Conquest of the Horde

Full Version: WMV + GIMP = Animated Avatars
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
Pages: 1 2
As requested, I've written up a fairly detailed tutorial designed to help people use the WoW Model Viewer (WMV) and GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) to create animated avatars.

Estimated time of completion: approximately thirty (30) minutes for a neophyte.

In order to complete this tutorial, you will require:
  • Wow Model Viewer, a tool that allows us to view and capture models/animations from the World of Warcraft game and expansions; and
  • GNU Image Manipulation Program, free image editing software that is capable of producing animations.

I have put together a compressed folder containing files related to this tutorial; you are encouraged to download it and use the provided files while following along with the steps. contains the following files:
  • sg-combine-bg.scm: A GIMP script that adds two commands which either overlays or combines the background (bottom) layer to the rest of the visible layers. These commands can be accessed in FiltersAnimation once installed.
  • goode-animation-settings.scm: A GIMP script that sets the Frame delay and mode of GIF animations by renaming visible layers. This command can be accessed in FX-FoundryAnimationChange Settings... once installed.
  • jormungar.gif: The exported WMV animation that will be used to make the complete avatar.
  • background.jpeg: A background image that will be placed behind the jormungar animation.
  • frame.psd: A template used to frame-in the avatar and also give it its dimensions.

0: Preparation
Before beginning with the actual tutorial, lets get set up. These steps are optional, but I would strongly encourage you to do them in order to minimize the amount of work you'll do later.
  1. Download and extract
  2. Locate the two scripts (sg-combine-bg.scm and goode-animation-settings.scm) and install them by placing them in the folder from which scripts are loaded in GIMP.
    • [Image: book_open.png] TIP
      By default, this folder is located in share/gimp/2.0/scripts of your install of GIMP.

1: WMV
I begin in GIMP, which is where I acquire the model animation that will be used in my animated avatar.
  1. Open WMV.
  2. A prompt should appear saying, "Would you like to load World of Warcraft right now?" Click Yes.
    • [Image: exclamation.png] NOTE
      You may get another prompt after this that says, "Compatible Wrath of the Lich King Version Found." This is a warning that informs you that while the program is currently able to read this not-current version of World of Warcraft, this may not be the case in the future. If you see this it is probably because the program is loading files from your Conquest of the Horde install, which is not currently up-to-date.
  3. WMV will finish loading the libraries and then you can begin.
  4. I begin by picking a background color (ViewBackground Color...).
    • [Image: book_open.png] TIP
      An image's background color is the color that will become transparent when exporting the animation. It is therefore important that you pick a color that will not appear on your model. Green (RGB 0/255/0) and blue (RGB 0/0/255) tend to be excellent choices. As an aside, these are also the colors typically used for green/blue screen and chroma key effects because they are unlikely to be in the composition and are so saturated.
  5. From the File List box select Creature. Pick Jormungar and then jormungar.m2.
  6. Select the desired animation from the first drop-down in the Animation box.
    • [Image: exclaimation.png] NOTE
      For those wishing to follow along with my efforts, I've chosen Stand [0].
  7. Using your mouse, move the model around to get the view and perspective that you want.
    • [Image: book_open.png] TIP
      The mousewheel zooms the model in and out. Dragging the mouse while holding the left button rotates the model. Dragging the mouse while holding the right button moves the model.
  8. Select the desired skin from the second drop-down in the Animation box.
    • [Image: exclaimation.png] NOTE
      For those wishing to follow along with my efforts, I've chosen JormungarBlue.
  9. Go to View and then Model Control in the menu bar.
  10. Once the dialogue box appears, uncheck Particles.
    • [Image: book_open.png] TIP
      Particles are typically what gives the model its glowing effect. However, these often do not appear properly when you save the image (especially if you elect to have transparency). It is usually best to turn this off every time you save an image.
  11. At this point, you should have something similar to this:
    [Image: tutorial01.png]
    • [Image: help.png] QUESTION
      Why is your layout different from mine? All of the boxes displayed within WMV can be moved and docked to your heart's content. I've chosen to limit how much space they take up in order to have the greatest available space for my model. This helps ensure a larger image when exported, which in turn can help me make a better quality image.
  12. Assuming that this is the final animation that I want, I can now export it. From the menu bar select File and then GIF/Sequence Export.
  13. Choose the folder in which you'd like to save the animation and give the file a name if desired.
    • [Image: exclaimation.png] NOTE
      I've chosen to store everything in a Tutorial folder on my Desktop. The file is called jormungar.gif.
  14. Hit Save when you're satisfied.
  15. A new dialogue box appears called the Animation Exporter.
    • [Image: book_open.png] TIP
      Generally, there are two things with which I am concerned on this box: the Total Frames on the animation and ensuring that Transparency is selected. I generally want a relatively low number of frames for for a handful of reasons, including reducing the amount of work that I need to do and also in order to meet any file size restrictions that may exist on the site on which my avatar will appear.
    • [Image: exclamation.png] NOTE
      If the Transparency box is already selected, deselect and reselect it. WMV frequently will initially display this box as checked, but the final result will not be transparent. This occurs after you've already exported an animation during the same session.
  16. Click Start.
  17. Wait as the exporter does its work.
    • [Image: help.png] QUESTION
      Why does the exporter seem to stop before the final frame? Is something wrong? You may find that the exporter will stop at the penultimate frame (in this case, 47 of 48). This does not mean that the animation is incomplete; for whatever reason, WMV will not display notification that the final frame has been complete or close the dialogue box. Your only options are to ignore it, attempt to export another animation and then cancel it, or close out the program entirely.
  18. Once done, close WMV if desired.

