Thursday, October 02, 2008

Adding ripples to photos with Sqirlz

Photos with water in them look good. How about photos with water that ripples in them?

Sqirlz is a piece of free software that lets you do just that. No more boring photos on your blog! Add motion to them with Sqirlz!

For example, check this pic:

Now see what happens to it when we tweak it a bit with Sqirlz (be patient, the animation takes some time to kick in) :

Cool, isn't it?

Here's how I achieved the effect:

First, get a good photo with a lake / swimming pool in it. I used a free photo stock site to get me a photo. The photo was too big to post to this blog so I used Microsoft Office Picture Manager to open and resize the photo.

Just open the photo by right-clicking it, selecting "Open with..." and choosing "Microsoft Picture Manager" from the list. Once it opens go to, "Picture-->Resize" on the top bar. This will open a sidebar with various options on the right of your screen. Select "Web, small" after you click the little upside-down triangle next to the, "Predefined width x height".

Save the file.

Presuming you've downloaded and installed Sqirlz, open the application (go to Start--> Program Files--> All Programs--> Sqirlz Water Reflections).

Hit Ctrl+O to open the dialog box that will let you navigate to your downloaded and resized file. Select the file (just click it) and hit OK/Open. The file will open in Sqirlz.

Click the Mask icon:

Use short clicks to draw an outline around the pool. You can use the "Smooth Outline" tool to smoothen the mask after you draw it (just hover your mouse pointer over the icons on the left of your screen and you'll see it). You need to right-click the mouse when you've finished drawing the mask.

Your pool should look like so:
Note the dotted line that denotes the mask.

We need to retain some of the blue of the pool to make the animation look authentic, so we'll tweak the ripple settings.

Click the squiggly lines near the top of the Sqirlz window:

The basic ripple dialog window will open. Set the options as in the image below:

Click the"x" sign to close the window. Dont worry, your options are saved.

Click the yellow arrow pointing right to preview the animation.

If you're satisfied, Click the gif button to export to gif. You may need to do this a couple of times to exit the preview and save the file.

That's it! Sqirl will create a gif animation with your cool pool ripple effect. Then just upload it to a service like Photobucket and reference it on your site/blog.