Animated GIFsThis tutorial will demonstrate how you can create an Animated GIF logo. I used Corel DRAW! 7.0 for Windows for this technique. Some things may be done differently with other versions.
Putting a New Spin on Your LogoI'll be the first to admit that I'm probably the last person to jump on the "Animated GIF" bandwagon. To be honest, I didn't really see the potential for animated GIFs. Most of the early images I saw were kind of cheesy. On top of that, I prefer keeping my images' download time to a minimum, and animated GIFs can get rather large very quickly.
Recently, though, I've seen the light. Done right, animated GIFs can be pretty cool. And, with today's GIF animation software, animated image file size can be kept quite reasonable. Animated GIFs can be real attention-getters on banner ads, can really add to the appeal of a static logo, and they can certainly add some pizzazz to a web page.
Animated 3D text has become so popular on the web, in fact, that there are now several dedicated programs available for you to choose from. These programs, produced by software companies such as Xara and Ulead, make the creation of animated 3D text as simple as point-and-click.
What if you need to do more than animate simple text? Normally you might think of resorting to a dedicated 3D-rendering program. These programs can be expensive, though, and they often have pretty steep learning curves. So what can you do? Well, you can use Corel DRAW! to create the frames for your animated masterpiece. That's right! Corel DRAW! has all the features necessary to help you create a 3D animated logo.
Here's how you can use the extrusion features to give depth to, light, and spin your creation...
Open a new graphic in Corel DRAW! (I'm using version 7, but the method should translate well to other versions).
I'll be creating a simple logo using the first letters of GrafX Design, my design company.
First I entered the text using the Text tool. I then selected the text by clicking on the Pick tool. This enabled me to change the font and the size of the text. I chose Braggadocio at 72 points.
Because I didn't want to create just simple text, but rather I wanted a logo, I decided to cut the text out of a simple oval shape. To do that, I selected the Ellipse tool and dragged an oval shape around the text.
To line these elements up, marquee-select them all with the Pick tool and choose Arrange, Align and Distribute. In the Align and distribute dialog box, check Center of Page and click OK.
With the elements still selected, click the Combine button on the property bar. This will combine, or cutout, the text from the oval.
You can change the color of the oval logo by left-clicking a color on the color palette. I choose a light blue color (see figure 9.1).
Now that the logo design is complete (as simple as it is), it's time to extrude the image, light it, and start creating the separate frames you'll need in order to complete the animation.
Choose Effects, Extrude to bring up the Extrude dialog box (see figure 9.2). This is where you'll do most of the work needed to create the frames of your spinning animation.
In this dialog box you'll see 5 tabs. The first three, Extrude, Rotate, and Lighting are the ones you'll need to use to create the frames for your animation.
The first thing you should do is extrude the logo. This process gives your logo some depth, i.e. it adds the 3rd dimension to your image.
Click on the first tab if it's not already active. You can now set the basic shape, viewpoint, and depth of your image. I set the shape to "Small Back," the viewpoint to "VP Locked To Object," and the depth to 2.0. You can play around with the various choices until you get the look you're after. When you're done, click Apply.
The next thing you will do is create the lighting.
Click the third tab. Turn on the first light by clicking the first lightbulb icon (or Light switch 1).
You can now position the light by dragging the small black icon around the 3D grid. You must place the icon on an intersection. I chose the upper-right corner. Once you've chosen the position for your light, click Apply.
At this point you won't really see much difference in your image. It's coming, though.
Click on the 2nd tab. This option enables you to rotate the logo in 3D space. You'll notice the Corel symbol that's visible in the middle of the dialog box (see figure 9.3).
This symbol can be dragged around with the mouse, and its position will correspond to the position of your image in 3D space once you click Apply. Changing the position in this manner is a lot of fun. However, you'll need to be more exacting when creating your frames. Below and to the right of the Corel symbol is a small, bent-cornered, rectangular icon. Clicking on this icon will replace the Corel symbol with a set of coordinates, or rotation values. The first controls the rotation about the x-axis, the second about the y-axis and the third about the z-axis. Because I'll be spinning my logo around the y-axis, I'll only need to change the values for number 2.
Before you start to apply the rotation values you should save the first frame. Obviously the first frame doesn't need to be rotated.
Before saving the first frame, though, create a white (or some other color, if you prefer) bounding box around your logo image. You'll need to do this because of the way Corel DRAW! saves an image. When Corel DRAW! saves an image it doesn't keep all of the white space you see around the onscreen representation. Instead, all of that white space is cropped off. It's best to have all of the frames of your animation the same size, and adding the bounding box will assure that this is the case.
