Tutorial: How to Make a GIF from an Illustration

How to Make a GIF from an Illustration

Hey designers, attend our all-inclusive soul-fulfilling three-day design retreat, WMC: Off-The-Grid, this October 5 – 7th. To learn more, head to wmcfest.com.

Are you interested in creating a simple animated GIF out of your illustration/vector/artwork? You’ve come to the right place! However, before I walk you through this article, if you haven’t already created an animated GIF from a video using Photoshop, that might be a good first step!

Many of the steps in both tutorials are similar, however, this process is slightly more complex. When you’re creating a GIF out of a video, you’re taking existing frames from the video and editing them down to create a GIF. However, for an illustration, you start with 0 frames, which means you need to create your own. This can get a bit more tricky, but if you stay organized, and follow my steps, you’ll get through it in a breeze!

Step 1: Select the illustration/artwork/icon you’d like to animate

For this tutorial, I will be using a vector icon to keep things nice and simple.

Step 2: Separate your artwork into layers

Import your artwork into your PSD document! There are a lot of ways to do this (i.e. importing layers from programs like Illustrator, Procreate, etc. or copy and paste layers between programs.) It’s important, however, to make sure you keep your layers separated. This will allow you to animate specific elements.

Since this is a vector icon created in Adobe Illustrator, I’ll just copy and paste my elements in one at a time.

  • Open Illustrator file containing vector artwork
  • Determine which elements you want animated, and which layers you don’t
  • Merge all of the layers together that you do NOT want to animate and copy them into your Photoshop document first.
  • Paste them in as a Smart Object (a window will pop up asking you this)
  • Then, go back and paste in the layers that you DO want to animate, one at a time
  • IMPORTANT: Copy these layers in SEPARATELY. For example, I want each of the little sparks around my icon to animate on one at a time. That means I need each little spark on its own layer.

In the above image, you’ll see I have all my artwork separated into layers. I’ve highlighted the layers I want to eventually animate in yellow, and the layers I want to stay static in orange.

Step 3: Setting up your timeline

After you have all of your layers pasted in, and everything looks good, open up the “Animation” or “Timeline” window within Photoshop (the name of this changes depending on which version of Photoshop you have).

  • Open it by clicking Window > Animation/Timeline
  • When the window pops up, hit “Create Video Timeline”
  • Then, within that same window, hit the little hamburger menu (3 horizontal lines) in the top right corner, a menu should pop out
  • Mouseover “Convert Frames” and then hit “Convert to Frame Animation”
  • After, you should have one frame in your Timeline/Animation window.

Your “timeline” should look like the above photo (I’ve also circled the “hamburger menu” in yellow if you weren’t able to find it)

Step 4:  Begin animating frames

Now that you have your document set up, you can begin animating your artwork! For my GIF, I want the little sparks around the lightbulb to flicker on one at a time. This means that I will need 1 frame for each action. And since I have 9 sparks, I will want 10 frames total. I’ve organized it in a list below:

  • Frame 1: 0 sparks visible
  • Frame 2: Only Spark 1 visible
  • Frame 3: Only Spark 1 & 2 visible
  • Frame 4: Only Spark 1, 2 & 3 visible
  • etc.

You can see from the small thumbnails in my Timeline window how the sparks are appearing one by one. You’ll also see a little “5 sec” below each thumbnail. That means each frame will be on screen for 5 seconds before moving to the next. We will fix that amount of time in the next step!



Although this tutorial is only showing a simple GIF animation, if you want to have actual movement across your GIF, the process works the same.

Let’s say I wanted my lightbulb to float across the screen from left to right. I would need to have my entire lightbulb on one layer, and have it visible on Frame 1.

Then I would create Frame 2 (to create a new frame, hit the icon next to the trash symbol in the Timeline/Animation window), duplicate my original lightbulb layer, nudge my new layer to the right (hold down shift, and hit the right arrow key), and hide the previous layer.

After, I would create Frame 3, duplicate my latest lightbulb layer again, nudge to the right, and once again hide my previous layers. You would repeat this process until your lightbulb makes it all the way across the screen.


Step 5: Edit keyframe rates

Now that you have all your frames created, you might hit the play button and think, wow, why is it taking so long? This is where keyframe speed comes into play!

Select all of your frames within your Animation/Timeline window, hit the little arrow beside the time, and either choose one of the listed times or input your own. I typically like to use the speed .08 seconds, but that’s my own personal taste, and can change based on the project.

After you set a new keyframe rate for your animation, you’ll also want to hit the dropdown for looping options and click “Forever.” This will ensure your GIF will loop for infinity and beyond!

Above images show before and after I set my framerate/looping time

Step 6: Play and Export!

After you finish the steps above, make sure you play your GIF and like how it looks and animates! Once you’re happy, you’ll be ready for final export!

When exporting a GIF, you won’t just “Save As” like you might with a JPG. You’ll want to go to File > Export > Save for Web. Once you hit “Save for Web,” a popup should come on screen. There are a lot of different options here, but in most cases you should just be able to hit “Save” and be done!

NOTE: I go into more specifics on exporting GIFs in my tutorial on creating a GIF from a video.

And there you have it!

If your GIF didn’t turn out the way you wanted, feel free to email me with your questions at [email protected]

I should also note that there are MANY different ways to create animations in Photoshop, so I encourage you to continue exploring and learning! You can also check out another one of our GIF tutorials that shows you how to use the Tween Animation Frames button in Photoshop.

