I’m a creative person by nature, and find new and interesting ways to keep busy with the all of the tech I have laying about. One example I would like to present involves taking a static poster image that promotes a local carnival and give it some life. My specific goal is to format the poster for use within Instagrams Stories feature. I love to use Instagram, and have been a user since it’s introduction. I didn’t think that the IG team could out do themselves, but when they launched Stories, things got even more interesting. I still have fun posting photos, but Stories made interacting with followers so much more personal and engaging.
When I volunteered to help out with this year’s local Halloween carnival I kept social networking in mind for promotional marketing purposes which in turn presented all new challenges. There must be dozens of ways to achieve the same results when it comes to Instagram or Facebook, but I guess I have my own bag of tricks, so I laid them out here. Follow along and I will try my best to recount my steps. If there is anything left out feel free to ask questions below.
My chosen set of tools include: Photoshop CC and a trusty older Bamboo Wacom tablet. Since I didn’t get to choose the original design for the event, I had to wait and see what was going to happen. The poster design chosen came from a do it yourself website called: Poster My Wall which makes the task of creating promotional material easy for non designers. I didn’t even know they existed before a couple days ago, but in order to make this work, I had to visit the site to obtain the design used. My idea would involve breaking the design apart to add some light and fun animation.
The document screenshot of the poster is not formatted for Instagram Stories, so to get things kicked off I started a new Photoshop document that is mobile size friendly. I chose an iPhone 6S plus (preset) 1242 x 2208 72 DPI as the template to work within. My goal here is to add elements of animation and fade in text to make the image more entertaining. Below is a post of the design before I got a hold of it.
Right off the 🦇, I see the orange glow in the eyes of the jack-o-lanterns and the bats in the sky as potential objects to focus on. I can also imagine the text appearing on screen in a top down sequence to lead the reader to the final text on the bottom.
As you can see, the poster was already finished and shared on Facebook. Working with the person who made it, she led me to the original method of creation on Poster My Wall that was used.
As you can see from the image above Poster My Wall provides everything you need to make a pretty decent poster for whatever it is you need. The browser based editor allowed me to select each element, minus the background, and choose delete to get rid of text. At this point, all I need is the background complete with trees, bats and jack-o-lanterns. A simple screenshot later, I was now ready to import the flat image of the jack o lanterns and bats in to photoshop! WOOT!
Since the image is wider than the format chosen I did my best to center the image in the template frame to include all of the important elements. Luckily it seemed to balance out quite well.
Using the pen tool and the Bamboo tablet, I began the process of outlining and removing the elements that were needing to be separated on to their own layers.
The bats needed to be lifted, and the eyes on the jack-o-lanters also needed to be cut out. The shapes were simple enough to remove, and after I had all of the shapes cut out and placed on separate layers, I was left with an image full of holes! This is where the clone tool gets to shine! Recreating the background sky, complete with stars and gradients can be challenging, but it didn’t need to be perfect.
Some cloning and airbrushing seemed to do the trick! This image cannot stay the base layer, as orange lights need to shine through the eyes, so by selecting the entire layer minus the eye holes, I was able to cut and paste it on to a single and separate layer. From here I knew that I was going to need some candle lights flickering in the background, so using the shape tool, and having set the gradient tool to an orange to yellow radial, I made 4 separate shapes that will reside behind the eye holes!
These candle light shapes need to have a layer each, in order to animate them later on in the process so make sure that you DO NOT join or group them. The bats, cut out previously, will also have their own layers that will reside on top of the graveyard image. I only plan to fade the bats in, rather than try to animate flapping wings. Keep it simple I suppose 😉.
Using the browser based editing site for the poster, I was able to see what fonts were used, and finding them online was relatively easy. After installing the fonts on my machine, I was able to recreate the heading text. For the footer text however, I approached obtaining the elements in a quicker manner. I simply screen shot the original poster, cut and pasted the text elements and placed them on my document in the order that they would appear in the final animation.
Now! With all of my layers in place, and the overall rough plan in mind, I was ready to proceed to the ‘animation’ stage!
Photoshop is probably NOT the software that comes to mind when one discuses animation or video editing, but I find that it does quite well in these areas. A bit slow for sure, and clumsy but does the job. On the very bottom, depending on how you have your work space set up, you will see the following.
Once activated, photoshop proceeds to place all layers on separate timelines that run for a set amount of video playback time. 5 Seconds seems to be the default auto setting so I doubled my timeline by manually dragging each layer out further. My project is now set to run 10 seconds total.
Manipulating the timeline is pretty straight forward and will require some practice for anyone who is just starting out, but in the end Photoshop allows control over each layer on its own. As you can see from the image next, I was able to reduce the opacity of the layer ‘candle 1’ as the timeline advanced in order to achieve the effect I wanted. FYI, you will need to click on the node near the tiny clock in order to add a keyframe to where ever the red timeline scrubber is located. The further you scrub forward, the different the setting was for the opacity.
Using the same technique, I was able to allow each bat to fade in at different points of the timeline, as well as all of the text. I also added an overall fade in using a simple blackout layer that has an opacity that quickly lowers in a second or so. DRAMATIC! You can also add audio on the very bottom of the timeline. A quick google search for free spooky noises made that job simple enough.
Once I was satisfied with how the 10 second story played out, getting the file out of Photoshop was the next step!
I am currently working on a Mac, so results may be different on a Windows PC, but by simply choosing to export out of Photoshop, I was presented with options (Quicktime) that would work best for my purposes. I kept the video rendering the same size as the document, and using airdrop to transfer the file to my iPhone, I was ready to open Instagram and share the video as a story.
I am curious as to how this would work with an Android phone, or even a Windows phone, but it was buttery smooth and simple using Apple. Click on the following link to see the playback on Facebook!
Thanks for reading this, and feel free to share.