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Animate Your Emoticons!

step 1
In this tutorial you will be learning how to animate emoticons if you want a more interactive environment for, say, a forum, or a news program, or something of the sort. To begin, you should already have the *.PSD files for your emoticons. If you haven't yet built your emoticons, then I've already written a tutorial on how to do so. Check it out by clicking the link below.


(Before we begin, let’s go over some basic terms I’ll be referring to in this tutorial. When I say “Action,” I mean an action that the smiley will be doing, such as the right eye winking, the mouth opening, or an eyebrow raising. It’s not a real term that Photoshop or ImageReady use, it’s just a term I’ll be using to refer to a set of layers and ImageReady frames. “Frames” are ImageReady frames (see step 5) and “Layers” are, well, Photoshop layers. Now let’s begin.)
step 2
Plan! Okay, now that you have your emoticons all created and ready for animation, open up the *.PSD file of the smiley you want to animate. Now, in your head, map out which parts of your smiley you want to animate. For example, if you just want a simple two-frame animation of the smiley’s mouth opening and closing, or if you want the mouth to gradually open and the eyebrows to rise, spanning many frames. Think for a bit... and... okay! I'm going to make my winking Froggy Smiley actually wink at you! Here we go.
step 3
Organize! (Click on the little image to your left for the full version.) First outline the layers that you want to change. Maybe rename each one to “ANI_1_#layer” where “ANI” stands for “ANIMATED,” and “1” is the frame number in the animation (for ImageReady), and “#layer” is the layer name before you renamed it. Go to the layer of the first action you wish to make animated (I’m going to choose the right pupil first). Go to it and either duplicate the layer and edit it from there, or redo it on a different layer (it might be easier to redo it). Use skills you’ve learned in the previous tutorial and make either a gradual change to the new action you want your smiley to be doing, or just a simple, two-framed action, where the first action’s layer is the original action and the second action’s layer is the second action. The easiest way to do this is to separate your layers into folders, or “Layer Sets.” It’s not required in this tutorial, but it just makes things easier. On the Layers Palette, click the button that says “Create a new set.” Rename that folder (layer set) to the name of the action that will be taking place, for example, if you are making your smiley wink as I am, call it “winking,” or something. Organize your Layers Palette how you wish, if you wish, then place the layers that pertain to that action in that action’s folder (i.e. “winking”).
step 4
Create! Now create layers for each frame of each action you want to take place. Start by doing one frame of one of your actions at a time. I’m going to go to my “Winking” folder and make a new layer for each frame of the action that will appear on ImageReady. Check it out, this can’t be explained much more thoroughly in words. (that image is an animated GIF, so give it time, and watch it through a few times.) Also, I did it with my folder “Smiling,” in which the smiley’s mouth changes a little. Just remember that if you have more than one action, make sure there are the same number of layers for each action (so the number of frames in ImageReady match the number of layers).
step 5
Animate!! Click the button on the bottom of the Tools Palette that says “Jump to ImageReady.” It, believe it or not, will send your document to Adobe ImageReady. Now go to the ImageReady window. This part is pretty simple, despite your first guesses. Now that you’re viewing your image in ImageReady, Create as many frames as you have layers for each action (remember, there should be the same number of layers per action...). For example, if you have three actions (right eye winking, mouth opening, and eyebrow raising) each with 5 layers a piece, they you’ll create 5 frames. But first, on your first frame only show the first layer of each action (hide the rest). Now we’ll make our actual animation! Duplicate Frame 1 and hide the first layers. Unhide (show) the second layers of each action. Kinda get where I’m going with this? If you do, good. Do this for all of the layers. For the third frame, hide the second layers and show the third layers, and so on and so forth. If you don’t get it, read this step over a few times. If you still don’t get it, feel free to e-mail me. Now you should have as many frames as you do layers for each action.... If you do, then your emoticon should animate! But don’t get too excited, we’re not done yet wink. Once you have the frames set, play around with delay time (the time, in seconds, that the frame will delay before going to the next frame). If you want your animation to move rather quickly (it tends to look smoother this way), keep the delay time at 0, or no delay time (you can’t have negative values for delay time sad). So you’ve got your animation. But if you want it to do the animation and then go back to the way it was (in my case, I’m going to make my emoticon wink at you, then go back to smiling, so it can loop!). Select all the frames except for the last one (click on Frame One and hold Shift and then click on the second to last frame... I have 5 frames so I clicked on 4) and Copy the frames. Now select your last frame and click on the little blue arrow in the Frames Palette and choose Paste Frames and a Dialog box come up. Choose “Paste After Selection (Insert new frames after last selected frame).” But make sure if you choose this one that you have the last frame selected. Choose that option and press OK. Now you should have your new frames selected. That’s good! But... they’re backwards, right? (Because you want to do the action backwards now....) Luckily in ImageReady they have a solution for this. Click the little blue arrow again and choose Reverse Frames. Cool! Now it does the action forward and then backwards to how it was. I think this pretty much concludes our tutorial. I don’t think I need to tell you that you should think out of the box and play around with it to get the results that fit you the most (even though I just did -_-). Just some final notes though: if you want it to be noticed that your emoticon did the certain actions, then set about a 1 Second delay time on the last frame before the repeated, reversed frames (so it’s about the middle frame) so it pauses at that frame. Well, best of luck to you! If you have any questions comments or concerns... well, if you have any comments please post them below but feel free to e-mail me with questions and concerns! Later kids.

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