Additionally, if you are looking to do heavy animation work, I would recommend trying out Adobe AfterEffects. The best advice I can give is to experiment! Try different things, mess up, start over and see what works best for you. Good luck!!

Tutorial: How to Make a Weird and Wonderful GIF in Photoshop

How to Make a GIF in Photoshop

As you may know, GIFs are taking the world by storm, and this tutorial, “How to Make a GIF in Photoshop,” is going to teach you exactly how to stay hip with these crazy internet trends. I’m going to walk you through 7 basic steps and by the end you will have your very own GIF that you can show off to your friends, family, coworkers and random strangers on the internet.

Step 1: Obtain a video
Easy enough. You’ll ideally want to use a .mov or a .mp4. GIFs are meant to be weird and wonderful. Make sure your source material is worth watching.
I’m going to choose a video from the best conference for graphic designersCleveland graphic design firm Go Media‘s very own Weapons of Mass Creation Fest! Wait and see, it’s a good one. Also, want to use a youtube video? No problem! ClipConverter is completely safe and free, and will convert any youtube video (you just need the URL link) to any format!

Step 2:
 Open Photoshop and import video
Once you have your video, open up Photoshop and import your video by clicking:  File > Import > Video Frames To Layers
A window will then pop up with options. Set up your document as the image below displays. You will also have to select a portion of the video that you want to create a GIF out of.

IMPORTANT: GIFs aren’t movies, this should be a relatively short snip of the video that you want.


Step 3: Set up your document
Now that you have a portion of your video imported, your document will probably look similar to this.


If you don’t have your animation window open (which is shown at the bottom of my image) you’ll want to do that. You can open it up by going to Window > Animation.

Secondly, you will want to adjust your image size to 500px in width. Why? Because GIFs are meant to load quickly, and they can’t do that if they are a huge file size! Making your GIF 500 pixels will help it load quickly and run smoothly! Plus, sites like Tumblr require that your GIFs be under a certain size, so this step is essential.

Step 4: 
Edit your frames
Now that you have your document set up, and your video imported, you can start working with your frames (which will be located in your animation window). First hit play and see what you’re currently working with. Then identify the frames you want to keep, and delete all of the surrounding ones. After this step, I ended up with 14 frames which you can see below.


IMPORTANT: Again, remember, you want to keep your GIF short and sweet. Aim to have around 10-20 frames. Impossible? No worries! If you still have 20+ frames after cutting out the part you want of your video, select all of the even numbered frames and delete them. This will make your GIF slightly choppier and faster, but we can fix that later when you edit your frame rate!

Step 5: Create an infinite loop (Optional)
This step is completely optional, however, it’s a fun effect to add to your GIF. If you play your GIF right now, you’ll notice that there is a clear beginning and end. However, you have the ability to work with the frames and create a GIF that reverses backwards and creates an infinite loop. These kind of effects are the fun, inventive things that no other GIF program allows.

So how do you do it? Simple. Copy all of your frames, except the first and last, then paste them back into your Animation window and drag them to the far right. Then click your options panel (shown in image below) and hit “Reverse Frames.”


Step 6: Change your frame rates
A frame rate is the total time each frame will show! Photoshop will automatically make all your frames .03 seconds, however, this tends to be fairly fast. Your frame rate will always be a personal preference and will also depend on your particular GIF, however, I usually try to stick around .08 to .1 seconds.

You can change your frame rate by looking at your animation window, and clicking the small arrow that is displayed in each frame. Make sure you highlight ALL of your frames though before changing your frame rate.

Step8_a Step8_b

In Step 4, if you ended up deleting all of your even numbered frames, you’re GIF will automatically be faster than originally, so you’ll probably have to make your frame rate around .1 to .2 seconds.

IMPORTANT: Don’t 100% trust the speed of your GIF in Photoshop. You won’t be able to truly tell how fast it is until after you export it (which will be shown in the next step)

Step 7: Export!
Now that your GIF is beautifully and personally constructed, you’re ready to create an actual file of it!
To do this click:  File > Save for Web & Devices, and then follow the image below for what to fill in.


IMPORTANT: Like I stressed above, it’s important that your GIF file size is small. As displayed, my GIF is 1005K. You’ll definitely want to make sure your GIF is under 2 MB. If not, many sites may not be able to load your GIF.

If your GIF is over 2 MB, you’ll want to either cut out more frames, or you can adjust the colors, dither and lossy in this panel. Any of these will decrease the quality of your GIF, but if done in small amounts, it can sometimes be barely noticed.

And here is my final product!

You have created your very first GIF. Time to celebrate.

(Remember to watch the footage from the best design conference in the entire world, Weapons of Mass Creation Fest! Check out the full WMC Fest video here and buy tickets to Weapons of Mass Creation fest – coming up this summer at downtown Cleveland’s Allen Theatre.)


Tutorial: Block Print Design with Derrick Castle

Pushing Up Daisies: A Tutorial by Nashville based graphic designer, WMC Fest 4 artist and Ink Wars participant Derrick Castle

I wanted to come up with a block print design for the old American idiom “Pushing up Daisies”. I’ve actually been surprised by the number of people that haven’t heard of this old saying. Maybe it’s more of a southern thing. It means dead and buried. The elders used to claim that concentrated patches of daisies would grow over the graves of the deceased. I think it just sounds cool.

