Articles, Blog

Photoshop: WHOA! How to Animate a Still Photo!

October 28, 2019

Hi. This is Marty from Blue Lightning TV. I’m going to show you how to animate a still
photo similar to a “Plotagraph”. Notice there are five separate elements of
the photo that are moving: the top and main areas of the waterfall, the mist below and to the right of the waterfall and the stream at the bottom. Each part is moving at a different speed and
a different direction. For your convenience, I provide this photo by Ruslan Valeev from Unsplash,so you can follow along. Its link is in my video’s description or project files. For those of you who aren’t already a subscriber
to Blue Lightning TV, smash that small Subscribe button at the lower right corner. In this particular example, since there are
5 independent areas that we’ll be animating, it may seem to be too daunting. However, keep in mind – the steps for each
are exactly the same. The first step is to protect the stationery
areas of your photo that will overlap the parts that we’ll animate later. To do this, we’ll brush in quick masks over
those stationery areas. First, make a copy of the photo by pressing
Ctrl or Cmd + J. Check your foreground and background colors. If they’re not black and white respectively,
press “D” on your keyboard. Black should be your foreground color. Open your Brush Tool and Brush Picker. Choose a basic, round brush. We’ll adjust the size in a moment. It’s Hardness should be 0% and it’s Opacity
and Flow are 100%. To adjust the size of the brush, make sure
your CapsLock key is off and press the right or left bracket key on your keyboard. Brush over the sky and just inside the top
of the mountain ridge on both sides of the waterfall. At the bottom, brush over the people and the
land they’re standing on, as well as the rock formation at the lower left. Since there’s mist over that formation, we
want to gradually brush out the left of it. To do this, reduce the brushes opacity and
brush over it fading out the quick mask. Press “Q” to convert the quick mask into a
selection and then invert the selection by pressing Ctrl or Cmd + Shift I. Click the layer mask icon to make a layer mask of the selection next to the active layer. Temporarily hide the top layer and make the
bottom layer active. We’ll start to brush over areas of the photo
that we want to animate and then we’ll save them as separate layers. First, increase your brush’s opacity back
to 100% and press “Q” so we can paint in a quick mask. Brush over the stream. Press “Q” to make into a selection and then,
invert the selection. Press Ctrl or Cmd + J to cut and copy it from
the background. Name it “Stream”. Since we’re going to ultimately warp the shape
of it on the timeline, we need to convert it first into a Smart Object. To do this, click the icon at the upper, right of the Layers panel and click “Convert to Smart Object”. Make the background active. Press “Q” again and make sure black is your
foreground color. This time, brush a quick mask over the waterfall
and make sure you include a little of the cliff on the left. Convert it into a selection and then invert
the selection. Cut and copy it onto its own layer, name it
“Waterfall” and convert it into a Smart Object. Remember to always make the background active before brushing over a new area. Next, brush a quick mask over the top of the
waterfall and, as before, make it into a selection and then invert the selection. Cut and copy it onto its own layer and name
it “Top of waterfall”. Then, convert it into a Smart Object”. I’ll do the next area very quickly, since we’ll
be repeating all the steps. As always, make the background active. Brush a quick mask over the bottom mist. Make the Quick Mask into a selection… invert the selection… cut and copy it to its own layer… name it “Bottom Mist”… change it into a Smart Object and make the
background active. Make the mist on the right of the waterfall
by following all the previous steps. Now that we have all of the areas that we
want to animate, we’ll place them onto a timeline. First, make the top layer visible, so it’ll
be included in the timeline. Go to Window and Timeline. At the bottom, choose “Create Video Timeline”
and click it. Drag the timeline panel up, until you can
see all of the layers. Press Ctrl or Cmd + 0 to see your entire photo. Next, we’ll group all of the layers that we’ll
be animating into a folder. To do this, click the Stream layer, scroll
down and Shift-click “Right Mist” to make active all of the individual areas of the
photo that we copied. Then, press Ctrl or Cmd + G to group them
into a folder. We’ll make our animation 2 seconds in length,
which we’ll loop. To do this, drag “Layer 1” to the two-second
mark on the timeline. Open the folder and repeat this with each
of the layers. To loop the animation, click the gear icon
and make sure “Loop Playback” is checked. I’ll leave the resolution at 100%, but you
may want to lower the amount to 50% if you want your computer to preview the animation faster. Don’t worry – it won’t render the finished
animation at the lower resolution; it’ll just preview it that way. Let’s rearrange the layers according to how
