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Workflow for the Expressn Candle - doing GIF Animation with GIMP

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Work flow to make a candle that has burned down yet another day.

Note: This is an "Howto" description. If you just want something simple and readable, read the introduction instead.
For the text below, you are assumed to have GIMP running with the provided file and follow the text step by step. Provided that, it is very obvious how to do step-by-step and easy to learn how it works - even for a GIMP beginner.

  • Open the GIMP file Expressn-Candle.xcf (can be downloaded here)
  • Select in menu: View->Zoom->200% (Makes it easier to get the details right.)
  • Open the layer window using menu: Window->Layers. Then select the text layer (3:rd layer from bottom)
  • Select the text brush (icon "T" in the Gimp window). Double-click on the numbers to open a window to edit the text.
  • Change "18" to spaces. Notice that 18 disappears on the candle, while 19 to 25 remain unaffected.
  • Select the Move Tool (icon with crossed double arrows in the Gimp window). In the Layers window, select the candle layer (2:nd from bottom). Move the candle down to match the "19". Note that the other animated layers are anchored together with the candle. Thus they move together while the background and text layers stay unaffected.
  • Select the text layer. Then use menu: Layers->Merge Downwards. This will merge the text layer onto the candle layer.
  • Do Layers->Merge Downwards again. This will merge the text+candle layer onto the background layer.
  • Now you got five layers. One background image, and four steps of flame animation. You can try it in Gimp by menu: Filters->Animation->Playback that provide both single-stepping and full speed animation.
  • Use Menu: Archive->Save as. Pick a name like expressn-candle-xmas2006-1219-us.gif since you are eventually going to do one candle for each day until Christmas. At least I have to...
  • You will get an export file pop-up. Select save-as-animation and click "Export". You will get a warning about layers outside of the image. Just click "OK" (it's the part of the candle below the image that will be cut off, which is what we want). Then you get a second pop-up. Just clicking "OK" works.
  • Done. Open the file in a web browser to see the animation.
  • Undo the merges by doing Edit->Undo twice (or ctrl-Z twice as a shortcut).
  • That's it. You are back ware you started, except that the candle is a day older. Repeat from start to advance it one more day.

Optional steps to make a Swedish candle.

As you probably know, some countries - like we in Sweden - are visited by Santa in the evening of December 24, while others have to wait until the morning December 25. It seems obviuos in some way. Santa has to start somewhere and starting with his closest neighbours seems smarter than carrying our cargo all way through the long trip around the world.

  • Select the text layer (3:rd layer from bottom)
  • Select the text brush (icon "T" in the Gimp window). Double-click on the numbers to open a window to edit the text.
  • Change "25" to spaces. Notice that 25 disappears on the candle, while 19 to 24 remain unaffected.
  • Merge the layers and save as described above, but use a name like expressn-candle-xmas2006-1219-se.gif instead where the "se" part indicates nationality.
  • Undo the merge:s and text change.
  • Now you're back at a "December 25" candle again and can repeat from start.