For my block prints, I like to use linoleum. Linoleum is a lot easier to work with than wood. They say that the lifespan of linoleum is up to 10 years before the linoleum itself starts to degrade. I haven’t gotten to that point but my blocks are still going strong.


My first step in the process of creating a design is to sketch out a simple idea. I like to keep the composition simple because I know that carving out all the negative space and detailed illustrations for block printing can be a recipe for pain and frustration. But, by all means, push yourself.


Another thing to keep in mind when working in a medium like block printing, this is a form of relief printing so what ever you are printing, it will be the mirror image of your design. So, it is really important, especially with typography, that you transfer the reverse of your image to the block for carving.

I typically sketch my design on tracing paper and flip it over with a sheet of carbon paper underneath. I trace and transfer the design to the block. From there, I like to ink the design onto the block so I do not get lost in the pencil lines. For this particular design, I want to print on black stock so I inked out all the negative space in which I would be carving.


Once I have laid down my pen and ink, I get to carving. Now it is time to set it to auto pilot because you are going to be here for a while. During this process, I tend to meditate and pontificate the meaning of raisins and other unexplained phenomenon. You do want to be very patient and deliberate during this process to avoid slips of the carving tools. (If I was to give any tips at this stage; before carving, set your linoleum block under a hot lamp for a little while before carving, this will soften the linoleum making it easier to carve.)


So now you are done carving and up until this point, because you have been working in reverse, you do not know how your prints are going to turn out. I’m always incredibly anxious to get to the printing stage because that is the moment where you find out if you have succeeded in bringing your vision to life. When printing, make sure you do use block printing ink. I use water based speedball inks, which work well for what I need. Block printing inks have a nice tacky consistency once you roll it out onto your rolling board.

For me, the printing process was actually the most difficult process to get the hang of. I spent a lot of time trying different methods of applying ink and pressing the blocks. The key to a successful print is to achieve the right texture of ink on your block. When applying the ink, it should sound a lot like Velcro. Once you have the right consistency, place your stock on top of the block and apply pressure. I work completely manual with nothing but elbow grease so, I use a rigid acrylic roller to apply even pressure to the inked block. I do not like using a baren which a lot of people recommend, it just didn’t work for me personally. After that first pressing, stand back and enjoy the fruits of your labor, over and over again. Reproducible art at its finest.


About the Author:

Derrick Castle is a Nashville based graphic designer and illustrator, freelancing for many major merchandising groups, as well as clothing labels. He is the creator of Straw Castle.


More Derrick: Facebook | Twitter | Flickr | Society6 | Dribble


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How to model and render a basic mobile phone using 3ds studio max

3d studio max tutorial
Hello again! I have been recently experimenting and working with mental ray and v-ray renders in both 3ds studio max and Autodesk Maya. For this tutorial I will be teaching you guys some basic modeling, easy rendering techniques using mental ray and creating textures in Photoshop to be used in 3ds max.
V-ray and mental ray both give you very realistic renders depending on what you want to achieve.
Let’s begin.

Step 1: Modelling the base of the phone.

Open up 3ds max. Go to create tab, chose Splines, and then hit Line. Create a rectangular shape in the front view port.
With the shape still selected hit 1 to enter vertex mode. Select Fillet and refine the corners of your rectangular shape.
make 3d phone
make 3d phone
make 3d phone

Step 2: Bevelling the shape.

Now with your shape still selected we will go ahead and apply a bevel modifier. Right click and convert the object into an editable poly.
Hit 4 to enter a face mode. Extrude and scale the face.
make 3d phone
make 3d phone
make 3d phone
make 3d phone
make 3d phone

Create, extrude and duplicate the Line splines to create a model like the preview below.

Step 3: Slicing the polygon face.

Let’s slice the polygon face to create the screen and a section to accommodate the keys.
Select your top polygon.
Hit 4 to enter the polygon face mode.
In the top view, with your polygon face still selected, select slice plane.
make 3d phone

A yellow box will appear around your model. Right click and select rotate.
Hit F2. This helps you slice accurately.
Rotate the yellow box and hit Slice to create a slice similar to the preview below.
make 3d phone

Step 4: Adding details.

Using your line tool, create line shapes with refined corners like we did in step 1.
Apply a bevel modifier to it to give it more depth. Clone and scale one of the key shapes
to create a shape for the speaker.
Add more details to make it look realistic using the line spline and extrude techniques.
Place and arrange all your shapes like the preview below.

make 3d phone
make 3d phone

Step 5: Creating textures.

We will be creating a simple texture for our speaker in Photoshop.
Open up Photoshop. Hit Ctrl + N.
Apply a gradient to the background. Create a new layer, make small black circles, duplicate and arrange them.

make 3d phone
make 3d phone
make 3d phone
make 3d phone

Give it a name and save as a jpg. Now go back to studio max and let’s assign a mental ray renderer.

Step 6: Assigning a renderer.

Hit F10 to bring up the render scene menu.
Scroll down and select assign a renderer. By default mine is already set to mental ray.
Click the dotted box next to it to change it to mental ray if yours isn’t.

Click ok.
make 3d phone
make 3d phone

Step 6: Assigning Materials.