we want the areas of the photo to overlap each other. For example, we want the mist to be in front
of the waterfall, so first, drag down the Layers panel to see all of the layers in the folder and drag the right mist layer to the top within the folder. Notice it automatically rearranges itself
in the timeline. Drag the bottom mist below the right mist. Drag the top of the waterfall below the bottom
mist and the waterfall below that. The stream will remain at the bottom. Next, we’ll create key frames along the timeline
for each layer. Open the Waterfall properties. If you can’t see all of its properties, just
scroll down the timeline panel. Click the stopwatch icon to create the first key frame. This is the point where the waterfall will
start to animate. Drag the time indicator to the end of the
2-second timeline and click the diamond-shaped icon to create a new key frame. This key frame will be the end of the waterfall’s animation. Press Ctrl of Cmd + T to open your Transform Tool. We’ll use this tool to manipulate the shape
of each area we’re going to animate. Drag the bottom of the Transform’s bounding
box down a bit past the bottom of the document. Then, press Enter or Return. Press the Play button to process each frame
on the timeline. Once it does, you’ll see it animating much
smoother. Don’t be concerned with it it jumping. We’ll take care of that later. To stop the animation, press the Play button
again or press Enter or Return. Collapse the waterfall properties and open
the “Top of the waterfall” properties. Drag the time indicator to the first frame
and click the stopwatch to create a key frame. Drag the time indicator to the last frame
and click the diamond-shape icon to create a key frame at the end of the timeline. Open your Transform Tool, drag the bottom
down and drag the top up until the upper, right corner is positioned to the top of the
waterfall behind it. Notice that the upper, left corner of the cutout doesn’t match the position of the waterfall behind it. No problem. Go to the top, left corner of the bounding
box and press and hold Ctrl or Cmd as you drag that corner up so it matches the position. Then, press Enter or Return. Press the Play button to process each frame. To stop the animation, click the Play button
or press Enter or Return. Collapse the “Top of waterfall” properties
and open the “Bottom Mist” properties. Drag the time indicator to the first frame and click the stopwatch icon to create the first key frame. Drag the time indicator to the last frame
and click the diamond-shaped icon to create the last key frame. Open your Transform Tool. Drag the left side of the bounding box to
the left and the right side to the right just a little. Then, press Enter or Return. Click the Play button to preview the animation. Repeat these steps to create key frames for
the “Right Mist”. With the time indicator on the last key frame, open your Transform Tool and drag the right side out a bit. Go to the top, right corner and press and
hold Alt + Ctrl + Shift on Windows or Option + Cmd + Shift on a Mac as you drag the corner straight up. This drags both the upper and lower right
corners at the same time. Then, press the Play button to preview the animation. Repeat the steps to create key frames for
the “Stream” layer. With the time indicator on the last frame, open your Transform Tool and drag the bottom down a bit. Go to the bottom, left corner and press and
hold Ctrl or Cmd + Shift as you drag the corner out approximately this much. As before, to see a preview, press the Play button. Next, we’ll create an infinite loop of the animation. Stop the animation, collapse the properties
and close the folder. Make two copies of the folder by pressing
Ctrl or Cmd + J twice. Open the “Group 1 copy” folder and click this
icon to open the “Fade” presets. Drag “Fade” down over the left side of the
“Right Mist” to fade it in and continue to drag “Fade” to the left side of other layers. If you can’t see the “Stream” layer, just
scroll down the timeline panel. Open the Fade presets again and drag down
“Fade” to the left side of the “Stream” layer. Close the “Group 1 copy” folder and open the
“Group 1 copy 2” folder. Click the “Right Mist” layer, open the fade presets and drag down “Fade” to the right side of the layer. Repeat this with the remaining layers. Close the folder and drag the time indicator
to the 1-second mark. Go to the “Group 1 copy” layer and drag it,
so the left side of it is flush with the time indicator. Go to the “Group 1 copy 2” layer and drag
it to the left until its right side is flush with the time indicator. Drag the Play head to the 2-second mark to
trim the animation. Click the Play button to preview the animation. To render the finished animation, stop the
preview and click the “Render” icon. Name it and click “Select Folder”. I’ll save it to my desktop. Then, click “Select Folder” to confirm it. The Format is “H.264” and the Preset is “High Quality”. I’ll keep the document size 1920 x 1080, but
if you want to reduce its file size, feel free to make it a lower amount. Then, click “Render”. This is Marty from Blue Lightning TV. Thanks for watching!


