Animation: a plane through the clouds

This Photoshop tutorial will explain in detail how to place the plane in the clouds and create the illusion of depth of penetration. Later we will use this plane to create a short animation in the ImageReady program.

1. Add a plane in the sky

This sky picture with clouds will be used to create a lesson:

Open the channel panel (channels palette).
Since we work in Rgb, we will see three channels; (R) ed is red, (G) reen is green and (B) lue is blue.
Note that when you click on the red channel, a clear contrast appears between the sky and the clouds.
This means that this channel is very convenient for creating a future mask. You will soon understand why.

So, leave an open eye just opposite the red channel. Click on it once, then go to Menu and select Select – All (Allocation – All).

Continue actions, select in the Menu Edit – Copy (Editing – Copy).
This action will pull the picture from the red channel to the desktop. Needless to say, after that you should not copy anything to the same place, otherwise you can lose everything.

Remove the selection that is still active by selecting the command in the menu Select – Deselect (Select – Unselect) or use the key combination Ctrl + D

Click on the RGB layer in the channel panel (A), and then go to the layers panel (B) and the “native” picture will appear in the working window:

Now we will add an airplane picture.

Open the file where the plane is shown, select the Move tool on the toolbar, click on the picture with the plane, hold down the mouse button and drag the plane into our document with clouds, release the mouse.

Click on the icon at the bottom of the panel layers add layer mask (Add a layer mask)
Hold key Alt and click on the mask (indicated in the picture by the letter A) on the panel layers:

This will open the mask layer in the working window, which will now turn completely white.

Continue, select in the Menu Edit – Paste, (Edit – Paste) to paste the content from the red channel onto our mask.

Remove selection – click Ctrl + D

Invert this mask – select Image / Adjustments / Invert (Image – Correction – Invert)

Please note the following; the black the color in the mask means ignoring. Note that after inverting the clouds became black, this means that in these areas of the aircraft will not be visible – this is exactly what we need, as this will create the illusion that the plane is behind the clouds.

And yet, to make our mask more efficient, we need to increase the contrast; Be sure that the mask is active (it should have a double border) and select in the menu Image / Adjustments / Levels … (Image – Correction – Levels)

Enter the value 70 (A) for the black slider, enter the value 160 (B) for the white slider and click Ok:


At the moment, the mask is bonded to the plane layer (this mark means that the layers are bonded to each other), therefore, if we move one of these layers, the second one will move too.

Since we want to place the aircraft without changing the position of the mask, we need to remove the bond icon.

Therefore, click once on , to remove it
As you can see, the icon is gone (A).

Click once on the plane layer to activate this layer; now this layer has a double border (B):

2. Add the illusion of depth

Choose a travel tool Move.
Now you can use the mouse to move the plane in any direction. Note that the mask since we removed , stays in place.

IMPORTANT: always make sure that the plane layer is active (the active layer has a double border). Mask can not be moved. If you accidentally touched it, then cancel the action with the keys Ctrl + Z

Also, make sure the plane always disappears behind the clouds, whose color is close to pure white. Still, for the illusion of perspective to appear it would be great if the plane sometimes appeared from these snow-white clouds.
Now we just do it.

Choose a brush on the toolbar.

Open the brush parameter selection window, click on the triangle marked with the letter A.
Select round brush size (B) – 20, stiffness (C) – 0% and transparency (D) – 100%.
To close this window – press A again:

Now let’s make the plane invisible, for which we change the value of the layer occupancy Fill on 0% (letter A in the next screenshot)

Click on the mask on the layers palette to activate it (now it will have a double frame (letter B in the screenshot)).

Press the slash (/) on the keyboard, it will change the mask to its equivalent fast mask (now the clouds are bright red).

Change the main color to black – press the letter D.
Click X, to switch to white.

Now paint over those clouds or part of the clouds that you think will appear behind the plane (all from a perspective).

Change the brush transparency to thirty%, if it seems to you that the transition between parts of the clouds should be softer. Below in the screenshot white clouds will appear behind the plane:

When you are done, click the slash (/) to remove the quick mask.

Let’s turn to the layers panel and change the value. fill (fill) (A) 100% – let’s make our plane visible again. Click on the window with the plane to activate it again.

Now you can take the tool and move the plane back and forth to see if you have installed the masks correctly, whether the perspective on your drawing looks correct.

From this image, some clouds were moved over the plane.

Save your document File / Save and give him a name.