Now hit M to bring up your materials. Select a material and apply a diffuse bitmap.
make 3d phone
make 3d phone
make 3d phone

Select the jpg you created in Photoshop and apply it to the speaker shape we created earlier.

Apply a UVW mapping modifier to it. Select gizmo and position it accurately.
make 3d phone

Let’s create a daylight system. Create a plane to act as a floor.
Hit systems in the create tab. Select daylight.
In the top view port draw your daylight.
Now go to Rendering, Advanced Lighting and Exposure Control.

Check exterior daylight. This will reduce the intensity of the light in our scene.
make 3d phone
make 3d phone
make 3d phone

In the daylight parameters use these settings.
Hit M for the materials menu again.
Let’s create a mental ray Arch and Design material. For tutorial I will use the following materials:

  • Chrome material
  • Tinted Glass
  • Glazed Ceramics
  • Translucent Plastic Film

make 3d phone
make 3d phone
make 3d phone
make 3d phone

Apply the following materials we just added to parts of our 3d model.
make 3d phone

Make a quick render to see how it looks so far. Apply your translucent plastic film properly so it renders. Play around and see what more you can achieve. Below are some of the renders I had in the end.

make 3d phone
make 3d phone
make 3d phone
make 3d phone
I will make the max file available Hope this tutorial was useful and helpful.

Check out my blog at andrewohene.wordpress.com and comment.

Tutorial: Killer 3D Poster Design with 3DS Max & Photoshop



Hello again! I was recently asked to do a flyer for a promotions company by the name of  inFamous Productions; a very popular promotion movement in Western NY mainly stationed in Buffalo.

My main objective was to create something unique that would serve as a creative campaign for a nightclub. Long story short, one thing led to another, and I came up with a poster which led to the flyer design. For this tutorial I will be teaching you guys and letting you all get ahold of the process in which I used to create this Galactic Title in Photoshop.

The tutorial will be 80% Photoshop intensive and 20% 3DS Max. Somethings to keep in mind are: 3D letters can be made in any program, be it Adobe Illustrator, 3DS Max, Cinema 4D, Xara 3D, Photoshop, etc. The great thing about this technique is that it can be translated into any 3D generating software.

I will shed light on the basics of lighting, mapping and Render Setup in the robust package that Autodesk has to offer. I don’t want this to predominantly be a 3D tutorial, thus I will not go into extensive detail on everything I do. Feel free to shoot me an email at [email protected] if you have any questions and or concerns. I can also point you into the right direction if you are interested in pursuing a design career in 3D.

Poster_Final Fill

Lets Have At It!

Begin by finding a great font. I like to browse around this site for inspiration and possible font purchases. I find that rounded san-serif texts tend to work well with this technique.

Step 1 – Setup

We can begin by launching 3DS Max and create our preferred slogan. For this, I chose “Stand Up”, since it was the name of the event. Go the Create Tab, marked by red, chose splines, then hit text. Type in what you like and line up the text as shown in the front viewport.

Create Text


Step 2 – Extrusion

Perfect. Now with the text spline selected we will go ahead and hover over to the modifier stack and apply a bevel modifier. Follow the settings displayed below.

NOTE The bevel settings will vary between text sizes so don’t depend on solely on mine. Mine are generally smaller because I exported my splines from illustrator. Just scroll down the arrows until you get something that looks like the preview below.



Step 3 – Mapping

Lets add some materials to this text by hitting the M key on the keyboard to bring out the material editor in Max. I am using VRAY, which is a physical based rendering engine and I HIGHLY ENCOURAGE all to purchase it or at least try it out.

This is definitely one of the best rendering solutions for any platform. Although 3DS Max and many other 3D software come with their own G.I. Solution, in my opinion, VRAY surpasses them all. For this reason, I chose to use this engine for the tutorial. You can get a hold of a demo from here.

Without further ado, lets continue on. Let’s give the text a semi-glossy white material. I absolutely enjoy white text but you can change the color to match your creative ambition.


Step 4 – Lighting

Lighting. I promise, this will be easy. Vray is the way my friends. We will simulate a rig for a studio lit scene without using a 3 pt. Lighting system. Find the Vray Lights and click and drag on the viewport to create the rectangular Vray lights. Feel free to experiment with different lights and shadow parameters. Remember, experimentation is key to success when using software.**




Step 5 – Position Text for Renderer and Create Camera

Follow the picture below. After you are done creating the camera, press F10 to bring out the render settings window:


Step 6 – Render Setup | Low-res and Hi-res

Rendering—one of the essential parts of finishing a project in any 3D platform. These settings are very critical, as they determine how long a render task will take and how good a quality the engine will put out. It’s always essential to set up test presets so that you can get relatively quick renders without losing too much quality.

After you are done plugging in these settings, save them as a preset. Name the preset ‘Test High’. This will now help you save time when testing out scenes.

Low-Res Setup







This actually looks OK to go ahead and use for a small production. However, I assume you would like to make this project in large prints. Therefore, I will also show you how to set up a great quality render that will probably take up about 1 hr to 45 minutes to render depending upon what hardware you are working with. Sorry—for great quality you always have to pay the price of render times.

