How to Make an Animation Emoji?
A Poem I’ve written to start with for readers
Far Away | 远方
作者：BubbleSwan | 楠 ，《梦与月》
I go toward the sun in a way to enlighten me.
I go with the wind for the breeze would take me away.
I go for the sea, even the huge wave would against me.
I am a human, or I’m not.
A lost soul has come a long way.
I seek for the sea.
For beyond the world, there’s the sunset.
I trace the words of love letters in bottles.
For beyond the sea, you were there.
And you are far away, away from the sun, away from the sea.
Between the horizon, I failed to find the sign of you though.
My LOVE, because you had already been everywhere…
He who is reading my article now, at this moment, my poem and the painting may open the unspoken feelings of himself. MAY is the dawning of love for the spring.
Pen in my hand, I stopped writing. Instead, I took a deep breath, then slowly breathed out. The night crept in and started to devour rooms one by one. “If there were memories of roses in the time, then music will be the whispering love words of the flowers”, I thought, wiping my harmonica, “And, I’ve lost the track of time.” By night, I played the French love song “Ne Me Quitte Pas (Don’t leave me)”, and turned it into the blues tunes, as if the roses were telling their hidden feelings that had never been burst into bloom before.
停笔，我深吸了一个口气，缓慢的吐出。望着黑夜慢慢吞噬整个儿房间。“若时间里有着玫瑰的回忆，音乐就是那呢喃的花语。”我擦拭着口琴，心想：“而我早已忘记了时间。”借着黑夜，我吹起了布鲁斯口琴，让这首法国情歌《Ne Me Quitte Pas（不要离我而去）》化为蓝调，吐露玫瑰不曾绽放过的幽情。
“Click the Music and Listen to Your Own Words of Flowers”
When the last note skipped off into the night, my poetry, my painting, and my music might boost your feelings. That kind of sentimental feeling was more than a thousand words. Apart from these expressions, in the internet world, we had emoticons as well. Probably, from the other side of the phone, you were sharing your emotions and conveying your young love via emojis.
In Shanghai, we are still in the epidemic prevention lockdown, being forced to “BE SEALED” at home, we got all kinds of emotions coming together, including boredom, happiness, craziness, unease, and pain. While emoticons interpreted those various feelings in a great and fun way. Every day, we picked up our phones and surfed in the digital world, chatting with each other with emojis and stickers. At that time, their responses were as if they were close to you, sharing their thoughts and revealing their emotions. Sometimes, even for shyness, who might have no idea what to say with hesitation, an emoji could break the ice and bring the closeness between them. Perhaps this was one of the reasons why emojis enjoyed great popularity around the world.
From static stickers to motion emojis, the dynamic ones surely make the emoticons more vivid and visualized. Let’s enjoy a short fun video below, to watch how A’Wang spent his Day at home during the epidemic lockdown:
Click here to watch: WeChat Sticker Official Trailer | The Daily life of A’Wang – Episode III
【 微信表情包：阿旺的日常3-宅家篇（官宣） 】
The short video was created by one of my newly designed motion stickers. To match my scripts, a few stickers were selected. For the limitation of the 240×240 pixel uploading standard, it’s a pity that the video was not made in the HD version. My previous WeChat stickers package, or “The Daily life of A’Wang – Episode I” and “The Daily life of A’Wang – Episode II” were both created into static images. To fulfill my friends’ requests, I kicked it up a notch by designing a new prototype and making animation. Having been racking my brains for almost 3 months, from static image design to animated one, from creation to post-animation production, The Daily life of A’Wang – Episode III was completed.
