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Photoshop Tips: Liquify Animation

How to create an animated gif using the Liquify command in Photoshop 6.0 and Photoshop Elements By Chad Rolfs
Here is a fun and little known way to use the Liquify command to create an animation. Though it is not terribly practical, you may see some other possible creative openings here. Using layers as the individual frames for your animation, you can use the Shift key in conjunction with the Liquify command to create a Liquified animation.

Before we start, find an image that you want to animate. It is best if you already have an idea of how you want to animate your image. For instance, you may have a picture of your boss and you want to animate so that his ears get really big. The point here is to have fun with it. Ive chosen a picture sent to me by a friend who went fishing in the Bahamas. Nice, eh?

STEP ONE: Duplicate the layer you want to animate. Upon opening the image, there may be only one layer, a Background layer. If so, double-click the Background layer, hit OK and it will automatically be named Layer 0. While holding down the Option/Alt key, drag Layer 0 to the new layer icon in the Layers palette to create a new duplicate layer and name it (e.g. Layer 1).

STEP TWO: Apply Liquify to the duplicated layer. Go to the Image menu and scroll down to Liquify (in Photoshop Elements, Liquify is under the Filter menu). This will bring up the Liquify command window. Play with the tools to apply a distortion in a small amount. This will be the second frame of your animation (the first is Layer 0). I distorted the image so that the coat stretches out to the side, the sides of the hat turn up and the top of the hat expands. Once you re happy with the distortion, hold down the Shift key and click OK. Holding down the Shift key will temporarily save the mesh settings for the distortion you just applied. You can then re-apply that same distortion again and again. This is how you will create your animation frames (layers). (Note: On Windows, you must already have or create a temp directory on your C drive, C: emp).

STEP THREE: Duplicate the Liquified layer (Layer 1)and apply Liquify again holding down the Shift key. As in step one, hold down the Option/Alt key, drag Layer 1 to the new layer icon in the Layers palette to create a new duplicate layer and name it (e.g. Layer 2). Hold down the Shift key, go to the Image menu, scroll down to Liquify and click OK . Holding down the Shift key while accessing Liquify will re-apply the mesh settings you saved in step two. Repeat this step a few times until you have about 5 layers (frames).

STEP FOUR (Photoshop 6): Time to set up the animation. If you are working in Photoshop Elements, skip to step four (Photoshop Elements)on the next page. In Photoshop 6, click on the Jump to ImageReady button that is at the bottom of the toolbox. This will launch your image in ImageReady.

Once in ImageReady, click on the Animation palette's flyout menu ()and select Make Frames from Layers . Next, youll duplicate frames so that your animation loops correctly. Holding down the Option/Alt key, click and drag frame 4 to the gray area to right of frame 5 to duplicate it (frame 6). Do the same thing with frames 3 and 2. You should end up with 8 frames. Since this animation is going to loop, there is no need to duplicate the first frame. Preview your animation by pressing the play button in the Animation palette or go to the File menu and scroll to Preview In to preview in a browser. Previewing your animation will allow you to see if any adjustments need to be made. If it animates too fast, you can adjust the frame delay by clicking on the pop up menu under each frame. Selecting all of the frames by Shift- clicking will allow you to set the same frame delay for all of the frames and therefore keep a consistent flow in our animation.

STEP FOUR (Photoshop Elements): Set up the animation. If you are working in Photoshop Elements, youve got a slightly different road to take, but the end result is the same. Since ImageReady does not come with Photoshop Elements, there is no Animation palette. You will set up the frames using the Layers palette and create your animated gif in the Save for Web dialog. Photoshop Elements allows you to create animated gifs using layers as frames from the bottom up, so in this example, Layer 0 is frame 1, Layer 1 is frame 2, and so on. You may even want to rename all of your layers in this manner so that the name of the layer is the frame number in your animation (e.g. double- click Layer 0 and rename it to Frame 1). If we want to create the same looping animated gif as we did in ImageReady, we will have to create some more frames (layers)so that the animation will loop correctly. Drag Layers 1, 2, and 3 to the new layer icon at the bottom of the palette. This will create duplicate or copied layers (e.g. Layer 1 copy). Next, drag the layer copies above Layer 4 and reorder them appropriately for your animation (see example).

STEP FIVE (Photoshop 6): Save out your animation. Adjust and specify the desired settings in the Optimize palette. Make sure GIF is selected. If you try to save as a JPEG or PNG, you will get a message letting you know that those formats don t support animation. Once you are satisfied with the file size and quality, go to the File menu and scroll down to Save Optimized. Voila!

STEP FIVE (Photoshop Elements): Save out your animation. Now that you ve set up your frames (layers)for the animation from the bottom up, it is time to save it out. Go to the File menu and scroll down to Save for Web . In the Save for Web dialog, adjust and specify the desired settings to optimize your animation. Make sure GIF is selected (JPEG and PNG formats don t support animation). Once you are satisfied with the file size and quality, check the Animate and Loop checkboxes. Next, set your Frame Delay . By default, it is set to 0. 2 seconds. Click on the Preview In browser button to view the animation. If it animates too fast or slow, you can adjust the Frame Delay setting until you get the speed you like. Click OK, and that's it! More fun than you know what to do with.

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