If you really hate render times and want to get a great quality realistic looking render with max’s built in scanline render, I suggest you Google “dome light rigs for Max”. This is basically an array of lights in a scene with multiple settings that are used to fake G.I. With an ambient occlusion pass……whoa, I hope I did not lose you there. Nevertheless, the technique is out there—it’s just up to you to fish it out. Now follow the settings:







**NOTE** if you are a 3DS and Vray Junkie like myself, I would actually ignore the “X” I put on the Mode settings for each GI engine. If you are a beginner, please follow the pictures exactly. I just don’t want to cause confusion and more complexity; therefore, I chose to ignore those options. However, if you are interested in finding out what they do, Google ‘Vray Mode Settings’ and follow the online instructions. Basically what they do is help avoid flickering and lessen calculation times during animation renders by referring to the same map in every frame.

Step 7 – Saving Files for PSD

No that we have that out of the way, we are going to save out PNG’s—not jpgs, not exr’s, not tiffs, but PNG’s. We will also need to mask out the Face of the type because we are going to add a texture later on. I’m very lazy, and rather than wasting 30 minutes of my time tracing a mask of the text face in Photoshop, why not generate one from 3DS Max? Here’s how:

Step 8 – Finding the Resources

OK—now that we are done with 3DS Max, shut the program off and launch your preferred browser. Let’s look for some stock images. The picture above shows a lot of galactic activity, therefore we want to look for nebula stocks, cosmos brushes and the whole nine yards.

Here is a list of places where you can go to find amazing resources for this tutorial.

Blue Vertigo



Nebula Stock


Topaz Adjust

…and the list goes on. However, Google ‘nebula’, or space brushes and try to find high res brushes. I got lucky a while back and got a hold of some amazing, free royalty space brushes. I would love to share with you guys however, I don’t remember where I got them. Also, you will need to watch a brief tutorial in order to create cloud brushes:

We will use them as erasers to get nice dynamic “cosmic” clouds.

Step 9 – Setup

We have everything we need. If you downloaded brushes make sure to install them before you launch Photoshop. Lets setup our document size. I encourage you all to make this a large file because when printed large on a poster, this design really turns heads.


Step 10 – Mapping and Coloring

Lets begin by adding a semi dark background. Go to blending options and create a radial gradient:





Now snag this stock image and place it behind the text like so, and set the blending mode to screen. Feel free to use the cloud brush (from the tutorial above) and erase off anything you don’t want to keep from the stock. Like I did below:



So far so good. Now let’s go further. Lets begin to add our texture and color map to the extruded text. First add the Color Map:



Now we are going to do the same but with a texture map. Snag this texture from bittbox’s Flickr Pool. Lets make all the white ares pop out my bringing up the curve editor and raising the curve. Now set the blend mode to soft light and opacity of 75%. Now give it a clipping mask on top of the gradient map:




With the same texture and following these same steps, lets now do this to the mask layer we generated from 3DS Max:


Step 11 – Lighting

As you may see, with this mask layer, we have a lot more control of what we can do to the face of the text. 3DS Max is absolutely the best. Now lets create more cosmic distortion by duplicating the first stock image we used, which is the swirl fractal. Hit Ctrl + U to bring out the Hue/Saturation settings. Now go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur. We will use this technique to create light streaks. Duplicate this layer and set blend mode to soft light to both:





Step 12 – Using Brushes

Now with the space brushes loaded, create an array of new layers. In each layer you will place a different space brush. Trust me, you do not want to go ahead and paint all the different brushes in one individual layer. We want to create a dynamic collage, therefore, we need every element in their own individual layer.

Experiment with different shades of green and yellow to create more harmony. You’ll want to switch from brush to cloud eraser in order to get rid of hard edges  in a non-destructive way. Watch as I do it:






Step 14 – Adding Lights

Now lets create an array of circles with different hues. Blur them using Gaussian blur with a setting of 97.4:


Continue adding lights to the comp. Try differentiating the blur densities.



Step 15 – Brushing Continued…

Lets keep on brushing more cosmic relief. Now lets add depth by brushing in front of the letters since we have spatial design behind the words. This will create a sense of interaction among the elements and will make the text seem as if it is part of the composition rather than look like it was pasted on. Use your creativity and imagination to determine size and colors of the brushes. Continue brushing:






Step 16 – Fades

Next I will show you how to create fading designs:

52 from That Dude on Vimeo.

OK now that I have shown you how to do this. Repeat this step until you are happy with your light streaks.



Step 17 – Line Design…

Now we are going to create the intricate line pattern behind the letters. As complicated as it may seem, in reality it is fairly easy. Choose the Line shape tool, with an empty path selection as shown in the video below. While holding shift, create continuous lines from left to right. Go to Brushes and create a simple scatter brush by following along with the video below:


Step 18 – Background

Now lets add a final texture to the background layer. Google watercolor textures. When you find one that you like, import it into your comp. and set the blending mode to soft light and the opacity to 75%. We are all set!


Step 19 – Topaz Filter

Ha….I lied, we are not all set yet. We have one final step. You can skip this if you like, however this will give your final piece more continuity. After you have downloaded the lovely trial version I posted above, go to Filter > Topaz Adjust and scroll down to the presets and click on Portrait drama. Apply the preset and you are finished.

Voila—now instead of doing the various techniques I showed in my previous tutorial, you can now perform them with the click of a button, but at a monetary trade off.

I hope you all enjoyed the tutorial, and hope it wasn’t too complicated. Comment please and let me know what you think before I move on to the next tutorial.



