You can create an animation out of any still image by making its various elements move in an animation program. Although professional productions use other image file formats for animation work, it is possible to use a JPG file, a popularly used lossy compression for image and graphic files, as source material to create an animation. However, the JPG format cannot be used in generating the image sequence that comprises an animation.
Select the 2D animation program you want to use. For a flat image in JPG format, animating it requires a 2D animation program. If you intend to create a 3D animation out of it, you can use the JPG image only as a sample design to create another image meant for 3D production.
Create a new project in your program, then import the JPG image into it.
Separate your JPG image’s various elements into different layers. For instance, if you are animating an image of a person, separate the head, each hand and each leg into different layers. Ideally, you should even separate them into more specific parts. For the hand, separating the fingers into different layers is preferential so that you have better control of their movements during the animation process. Making all these subcomponents of your image move properly can be a long and tedious process that requires technical and creative skills.
Create symbols from the layers you have. These symbols allow you to combine specific groups of layers so that you can more conveniently animate the said parts at once. For instance, you can create a symbol for the right hand, which is composed of the layers for each finger on the right hand.
Create different poses according to how you want your JPG image to move onscreen. Use your layers and symbols for this process. As a basic guide, make a starting pose and mark it with a keyframe using your program’s “Keyframe” function. This allows the program to mark the movement on the starting position. Make an ending pose and mark it with another keyframe. This allows the program to mark the movement of the image on the ending position.
Start animating your image by using your program’s “Motion Tween” function. The program will begin animating your image from the starting to the ending position based on your keyframes. If you have several elements to animate, create specific poses for each of them. Each one should appear at a specific time duration. After which, use the "Keyframe" and "Motion Tween" functions to make them move.
Finalize the movements of your image for this basic animation project. You can also explore the other animation tools your program offers to make more complicated movements and effects. Professional animation programs provide more tools that make better animations, but they are considerably more complicated and technical to use. In any case, it is always essential to familiarize yourself with how to use your preferred animation program to maximize the potential of your animation project’s visuals.
Render and composite your animation project using your program’s “Render” and “Composite” functions. These processes require a few hours or sometimes even days to complete. The rendering and compositing times depend on many factors, including the video’s running time, resolution, the amount of effects and functions used and the project settings.
As a guide, a one-minute animation of a single image in standard-definition (SD) format may require a total rendering and compositing time of more or less one hour. The technical specifications also play a vital role in how much time would be needed for these processes. A high-end computer may take only a few minutes, while a slow computer may take more than one hour.
Some of the popular programs that you can use to animate a JPG image include Adobe Flash Professional, CrazyTalk, Toon Boom Animate, Anime Studio, DigiCel FlipBook and the Tab Manga.
Name your layers and symbols properly. Because animating even a single image would typically require dozens or even hundreds of layers and symbols, naming them according to how you would be able to easily identify them is crucial in speeding up the process.
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Rianne Hill Soriano is a freelance artist/writer/educator. Her diverse work experiences include projects in the Philippines, Korea and United States. For more than six years she has written about films, travel, food, fashion, culture and other topics on websites including Yahoo!, Yehey! and Herword. She also co-wrote a book about Asian cinema.