How To Make Avatars (GIFs):
(Note: Step 1 is the same as the above post's Step 1)
Step 1: Programs
Multiple people tend to rely on websites to craft their Avatars for them, but usually there's a lot of flaws plus limitations on what you can do with that crafted GIF. So don't use websites to make your Avatars, use a program to craft and alter Still Picture of GIFs. There are many programs out there but I recommend the following due to that I use them all the time:
GIMP: The reason I linked the website within the name is because the creators of GIMP offer their program free to download and believe me.. it's highly useful. It's best for Still Pictures since you can alter, add, resize, crop, edit, and do so much with it.
Animation Shop 3: It's the best program I know in handling GIFs. Not only does it succeed in keeping the quality in check but also enables you to change the frame rate (speed a frame goes by), resize the GIF to your liking, add and alter frames, along with adding text to each or every frame you'd like.
Animation Shop 3 can be obtained through MediaFire, but would be appreciated more if you bought the program. It's cheap for only $19.99 at places like Best Buy or Target, basically any tech store you can find dealing with Windows Programs.
Step 2: Videos on Youtube (For GIF Fans Mainly)
Making GIFs is a bit more complicated, but simple when you get around the bush. So with that said, the first thing you'll want to do is go to Youtube and search for the video you want a certain scene to become your Avatar. Be aware that the longer your Avatar goes for, the higher the KB rate will be thus may exceed over the limit.
- Once you've found the video you're looking, click it. From there, you'll need to follow specific instructions.
Make sure to allow the video to fully load or else it can mess up the process.
- Keep your youtube video up, and go to your Desktop.
- You'll need Animation Shop 3 (even if you have another animating program, these instructions apply directly with AS3). If you got it off Google or bought the program, go onto your Desktop and click the icon to open it.
Step 3: Knowing Animation Shop 3
- Opening up Animation Shop 3, you'll notice there isn't a lot to look at but believe me... everything is there and I will show you exactly how everything works (I will need to anyways, each tool is important for any GIF you make.)
Arrow - To click things, drag frames in or out and set options with.
Zoom - Look closer or farther back on the GIF (you can also scroll with your mouse to do the same thing)
Registration Mark - Helps measure and acts like a platform to help you when editing GIFs.
Crop - Enables you to remove edges off a frame or the whole GIF.
Mover - Lets you move an image around within the frame.
Dropper - Copy a color presented before you.
Brush - Lets you hand draw things within a frame.
Eraser - Lets you erase the background, transforming regions into a vector.
Flood Fill - Fills in an entire region with the color you've selected.
Text - Allows you to place text onto the frames.
Line - Places a colored line onto the frame.
Shape - Places a colored shape (square) onto the frame.
New - Opens up an empty GIF to work with.
Open - Loads up a GIF you've saved.
Save - Saves the GIF as a GIF
(Do note everything you save under Animation Shop 3, even a frame by itself will be converted to GIF format).
Paste as New Animation - Whatever you have copied, it'll paste it onto the program displayed.
Past Before - Within the GIF, post a frame before the current one that's selected.
Past After - Within the GIF, post a frame after the current one that's selected.
Past Into - Within the GIF, post a frame into a frame that's currently selected.
View Animation - Play the GIF that's selected, watch the animation.
Undo and Redo - Undo your current action, redo the action you've recently undid.
Foreground and Background - Select the color to paint with up front, or blend with the back.
Step 4: Making a GIF into an Avatar
((NOTE: There's an easier way now to screen shot the video without playing and pausing. Scroll down to the bottom of this post where you'll see 'Update' to find out how.))
- After looking at Animation Shop 3 or least opening the program up, go back to your selected youtube video. Now, this is where you may question this method but it's really benefited me along with keeping the quality at best and frame rate controlled. What you'll need to do is...
Play the video where the scene's at you want as an Avatar, but pause it as soon as it starts (as fast as you can), and when the video is paused.. Screenshot and repeat. In other words, every millisecond take a screenshot of the video by pausing, playing, pausing, ect. but only screenshot when the video is paused after every tiny fragment.
- For every screenshot taken, paste it in the Animation Shop 3's GIF frame after frame like the example below.
- To screenshot anything, regardless if you're playing a video or not, press ALT + Print Screen at the same time. It makes your computer take a picture of whatever is presented on screen thus you can paste it onto a program to edit/save/ect.
I've done it with nearly all my Avatars and this process takes perhaps 20 minutes tops, but it's very effective and helpful nether the less. Plus, you aren't limited. You can place as many frames as you like in, have it at it's biggest size possible- it's a successful strategy. Best of all you can do this with any youtube video.
- After getting the amount of frames and clips you want into it, use the 'Crop' tool to get rid of the website's borders around the frames.
- Once you've made the frames focus just on the video, play it and see how it performs. If you dislike it due to the speed being to slow/fast, it's skippy, or any other issues then there are tools that fix the problem.
- Each frame has a number below it. The F = frame number, the D = speed of frame. I have a total of 15 frames in my GIF thus it tells me so. The D notifies me that every 10 milliseconds a frame goes to the next frame.
