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Introduction - Expressn Candle Animation with GIMP

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A brief explanation of the GIMP file used to create the GIF animated Expressn Christmas candle.

  • Open the Gimp file Expressn-Candle.xcf (can be downloaded here)
  • Open the layer window by selecting Window->Layers layers in the menu.
  • Rezise it to see all seven layers. (Each layer is a separate image drawn on a transparent canvas. Think of it as a pile of transparencys)
  • The eye icon at left makes the layer visible. Click on it to make one layer visible at a time. Then you see this from bottom and up:
Layer 1.
This is the background and it is as big as the image.
See it as the paper in the bottom of the transparency pile.
If nothing is drawn on any of the other layers on a certain spot - this is what you will see.

Here I just filled it with a dark brown colour that looked neutral and good at least on my screen and with the webpages I use.

Expressn Candle dark brown background layer in Gimp.
Layer 2.
Candle. The still version of the candle. Consider to have it enabled as background when you look at the flame animations. Then you can click the other layers(s) with the other flames on/off to see the difference and get a hint how the animation will look.

Expressn Candle, complete background image of candle as a layer in Gimp.
Layer 3.
Text layer with all the numbers on the candle. It was taller in the beginning but the text shrinks as the candle burns down. I considered it more pedagogic to put the tutorial somewhere during the period where the candle was shrinking (during the first weeks it just moved the numbers to save some height.
Pick the text brush and click on it in order to change it.

Expressn Candle, complete background image of candle as a layer in Gimp.
Layer 4.
Flame animation. The original flame but distorted by whirling it just slightly to the right.
I used menu Filter->Distortion->Whirl-and-pinch. It proved to be the right thing for candle flames. I decided to be very conservative with the settings. Both to get a calm and peaceful candle and to save animation frames. It is easier to hide a cyclic pattern if nothing extreme happens that can catch the eye at regular intervals,

Expressn Candle, complete background image of candle as a layer in Gimp.
Layer 5.
Flame animation. Just a copy of the original flame from layer 2. The most natural move now is back, and I saw no reason to spend work on a unique flame here. Nobody would notice anyway. Or rather, the one who would notice, is able to see much worse imperfections in my work anyway .

Expressn Candle, complete background image of candle as a layer in Gimp.
Layer 6.
Flame animation. Whirled left using the same whirl and pinch tool as above, but whirling slightly to the left.

Expressn Candle, complete background image of candle as a layer in Gimp.
Layer 7.
Flame animation. Slightly pinched with the same whirl and pinch tool as above in order to make it at least a little different from the background flame that comes next when the cycle repeats.

Expressn Candle, complete background image of candle as a layer in Gimp.