Animation tutorial: Turn images into animated GIFs and videos using this brilliant free tool

As seen at the Grammys, the free Plotagraph app lets you add eye-catching animation to photos and artwork. Here's how.


Download the Photograph App to either your phone or desktop open the software and go ahead and create an account.

We’ll be working in the desktop version for this tutorial, although both platforms have the same features. You can start with the free version for now, and then upgrade later if you choose.

STEP 1

Click on the + symbol at the bottom of the app and choose Create Photograph.


STEP 2

Choose the image you want to work on by clicking on the Choose Image Icon, then give your project a name and press CREATE to start working on your project.

Advertisement. Article continues below

STEP 3

Once you’ve decided which parts of your image you want to add motion to, click on the Brush tool and use the Mask Brush to paint over any areas of the image you want to stay frozen. Alternatively, you can click on the Mask All button and then use the Eraser Brush to remove the mask over smaller sections of your image. Leave a small gap around the very edges of your masked area to stop the animation effect from spilling out into the background later.

Tip: For those used to masking in Photoshop, the same square bracket keys apply to changing brush size in Plotagraph, or you can set this manually in the Brush Tools toolbar.


STEP 4

Next, click on the Feather icon in the toolbar, which controls the softness of the mask edges. In this case I want a slightly soft edge to the mask so that it blends out to the edges, so click on Foreground and slide the Foreground slider a little to the right.


STEP 5

Now lets add some animation to our image. Click on the dancer icon to access the Animation Points. Click on + Animation Points, which will give you the cursor you need to start adding some motion guidelines.

Advertisement. Article continues below

STEP 6

Create motion guidelines across the areas of the image you want to animate by clicking and dragging with your cursor in the direction you want the pixels to travel.

Here, I’ve used the natural highlights of the fabric to dictate the direction of the motion guidelines. Press on the Play icon at the bottom to preview your animation.


STEP 7

The length of the motion guideline also dictates how far the pixels move, so the more subtle you want the effect to be, the shorter the length of your motion guidelines should be. You can see here I’ve used a variety of different length motion guidelines depending on the shape of the fabric.


STEP 8

Tip: You will need to create quite a few of these motion guidelines across the full area you want to animate. Remember, you might not want all of the motion guidelines to go in the same direction, so experiment with switching them up a little.

Advertisement. Article continues below

STEP 9

If you choose to unlock Pro Mode, you can turn on Custom Paths, which allows you to physically draw the path you want your animation to take. Its great for adding in a bit of curvature in the motion.


STEP 10

You can also include Stabiliser/Anchor Points to preserve any specific points of your animated area that your don’t want to move. Simply click on the tool in the Animation Points sub menu and click once over the area with your cursor to leave a small red dot. These specific areas will now not be animated. You can see I’ve put some of these across any floating folds in the fabric.

I’ve positioned them just slightly away from the edge to allow me to animate right up to the edge of the fold for more realistic animation.


STEP 11

In the next option down on the toolbar, you’re find Animation Properties, where you can set the style and length in seconds of the total transformation. I’ve gone for 3 seconds to create a slow, subtle animation.

Tip: There are a lot more options in this panel when you unlock the Pro version, which are pretty handy.

Advertisement. Article continues below

STEP 12

If you’ve upgraded to the Pro version, over on the right hand side, click on the eternity symbol to bring up the Plota FX Library toolbar.

Here, you’ll find a library of Video and Audio files that you can apply to your images to bring your images to life even more - or upload your own if you’re feeling creative.

Here, I’ve applied the ‘Particles White’ video effect, white I’ve set to 5% opacity for a very subtle effect. Press the play Icon again to test your animation with the new effect overlay.


STEP 13

You can also add your own logo to watermark your creation using the Stills Library. Simply upload your file, click on Add and resize and reposition.


STEP 14

Click on the sunshine icon in the toolbar to bring up Brightness/Contrast controls. You’ll also find Hue and Saturation in here too. I’m going to add in just a touch of contrast.

Advertisement. Article continues below

STEP 15

Once you’re happy with your animation, click on the Export icon in the bottom right of the screen. Here you have three options. The left option is to share your creation with the Plotaverse community. And get some feedback on your creations. The right option takes you to your previous exports.


STEP 16

The middle option allows your to create a custom export, where you can control everything from image size to file type, and even the number of times the animation loops.

Here are the settings I used.


STEP 17

Once you’ve created an export, head into your My Exports panel, where you can view and download your animations to your desktop for sharing.

Advertisement. Article continues below