Sqirlz Animation Tutorial

Mackinaw river animated

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    All the content on this Sqirlz Animated Tutorial site is protected by International Copyright laws. If photos or graphics were created by anyone other than Susie, it will be noted and the copyright will remain with the creator. Please respect these copyrights. Any similarity to any other tutorial is coincidental. You may download my tutorials for personal use. You may share them within a group, if you write and ask my permission first. The image you create from this tutorial is yours to do with as you please.

    I did this tutorial in PSP version 9, but I am sure it would work in other versions as well. The only supplies you will need are PSP, an image, Animation Shop and the animation program I will tell you about.

    You can download my zip of images here. There are several photo images and several PSP images. You could also use one of your own images.

    The photo images were taken by my son, Kevin on one of his canoe trips last year. The river is the Mackinaw River in central Illinois. He has graciously allowed me to share them with you. The other images I made in PSP and you can alter them or share or do whatever you basically want with them - except make a profit from them - if you find a way to do that, you must share it with me!! You will note when you open the zip, that all the images are in jpg format. This animation program does not recognize pspimages from any version of PSP. It must be a jpg.

    With this tutorial, I hope to teach you another way to animate water with gentle waves - rivers, lakes and ponds. Also with this program, you can add animated rain or snow and ripples in the water as the rain hits the surface - you can use these in combinations or as individual animations. You can also save the images in gif, avi or for a flash program.

    I have recently learned some of the basics of this program, so please bear with me. I also encourage you to play with some of the settings to see what you can create. There is no reset function to be able to go back to the defaults, so I encourage you to take a screen shot of the original settings and save it in a folder where you can easily find it again. If you have trouble taking screen shots, you can always write the settings down and save the text in such a folder. I did not do this and I regretted it! Please learn from my mistake! I did learn that when you turn your computer off, the basic settings will be reset in the program, but it won't reset while you are working with it, even if you turn the program off.

    The name of this neat program is Sqirlz Water Reflections and the best thing about it, is that it is a free program! By the way, it is downloaded by Tucows so you can pick a location that is close to your residence. Click here to download it.

    Ok, let's get started! Open and install the Sqirlz program, having all other windows closed. Open the image you want to use and save it to your desktop or a folder on your desktop so that you can access it easily. Open Sqirlz, and either drag your image to the screen or use the "open" tool in the tool bar.

open tool

    I am using mackinaw_riv1_ssg.jpg for this first image.

mackinaw river 1

    Now to do any animation of the water, or to add water to your image, you have to use the outline tool. This is located on the tool bar on the side and looks like a circle.

outline tool

    Note: I discovered that there are some limits as to what you can select for your reflected area. One of the images I had originally had in my supplies for you, had sky, land and cottage on a narrow part at the top of the image. There was not enough in that area to be reflected within my selected area. So when I did try to do it, I had the reflection, yet from the top of my reflection to the bottom of the image was all gray - it moved, but it was gray! So I reworked the image so it has better proportions. If you have a photo or an image you can't rework, take it to PSP and crop off enough from the bottom of the image so that the reflection will show without going into the gray color. I also found that if I didn't have light enough, as in a sky above my reflected area, it also made the entire area look gray when animated. To hopefully better explain this, my image was of a pond surrounded by water grasses and grass - there was no sky - so my selected area was all gray! You will get a warning screen pop up if this is going to occur.

    Click on the outline tool - it acts like the point to point selection tool in PSP. Trace what you want to be your water reflection, and to close the selection, right click. You don't have to go exactly to your starting point, as the program will automatically close it for you. Also when you do the right click, the line will change in looks to a longer dashed line. You can not draw outside the sides or bottom of your image, as the cursor won't go beyond the borders. This makes it easy to get the sides and bottom all the way across the image, if that is what you need to do. Any time your cursor is "trapped" on the image, just right click and it will let it go.

outline selection       selected area

    Once you have the area selected that you want, click on the animation tool, which is the yellow arrow on the top tool bar.

animate tool

    I want you to see what the basic animation setting looks like. If this is what you want for your image, you can skip the following steps up to the bold print which tells you what to do with your image (Now it is time to save your image). If you see you have some edges also floating, or you have a blank space at the bottom or sides of your image, don't worry, we will crop them out in PSP.

    I do encourage you to play with the settings to see if you find something else you might prefer.

