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Lesson 6. Adding Animation > Creating layers for an animation in Illustrator

Creating layers for an animation in Illustrator

ImageReady enables you to create animations for Web pages. An animation is simply a series of images—or frames—displayed one at a time to create an illusion of movement. One way to create the frames of an animation in ImageReady is to import a multi-layered Illustrator file, and to load the artwork in each layer into its own frame. In the Lesson06 folder, there is an Illustrator document containing artwork on multiple layers. The following project shows you how to modify the elements on a layer to be used as frame in an animation.

Start Adobe Illustrator and open the file called flower_frames.ai in the Lesson06 folder.

The document contains several layers. The first part of the animation will be the first three layers, displayed one after the other. Each layer contains the same set of Basics symbols that are rotated by increasing degrees, from one layer to the next. (See illustration on next page.)

A. Artwork on Layer 1. B. Artwork on Layer 2. C. Artwork on Layer 3. D. Rotation direction of elements

In the Layers palette, make sure only Layer 1 is visible. Then, repeatedly turn on and off the visibility of Layer 2, to see in the document window how the Basics symbols are rotated by 20 degrees when switching between layers. Some rotate clockwise, some counterclockwise. The elements on Layer 3 are rotated by another 20 degrees, and if you show Layer 1 after Layer 3, they seem to turn again by 20 degrees in the same direction. To continue, make sure Layer 1 is set to be visible, and that all other layers are hidden.

To see how this animation effect was created, delete Layer 2 and recreate it from a copy of Layer 1.

In the Layers palette, select Layer 2 and choose Delete “Layer 2” from the palette menu. Click Yes in the dialog box that asks whether you really want to delete Layer 2.

In the Layers palette, select Layer 1 and choose Duplicate “Layer 1” from the palette menu. Double-click the name Layer 1 copy, and in the Layer Options dialog box, rename the new layer to Layer 2, and click OK.

Layer 2 is now an identical copy of Layer 1. All that's left to do is to rotate the four Basics symbols by 20 degrees, the orange and green ones clockwise, the yellow and purple ones counterclockwise.

In the Layers palette, click the triangle next to the Layer 2 name, and then click the triangle next to <Group>, within the expanded view of that layer.

All the elements of this layer are shown, each in its own sublayer. The clipping path hides the parts of the Basics symbols extending outside the rounded rectangle. The stacking order of the layers determines which objects appear further towards the front or back; the green symbol is in front of the yellow symbol, and so on.

In the Layers palette, click the target indicator of the orange symbol, and then Ctrl-click (Windows) or Command-click (Mac OS) on the target indicator of the green symbol to extend the selection to these two sublayers. (See illustration on next page.)

Choose Object > Transform > Transform Each. In the Transform Each dialog box, type -20 (clockwise) as Angle under Rotate. Make sure that you select the objects' centers as reference points (by selecting the center square in the reference point locator). Turn Preview on and off to see how the symbols rotate in relation to the symbols in Layer 1, still visible underneath. Click OK.

In the same manner, select and rotate the yellow and purple symbols in Layer 2 by +20 degree (counterclockwise).

You've successfully recreated the content of Layer 2. In this example, the animation consists simply of rotating objects. For other projects, feel free to use more sophisticated ways to animate objects, including moving, scaling, altering color, or even changing the shape of an object. When you are done, the document needs to be exported in a format that ImageReady can use to create frames from the layers.

In the Layers palette, choose Show All Layers from the palette menu.

Choose File > Export. In the Export dialog box, select Photoshop (*.PSD) from the Save as type pop-up menu (Windows) or Photoshop (psd) from the Format pop-up menu (Mac OS). The name will change to flower_frames.psd. Navigate to the Lesson06 folder and click Save / Export.

In the Photoshop Export Options dialog box, select the RGB Color Mode, and Screen (72 ppi), under Resolution. Under Options, choose to Export As Photoshop CS2 file format, and to Write Layers (only layers currently visible in the Illustrator document will be exported, that's why it is important that all layers are made visible in step 9). Select Preserve Text Editability (so that the text gets exported in its own layer that can be animated independently in ImageReady), deselect Maximum Editability (otherwise this would create separate layers in Photoshop for each shape in each layer), click Embed ICC Profile, and then click OK.



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