  • Reply aya sh November 4, 2018 at 11:43 pm

    thank u very much……. best chanel ever !

  • Reply Vincenzo Platini November 4, 2018 at 11:50 pm

    Great, great, great!

  • Reply Infinite IMAGINATION November 4, 2018 at 11:51 pm


  • Reply Yazan Jordan November 4, 2018 at 11:52 pm

    i ve seen this on other channel but this one way better and easier thank marty great job

  • Reply 3rdeyerap November 4, 2018 at 11:56 pm

    That's really dope

  • Reply jpwood6661 November 5, 2018 at 12:02 am


  • Reply MJA6995 November 5, 2018 at 12:07 am


  • Reply simple sample November 5, 2018 at 12:11 am


  • Reply Eric November 5, 2018 at 12:25 am


  • Reply Lucie November 5, 2018 at 12:36 am

    Hi Marty, can this be done in CS6?

  • Reply Kona November 5, 2018 at 12:51 am

    Great tutorial! Thank you! Thank you so very much!

  • Reply christ anil November 5, 2018 at 12:52 am


  • Reply emma lissette alvarado vasquez November 5, 2018 at 1:01 am

    amazing master

  • Reply yunsu - ysdp November 5, 2018 at 1:12 am

    awesome and easy! thank you

  • Reply Ivo Klub November 5, 2018 at 1:36 am

    This is great!!!. 😀

  • Reply JHiltonArtworks November 5, 2018 at 1:59 am

    Amazing tutorial marty, thank you very much sir

  • Reply Jako2120 November 5, 2018 at 1:59 am

    Great Tutorial!

  • Reply Il Cielo in Una Stanza November 5, 2018 at 2:15 am

    Great tutorial! Thank you! FANTASTIC, really thank you !!! Cheers

  • Reply Mario Duarte November 5, 2018 at 2:37 am

    Super; amazing…

  • Reply Roffa 5311 November 5, 2018 at 2:38 am

    YES!!!! Thank you so much for this tutorial!!!

  • Reply Richard Stalter November 5, 2018 at 2:55 am

    Amazing Marty. Thank You.

  • Reply hussain mohammed. mahf November 5, 2018 at 3:10 am


  • Reply Vaishali Mahale November 5, 2018 at 4:10 am

    Can u make plz… a digital painting photograph caus i searched on youtube but did not find a proper video plz.. can u make digital painting video plz….

  • Reply Paul B November 5, 2018 at 4:29 am

    Brill Marty , will give this a go

  • Reply Ammu Digital November 5, 2018 at 5:00 am

    Great video sir

  • Reply Abdullah Haidari November 5, 2018 at 5:08 am

    Nice which screen recorder do u use and how I can daownload it free and what u use when mous goes to on any options that tool or pleas get zoom

  • Reply Redha Nessah November 5, 2018 at 5:21 am

    Thank you bro
    Really good job

  • Reply Jose Roy Gutierrez November 5, 2018 at 5:50 am

    will it be seen moving if I use it as my cover photo on my facebook?
    tnx for the answer
    sry for my grammar

  • Reply jasiar rahman November 5, 2018 at 5:53 am

    you really awesome

  • Reply RedDirtAlley Photography November 5, 2018 at 6:43 am

    GREAT JOB MARTY!! That's the best tut I've seen on PS animation! 🙂

  • Reply SACHIN ERULE November 5, 2018 at 6:55 am

    Thanks for great tutorial

  • Reply jignesh ghelani November 5, 2018 at 8:18 am

    good technique

  • Reply Carl Kristensen November 5, 2018 at 10:21 am

    Awesome. Great video, well explained. I like your cool, clear and calm style.

  • Reply Roman Mondol November 5, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    Just awesome tutorial big brother. thanks

  • Reply Karsten Bruun Qvist November 5, 2018 at 12:53 pm


  • Reply Frank DeBonis November 5, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    Another great video Marty. Thank you! BTW, you can change the behavior of the quick mask by double-clicking the icon in the tools panel. You can make the color indicate the masked or the selected area. Saves you a few clicks inverting the selection.

