When I was emailed about a new VOCAL.MEDIA challenge to explain 'your photo-editing processes', I knew I'd be spending hours on this submission. LOL. It's all good. To be more honest, I was also thinking to myself: 'This is going to be a long day'. It's not that my process is difficult. The problem I have with creating things is that I tend to GO AN EXTRA MILE. And; to be honest, I've been editing photos and 'beautifying' EBOOK cover-arts for a VERY LONG TIME. It's almost unfair to expect the average person to do what I do and have access to the programs and experience that I have.
HOWEVER: I will be creating a basic animation with a beautified picture of my friend (Jessica). I actually stopped myself short of adding other effects. Don't worry. I'll layout enough of my processes to get you creating great stuff with photos you took with your cell phone.
Let's Begin with Two Pictures
As beautiful as my pal is, let's be honest. The picture quality isn't much to write home about.
No worries. This is where creativity begins transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary. Allow me to introduce you to my first software. It's called PICASA. First thing we want to do is lighten the original images.
NOTE: PICASA is actually a discontinued software. This is how long I've been doing this. I'm finding out that some of my (installed) software doesn't exist anymore. Geez. There are many different equivalent software out there that will accomplish the same effects. Let's lighten her up a tad.
Not bad huh? We've only used a filter called GLOW to brighten up the skin and (slightly) washout the background. That'll come in handy with our next software. Let's do it again with Jessica's picture #2.
Next: We have to open A program called 'GIMP'.
I used GIMP version 2.8. If you go online to GIMP'S website, the latest version will be even better. I would download it now, but I'm a stickler for being stubborn. LOL. The Idea here is to remove the background from the main image of Jessica. We'll have to do this to both pictures (of course).
To accomplish removing the background, we'll have to add a LAYER to the image. (While in the program) Right-click on any area of the picture and follow the selections pictured below.
Now, we're just clicking as close to the Jessica's face as possible and clicking the 'DELETE' button on your keyboard. To most people, this is the part of the PHOTO-EDITING process they Dred. To me, it's meditational. Although I must admit; working with hair is a pain in the rump-roast, but it's worth the end result. It's not going to be perfect. Just get as neat as you can.
Time to 'rinse and repeat' the process for Jessica's second image.
After I've saved them as .PNG files and saved them, I open JASC PAINT SHOP PRO. It's another editing software that is comparable to ADOBE ILLUSTRATOR. In my opinion, JASC PAINT SHOP PRO is much easier for beginner editors.
I've pre-created a simple animation to spice things up. It's comprised of (only) four .JPG pictures that produce a movement when 'flipped' in secession. This is the foundation of what GIFS (and most movies) are. I drag all four images into JASC PAINT SHOP PRO.
Now; I drag Jessica's first picture (the transparent .PNG'S I created earlier) into PAINT SHOP PRO. I copy/paste it on top of (each of) the spiral pictures (we'll call them 'spiral-1', 'spiral-2', 'spiral-3', and 'spiral-4') and apply a simple 'HARD LIGHT' affect. This going to be the background to Jessica's GIF.
Although I didn't worry too much about their size differences, I've made sure they're generally the same size. I'll be cropping later. Export from PAINT SHOP PRO as a .PNG. It's important that I save it as different file names. We have to be careful not to over-write anything. This serves several purposes. The main reason is so that I don't lose my progress. The second reason is for preserving the ability to start from this particular step later. I can't tell you how many times I've lost the previously-edited image and needed that level of the process later.
Now we save it. It's important that I save it (as a different file name) between every process. Do not over-write anything. This serves several purposes. I can't stress that enough.
I repeat this process for each of the 4 spiral pictures. They look nearly identical, but they're not. In the illustration below: notice how the first four pictures look identical?
Note: "Try to organize your folder's contents. What I do is 'VIEW BY DATE'. This places the last thing you edited as the first inline. OMG! I can easily follow along with what was created last and it really makes this whole process so much better. You'll be thanking me later. You're welcome." - R. L. LASTER
Now I take the second transparent .PNG file of Jessica, drag it into JASC PAINT SHOP PRO and place it (as a layer) over (each of) the the four spiral pictures that we just created.
Make sure you're exporting as .PNG files as much as possible. They're a better quality than jpg. At this point, we should have (4) pictures of our newest creation. Don't forget. Although the four pictures look similar, their variations are in the spiraled background.
Now we get to have some fun. We need to download another software. UNICONVERTER is a bit pricey, but it's worth it.
Let's see how our custom GIF is looking.
Our image is looking nice. Is it me, or does it the two images of Jessica appear to be moving away from each other? LMAO. Maybe it's just me.
Now it's time to do a some house cleaning. I need to crop all four of the images. It's important to make them all the same size AND THEY HAVE TO MATCH POSITIONING. For example: If you crop one by grabbing it at Y*AXIS 376px; X*AXIS 575px, you must grab all of the pictures at (precisely) the same point.
Here we go. This is coming along real nice. Believe it or not, we're almost done. Let's add some text.
Now, I copy-paste the text (as a layer) on top of the four pictures we created. Pasting as a LAYER apposed to a SELECTION is our insurance for making sure the text is place in the center of each PICTURE. Remember; the four pictures are to create the animation effect.
Now we've come to the grand finally. We grab our four images, drag them into UNICONVERTER and select our desired parameters. I prefer to set my gifs to be (up to) 560 pixels tall. The WIDTH will auto-populate after we've input a desired height. Why do I prefer this height? I'm glad you asked. This is my way of making sure my GIF conforms to the 'weight limit' of VOCAL.MEDIA'S cover-art specifications.
It's really tricky to create an amazing GIF— that weighs less than 5 megabits, but I've been enjoying that challenge.
When I first joined VOCAL.MEDIA, I was not in ANY mood to be a newbie on 'another platform'. The problem is that I really enjoy writing. I was searching for a new way to express myself. When I decided to give VOCAL.MEDIA a try, I found out that I could use animations as cover-images to my articles. This revelation sat me up in my chair. Wow! I'd never heard of such a feature. Honestly; I'd been in a funk I tend to find myself in when I haven't created something online. It could be an image or an article. I love getting feedback from things I craft. Although CoVid-19 has been nothing to take lightly, it has given people (like me) more time to be at home and express our creativity during the lockdowns. I love creating things.
I'm glad I became a member of VOCAL.MEDIA. Maybe...; just maybe, my articles and decorative animations will serve to create smiles on the faces of readers all over the world.