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Computer ArtsTutorial

Animate sequences

In the super-saturated market of commercial illustration, how do you make your work stand out from the rest? It's essential that you develop original and eye-catching techniques, says Chris Roth. So try this..

Whether you work with paint, pencils or just plain old pixels, adding a sense of motion to your illustrations will ensure your work gets noticed and open you up to many more exciting markets.


Over the next few pages, I'll show you how I went about creating the cover art for One True Thing's Finally album cover, using a mixture of old and new techniques and Adobe After Effects to create a short animated sequence for broadcast. You can apply these basic methods to just about any static illustration, photo or design piece you like. Even if you consider yourself more of a motion graphics designer than an illustrator, you could just as easily employ these techniques on other raw materials.

The most important and time-consuming step here is the file preparation - doing this properly will govern the outcome of your piece. Each moving element must be separated and placed on its own Photoshop layer. This can be a lot of work if you're getting most of your imagery from a single static image, because once an element is separated there's usually a "hole" to be filled underneath. Careful Rubberstamping can usually patch these areas. If you are the artist responsible for your imagery, you can plan ahead as I do, render all your elements separately and put them back together later.

Note that the Photoshop file I prepared is quite large. Even on my beefed-up G5, this 20-second sequence took nearly five hours to render. If this proves a problem with your system, you can easily experiment with reduced versions of the starter files.

Click here to download the tutorial for free

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