  • Reply Nithila venthan November 5, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    NO time line in the window menu

  • Reply Sitansu Dalei November 5, 2018 at 2:36 pm

    Thanks for this video

  • Reply Futuristic Arts November 5, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    if i press q nothing happens

  • Reply sponge bob November 5, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    nice new intro& great tutorial!

  • Reply Futuristic Arts November 5, 2018 at 3:48 pm

    if i render i get a map with a lot of pictures how can i fix this?

  • Reply Lucie November 5, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    Marty, my
    Foreground color is black. When I brush over, color is black…not red?

  • Reply Christian Andreassen November 5, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    Great tutorial – well done!

  • Reply Dr Ashraf Mesbah November 5, 2018 at 11:10 pm

    can I add my photo inside the file before rendering it ?

  • Reply Rober Rondon November 5, 2018 at 11:24 pm

    tremendo tutorial como siempre muchas gracias por ellos.

  • Reply Stathis Oberon November 5, 2018 at 11:40 pm

    There is no "create video timeline" option on the menu on my Photoshop CS6, just frame animation

  • Reply Skully Crowley November 6, 2018 at 12:23 am

    Hey Marty is there a tutorial on how you added your logo into the brush tool. I never noticed it amongst all the tutorials

  • Reply Dwi Agus November 6, 2018 at 5:19 am

    How about photoshop cs6?

  • Reply Mario Pires November 6, 2018 at 8:39 am

    Great Video Animation Work , Plus great Annotation ( commentary )….Congratulations ! Marty !

  • Reply laszlo zsurka November 6, 2018 at 9:05 am

    That's sick! Love it!

  • Reply Sandeep Acharya November 6, 2018 at 11:01 am

    Marty, you are just brilliant! Can this be done in CS-6? Thank you genius

  • Reply My_Mate_Jeff November 6, 2018 at 9:41 pm

    very, very clever. thanks.

  • Reply Jonathan Nugent November 7, 2018 at 12:31 am

    Wow, even Helen Keller can do this with your teaching techniques, thanks!! I subscribed after seeing this video!

  • Reply Jake Wardle November 7, 2018 at 6:43 am

    Please do the same with the planet stellar creations with the planets moving

  • Reply Michael57 November 7, 2018 at 8:37 am

    Great Tut Marty…as always well explained

  • Reply Guerilla JAB November 8, 2018 at 4:12 am

    when i start the selecting process its not red but black and when pressing Q It doesn't select the section highlighted… help please ?

  • Reply Toni Toni Toni November 8, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    This was absolutely INcredible…Thank you for sharing this…

  • Reply Wrestling Favourites November 8, 2018 at 5:37 pm

    Marty you are best !!

  • Reply John Madden November 8, 2018 at 9:46 pm

    Great Tut Marty, Thanks but I have a problem. My version of Photoshop doesn't give me an option to export as .mp4. (only .taga, tiff, .bmp, .png, .dicom, .jpeg, & .psd). Any suggestions?

  • Reply search PS November 9, 2018 at 8:23 am

    good cher

  • Reply Macdonald Quammie November 9, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    Hi Marty, seen this done before. From a business, perspective focus what people can showcase for their business e.g animations logos, a person or objects. I believe that's where talent is. You're absolutely the best Photoshop tutor.

  • Reply Barbara Groves November 10, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    I've seen a lot of animation tutorials and as always, yours is the best. Thank you!

  • Reply laurent lefort November 10, 2018 at 8:44 pm

    I’ve been waiting for a long time to learn how to animate That kind of image. Thank you very much Marty

  • Reply Bad Boy November 11, 2018 at 1:09 am

    Please make more tutorials with adobe illustrator

  • Reply Mo Punch Studio November 11, 2018 at 5:11 am

    Marty you rock

  • Reply Android Bani November 11, 2018 at 10:03 am

    great sir

  • Reply emailausdrucker November 12, 2018 at 5:06 am

    Although that I subscribed a year or two ago and saw a fair share of your videos, I must say that this is one of the best videos/tutorials ever seen here.
    Thank you!

