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Archive: Adding Animated Rain to Images

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Friday May 22nd, 2009 in Photoshop Tutorials


This post is an archived post. This means it is old or has been archived for rewriting in the near future. Please be aware that the contents of this article or page may be out of date. If you need assistance be sure to leave comments and our community can help you.
In our previous tutorial, Animate a Person with Rain and Lightning, we showed you how to prime photos onto original backgrounds to create eerie backdrops suitable for rain and lightning. In the second part of three, we're going to show you how to add rain to your image and animate it. This effect is simple to make and simple to re-create, whilst maintaining a high standard upon completion.

Creating the Rain

In order to create the best rain effect, we're going to want a seemless appearance. In order to achieve this we have to create a new image twice the size of our current image (If you've just joined us at this tutorial, just create a new layer above the image you wish to add rain to, or read Animate a Person with Rain and Lightning to familiarise yourself with what we're working with). This is because of the filters we're going to use to create our rain image. So, create an image 1040w x1040h pixels. Create a new layer and fill it with black.

Go to Filter -> Noise -> Add Noise. The amount you enter will heavily modify the amount of rain in our final image. If you enter too much, the effect will look pretty unrealistic. I'm going for 25%, which is a nice, balanced number. When you've got your noise, go to Filter -> Blur -> Motion Blur. Here is the part where we decide if we want drizzle or thunderous, monsoon rain. Since we're going to be adding a lightning effect, it might be best to go with heavier rain.

Set the angle to 45 degrees and set the blur amount to 50 pixels. This will create a diagonal streak effect that already looks a little like rain. When you've done this, press CTRL & A to select our layer, and then press CTRL & C to copy it. Minimise this document for the time being and go back to your Sylar / Cutout file. Press CTRL & V to Paste our rain effect onto our image. Make sure you paste it above the rest of your layers, and be sure to move it around a little so that you're using the centre of our rain layer and not the edges.

Set this layer's blending mode to Lighten, and our effect is already taking shape:

Sylar is now standing in rain!
In order to create our animated rain effect, we want to repeat this process a few times. Essentially, our rain effect will be multiple rain layers cycling between each other to create a random, streak effect. I would recommend four layers minimum for a random effect, although you can use as many layers as you like.
The end result will be enormous if you use too many frames at this size. Consider this when making your rain layers; too many will result in a gigantic filesize for our end result.
Repeat the process of creating our rain layer four or five times and set all their blending modes to lighten. This will make our image look pretty bad, but now comes the fun part of animating it. With your rain layers ready and set to lighten, go to File -> Jump To -> Adobe Image Ready to switch over to Image Ready. Create three new frames in your animation by pressing the new frame button. If you made more than four rain layers, create however many you need, minus one (because one's already made for you!) To animate our rain, we're going to set only one layer of our rain effect visible per frame, and cycle through them. Click on the first frame. In the layer's tab, hide all rain layers except the first one by clicking on their eye icons.

Click on the second frame. In the layers tab, set the second rain layer to visible by clicking on it and hide the first layer by pressing the eye icon. Repeat this process for however many rain layers you decided to make, ensuring you hide the previous layers. If you don't, more than one layer will show which will spoil our effect.

Preview images at this stage will only be stills if anything. The page would take a fortnight to load with six animated gif previews!
If you press the play button you can marvel at your rain! It looks nifty and realistic, especially when used with darker backgrounds and images. Unfortunately, it's coming down a little fast! We can fix this quite easily. Holding down CTRL, click on all of your frames. Where it has a time written (in my case, "0 sec", but your default might be different), click on it to bring up the times menu. At the bottom, click "Other" and enter 0.04 into the timer window.

At this point we've finished our rain effect! You can raise or lower the opacity of the rain layers to raise or lower the intensity of the rain, but this is entirely down to your personal preference. Your finished result should look like this image: Our Finished Animated Rain Sylar.

In the third and final part of this tutorial we're going to add a lightning effect and light Sylar up in time with the lightning bolts. Part Three: Add Animated Lightning

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