I am once again providing all of the files used in this tutorial: Stand Up tutorial source files [Go Media]

I hope this tutorial was helpful. Lets see some submissions of this technique in the Go Media User Showcase. Thank you for your support and happy designing.

Also, be sure to check out my portfolio and my previous tutorial.

Full Color Rollovers in Flash


In this tutorial, we will create a Flash file with a simple, yet eye-catching effect — a black & white photo with full-color rollovers. We will initially edit the photo in Photoshop, then import and complete the file in Flash. I wanna send a shout-out, and special thank you to the band Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun for the use of their photo.

Download the sample file [download id=”43″] and open in Photoshop.

band_photo jpeg

Save this document as band_photo.psd

Isolate The Figures

Using the pen tool, create a path around one of the band members
I’m making a selection just around the person, not the chair. The goal here is to create a selection of a band member. I’m using the pen tool, however you may use whatever selection tools you prefer.

Right-click or control-click on the path, and choose “Make Selection…


Click OK on the Make Selection dialog box that follows


Create a layer via copy, CONTROL+J/COMMAND+J. This creates a layer from the

Select the background layer, and then repeat this for each band member

Be sure to name each layer.
For simplicity, I named them band-1, band-2, etc, going from left to right


Create The Grayscale Background

Select the background layer, press CONTROL+D/COMMAND+D to deselect everything.

Duplicate this layer via copy, CONTROL+J/COMMAND+J
Name this duplicate layer “black & white”


Next, create a new layer, CONTROL-SHIFT+N/COMMAND-SHIFT+N, Set this layer Mode to “Color“, click OK


On the keyboard, press D to set default colors (black foreground/white

Fill this layer with the foreground color, ALT+BACKSPACE/OPTION+DELETE

Merge this layer with the black & white layer, CONTROL+E/COMMAND+E

As an option, you can push this effect further by lightening the output levels on the black & white layer CONTROL+L/COMMAND+L
Set the Shadow output level anywhere from 25 to 50.


At this point, it will be visually obvious if you have selected extra space around the band members. You may see color spots around them that should be black & white. Correct this via selecting the band member’s layer that needs fixing, and use the eraser tool to get rid of any overlap.


Toggle the visibility of the Background layer to off.


Save this document, CONTROL+S/COMMAND+S, and close it.

Import The .psd File Into Flash

You will need at least Flash CS to import a PSD

Open Flash. Create a new document, either AS2 or AS3 will work as this effect is not dependent on Actionscript.

Import the band_photo.psd, CONTROL+R/COMMAND+R

Because we turned off the visibility of the background layer in Photoshop,
this layer is unchecked when importing into Flash.

Hold down the SHIFT key, then select each band member layer, as well as the
black & white layer.

Check the box “Create movie clips for these layers”


For Publish Settings, set the Compression to Lossless.

Follow these settings, Convert Layers to: Flash Layers, check the boxes Place layers at original position, and Set stage size to same…
Click OK.



Create The Buttons

Click once on one of the band members to select.


Convert this selection to a symbol, F8, follow these settings:
Name: band #+_btn
Type: Button
Click OK


Repeat the BUTTON SYMBOLS steps for each band member.

Edit The Buttons

Once you have converted each band member to a button, DOUBLE-CLICK on one of them, this will take you into edit mode, in the buttons timeline:


Click-and-drag the Up frame to the Over frame


Select the Hit frame, and insert a blank keyframe, F7


Select the brush tool and using the photo as a guide, paint a rough silhouette of the band member. The paint color does not matter, as the hit frame is not seen by the audience/end user, you are simply painting the active area of the button.


On the timeline, click the Scene 1 button, and you will see a aqua-colored overlay of the silhouette you just painted.


Repeat the BUTTON EDITING steps for each band member.

Here is a snapshot of the file with all 4 band member buttons edited. Though you can be as detailed or loose as you like when creating the silhouettes, do not overlap, as this can cause flickering between buttons.

Save, and test your movie CONTROL+ENTER/COMMAND+RETURN

And here is the final result:

Introduction to 2.5D Compositing Tutorial [Video]


I am sure that all of you at one time or another have experimented in After Effects’ 3D world, and for beginners it can be quite the concept to wrap your head around. Along with being able to animate in 2D space, you can actually manipulate, move and place objects in Z space as well as the X and Y plane. Z space is measured by distance to and from the camera, so if you were to move something back in Z space it would appear further away than something further up on the Z plane.

Using this placement, you can rotate and place flat layers to create shapes and objects such as stages, streets, and even houses, given you know how to position correctly and efficiently. This is by no means a 3D modeling technique, just a little trick of the trade to spice up camera movements, and give your animations a sense of depth by placing objects in 3D space, and moving past them—like you would if you were to actually create the camera movement in real life.

Taking from this lesson in the 3D world of After Effects, I hope that you can delve deeper into the depths and create some amazing 2.5D animations on your own. Anything is really possible, and if you were able to utilize After Effects CS4’s new Photoshop Live 3D features you could add some 3D objects as well into your scenes to make them seem even more realistic such as cars parked on the street, 3D trees or even basketball hoops.

This was really created to be a primer to introduce you into the basics of After Effect’s 3D system, and to show you just how easy it is once you know the basics of how it works. If you liked this tutorial—or would like to see similar tutorials—please leave a comment, as well as if you have created anything using this technique! I would love to see what you have learned!