3. Add the trail of the aircraft

At this stage we will add a trace from the aircraft. We will draw a path from the clouds with a special brush. Brush for drawing clouds you can download here (right-click and select Save Object As …)
If you are interested in making such a brush yourself and learn how to install it, then welcome to Photoshop tutorial on creating a brush from the clouds.

Take a look at this screenshot:

Select a brush and click on the arrow button (marked with the letter A in the screenshot).
In the window that opened click on the small triangle (B) and select the command Load brushes… (Download brushes) or Replace Brushes (Replace brushes) … (C)
What is the difference between them?
Load Brushes – means to add brushes to an existing list in Photoshop,
Replace Brushes – replace existing brushes in Photoshop with new ones.

What to choose decide for yourself, but we advise you to just add brushes (Load Brushes)
Select the brush you downloaded earlier and click load.

Activate the desired brush by selecting it in the window with the varieties of brushes that you opened earlier. Your brush may lie at the bottom of the window.

Enter a size value = 7 (D). Brush transparency (E) set to 100%.

Create a new layer. on the layers palette.
Press the letter D to set the colors in this order:

Click on the window with black color to open the color palette.

Enter the color DDDDDD (light gray) where indicated by the letter A:

And now let’s draw a trace of the plane:
– hold shift until I tell you when you can let go (this will help us draw a perfectly straight line)
– move your mouse cursor to the center of the left edge of your picture
– click the mouse and don’t let go yet
– move your cursor to the right edge
– release the mouse
– release the shift button

Add a layer mask to the layer on which the trace of the aircraft is drawn (click on the corresponding button at the bottom of the layers palette)
Click D on the keyboard to make the main color white, and the background – the black:

Choose a tool Gradient tool.

Be sure that the gradient settings are the same as in the screenshot:

With the active mask hold the key shift and draw a gradient from the left edge of the mask all the way to the right edge of the mask (in general, the technique is the same when we painted the trail from the clouds).
When done – release shift.

Then click on the layer mask and drag it to the basket. (you will soon understand why we removed the mask we just created):

Photoshop will ask you if you want to use the mask before moving it. Select Apply (Apply):

This is the reason why we had to move the mask, with the help of this action we applied it to the layer with the trace. Perhaps this is a strange way, but effective.

With the active layer of the aircraft trace, click on the aircraft mask and drag it onto the icon Add layer mask (Add layer mask)

Only for Photoshop CS2 users

The above methods for mask duplication do not work in Photoshop CS2.
Here is a way to copy a mask in Photoshop CS2:
Make sure that Layer 1 is active
Pinch Alt
Click on the plane mask and drag it to Layer 1
Disconnect Alt

We continue!

Change layer transparency opacity before 70% (A):

We will have to copy the mask, since our trail should change just like the plane (as you did at the end of the second part), otherwise we will get scattered animation in which the trail will always remain behind the brightest white clouds.

Note: there is no need to remove the fastening icon between the layers of the aircraft’s trace and the mask we just copied. It happened in Photoshop that the icon always appears as soon as you create a new mask.

Click on the airplane window and select .

Move the plane from the clouds to the left of the picture exactly in the middle of the picture so that the plane coincides with the path.

Choose a track with a track and move the track right behind the left engine of the aircraft (leave a small gap between the engine and the start of the track).
Once the trace is at the desired position, click in the place marked with the letter (B) to display the layer bonding icon:

Only for Photoshop CS2 users

Adobe changed the way layers are bonded in Photoshop CS2. If you are using Photoshop CS2, then you need to first click on the window with the path, hold down the shift and then click on the window with the plane. After releasing the shift button, you need to click on the bond icon (it is located at the bottom of the panel, see the letter A); the layers will be merged, as evidenced by the two bond icons that appear (B).
Click on the trail layer to activate:

Both layers are now stapled, which means that now the path will follow the plane from right to left and this is exactly what we need for the animation.

Select . Move the plane to the right side and stop when only the nose of the plane remains:

Pinch shift and press the arrow to the right on the keyboard several times until the plane completely disappears.

Save this document File / Save (file – save)

In the next part we will make this plane fly through the clouds.

4. Making an airplane animation

At this stage, the author will show how to make an airplane animation in the program. ImageReady, so that he flew through the clouds.

Look at the Photoshop toolbar, at the bottom there is a button “move to ImageReady” ; This action will allow you to open our current document in the ImageReady program.
Be sure that the animation panel in ImageReady is open, if not, select it from the menu Window / Animation (Window / Animation)

Look at the screenshots below.

