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Layer-Based Animation in Adobe ImageReady

Putting our stream in motion using a layer mask By Dave Nagel
A couple weeks ago we explored one way to composite a shallow water effect over an existing photograph. As with a number of techniques we've covered this year, the shallow water effect was created with editability in mind, especially for those of you who might want to animate the composite in a program like Adobe ImageReady or After Effects. Today we'll take a look at just how to create this animation in ImageReady, and, later this week, we'll see how this process differs in After Effects.

If you haven't already read through and completed the tutorial on compositing shallow water, you should probably do this first. You can read that article at http://www.creativemac.com/2002/08_aug/tutorials/pswater2020822.htm. But before you animate it, you'll need to make a couple of minor changes.

Preparing the composite for animation
In the previous tutorial, the major step was creating the ripple layer for the stream. We created a ripple layer exactly the size of our overall composite. However, some of you might need a little extra room to play around with, so you'll want to recreate the ripple layer slightly larger than the one we created in that tutorial.

You can do this two ways, both in Photoshop. First, you can use the Edit > Transform > Scale command to simply stretch the layer. You don't need to stretch it a whole lot, since our effect will be a slow-moving stream. So you don't really need to worry about any resolution issues in this regard.

However, if you'd like, you can simply recreate the ripple layer, this time making it larger than before. The dimensions will depend on the image you're working with. If you want to animate the stream left to right, you'll want to make the stream larger horizontally. If you intend to animate the stream top to bottom ... well, you get the idea. To do this, simply follow the steps from the last tutorial.

The other thing you're going to want to do is to create a layer that hides some of the ripples. Let me explain the concept. When our stream is moving, we don't want the ripples in our ripple layer to look still. We want to show the ripples only at certain points in the animation so that new areas of the ripple layer will be exposed only in the lighter areas of the image. This will have an effect that sort of resembles highlights caused by dappled sunlight. (You've no doubt seen this technique in a number of anime films.)

To create this all-important new layer, simply follow these steps.

1. Create a new layer over your ripple layer.

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