Category: Photography

Hopefully you’ve all seen my motion comic and trailer on Sevara’s website. I made these movies in Photoshop using the animation palette, and I learned what Photoshop can and can’t do. My next animation palette grumble for Photoshop CS6 – no ease and wizz that you have in after effects. In the animation below, the robot arm is at a standstill, then starts to move, then stops abruptly.

Ease and wizz would make natural motion automatically. What is ease and wizz? Basically, when doing animations, your objects or layers move from point A to point B. Ease and wizz allows them to move in a more natural and lifelike manner. As of now, Photoshop can move layers, but there are two speeds of motion – moving and not moving. There’s no other way to do it in Photoshop. I can do it manually, adding a new keyframe for every position so that the arm slowly starts then moves faster, then slows down before stopping, but that takes a dozen keyframes and looks unnatural.

The diamond on the left is the keyframe for MOVE. The one on the right is the keyframe for STOP.

That’s it. That’s all we get with Photoshop. STOP and GO. Aftereffects is lucky enough to have ease and wizz, which lets you move your objects in a non-linear motion, meaning that things can gradually start moving or slowly come to a halt. But in Photoshop we can only move objects or fade them in an out in a linear motion.

Not that Photoshop is a stranger to non-linear data. These are called curves, and we Photoshop junkies use them every day. Of course there is the curve layer, below, that is the staple of our photo editing.

Curves adjustment layer

But there are more curves hidden in Photoshop. Many of your layer styles have a contour option, which adds a curve (or non-linear effect) to that style. It has been part of Photoshop for quite some time, even though you might not known it was there.

And if you look at the layer style contours, there are all sorts of presets that you can use, or you can make your own contour and save it as a preset Cool! Photoshop has the mathematical muscle to do contour in pixels, and it can do ease and wizz in After Effects. If I were to add ease and wizz (motion contour) to the Photoshop CS7 animation palette, it might look something like this, with presets and custom contours.

If the Photoshop gods smile upon me, CS7 would have this!

That’s all for me today, join me next time as I look more at the animation palette, and how to make it better.

In the past year, I made three complex animations for my comic book Sevara. You can find them all on the Sevara website, or this YouTube playlist.

Photoshop has some powerful tools, and combined with the animation palette, you can do some pretty cool stuff. Blend modes and masks with animation is quite awesome, to say the least. But…..

For this to be really effective, Photoshop CS7’s animation palette needs to have a few basic things.

First off, curved motion paths. As of right now, layers in photoshop CS6 can be animated in a bunch of fun ways. They can spin, grow, disappear, and even stretch (if you know what buttons to push). But the bottom line is that they can still only move in a straight line from point A to point B. I’m not sure why this would be, particularly since you can draw curves in Photoshop very easily with the pen tool.

It's not that hard...

What bugs me a thousand time more than the fact that Photoshop CS6 doesn’t have curved motion paths for animation, is that Microsoft Powerpoint DOES! And Powerpoint has had this for years. My Office 2008 can have objects fly in using a number of different curved paths.

As of now, CS6 is severely limited by not having curved motion paths. If you want to make an animated ball bounce around the canvas using CS6, you either have to do it frame by frame like in the old days (using the frame animation option), or add tons and tons of individual start and end points to make the object bounce realistically using the video timeline option. I believe that After Effects, another Adobe product, does have curved motion paths, right? So it can’t be that hard. Here it is on Adobe’s website:

Adobe, if you’re out there, please add curved motion paths to CS7. There’s more to Photoshop animation than just making text fade in and out, as you’ll see on the Sevara website. Then our objects will be able to do all sorts of cool stuff that they can already do in Powerpoint… without blend modes of course.

Join me next time when I go into more animation palette grumbles!

Love and Death in Taipei

Self Portrait

GAZ 69

Two dorm room for Chinese Road Workers in Tajikistan

Dushanbe, Tajikistan’s capital city, isn’t know for its nightlife. There are a few decent restaurants, but after nine months here my family and I are tired of going to the same six places. We’ve tried everything on every menu in town. The big movie theater in the center of town plays the most recent Hollywood blockbusters, but only in Russian. There’s a bowling alley if you are into that sort of thing, but no real bars that are safe and no young artistic intellectual scene. No Russian rock clubs that I know of. No black box theater. We are confined to a world of traded DVDs and our art. But the Chinese workers live an hour or more from Dushanbe, sleeping in bunk beds with thin pads for mattresses thrown over a wooden plank. They have a small TV set and not much else. They play cards, smoke cigarettes, and dream about how what their children back home might be doing right now.


Dormitory for Chinese Road Workers in Tajikistan

Traditional Chinese paper lanterns hang outside the dormitory and cafeteria for Chinese workers building the roads outside of Tajikistan. Unbelievably, they make more money here than they would working in China.

Paper Lanterns

Pei as Sevara

Last fall I wrote a new play called Sevara, Destroyer of Worlds. I had hoped to send it to some theater festivals and produce it from overseas, but what’s the fun of producing a play if you’re not around to see it? None at all. So I decided to change the medium and pen the script as a comic book. There are still a few comic book companies who read unsolicited submissions, which can all be found listed here on this very handy website. I’ll be sending out the script soon, but in the meanwhile I couldn’t resist doing a mock up of the cover for one of the issues to get people interested.

Pei is of course my model.

What’s the story about?

“Sevara: Destroyer of Worlds” is an epic action fantasy that takes us into the desperate world of freedom fighters who strive to rid humankind of its evils. Using advanced technology from her own time period, Sevara has incredible powers that allow her to change from, hibernate for centuries and defy death in an effort to reshape the ideologies of a rotten and decayed humanity. But as she and her followers suffer defeat after defeat against he forces of evil, her adventures lead her to the realization that the innate cruelty of human nature may have indeed sprung from an impenetrable fortress – her own heart. Sevara ultimately must resort to extreme measures to make her dream of universal peace a reality.

Dushanbe River

Dushanbe is a city of contrasts. Porches whiz past Ladas, cement factories tower over bootleg DVD stores, old ladies beg in front of jewelry stores. The one thing people crave is power. Electricity lines trump family lines, smoke stacks take president over stacks of money or gold. The power to leave control others, to smelt steel, the power to shape rivers and flood valleys.

Dushanbe River