  • Reply Mohamad Abyannaufal November 15, 2018 at 8:31 pm

    Thanks! This helpful 😂

  • Reply Yugioh Duelist Alliance November 16, 2018 at 6:29 pm

    Marty ,i am still loving your old opening Xd

  • Reply C0nti November 18, 2018 at 11:40 am

    Your tutorials have helped me so much with my Photoshop studies. Cheers Marty!

  • Reply UMII Designer November 19, 2018 at 9:51 am

    Very very interesting tutorial…..please you can make more tutorials like that and upload 😇

  • Reply shahril kzrnn November 19, 2018 at 11:54 pm


  • Reply Lucie November 21, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    Marty I am at 03:15. I have made the stream into a selection and inverted the selection. The color of the stream is gray, not black like in your video?

  • Reply varol ozkaner November 24, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    Great tutorial. Thanks

  • Reply HobbitDD November 25, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    very helpful, Thanks!

  • Reply Tarun Singh November 29, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    I love your videos,they are great especially how you mark and point out everything. Would you be able to make youtube videos for premier pro,or after effects too in future? or will it be limited to photoshop? And also some video on logo animation/making too

  • Reply Carlos Fuertes November 30, 2018 at 6:56 pm


  • Reply BeepBeepImASheep237 BeepBeepImASheep237 December 4, 2018 at 11:11 am

    i cant find the gear icon, can you help me please? right now!

  • Reply BOSCO th3 December 5, 2018 at 5:28 am

    Great video😤

  • Reply Hashir Khan December 15, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    Marty is the bestttt in the world he always define his way of teaching through great skills and that explanations he provide is very usefull for our learning thanks man keep doing more videos really appreciate your work sir🔥🔥❤

  • Reply balan kathirvel December 25, 2018 at 8:53 am

    Thank you !…..great sir

  • Reply MVisuals December 28, 2018 at 11:18 pm

    Dude this tutorial is just so good! Thank you so much for going mini step through mini step!

  • Reply TecmoBO34 December 30, 2018 at 10:20 pm

    I am a longtime fan of Marty's videos. I honestly can say most of my improvement and progress in Photoshop came from watching and learning from his tutorials. I have only been using PS for about two years now, but I have improved a lot since I first started. That said, I haven't tried this one yet because I keep thinking it's going to be too difficult for me. I have to give it a try looks awesome!

  • Reply leinaddf January 8, 2019 at 10:03 am

    You told me to smash that red botton at the right corner, now I have a broken phone.

  • Reply Fırtına January 24, 2019 at 1:48 pm

    Thank you very much 😎 Blue Lightning TV Photoshop

  • Reply Md. Nur Nabi January 26, 2019 at 3:16 am


  • Reply Jim Buckley January 31, 2019 at 2:19 am

    Can this technique be used on social media? i.e. Facebook

  • Reply Kennyk77 February 5, 2019 at 5:10 am


  • Reply Jose Diaz H February 11, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    Excelencia pura! gracias!

  • Reply Jack Kraken March 1, 2019 at 7:31 am

    Very cool idea. I hadn't even thought of animation. I wonder, do you think you can make another animation video? I was thinking maybe one with space and planets since you made so many videos in the past regarding them. It would be amazing to see an animated space image.

  • Reply Damn Bad Devil 2K19 March 20, 2019 at 12:20 am

    This is awesome man

  • Reply Ziko Isaac March 27, 2019 at 3:47 pm

    excellent video Marty thanks so much !

  • Reply Lowkey Laiqah May 5, 2019 at 2:09 am

    its 3 am, i tried this for the first time but it was a fail wasn't bad though. i don't know what i'm doing wrong. this was really helpful! i'm going to keep trying!

  • Reply Nigel Pipe May 8, 2019 at 4:33 pm

    WOW That is really cool 🙂

  • Reply DeWayne Drumgole May 28, 2019 at 6:24 am

    Well done, Thank you

  • Reply Tomy Yon June 8, 2019 at 8:20 pm

    This video is so userfriendly… Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Osman Awan July 16, 2019 at 5:31 am

    The q button is not working

  • Reply Muhammad Waqas July 17, 2019 at 5:10 pm

    Very nice!

  • Reply Mumin Taha August 12, 2019 at 5:52 am

    Awesome!!! Very easy, detailed and brilliant tutorials ever. Excellent work.

  • Reply Gurpreet Singh August 20, 2019 at 9:48 pm

    Very detailed tutorial on this topic…..thanks

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