The animation has been selected, modified, positioned, and exported. I'm now ready to begin piecing together my final animation!
  1. Open GIMP.
  2. Open your animation. From the menu bar select File and then Open.... You can also open files with the (Windows) shortcut Ctrl-O.
    • [Image: exclamation.png] NOTE
      For those wishing to follow along with my efforts, the file is jormungar.gif. It has been included in the compressed file provided with this tutorial.
    [Image: tutorial02.png]
  3. Change the mode of the image from Indexed to RGB: in the menu bar, select ImageModeRGB.
    • [Image: exclamation.png] NOTE
      The GIF originally has indexed colors. This is a limited palette with 256 or less colors. Many filters and tools will not work while in this mode. Though the final animation will be compressed back down to 256 or less colors, we'll be working on it in RGB mode.
    • [Image: book_open.png] TIP
      We can test the unedited animation at any time using GIMP's Playback filter. I like to preview files before working just in case something happened to it during WMV's export. The Playback is accessible in the menu bar under FiltersAnimationPlayback. This will open a new window; hit Play to see the animation. When completed, feel free to close this window.
  4. Time to bring in the background! There are a number of ways to do this, but the easiest is to open the image as a new layer. This is done through the menu bar by selecting FileOpen as Layers..., and then choosing the desired file.
    • [Image: exclamation.png] NOTE
      For those wishing to follow along with my efforts, I will use background.jpeg, which has been provided within the compressed folder.
    • [Image: help.png] QUESTION
      Why doesn't my background look right? The colors are all off! More likely than not, you did not complete the third step properly and the image continues to have indexed colors. This new layer is constrained by the palette of the original animation.
  5. In the Layers window, move the new layer -- background.jpeg -- below the top frame of the animation in order to see how it looks.
    [Image: tutorial03.png]
    • [Image: help.png] QUESTION
      Layers window? What? Where? The Layers window can be brought up either through the menu bar by clicking WindowsDockable DialoguesLayers or by using the (Windows) shortcut Ctrl-L.
    • [Image: help.png] QUESTION
      How do I move layers? In the Layers window, you left-click on a layer and then drag it to the desired location. Alternatively, you can use the green down arrow to move the selected layer down one level; clicking this repeatedly will eventually bring it to the bottom.
    • [Image: exclamation.png] NOTE
      At this point, I can edit the background.jpeg layer to fit my needs. I could change the color, size, and location of the image using various tools within GIMP. However, I like it exactly as it is currently.
  6. Place the background layer on every frame of the original animation.
    • [Image: exclamation.png] NOTE
      GIMP treats each layer as a frame when it makes an animation. Each frame can either replace or build upon the one proceeding it in the animation. As a result, each layer of the original animation needs to be placed on top of the background and then combined.
    [Image: tutorial04.png]
    • [Image: book_open.png] TIP
      Did you install the scripts contained in the compressed folder? I hope so -- this is where they come in handy. Rather than duplicate the background.jpeg layer 47 times and then merge each frame of the original animation down onto one of these duplicated layers, we can use the script to automatically do this for us! Move background.jpeg to the very bottom of the list in the Layers window. Then, from the menu bar, select FiltersAnimationCombine background. Once the script is done running, delete the background.jpeg layer.
  7. Resize the image by selecting ImageScale Image from the menu bar.
    • [Image: exclamation.png] NOTE
      Based on the size of the images that I typically export from WMV, I tend to choose something around 200 pixels in height and then resize the image further based on my needs. In this case, however, I know that I want to see more of the jormungar in the finished animation, so I've chosen 125 pixels.
  8. Import the frame.psd provided in the compressed folder by opening it as a new layer (in the menu bar, FileOpen as Layers..., and then choosing the desired file).
  9. Use the Move Tool (found in the Toolbox) to place the contents of frame.psd where you'd like it to be.
    [Image: tutorial05.png]
  10. Crop the animation to the dimensions of the frame. With the frame.psd layer selected, go to Images in the menu bar and select Autocrop Image.
  11. Like the background before, place frame.psd on every layer of the animation.
    • [Image: book_open.png] TIP
      And just like before, it's much easier to let the provided script do this for you rather than go frame-by-frame. Move the frame.psd layer to the very bottom of the Layers window. Run the script by selecting FiltersAnimationOverlay background in the menu bar. Make sure to delete frame.psd when it is completed.
  12. If we are satisfied with what we currently have, we can now optimize this animation in preparation for use. This is done by selecting FiltersAnimationOptimize (for GIF).
  13. The optimized animation will open in a new window. Save the image by going to FileSave or using the (Windows) short Ctrl-S.
  14. Choose the folder in which you'd like to save the animation and give the file a different name if desired.
    • [Image: book_open.png] TIP
      Make sure to give your file name the .gif extension when you name it. By default, GIMP will save it as a GIMP XCF image which cannot be viewed as an animation in any browser.
  15. Hit Save when you're satisfied.
  16. A new dialogue box will appear. Select the Save as Animation radio button if it is not already checked and then Export.
  17. Another dialogue box appears. The only one with which we are concerned is Loop forever; make sure that this is checked.
  18. Hit Save.
  19. That's it! Feel free to save your unoptimized file if desired and then close GIMP.

