I came across something really cool and I just wanted to share with you.
It’s called Plotagraph.
Kind of reminds me of the movie Harry Potter where photos in the newspaper or paintings on the wall in Hogwarts come to live.
This is very similar.
Except you can only animate the inanimate. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if one day we actually have what we’ve been dreaming of - animated images with people moving and dancing around.
If you still don’t know what I’m talking about, check out the images in this post.
Strictly speaking, Plotagraph is the name given to images created with Plotagraph Pro (the software). I’m still going to call animated images created with this Photoshop Action Plotagraph only because there is no name to it (yet).
Unless you have any suggestion?
Even if you don’t like the idea of Plotagraph, you can’t deny the awesomeness of how these images look after being animated! It’s pure genius.
Stumbled Upon Plotagraph
So how did I find out about this?
I came across this a few months ago while browsing the internet. I stumbled upon an advert on Facebook (it might have been other social media platform) and the impression of a still subject against an animated background blown me away!
I frantically clicked on the image of the advert and that took me to this website where I read more about what is it, how it works and more importantly, what it takes for me to create the same effect. It turns out the price to this shiny object involves one less dinner for me and my wife every month.
Well, I really like my food. So, no thanks.
Seeing no point of continuing my admiration, I closed the tab. Like removing a band-aid, I did that quick and painlessly.
If you feel disappointed like I did, don’t worry because I’ve got good news for you.
Plotagraph On A Budget
You can create your very own Plotagraph in Photoshop with this action (another reason why you should own Photoshop!).
Just go to the website, pay as much as you like to download the action. It comes with instructional video on how to use the action and examples of what you can create.
Everything you need to know is in the video. But if your hands are moving faster than your brain, here are the steps to producing your first Plotagraph:
Before you begin, go to the top right hand corner in Photoshop and click on the drop down menu. Select the workspace for Motion.
Open your image in Photoshop. If you image has multiple layers, I recommend flattening it to make your life easier (so much easier!). It also speeds up the processing time (more layers = longer rendering time).
In the Photoshop Actions panel, select “button mode” for easier navigation. Now select “Step 1: Prepare Image”. This doesn’t make any changes to your image but adds a few layers in the layers panel necessary to create Plotagraph.
The second actionhas two parts.
First part: Click on "Step 2,3: Add Region" and the highlight of the action turns red. Now you need to use a Selection Tool to draw a selection of the area you want to animate. Click on the action again once you’re done.
Second part: In this part, you need to define the animation. Do so by Cmd + T (Mac) or Ctrl + T (Win) to transform the selection. You can either move or elongate the selection. Hit Cmd/Ctrl + Enter or click on the tick on the Option bar when you’re done. Now click on "Step 2,3: Add Region" again (and it goes back to yellow).
I know everything makes little sense (or no sense!) so far. Just bear with me, there will be an “Aha” moment soon.
Once all the above is done, click on "Step 4: Animate".
You’re probably expecting me to say “watch the magic happens!”. There is nothing dramatic happening to your image when you click I'm afrad! But...click on the Play button instead to watch the animation!
Step 6 (optional)
If you’re not happy with how the animation looks, click on "Clean Animation" to delete what you’ve done in the last step. This erases the animation but keeping the selections.
Now, you can repeat Step 4 to refine your selection again if you like before hitting "Step 4: Animate" again.
When everything is done, select Render Video from the drop down menu. This opens up a new window for you to choose where to save the video.
All you need to do now is to convert the .mp4 file to a GIF by using this free tool.
Sometimes you may find the animation looking weird (like this). Go to the top of the Layers Panel and you should see a layer of your duplicate image with a black layer mask.
Using a white brush (Brush Tool + white Foreground Color), paint on the black Layer Mask where you don’t want the animation to be.
Congratulations! Now post your stunning Plotagraph online to amaze your friends!
Don’t Be Limited By Your Imagination
This Photoshop Action requires manual creation of selections and conversion to GIF. But, that’s really nothing considered the price you’ve paid.
Start off with a single animation. I find moving the selection creates a better animation instead of elongating it.
Once you get the hang of it, you can add more selection and/or make each animation to move in a different direction. Although this adds complexity and processing time, it also increases the visual effect of the Plotagraph.
The Next Big Thing?
Photography and videography have always have a close relationship. Many professional photographers that I come across also do some or are venturing into videography.
Plotagraph is like a fusion of both, the best of each specialty. Will it stay in the market and continue to flourish? It could be the next big thing, I can certainly see a potential in marketing.
I guess only time can tell.
For now, let’s have fun and satisfy our visual appetite.