Select the Rectangle tool and draw a box around your image. It doesn't have to be much bigger than the image but it should give you a little extra elbowroom.
On the color palette, left-click the color that you want the box to be. This hides your logo, of course. Press CTRL-Page Down until the box moves to the back and your logo is again visible.
To center everything again, marquee-select all of the objects and then select Arrange, Align and Distribute. Place a check mark in the Center of Page box and click OK.
To save the first frame of your animation, choose File, Export. In the Export dialog box, choose a folder in which to store the image, give your file a name, and choose a file type. I like to use the BMP file format, (because it's 24-bit and it's a format most animation programs recognize) and let the animation program handle the palette. I also like to name the frames in sequence. I started this sequence as GD00.BMP.
Click Export to bring up the Bitmap Export dialog box.
Set the colors to 16 Million Colors. Set the Size to Custom and place a checkmark in the Maintain Aspect Ratio box. You can leave the Resolution at anywhere from 72 dpi to 96 dpi because the animation is intended for screen viewing. I always like to set Anti-aliasing to Super-sampling. Once you have entered all of the settings, click OK to save the image.
Now you're ready to rotate the logo.
By adding the bounding box you de-selected the logo. Simply use the Pick tool to re-select the logo.
Back at the Extrude dialog box, click Edit and enter 10 in the 2nd spin control. Click Apply to apply the rotation. You could rotate the logo by a value of 1 rather than 10 each time, and this would result in an extremely smooth animation. However, it would also result in an unacceptably large final file size.
The 2nd frame (see figure 9.4) is ready to be saved. Not so bad, eh?
Choose File, Export and name the second frame. I named mine GD01.BMP. You'll need to select the Maintain Aspect Ratio and Super-sampling boxes again.
That completes the 2nd frame.
Back at the Export dialog box, click Edit and enter 20 in the 2nd spin control. Export this frame.
Continue on until you hit the value 70. You'll notice that the image is now at 90 degrees (see figure 9.5).
This occurs because Corel DRAW uses the values -100 to 100 for the rotation values and not, as you might expect, 0-360 degrees.
After saving the frame with the value at 70, start back down using negative values. Start with -60, then -50, etc, until you hit -10. Although, technically, using these values won't spin the logo so that you see the back of it, using these numbers will give your animation the appearance of spinning 360 degrees around the y-axis.
You should now have 14 frames numbering 00 through 13. You're ready to animate your logo!
It's time to fire up your animation program. I'm currently using Ulead's GIF Animator. I like it because it's relatively easy to use-it offers animation and optimization wizards, has good palette control, and accepts a fairly wide range of file formats.
After opening GIF Animator, I created the final animation, which can be seen below. Because the wizards work so well, I simply chose to use all of the defaults.
When the animation program opens, it offers you a chance to use the Animation Wizard. This wizard enables you to Add Images/Videos. From this first dialog box, you can add the images, or frames of your animation. Simply point to the folder where you stored the separate frames. There's a small quirk, though. The frames will not be in sequence unless you follow this simple rule: Choose the last file in the sequence and then, while holding down the shift key, click on the first filename in the sequence. Click OPEN. You can click through the remaining choices by choosing Next each time. The one place you might want to stray from the default is the Frame Duration. I like my animations to run more quickly than the default and usually choose 10/100's of a second rather than the 25/100's. In the last dialog box, choose Finish to close the wizard.
To see how your animation will appear, click on the Start Preview button. You'll see your animation for the first time. Pretty cool, eh?
If everything looks okay, you can choose File, Optimization Wizard. Again, you should be able to just let the wizard do its thing. My final, optimized, spinning logo weighs in at a pretty good 11K. If you're not happy with the final result, re-run the wizard and tweak some of the settings. Some of the biggest savings can be achieved by lowering the color depth. I saved the logo with 64 colors, but I probably could have gone lower without sacrificing too much of the image's quality. You should spend a little time getting to know the animation software. Most of the packages I've tried are fairly easy to use and come with pretty extensive online help.
That's it. I invite you to play around with some text and some different shapes in Corel DRAW!. Try adding a bevel (use the last tab in the Extrude dialog box), or adding a second and third light, etc. Extrude your images to different depths and try filling them with textures as well as solid colors. Pretty soon you'll be wowing the visitors at your web site with all manner of spinning and moving logos and buttons.
NOTE: If you'd like more information on creating animated GIFs visit our Animated GIF pages.
That's it.... Be sure to check out some of our other Corel DRAW! tutorials.