- You can ether have an individual, multiple, or all the frames go by a certain speed. To do this, highlight the frames you want to be faster/slower and go to the 'Animation' option above and scroll until you see 'Frame Properties'. There you can set how long you want those frame(s) to last or fly by. 10 is the default speed all GIFs go by.
- If you wish to see how your GIF looks like after no matter what options or actions you've taken, go and click on the 'View Animation' Button on the top right.
- This is what will play out, the way i've done for it so far.
See the quality is perfectly in tact? How it flows so smoothly? Along with the size I want it to be and thus I can proceed to work with it? Perfect GIF example and any of you can do this by following my steps. If you're confused about the Screenshot tactic then please do notify me.
- Let's not forget the most important part in order to make this GIF an Avatar... resizing! Go to the 'Animation' option above and scroll down until you see 'Resize Animation'. Click on it. There you can set the size you want (though unlike GIMP, you can't set the size to match unless you crop the GIF to where it evens out.)
- Here's the difference between a cropped GIF to where it has an even dimension of 115 x 115 and one that I didn't bother cropping and just resized it from it's original dimensions.
- Assuming you want the 115 x 115 one, you will want to save. BUT WAIT! After you do that, check the KB size for that's also very important. If it extends over the limit, it won't work on The Escapist. To check, first you'll need to save it so go to the 'File' option above and scroll until you see 'Save As'. No matter what, always save it under the format GIF as you'll see in this example. Where you save it doesn't matter but a folder for animations always help.
- Since the Avatar is saved now onto your computer, go to your Documents and locate your Avatar- and right click on it. The very bottom of the options has a 'Properties' option. Click that. What I underlined is the actual size of the Avatar (KB memory wise). If you're a Pub Member, 100 KB is nothing close to 400 KB which is the limit for us to have.
This would be the end of the tutorial, but I have one more neat trick to show you- a trick on how I can alter and make my Avatars have these neat features. If you wish to make your GIF have a logo, or something going on within that isn't part of the video you contrasted it from, follow these simple steps.
Step 5: Altering and Editing GIFs (Optional)
- First, open another file. Doesn't have to be a GIF, usually a still image (especially a vector) would suffice.
- Resize, crop, do whatever to the other clip/still picture and drag it into a frame. A neat useful tactic is to copy the frappes, paste them over and over being lined up, have all the frappe frames highlighted and then drag them into the GIF so each frame has a frappe. You can ether drag them one at a time, a few, or all of them.
- When you do drag with multiple frames highlighted, always drag the first frame highlighted, as in the first one that is highlighted. You can drag them into any frame, but the ones you're dragging.. make sure it's the #1 frame.
You can overlap and drag as many vectors, pictures, and clips into a GIF as long as you know what it'll end up looking like. Taking your time and dragging one frame at a time into another to make it seem like it's part of the GIF rather then just pasted there really works out in the end.
Step 6: Setting Up the Avatar
- Go to your profile on The Escapist. On the right side will have options, look for the 'Change Avatar' option.
- From there, you'll see a 'Browse' button next to the blank bar. 'Browse' will open up your Documents and you may search for the Avatar you recently created. Remember, depending on your membership the website won't allow anything bigger then 85 x 85 for Non Pub, and 115 x 115 for Pub Members. Once you confirm the Avatar, the URL for that Avatar will show up in the blank bar. Finally, click the 'Upload' button and wait for the process to complete.
- Your Avatar won't show up at first, so post in a thread which usually does the trick to get the Avatar to show up. If it doesn't allow you to upload the Avatar, there may be a problem ranging from the size, the format it's in, or other sorts but those are rare cases.
After some experimenting, I actually found a much more useful method then the "pause the video, screen shot, play only to pause a second after, repeat" method. This method is not only more reliable and easier for the person, but also gets every frame in rather then a few missed because the user wasn't fast enough.
Step 4: Making a GIF into an Avatar (The easier way)
- This is very similar to Step 4, except on how to obtain the screen shots. It's simple to follow, and will be more to your liking. First, find a video on youtube that you want as a GIF.
- Open up Animation Shop 3
- Now, instead of doing the method I mentioned earlier with pausing, screen shot, playing but to pause as quickly as you can... here's the easier way. Get to the time within the video you want to make as your GIF. Pause it, but do not play it. Instead, press the 'right hand' arrow key on your keyboard.
The video will play a frame for each time you press the arrow key, ether to go forward or go backward a frame.
Each frame that you stop on, simply press Alt + Print Screen to screen shot that frame. Then paste it within your Animation Shop 3, and repeat the process until you've got yourself a stable GIF to work with. You'll notice how the video only goes by 1 frame each time you press the arrow key. This is a much better method because you won't miss anything and you'll not feel pressured to pause it on time, because you can keep the video paused when doing this. After doing so, just scroll up to see my other steps and go off from there on how to make a GIF.
If you're not a fan of screen shotting frames or have the time.. well, there's a program out there specifically for recording your screen and turning that into a GIF. Behold, the free program known as LICEcap
It's free, I use it all the time, and it saves me a ton of time when I need to make GIFs for people. So if you want to create your Avatar off a youtube video or any animation on screen, use this to record it and turn it into a GIF asap.