“The New and Improved Bob Dylan”

Title borrowed from The William Loveday Intention

I’m continuing to work on giffing in GIMP, and working on a sequel to my earlier Bob set. I did the above image following the same steps outlined in my previous post. Alan mentioned the alpha channel in the comments, which was a helpful clue.

For the above image, I wanted to isolate the animation to the guy in the corner. I also wanted to keep the cigarette smoke as much as possible. The challenge was that there is a lot of flashing light across the background of the scene. You can still see some of it above his hat and on the table behind him. I cropped the scene as close to him as I could, but there was still flashing in the top left corner of the cropped portion. I used the free select tool to get that area while avoiding the smoke. I set the feathering at 10 pixels to blend the edge of the selected area with the background. Then I used the Layer => Transparency => Add alpha channel function:

Then I clicked the Delete key to cut out the background. If I didn’t add the alpha channel, it would have filled the area with whatever color is set for the background. I had to do this on each layer, which was a little tedious. That’s a good reason to keep the number of layers down. I also colorized Bob’s jacket, just a little. The Blend function didn’t help me here, so I duplicated a copy of the colorized layer to place above each layer, then merged to color layer down. Again, a slightly tedious process.

Here is another colorization experiment. What I did here was make the color layer, reduce the opacity, and set the layer mode to Soft light, as seen to the right:

I merged the color layer down, then copied the picture and frame and pasted it on each of the other layers. That gave it a weird pasted-on look. I did this one before learning the lessons of the previous image.

For this one, I copied the foreground people and pasted them onto a blank layer, which left a transparent area for the background. The selection area behind the woman on the left sort of looks like a shadow. I selected a little too close to the right side of Bob’s head, so you can see some movement there. If you look really close you can see where I crudely painted in some background color to try to cover it up.

So I’m finding that the GIMP can do a lot of what I want to do. It’s not quite as easy as Photoshop, but it’s also not nearly as expensive. I think I have eleven more clips picked out to GIF, so this series will continue.

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4 Responses to “The New and Improved Bob Dylan”

  1. Wow, these are good. You did a great job at making clean selections for the animated vs still portion.

  2. These are excellent Paul, the movement of the smoking guy’s shadow is perfect. I don’t know if it works the same in GIMP but in Photoshop I can option/alt drag a mask to copy to other layers.

    And it’s probably your approach, but isolating one layer to be a common background as the base layer, and using a top layer to also cover, sort of a sandwich can help. And then the movement layers can just have the minimum amount of stuff to duplicate.

    These can be finessed for ever, at some point you just stop and say, “good enough”

    • phb256 says:

      I’m pretty sure there’s a lot more to layer masking than what I know. My photoshop approach was to use a static top layer with a cutout area for the animated layers. As far as I can tell, GIMP won’t let me do that. It animates all the layers. The Animate-Blend function kind of works as a substitute, but it’s not as simple and clean.

  3. Sorry can’t be much help in GIMP but alpha masks have been a huge game change for my remixes and gifs. One benefit is that lets you edit w/o destroying anything.

    I also remember now that GIMP does not give you a timeline where you can adjust the timing of each frame.

    I’ve sucked the Adobe price gambit as Photoshop is indispensible to my work. Not sure if they still offer but I got the photographers package (Photoshop and lightroom) for $10/month/

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