Top 5 Time Saving Short Cuts in After Effects

The following 5 short cuts will save you in expensive pain medication from staring at your screen for far too many hours. I know they’ve saved me in the past. Here’s a little video I did for this article to grab screenshots and such. We won’t be learning how to do this today, but maybe in a later tutorial I’ll show you how to do something neat.

5: The Null Object

If you’re using a camera, you should probably be using a null object. Period. To create one just go to Layer>New>Null Object.

This is a null object! Say Hello Null Object.
This is a null object!

This will create a layer that is basically, well, a null, a nothing. It’s essentially a point in space that is far easier to animate than moving a camera around by itself. It’s also incredibly useful for using a particle system like CC Particle World, or Trapcode Particular which I will cover in a moment.  Make sure to remember to turn on your 3D layer switch making it look like this. See it now has the 3D gizmo handles.

To set it up as a controller, or a dolly for your camera movements, alt+click the position of the Camera layer, and pick-whip the position of the null object. That will create an expression to tie the positions together, which we will go over in a minute. Another excellent use of the Null Object is to twirl down your camera options, and select the Point of Interest, Alt+Click the stopwatch and pick-whip the position, this will ensure that your camera keeps it’s “eye” on your effect that is also tied to the Null, you can then move the camera freely around your 3D environment.
To re-cap, Null Objects are useful because:

  • They provide an object to tie tracking data for motion tracking your film.
  • They act as a “controller” or “dolly” for your 3D camera movements.
  • Useful for controlling the movement of all sorts of particle systems.

4: Pre-Comps

Pre-Compose, Pre-Compose, Pre-Compose! If you can get away with it. Most of the time you’ll end up with a composition that looks like this, which albeit is a simple example.

These layers can be pre-composed.
These layers can be pre-composed.

When in fact, you could have a composition that looks like this example, which would be a nightmare to wrangle without nested compositions.


The pro’s of using Pre-comps are as such:

  • Smaller list of layers
  • Some effects just won’t work right as an adjustment layer applied to the top of the layers, you’ll have to pre-compose them and then apply the effect directly to the pre-comp layer.
  • You can easily Alt+double click on the pre-comp layer and make any adjustments you need to and it will automatically update in your main comp.

Using the “continuous rasterization” button will allow you to use a composition as a 3D layer as long as all of the layers inside the composition are 3D, your camera can then move around that composition in 3D space.

3: Expressions

Yes, they’re terrifying, much like clowns, but they are useful, unlike clowns. I am not a coder, at all. I run shrieking in terror at the very thought of using HTML or JavaScript, look at my website, [shameless plug alert!] if it weren’t for WordPress I wouldn’t have one. These tiny snippets of code can save you tons of time and headache. Usually they come packaged with presets that are widely available. I am by no means a master of expressions at all, I’ll admit, but if you’re serious about using After Effects, you should at least learn a few.
Here are two you will probably be using the most:

wiggle(x,y) :: this is often referred to as the “wiggler”, what it’s going to do, is change the value of the property by the yevery x seconds.
So If it’s attached to the position of say, the emitter of  a particle system, it will move that point in 3D space in a random direction at the given interval. Remember that this is in seconds, not frames. This expression can be used for not just the position, but for just about any parameter in your composition.
The next one is the other one I find myself using in almost every composition.

temp = thisComp.layer(“null”).transform.position; [temp[0], temp[1], temp[2]]

You’ll be using this and not knowing it if you follow my advice on null objects and is automatically generated when you pickwhip the position of one layer to another.. This is telling the layer to copy the coordinates of the x y and z axis. In After Effects’ bizarre 3D coding system, X=0, Y=1, Z=2. Some things can get kind of tricky when dealing with these coordinates and sometimes will have to do two separate expressions, one for xy and a second for z, like in this screen shot.

For more help with expressions check out the Adobe Livedocs Site.

2: Project Folders/Simple Organization

This is what an organized project window looks like!
This is what an organized project window looks like!

I am probably NOT the best person to be telling people to do this, since I’m horrible at it, but organization is pretty helpful. Especially on larger projects. I do tend to keep all of my source files, video, images, sounds and that sort of thing in separate folders for easy navigation. Compositions sadly don’t usually get that kind of treatment though, and sometimes they are lucky if they get named something other than Comp1 and Comp2 before I do the final render. Organize your projects, it will save you precious time when you accidentally delete a piece of footage from a comp and then wonder what happened to it, remember, it still stays in your project window!

Also, Color Coding your layers will help you stay organized and only takes a second.

Color Coded layers keep things organized
Color Coded layers keep things organized

As you can see, I have all of my text layers pre-composed in that “sandstone” color, the background elements have been coded yellow, etc etc. Simple, yet effective!