    Note: If you don't like your selected area, there are two ways to adjust or fix it. There is a Undo/Redo selection. Click on your Outline (in top tool bar), and a drop down window will appear. (I tried several times to take a screen shot of the drop down window, but it closed each time as I pressed the keys to initiate the screen shot. Sorry!) The drop down window has the following options: Begin; Move; Edit; Smooth - Ctrl 1; and Delete. Beneath this list is a line and below the line are the words: Undo/Redo (Outline). These words will be in gray until you click on Edit. Click on Edit. Your cursor (the X will appear on your image; however you cannot move the cursor off the image until you right click on the image. Then you can click on Outline again, and then on the Undo/Redo button. To be able to do anything on your image, you will now have to click on the Outline icon on the side tool bar.

    Now it is much easier to just click on Outline button on the top tool bar, and click on Delete! Either way you can then start your outline selection area again.

    I also played with the Move button, for on one image I needed to move my selected area up a pixel or two. Well, this can be done, but it takes knowing just where to click on your image to move it!! Like to move it up that small of an area, I finally found if I clicked once just above the top line of my selected area, it would move it one pixel (similar to the arrow keys on your keyboard. But you have to be right above the top line. I again found it easier to just delete it and redraw it!

    If you would like the water to look more like the original water, only moving, please do the following steps, or you can play around with the settings to get what you want.

    Click on the little group of waves icon, this is your customizer for the waves to adjust the size, etc.

customize waves

    The following window will open:

final wave settings

    Adjust your numbers to the ones scene in the screen shot. At the top of the screen is a small yellow arrow with the words Run Basic Ripples Only, even though it says basic ripples only, this is actually the "button" to show a preview of the effect your settings give you. Then click on the Add Extra Waves box. The following screen will open:

add waves

    Once you have changed the settings to those in the screen shot, you can again click on the little yellow arrow in this screen to preview what your settings have done to the image. To close this screen, click on the close X in the upper right corner.

    Now you can also adjust the flow direction of your river waves. Click on the Add Flow box and the following screen will appear:

add flow

    This box also has the yellow arrow preview. Once you are happy with your flow, click on the close X to go back to the main wave settings. Once there, click on the close X in the upper right corner of your Set Parameters screen. This will close it. Click on the yellow animate arrow to see your final results.

    The following screen shot is of the final waves, but they are not animated.

final waves

Now it is time to save your image.

    This is where I show you the steps you must take to save your image and then use it to post on the web or what you usually do with your images.

    Click anywhere on your image to stop the animation, or you can double click on the gif button. If you click on your image, you will only need to click once on the gif button. Another screen will open and below is a screen shot of it. Click on ok.

saving image

    Next the window in the following screen shot will appear, write in the name of your image and save it to either your desktop or a special folder where you want it.

save 2 desktop

    Once you have clicked ok on that, the next window will open showing the frame rate. I have not played with this part, so I just clicked on ok.

frame rate

    The next little window to open will be the Saving Animation screen, showing a little icon man walking while green boxes fill up the white area. Once this closes, another screen will pop up, saying the image has been saved. Click on ok.

saving ani screen

information screen

    Now you can close out your image in Sqirlz, and close Sqirlz. Open Animation Shop (AS), then open up your saved gif in AS. You will see that it has 20 frames - yes, this is a lot and you might be able to cut down the number of frames, but your animation won't look the same, or as smooth. Open PSP, too. (You can open PSP and through it, you can open AS.)

    Go to Edit/Select All. Go to File/Export Files to Paint Shop. Your frames will be automatically all exported to PSP.

    At this point, I right click on one of the frames of the image in AS, and then click on the Break Connection with exported frames. Minimize AS so you can work in PSP.

    Once in PSP, you can crop your image - if you don't get the selected area to cover all of the image, or have some extra floaty things showing, this is where you can crop them out. I would do any cropping that is needed first. (I can't believe my image for the tut doesn't need it - every other time, I had to crop! LOL)

    Next I added my name - add a vector layer at the top of the layer palette, and proceed as usual for how you do your name on images. I used the CygnetRound font at a size of 30 and no stroke width. I used a dark color from the image. You can use any font you want.

    Next I added a very narrow frame. You don't have to add a frame, as the image will look great without one. To add the frame, I added a raster layer at the top of the layer palette, flood filled it with a light color from the image, the clicked on Selections, Select All, then Modify and Contract 5 pixels. Next I clicked on Delete, then Selections, Select None.

