Tutorials - Sparkles # 1

Cartoon doll with sparkles

This tutorial is the first in a series of tutorials on how to make animated sparkles.

This tutorial is for Paint Shopt Pro 7 and Animation Shop 3 from Jasc.com. It is pretty basic, so most users should be able to follow it.

This tutorial will teach you how to make animated sparkles by using a tube file. It is assumed that you know where to get or make cartoon dolls and that you know how to make them into a gif, bmp or psp file. Some of the functions that you will learn:

In PSP:
- Installing/exporting a picture tube.
- Getting a doll on a transparent background.
- Saving a selection to alpha-channel.
- Using the tube tool.

In AS:
- Assembling an animation.
- Changing the display properties on multiple frames.
- Cropping multiple frames at once.
- Saving a transparent animation at best quality possible.

1. First you need to click here to download a sparkle in tub format. The sparkle is from The Hood and is distributed with permission. Just download it right to your desktop.

2. The sparkle is in a zip file that needs to be unzipped. You use the program Winzip for this. If you don't have Winzip already you can download it at http://www.winzip.com

3. Unzip the sparkle right to your desktop so as to make it easy to find.

4. Open Paint Shop Pro (PSP) and open the sparkle tub like any normal image in PSP.

5. Click file>export>picture tube. Name the sparkle and click 'ok'. The sparkle tube has now been exported and is ready to use like a normal tube in PSP (note for experienced users: you may feel inclined to just unzip the sparkle into your tub folder but that might not be a good idea. If the tube isn't made for the version of PSP that you are using it may not work properly. Thus it's a good idea to export it yourself in the manner that I have explained above).

6. Now locate and open your doll in PSP. She may be in any format, but gif, bmp and psp are the best to work with. If your doll is in psp format just hit layers>merge>merge visible and then go to step 11. If your doll is in gif or bmp format it's a good idea to get her on a transparent background first. In that case you need to follow all the steps. First of all your doll can not be on a complex background in order for these steps to work. It has to be a one colour background.

7. Choose colors>increase color depth>16 million colors. In the layer palette double click on the background layer that you doll is on and then choose ok (if these functions don't show up then don't worry, it's because your doll already has the image quality that is needed.

The palette should go from looking like this:
tutorial image

to looking like this:
tutorial image

8. Now you'll want to get your doll onto a transparent background (to go from the first image to the second):

tutorial image tutorial image

9. First choose the magic wand magic wand and use these settings:

tutorial image

10. Click on the background of your doll image (white on mine) so that you get marching ants around the doll itself and around the edge of the image. Hit delete. You should now see the checkered background in PSP which indicates that your doll is on a transparent background, just like the image above. If your doll has her arms on her hips there might be some room left on the inside space between the arm and the side. Just click that space again and hit delete. Keep doing this until you have deleted the entire coloured background.

11. Now use the magic wand again magic wand. Keep the settings as before and click once on the checkered background (while holding down the shif key click on any space that is left, between arm and side etc.). You should now have marching ants all the way around the doll and the edge of the image again.

12. Selections>invert. The marching ants should now be only around the doll itself (changed from the first image to the second):

tutorial image tutorial image

13. Selection>save to alpha channel. Just keep the default names and choose ok. We have now saved the selection so that even if we do something wrong and loose it or the marching ants disappear by accident the selection will be easy to retrieve (in case you will need to retrieve it during this tutorial just choose selections>load from alpha channel and then choose the selection that you want).

14. Now choose the picture tube tool picture tube tool. In the tool palette locate the white sparkle tube that you exported earlier and use approximately these settings:

tutorial image

15. Using the tube tool start placing random sparkles on the doll where you want them to be. It's totally up to you how many you want. If you like you can vary the size of the sparkles by changing the scale in the tool palette. Don't worry about getting any sparkles on the background, the selection will keep them only on the doll (you might wonder why I want it to be like this, but there is an explanation that is quite long, all you need to know now is that it will make the doll look nicer when it is saved).

16. When you are satisfied with the sparkles choose the magic wand and then right click somewhere inside the selection. This should remove the marching ants.

17. File>save as. Name your file 1.psp and save it right to the desktop to make it easy to locate.

18. Now click on the undo button undo button repeatedly until you have the marching ants back in place and have removed all the sparkles. Place sparkles ramdomly on the doll again and save as 2.psp. You may repeat this as many times as you like. I like to have at least 3 images, preferrably 4. There is no need for more. Just make more than two because a sparkles animation with only two frames doesn't look very nice.

19. These are the four images that I have now (this image has been shrunken, if you want to see the full size image just click on it and a new window will open):

tutorial image

20. Now for the animation part. Open Animation Shop (AS). Click the animation wizard animation wizard and when prompted enter the following settings 'same size as first image', 'transparent', 'upper left corner of the frame' and 'with the canvas color', 'yes, repeat the animation indefinitely' and set the display time to 15, and then 'add image' locate the images named 1.psp thru 4.psp and choose 'open'. You should now have a row of images that looks something like this (this image has been shrunken, if you want to see the full size image just click on it and a new window will open):

tutorial image

21. Click the view animation button view animation button to see if you like the timing on the sparkle animation. If you like it you can jump to step 24. If you think it's a bit too fast or slow you can change it. First close down the small sample animation that you're viewing by clicking the x in the upper right corner just like you do with any other window (DON'T shut down AS though).

22. On your keyboard hit the ctrl + a keys simultaneously. All the frames in the animation should now be highlighted ( = they have blue edges).

23. Right click somewhere on one of the frames and choose 'frame properties'. Set the time that you want. I set mine to 25, a little longer display time than the 15 from before, which means that the animation will be a little slower than before. You can experiment to get the speed that you like.

24. If you're like me you're likely to have your doll on a canvas that is too large for the doll (look at the image above to see the excess space on each side of the doll). This is great when you're working on the doll, but if you don't remove this excess space you'll get larger image files and there'll always be some annoying space around your doll when you place it on the web.

25. To remove this space first make sure that all the frames are highlighted (hit ctrl+a again).

26. Choose the crop tool crop tool and the 'options' button (right above the crop tool). Choose 'surround the opaque area' and then 'ok'. A small rectangle will now appear around each doll like this (this image has been shrunken, if you want to see the full size image just click on it and a new window will open):

tutorial image

27. You may notice that the line goes very close to the doll. I like to pull it out a little bit just to ensure that no part of the doll is chopped off when saving. Let the cursor hover over each line until you see a small arrow just like when you want to drag a window larger. Hold the left mouse button down and drag the line just a couple of pixels away from the doll. Do this to each of the sides of the rectangle. You only need to do it in one of the frames though because the other frames will accomodate. Keep a steady hand so as not to make a mistake and when you are satisfied with the result double click inside the rectangle and the excess space will be cut off. My image now looks like this:

tutorial image

28. If you are satisfied with the result you are now ready to save the animation. File>save as. Name the animation and make sure to choose the gif option in the file type. Then hit save.

29. This window should appear:

tutorial image

30. Slide the handle all the way up to 'better image quality' and then hit the 'customize' button.

31. On the colors tab choose these settings:

tutorial image

32. On the 'optimizations' tab choose these settings:

tutorial image

33. And on the 'partial transparency' choose these settings:

tutorial image

34. Then just click ok and next until your animation has been saved. That is all!

Cartoon doll with sparkles

This tutorials describes one way of making animated sparkles in PSP and AS. There are several other ways of making sparkles depending on the effect that you want.

(This entire tutorial © May 13th, 2002 by Guðrun Jacobsen)

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