From nothing to animated image

Over a month ago, one afternoon while just idling on my sofa wondering what to do, I suddenly got up, grabbed my Wacom-tablet’s pen and started to draw something in Photoshop. It didn’t matter what, I just wanted to do something creative instead of wasting the day away.

After some no-brainer sketching, I ended up with some simple black’n’white figure. A rather typical sketch from someone (or at least me) who hasn’t got an idea in advance what to draw.

The initial sketch I did with my wacom and photoshop (A4 sized).

The initial sketch I did with my Wacom Intuos2 and Photoshop CS3 (A4 sized).

I didn’t want to stop here however and call it a day, and decided to see how far I could take this within one day.

Adding flavour

I then added colours and gradients to the file, fooling around with saturation and contrast settings in order to find the right harmony. I continued using the wacom tablet by “filling” the body pencil-like as well as drawing an extra line pattern in the lower background in order not to let the figure feel too isolated from the background.

Finally, I used the wave-filter to give the background some kick (cheap trick, but good enough for now).

Added layers with colours and textures.

Added layers with colours and textures.

Motion with Flash

Looking okay. I could have continued tweaking and adding stuff to the image, but then I thought this would be a good opportunity to transfer it into Flash and animate it.

So I made a new re-sized file from the original and imported the psd-file into Flash CS3, which nicely preserved the layers as they were in Photoshop. I wanted to animate it like was magically drawn on the canvas, so I used a masking layer on each of the layers, first hiding all the layers, then gradually frame by frame revealing more and more detail.

The choppiness of the animation technique didn’t bother me that much, since I was looking for a simple but quick solution. Some colour-layers I animated only with the alpha-values (from transparent to solid colour). As a final touch, I added a heart to give the work some kind of message.

And below we have the finished image (click the animation to rewind it)!

Everyone has a heart.

Go with the flow

So from sitting on the sofa doing nothing I came up with a rewarding animation. The whole process took some 6-7 hours and while it serves little purpose, it was fun to create and that was enough for me.

Sometimes it is important not to try to think in advance what should I create, just grab a pen and see what happens. This is something I learned very well when I practiced painting with watercolours. Just follow the flow, then analyze its direction and tame it down.

The result is always at its very least something formed from emptiness. I’m always fascinated by that simple fact.

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