination with clouds using the mask depth technique that I've shared earlier:


Hopefully this tutorial gave you some idea what can be done with the information that's available in one of the channels and also how you can use ImageReady to create a simple and straightforward animation. The resulting visual size of the animated image is rather small, but we there are ways to make it larger;
  • Use less colors
  • Use less frames
  • Use different settings in the optimize palette (experiment).
  • Use a transparent background if possible (in our example not possible, because of our sky background).

Today Flash is often what's being used for animations like this on the internet, but that doesn't mean that we should stop using Imageready for any kind of animation, because for some simple animations ImageReady can be quite useful.

I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial.

For more help with Photoshop check out ourPhotoshop Trainingsection.

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