1: Keyboard Shortcuts

If you’ve worked on just a few AE projects, you’ve realized that they take a very, very, very long time. You might not think about it, but a few keyboard shortcuts will cut that time down a few seconds at a time, and could possibly shave an hour or two off of your project time, if you consider how much time it takes to navigate through some of the horrendous, maze like drop down menus.
A few handy ones:

  • Set beginning or end of work area to current time: B[beginning] N[end]
  • To preview your current composition just tap the spacebar to start it, tap it again to pause it.
  • To start a RAM preview, hit 0 on your numeric keypad.
  • Cycle through your Camera controls with the C button, surprising, I know.
  • Cmd/Ctrl+U will bring up your keyframes of a layer or at least that’s what the documentation says, and that’s what people say, but I found that on my Mac, that just tapping U will do it, like this.
Cmd/Ctrl+U is your friend.
  • Cmd/Ctrl+Y will create a new solid layer, Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Y[Command+Option+Shift+Y for Mac] will create a glorious new Null layer.
  • Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+C will Precompose your selected layers.
  • To see the effects control panel of the selected layer tap Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+T

Don’t forget about your Effects and Presets Palette hiding right over there:


After you search for your effect, just double click it to apply it to your selected layer[s].

The standard Adobe shortcuts for Selection[V] and hand tool [H] still apply.

For more shorcuts just check out the Adobe livedocs here.

Well I hope this helps you save valuable time and expensive pain medication from slamming your head into your desk. Part 2 will be dealing with Filters and Presets, both built into AE CS3 and 3rd Party.

Intro To 2.5D Compositing in After Effects [Video Tutorial]

Velocity Control in After Effects

Velocity Control in After Effects Tutorial from Go Media on Vimeo

This is a short, quick and easy tutorial showing how to use the graph editor to control the velocity of keyframes within after effects. I go over using the easy ease function and how to manipulate the bezier curves using the graph editor. This is a very basic tutorial but if you’ve never opened the graph editor to change the temporal interpolation of keyframes then you may want to watch to see how it’s done.

Ink Bleeding Effect in After Effects (Like Gnarls)

Ink Bleeding Effect in After Effects (Like Gnarls)

Ink Bleeding Effect from Go Media on Vimeo.

(software required: Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects with Trapcode’s Particular)

In this tutorial I’ll recreate a similar look from an older Gnarls Barkley video. The principles I’ll cover are foundational and can be used for some incredible animations other than simply imitating a great music video. Some of what I covered in the Photoshop Bling tutorial is being used here directly in AE. So for those who were wondering why you’d use the Bling effect unless you were designing a hip hop album… remember it’s the principles that that are most valuable… the end result for these tutorials is just to get you excited to go out and create your own. Specifically I will focus on the following in this tutorial:

– Using Alpha and Luma Mattes in After Effects
– Frame by Frame animation using CS3’s Illustrator, Photoshop, and After Effects

A basic to intermediate knowledge of After Effects and Trapcode Particular is needed to follow along.

STEP ONE: Setting up your ink file for creating a matte

Import your video footage of ink. Create a new Comp called “ink blots.” For this shot I actually placed a wet paper towel in the base of a square fish tank and filmed from below the glass fish tank as i

Animating Spray Paint and Stencil Effect in After Effects


So in this tutorial I’m going to show you how to create a spray paint effect using After Effects. It’s a fairly simple process but I’ve got a few tricks that you may not have thought of. Here is a sample video of what you’ll be creating:

Here are the AE project files.

So let’s begin.

1.) Open After Effects
Lets create a composition that is 720×540 and call it “final stencil”.


2.) Make Paint
Now we are going to make a spray paint effect. There are lots of different ways to achieve a spray paint effect. I will show you two different techniques in this tutorial. First, create an adjustment layer that is the size of the composition and call it “paint 1”. Apply “vector paint” to this layer. Change your vector paint settings to look something like this.

Tutorial: Animating Birds with After Effects

After Effects Tutorial from Cleveland Graphics firm, Go Media



Like a lot of motion designers I spend many hours trying to accomplish complex animations in a short amount of time, while attempting to optimize my workflow within After Effects, Photoshop, and Illustrator. This tutorial utilizes Trapcodes Particular, which is one of After Effects more popular 3rd party plugins. Creating an animation like a flock of birds is very versatile and is a great filler animation which can add a lot of style to a piece. You can also adapt this technique to create other flying creatures…. perhaps a flying skull with flapping wings?

Here’s a short clip of the Go Media promo reel that utilizes the bird animation that you will learn to create. (To view the entire promo reel, click here and scroll down to the bottom of the tutorial).

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/LdC5vVI6VDg" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

What you’ll need:
A working knowledge of Adobe After Effects
Trapcode’s Particular Plugin
Adobe Illustrator.

So what we are going to do is create a flock of birds in After Effects using Trapcodes plugin, Particular.

1. Open up After Effects
Create a composition called “bird.” Set your composition settings to something similar to this:

2. Set up your Wing Layers
Once you have your composition set up, create two new solid white layers both about 300×300 pixels. Name one of them “right wing” and the other “left wing.”

Mask Animation in Flash Tutorial: An Angel Grows Wings

GoMedia_Vector_Freebie_An-Angel-Grows-Wings (INCLUDES THREE FREE VECTOR DESIGNS!)


Like most Flash Motion Graphics designers, I am regularly perusing the web for design inspiration. I don’t know about you, but when I saw complex design elements like plants and tribal shapes grow on screen right before my eyes, I wanted to know how they did it. I assumed they were really good with shape tweening, but if you’ve tried to execute a complex shape tween, I’m sure you discovered quickly that Flash’s current shape tween renderer is about as predictable as Ohio’s weather. So the next best bet was masking a finished design and then revealing it magically as if it were being illustrated in real time. Sure enough, after testing some theories, we zeroed in on this process which we’ll now share with you!