Looking at the animation panel, you will notice that now you have only one picture, which is in the upper left corner and has the number 1. The first thing we need to do is duplicate this frame, for which click on the button Duplicate surrent frame – it is marked with the letter A (located at the bottom of the panel)

With the active second image, look so that the tab at the head of the working window is open. Original – marked with the letter F.
Choose a tool Move.
Hold key shift and press the left arrow several times on the keyboard as long as the plane and the trace of it completely disappear from the picture.

Return to the animation panel when you’re done.

Now you need to select both slides; we can do it by clicking on each one and holding the key Ctrl. Both slides will be selected if the background behind them has become dark gray.
By the way, there is a way to select several slides at once – click on the first one and hold shift Click on the last one.

The next step is to choose a delay time for the slide; This time can be set in a rectangle, which is circled in red in the figure and marked with the letter (B), where you can set the number of seconds. We need to leave the value in this box 0 seconds

By the way, if you need, you can always change the time value later.

At the moment we have two slides, the first one shows the plane at the launch position, the second at the final position. Now we will give the task to the program ImageReady create us the missing parts.
We will do this by clicking on the tee button it is under the letter (C).

In the window that appears, you will notice that the value of the button is set: Selection (choice). That’s what we need.
The main question is how many slides do we want to add?
I, as you can see in the screenshot, advise you to choose 60, but you can set any other quantity.
The main thing to remember is the following:
The more slides, the smoother and smoother the animation itself, but it will result in a large file size.
Smaller slides – the animation will be fragmentary, hopping, but less file size
Make sure the image you are working with is small enough.
How small?
It depends on the number of slides you intend to use. In this tutorial, we specifically modified the image to make the animation faster.

After you have selected the number of additional slides and you are convinced that all the other settings (layers / parameters) are the same as in the screenshots, you can click Ok.

Now we will add a time delay to our first and last slide. In this tutorial we are going to add it to the first slide. Move the slider marked with the letter J in the screenshot to the beginning to see the first slide.

Click where the letter stands K and select value 2 sec:

Select tab Optimize (Optimize) in the working paper – marked with the letter H on the previous screenshot and wait a couple of seconds. The optimization tab will allow you to see how the slides look like with the settings set.

You can now watch the animation by clicking on the button. Play.

Animation will be broadcast in our working window.
Note: the final animation will be faster than the one you just watched.

As I said earlier; the animation uses the current settings from the panel Optimize:

Note that at the bottom of the optimization window you can see the estimated amount of the final animation, in my case this 403.1K:

Let’s see how we can reduce this value. By the way, in your case, the figure may be different.

Take another look at the previously submitted screenshot of the optimization panel. Talking about all these settings is a topic for another lesson, I will mention only two things;
For this lesson, I chose the format (A) Gif , as this format supports animation. Try not to use JPEG – it does not support animation.

To display the colors (B) I chose the value 256. This will preserve the normal quality of the image, but the file will weigh a little more.

As I said earlier, the estimated file size for the GIF format is about 403.1K. Since this value is quite large, we need to do something about it. Let’s begin by cropping the picture; select the crop tool and select in the settings panel for the parameter Cropped area (Cut Out Area) Value Hide (Hide):

We had to choose a value hide, since we do not want to remove the invisible parts of our aircraft and its trail – after all, all these are elements of our animation.

Click on the 20th slide if you do not see the plane.
We will now do 3 operations to reduce the file size.

The first action is pruning:

Optimization 1: Crop the image this way as if you are cutting the top and bottom of the sky. In my case, this led to a decrease in volume to 330.4K – which is 20%.

Optimization 2: Access the menu and select Image / Image Size and set the width (width) = 400px and click OK. New file now 149.5K – and this decrease is already on 55% from the previous size.

Optimization 3: Changing the settings in the section Dither method (C) with Diffusion on No dither (no jitter) I managed to reduce the volume before 120.1K.

Now the file can be saved in GIF format, select File / Save Optimized As …

I hope your animation will look like this:

Conclusion

Even if you do not plan to create an animation, I think that knowing the principles of the first part of the lesson – how to create a static image in combination with clouds using layer masks will be useful for you:

I sincerely hope that this lesson brought you interesting ideas on using layer channels, and also introduced you to the program. ImageReady, one of the main functions of which is the creation of simple and direct animations.

Today, flash animation is often used on the Internet. Other more complex programs are used to create it, but you can use the program to create such a simple animation as this one. ImageReady.

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