To make an animated snowflake, you can use simple animated GIF editors. These applications are typically low cost or free to download online. For example, CNET staff recommends ULead GIF Animator for easy use, a user-friendly interface, the number and variety of special effects and image editing. For complicated animations, you will need more sophisticated software such as Adobe's Flash. However, you can animate snowflakes by using layers and the tweening function in Photoshop.
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Open your snowflake image file in Photoshop. Rename it Snowflake #1.
Create a new background file. Select "File." In the submenu, select "New." Name the file "Animated Snowflake" in the pop-up window. Enter the width and height in pixels of your background. Make it larger than the snowflake file. Think of it as a sky with a snow-covered mountain. Your snowflake will fall from the sky. Click "OK."
Copy and paste the snowflake into the "Animated Snowflake" file. You should have two layers. The background layer should be white. It is the root layer. Your Snowflake #1 will appear in the second layer. Select the layer to move the snowflake with the pointer. Put the snowflake toward the top of the file as if you are positioning it in the sky.
Press "Control-E" twice. This action will copy the snowflake layer twice. You will have three snowflakes in three different layers. Select Snowflake #2's layer. Move Snowflake #2 between the Snowflake #1 and the bottom of the file or the ground.
Select the Snowflake #3's layer. Move Snowflake #3 to the bottom of the file beneath Snowflake #2. Remember to save the file frequently so that you do not lose your work.
Select Window. Click "Animation" from the submenu. The animation window should pop up that resembles a shot-by-shot film clip running from left to right. Click on the first frame. Turn off the visibility of the Snowflake #2 and Snowflake #3.
Add a new frame by clicking on the "New Frame" icon to the left of the trash bin icon on the bottom of the animation window. Click on the second frame to make it active. Turn off the visibility of Snowflake #1 and Snowflake #3. Turn on the visibility of Snowflake #2.
Add a third frame. Turn off the visibility of Snowflake #1 and Snowflake#2. Turn on the visibility of Snowflake #3.
Select the "Tween" icon from the pop-up menu in the upper right-hand corner of the animation window. The icon has a column of three dashes on the right side and an arrow pointing down on the left side. The Tween window will pop up. You must input "Frames to Add." Photoshop will spread the motion of your snowflakes over the number of frames you choose. If you want a long animation, input more frames. For a short animation, input fewer frames. Start by putting in 10 frames. You can play with the number until you achieve your desired effect. Click "OK" to close the Tween window.
Return to the animation window. In the bottom right-hand corner of each frame is the "Delay" icon. It is an arrow that points down. Right click the Delay icon in the first frame. A pop-up menu with delay times will appear, ranging from "No delay" to 10 seconds. You also have the option to input another time in "Other." If you want to slow down your animation, then choose a longer delay time between frames. If you hold down the "Shift" key, the delay time will automatically apply to the transitions between all frames.
Export the animated GIF. Select "File." Then, select "Save for Web" from the submenu. A pop-up window will appear. Make sure to check GIF before clicking "Save."
Drag the "Animated Snowflake" file into a browser of your choice. You should see your snowflake falling down a white screen.
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