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   >  An Introduction to Animation
   >  Animation using KDEnlive
   >  Animating Photo using GIMP
   >  Animation using Pencil
   >  An Introduction to Synfig Studio
   >  Importing Images into Synfig
   >  Applying Transformation in Synfig
   >  Keyframe Animation in Synfig
   >  Rendering & Exporting in Synfig


Using GIMP to Animate your Photos

 How to Animate Photos using GIMP and KDEnlive

An Introduction to using GIMP in Animation

The first thing to note is that GIMP is not an animation package: it is a graphics/drawing/image manipulation package (-see our articles on GIMP if you are not familiar with it's awesomeness)! What you can use it for, is to create individual frames for another package to display as an animation.

However, you may well ask that - if you need another package to do the actual animation - why not dispense with GIMP altogether and use just the animation package? The answer is that none of the animation packages we have come across can come anywhere near the drawing / enhancement features of GIMP (-not surprising as that is GIMP's primary function) and - whilst you can certainly do it all with a single package - we find it easier to use GIMP's advanced facilities to produce the frames and use another package to stick them together.

Where GIMP really shines though, is making animations out of existing photos (-a little like the style of Terry Gilliam's efforts in the Monty Python series). You can use your own photos as raw material - or any public domain/royalty free images available on the web (-of course, always make sure the website you are taking the photos from allows you to copy it's images). Search engines such as Google Images are often a good source of material - but always read the small print before using them.

Using GIMP Layers

GIMP's usefulness in animation centres around it's use of multiple layers within an image. When editing static photos this is very useful when rebuilding images non-destructively (i.e. it allows you to work on copies of the image without affecting the original). In animation, we instead create a new layer for each component that we want to move, then we reconstruct the background over which those components will move.

The Linuceum has several video tutorials on using GIMP to animate photos if you prefer to watch the technique, rather than read about it!

Photo Animation: an Example

The technique is probably best explained in terms of an example: in this section, we will assume that we want to animate the right arm of a subject within an image to move upwards:

  • Select the outline of arm from the base image, using one of the various selection tools. We find the Free Select Tool (-the Lassoo icon) to be the best tool with all but the simplest of shapes:

    Limb selected in GIMP

  • Use CTRL+X to cut the selection from the background layer, then CTRL+V to paste it back in - on a new layer. The layer will be shown as a floating selection until you click on the "Add New Layer" icon to create it as a "proper" layer:

    Limb inserted as floating layer in GIMP

  • If you now hide the Background layer (-by clicking on it's eye icon), you will see just the arm, on the new layer:

     in GIMP

  • Next, hide the new layer and click back on the Background layer. You will now need to rebuild the area of the background where the arm was:

     in GIMP

  • Use the GIMP tools to restore the area of the background where the image was; this needn't be perfect - just good enough so the eye is not drawn to it during the animation:

     in GIMP

  • Once the background looks good (enough), then go back and select the "arm" layer:

     in GIMP

  • Use CTRL+C to copy the selection from the background layer, then CTRL+V to paste it back in - on a second new layer. As before, the layer will be shown as a floating selection until you click on the "Add New Layer" icon to create it as a "proper" layer:

     in GIMP

  • Use GIMP (-such as the rotate/move/scale/shear/perspective tools) to manipulate the image on this second layer so it occupies the next position in the animation. In the example below, we are using the Rotate tool to move the arm:

     in GIMP

  • Continue repeating the previous step until the arm occupies the desired final position. Try not to move the arm too much between frames or the motion will appear jerky:

     in GIMP

  • Now we are ready to start creating the animation frames! Hide all the arm layers, except the starting position. Use the "Save As" function to save this image as a file type capable of being read by your animation package (e.g. .JPG or .png)- making sure to add a frame number as part of the filename (e.g. "frame_001.JPG"):

     in GIMP

  • Hide the first arm layer and make the next arm layer visible. Once again, use the "Save As" function to save this image - as the same file type as the previous step - making sure to increment the frame number in the filename (e.g. "frame_002.JPG"):

     in GIMP

  • Repeat the last step until all frames are created

  • Import the created sequence of files (e.g. "frame_xxx.JPG") into your chosen animation packages - e.g. into KDEnlive to display the images one after another, forming the animation

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