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Let’s see how to use the Timeline animation features to create an animation of a 3D model. In the following exercise, we will create an animation of a spaceship that surfs around a planet orbit completely in Photoshop. I will be using a 3D model that I created in 3D Studio Max and exported as a 3DS file. The background of the animation is a video footage of the earth rotating slowly. Let’s start by creating a new video document and creating the scene background by adding the video layer to the file:

1. Create a new Photoshop document, and choose Presets > Film and Video > NTSC preset.

2. An alert message will appear to tell you that Photoshop will use the Pixel Aspect Ratio Correction to view your video content with the specified
aspect ration in the document preset. You can disable this by deselecting the Pixel Aspect Ration Correction command in the View menu. The
purpose of this correction is to provide a preview of how the video will look like with respect to the final screen output (and standards). For a more accurate preview, you can use the Video Preview option from the File > Export menu, but this works only when an output device is attached to your computer.

3. Choose Layer > Video layers > New Video Layer from. Locate the video footage in this chapter’s folder on the DVD; the video
footage will be placed in a new video layer.

4. To insert the 3D model, choose 3D > New layer from 3D File (or use the Scene Panel). Navigate to the Space_ship.3ds file and select it.

The new Video Document presets

5. Use the 3D Pan tool from the Tools panel to place the model at the bottom left of the screen; this will be the first frame in the animation (Figure 11.9). You can also set the position of the first frame from the top properties bar to be X = 10.6, Y = 21.1, Z = –72. The exact position of the spaceship depends on your view and how you would like it to animate around the earth.

The spaceship scene * For a Larger Image-Click the image*

At this stage, we have the starting point of the animation; in the following steps, we will create keyframes that guide the spaceship to its orbit around Earth and make it vanish into the distance (the Z dimension):

1. Open the Animation panel, select the spaceship layer and expand it.

2. Activate the Time-Vary Stopwatch icon next to the 3D Position property layer by clicking on it; this will create the first keyframe in the animation.

3. Move the Timeline Head to the frame number 15, create a new keyframe manually by clicking the Add or Remove Keyframe icon or move the spaceship as seen in Figure 11.10. You can also edit its position to X = 13.2, Y = –41.2, and Z = –77.

The spaceship animation keyframes

4. Move the Timeline Current Time Indicator to frame 30 in the timeline and move the spaceship to position X = 0, Y = –56.6, and Z = –84.1. 5. In frame 45, move the spaceship to the position X = –4.9, Y = –59.2, and Z = –105. 6. In frame 75, move the spaceship behind the earth to vanish away in the distance by adding the values X = –12, Y = –53.1, and Z = –115.8.

The spaceship animation progress

Now the animation of the spaceship should look similar to the one shown in Space_ship.psd. However, to make the spaceship merge more with the global space environment, we will create a lens flare effect over the whole scene:

1. Create a new layer over the spaceship and video layers.

2. Fill it with black by setting the foreground color to black and choosing Edit > Fill from the top menu and set the fill color to the foreground from the Fill dialog box.

3. Choose Filter > Render > Lens Flare.

4. In the Lens Flare dialog box, use you mouse cursor to move the lens focus point to the right and set its value to 110%. Also, set the style of the lens flare to 50–300 mm Zoom.6. In frame 75, move the spaceship behind the earth to vanish away in the distance by adding the values X = –12, Y = –53.1, and Z = –115.8.

5. In the Layer panel, select the Lens Flare layer. From the Layer Blending Option drop-down list, choose Screen as the blending mode for the layer; this mode makes the Lens Flare transparent and displays the scene under it.

Shortcut: You can fill the layer of the foreground color by pressing Alt + Delete (Opt + Shift + Delete on the Mac).

After finalizing the animation in Photoshop, it is important to set the working area to your animation period; otherwise, the rendering process or export of your animation will include the unwanted parts of the timeline. To set the working area and crop the unwanted space in the timeline, drag the Work Area end bracket to the left to the end of your animation. For example, in the previous animation, drag the bracket to the left to frame number 75.

Rafiq Elmansy is a graphic designer for 10 years with background in traditional art and sculpture. His experience in graphic design includes working in different design projects as well as creative directing. He runs his own design company Pixel Consultations. He is also an Adobe Community Professional, Adobe Certified Expert and the founder and manager of the Adobe user group in Egypt (AUGE). Rafiq is also part of the Adobe Prerelease Program. For further details and the source files that created the 3D Timeline Animation, please visit Rafiq’s website at

Photoshop 3D for Animators is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books can be found.

Excerpted from Photoshop 3D for Animators, by Rafiq Elmansy. © 2011, Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.

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