If you've been following along and working with the provided images, you should now have a spiffy animated jormungar avatar very similar to the one that I created earlier for use by the community.

[Image: avjormungar.gif]
He's beautiful!

Feel free to reply to this thread with your results!
I wish I could use WMV to do this :(

But thanks for the guide!
Tutorial updated with two questions regarding layers from someone going through these steps. Thank you for the feedback!

First attempt, huzzah!
It is a thing of beauty!

Yay... I'm getting addicted to this.

Moved to Articles and Guides!
(03-18-2012, 05:06 PM)Piroska Wrote: [ -> ]
[Image: avjormungar.gif]
He's beautiful!

He is!!

[Image: 24v0hm1.gif][Image: 2637yao.gif]
Thanks for this, Pir. The more you know!
Murlocs... in... spaaaaaaaace!

And my pleasure, Delta! I am pleased that people (other than Kril) are creating avatars. You can build upon the basic skills presented in the tutorial and make other things are well, such as animated text and the like. I'll probably write something up when/if I figure out the filters provided by GAP (GNU Animation Program).
Three new avatars!

[Image: Norz.gif][Image: Norzgif.gif][Image: Testwin.gif]
And here I thought that I was the only person who felt the compulsive need to do things like this. Sheesh, Kril!
[Image: egbert.gif][Image: babylichtiny.gif][Image: ladysylvanasswimming.gif][Image: beholdertiny.gif][Image: lichkingstanding.gif]

Oh, so much fun! I'll not be fit to study for weeks now..

Thank you :D
I can't wait to try this, results later!
[Image: jormungarfin.gif]
Woot I did it! Time to make my own!
[Image: horsef.gif]
Edit: Transparent horsey needs no border! Run free!

Couple notes:
- Don't export the file from WMV as "subject.gif". It comes out as "subject.gif.gif" and that's just silly.

- Thanks for suggesting using blue (255) for the background. I've had some transparency issues from using the default color.

-Thanks for putting this together, it was very easy to follow! /bookmark

Also question; Does coth-wiki support .gifs? :D
Pages: 1 2