    I then gave the frame an inner bevel with the following settings: Bevel - 12; Width - 12; Smoothness: 10; Depth: 14; Ambience: 0; Shininess: 30; Color: white; Angle: 315; Intensity: 70; Elevation: 35.

inner bevel frame

    I had to move my name a bit to keep it away from touching the frame. Make all your adjustments and moves now. This is what my top frame with the frame and name on looks like.

frame and name added

    Here is what your layer palette should look like. The easiest way I have found to get this all back into AS, is to turn off the visibility of all the layers except those that I want to export to AS, click on the little eye in your layer palette to turn the visibility off. When you want the layer visible again, just click on the eye again and as the little red x goes off, the visibility comes on.

layer palette

    I go from the last frame down to the first! That way, I pasted before each frame and don't have to make sure the little slider at the bottom of the frame in AS is over to the right as it has to be if you start from the first frame and go to the last. To do it that way, you have to make sure you are always going to be pasting after the last frame you pasted, and I find my way is a bit easier. You can duplicate your frame and name 19 times, and then merge each set onto each frame, but that also takes a long time.

    For those of you who are new to using AS or not very sure of it, I will give a bit better directions, as I am sure the above paragraph is confusing to you.

    Copy the layers you want to paste in AS, by clicking either on the altered frame you made by adding your name and frame to each frame, or just have the visibility on for the name layer, the frame layer and which ever frame you are copying - then click on Copy merged. You will find this under Edit in your top tool bar. You will have to do it this way for each frame you want to send to AS.

    Maximize AS, right click on the screen and a little window opens, saying paste as new animation. Left click on it and your image will appear. Go back to PSP, turn the visibility off to the frame you just copied, and turn on the visibility for the next frame. Again click on Copy merged. This time as you go into AS after right click on the current image, if you started with frame 1, you will have to left click on Paste after current frame, then go to the bottom of the frame and slide the little slider all the way to the right. You will have to do this after each pasting. Then you can go back to the PSP window.

    Here is what my layer palette looks like for my first copying.

layer palette 1st copy

    If you started with frame 20, you will have to click on Paste before current frame. Then you can go back to PSP window. Do this until you have all the frames copied and pasted into AS.

    Here is what my layer palette looks like for the second copying. The other layers are done in the same way, just that you turn off the visibility for the layer you just did, and turn it on for the layer you want to copy.

layer palette 2nd copy

    Once you have all your frames copied and pasted into AS, go to Edit, Select All. Click on it. Go to Animation, Frame Properties. A small window will open saying with the number 10 in the little white box. Change the 10 to 6. Click on ok.

frame properties 1       frame properties 2

    Go back to Animation, but this time click on Resize animation, and put the percent number in the box to make the image the size you want. See screen shots.

resize 1       resize 2

    Whenever I want to resize my image that is to be animated, I always do it in AS by percentage - it does it the best. As you raise or lower you percent numbers, you can see what the size will be in pixels by looking in the little gray boxes above the percent boxes.

    Animation always takes a lot of space, so I always resize it down even less than 300 x 300. The only time it might be larger, would be if the width is above 300 and to resize it down, would make the height just too small. It is kind of a judgement call.

    Ok, lets get back to the tutorital - now that you have it resized, go back to Edit, and this time click on Select None.

    Now at the top of your tool bar is your animation icon/tool. Click on it to see your image animated! You can either click on it again to stop the animation, or you can click on the close X in the upper right corner of the animating image to stop it.

animation tool AS

    Now go to File, Save As. A window will open for where you want to save it - type the name in, and save. Another window will pop up - actually there will be a series of windows - click next on each one until the final one says Finish - click on it. You are finished!!!


    Thank you for sticking with me and trying this tutorial out!

    Below you will see some photos used with some other settings to make the water animate differently. I will write more tutorials on this program as I learn more about the rain and snow parts and how to adjust them.


Sunnyland sunset 1     sunset 1

This sunset picture was taken in Sunnyland, a part of East Peoria, Illinois. I turned it into a sunset over the water scene.

sunset 2

This is another sunset picture taken in Sunnyland, a part of East Peoria, Illinois. I turned it into another sunset over the water scene.

waterfall 1

waterfall 2

These are two waterfall pictures I played with to see if I could adapt this program into believable looking waterfalls. It did not work with the rain alone, I also had to add some noise to the layers in PSP for it to look more realistic.

    NOTE: I was able to cut off the last 5 frames of the waterfall gif without it affecting the final image. So you might be able to cut down at least 5 frames on the water animation frames.

    I want to thank Tricia for being my tester; she did a great job!

    This tutorial was created July 2, 2007.

      Please feel free to contact me if you have any comments or questions. Send email to susie