Tutorials - Sparkles # 3

cartoon doll with sparkle

This tutorial is the third in a series of tutorials on how the make animated sparkles. The previous two are simply called "Sparkles # 1" and "Sparkles # 2". If you did follow # 1 or # 2 you should have no problem following this tutorial as you have already learned many of the steps.

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, not the ones flying around but the ones that glow in one place. 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.
- Using the tube tool.
- Using coordinates to place tubes correctly.

In AS:
- Assembling an animation.
- Changing the display properties on multiple frames or single 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 which has now closed down but used to be one of the best places to get sparkles in tube format. Just save 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. You are now ready to put the sparkle on the doll. But first a few words of advice. Tubed sparkles like the ones we use here contain some semitransparent pixels which can not be saved as semitransparent in gif format (gif format can only contain totally opaque or totally transparent pixels). It makes the image look bad when you save it if the semitransparent pixels are placed on the background in stead of on the doll. So take care not to let the sparkles hit the background when you use this method. Make sure they only hit the doll. (For extra help look in Sparkles # 1 for how you can make the doll into a selection).

12. I have chosen one of my old dolls who is wearing jewellry and I want to apply the sparkles to her necklace.

13. 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

14. I want to start out with something very small and that is why I have set the scale to 10. If you are working with another sparkle you might want to experiment with the size, as it doesn't necessarily have the same original size as the sparkle used here.

15. Use the tube tool to place one or two sparkles where you want them to be. Mine will be placed on the necklace, just one small sparkle. While doing this it is extremly important that you notice the coordinates where you place the sparkle. You find them by looking in the lower left corner of your PSP screen. My coordinates are 71,51. Write this number down or remember it because you will want to place the second sparkle in the exact same place.

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

17. Undo. undo button The sparkles should disappear.

18. In the tool palette set the scale of the sparkle slightly larger than it was before. I set mine to 11. Then place a sparkle in the exact same spot as before.

19. File>save as. Name your file 2.psp and save it right to the desktop to make it easy to locate.

20. Undo. undo button The sparkles should disappear.

21. Once again set the scale of the sparkle to slightly larger than before. Mine is set to 12. Then place a sparkle in the exact same spot again.

22. 19. File>save as. Name your file 3.psp and save it right to the desktop to make it easy to locate.

23. You now have all the frames that you need to make the animation. Close the image in psp being careful not to save over the original and you can also close PSP itself.

24. 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 3.psp and choose 'open'. You should now have a row of images that looks something like this (this image has been shrunken down, if you would like to see the full image click on it and a new window will open):

tutorial image

25. Now click on the second frame so that it has the blue edge in stead of the first one. Click on duplicate duplicate tool. You will now have a copy of the second frame and it is placed right next to the original. We will want to move a copy of this frame to the end of the animation.

26. Click on the second frame again so that the blue edge is only around that one. Then click, hold down the mouse key, and drag it to the end of the animation. Let go so that it will place itself as the last frame. Your row of images should now look something like this (this image has been shrunken down, if you would like to see the full image click on it and a new window will open):

tutorial image

26. Click the view animation button view animation to see if you like the timing on the sparkle animation. If you like it you can jump to step 29. 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).

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

28. Right click somewhere on one of the frames and choose 'frame properties'. Set the time that you want. I set mine to 20, 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. As a little extra I want to delay the time on the first frame only, to make a little pause between the twingling of the sparkle. To do this I click only on the first frame, then right click it and choose 'frame properties'. I set the display time to 40.

29. 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.

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

31. 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 down, if you would like to see the full image click on it and a new window will open):

tutorial image

32. 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

33. 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.

34. This window should appear:

tutorial image

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

36. On the colors tab choose these settings:

tutorial image

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

tutorial image

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

tutorial image

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

cartoon doll with sparkle

The sparkle on my doll is very discrete, which is the way I like it. If you want a more dramatic effect you can make a bigger difference in the scale of the sparkle in each frame, or you can set the dislapy time faster or slower. You are the boss, you decide which effect you want to create with your sparkles!


(This entire tutorial © August 5th, 2002 by Guðrun Jacobsen)

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