To make a static image into animation was a killer. However, the animation-making principle seems not that difficult. Take our ancient trotting horse lamp. There is a series of paper cutting on the axle, the shadow of the paper cut projected on the screen of the lamp. As the candlelight generated the heat, the lamp starts rotating. Meanwhile, when you look at the paper-cut patterns, it looks like they are moving. Let’s trace back to the Silent Era for cartoons for example. At an early stage, it was completely made by hand drawing and was painted into various split footage and a number of drawbacks. Then one of the ancient methods was painting images onto plates of glass such as zoopraxiscope, which was pretty expensive and labor-intensive to paint the figures. With the rising of technology, computers have to make frame-by-frame animations easier. Animation is created by lots of digital drawing figures on the keyframes and then was lined up on a timeline to perform a series of motion actions. After the change of the computer era, CGI and motion capture technology has further improved the level of animation production.
To meet the fast communication with the cute motion pictures on the internet-surfing, animated stickers and emoji could be created into 10 or 20-second-action, and then be exported to GIF format. At present, the emoticons still rely on the GIF format, which can be said that there is no GIF, and there may be no emoticons as well. Released in 1987, the Graphics Interchange Format, or GIF is a bitmap image format that has come into widespread usage on the World Wide Web for its unique features of presenting color images and simple animations as one. Like JPG, PNG, and other image formats, GIF wide support, and portability between applications and operating systems, which, it’s part of the internet. However, the GIF creator, Stephen E. Wilhite, passed away at the age of 74 from COVID-19 on the 23rd of this year, online media reported. Rest in Peace. Let’s take our hat off to the great scientist, may he would continue to create a unique digital art world in heaven.
动态表情包为满足网络的快速传播特性，允许制作10到20几秒的连贯动态并生成GIF，一个表情就这样完成了。目前表情包的呈现依赖于GIF格式，可以说没有GIF，或许也就没有表情包。GIF（Graphics Interchange Format）诞生于1987年，是一种公用的位图图像文件格式标准，以彩色图像和简单动画呈现，和JPG、PNG一样，是互联网中非常受欢迎的图片格式之一，应用于各大应用和操作系统中，是互联网的一部分。但令人惋惜的是，据外媒报道，GIF之父，即发明者Stephen E. Wilhite（斯蒂芬·威尔海特）因感染新冠于2022年3月初逝世，享年74岁。再此，愿逝者安息，愿这位伟大的科学家能在天堂继续创作与众不同的数字艺术世界。
As for sticker animation, it has various ways and tools to create it into motion. A type of frame-by-frame animation is an old-school method to do the trick. Traditional and effective, which means that all the actions are created by hand drawing, then be exported to GIF with the help of Microsoft PPT, Flash, Photoshop, etc. And, the animation can be done by professional software, including After Effect, OpenToonz, etc., as well. These animation or movie maker software could make the action look to be more smooth and more natural via skeleton feature, rendering, and 3D function. However, mastering that software is really complicated, which needs to boil the ocean to study and practice more often.
For my stickers, I used the frame-by-frame animation through Illustrator and Photoshop mostly, and the support of PPT in a few actions. It’s a “No Pain, No Gain” situation because it was similar to cartoon making, which took lots of preparations, including scriptwriting, character design, split footage drawing, and funny or cute action selection that might likely be used by end-users. Then, a static emotion prototype was created before the frame-by-frame drawing of split footage for this static prototype. Take blinking action. The action was completed by two key actions that were followed by two static drawings, one for eyes opening and one for eyes closing. After putting the two static images together in order, setting the time axis to 2-3 frames, and hitting the PLAY button, a blinking action was all set.
To make the expression and movement in a more natural way, the relation between perspective and proportion of each movement needed to be considered. The whole act of Walking, for example, could be done with 10 keyframes from standing to the foot landing. While you were taking a walk, not only were your foot moving, your entire body was moving, including arm swings, shoulder shifting left to right, hip moving left to right as well. The more perspective and movement proportional relation you kept in mind, the movement you created would be looked more smoothly and coordinately. And that’s also one of the difficulties in making the character act more natural. It’s possible to complete the act of walking with 20 action keyframes or more. That’s why making animation really felt like testing your patience, which’s very challenging.
Taking an emoji for the wind blowing scenery. This one is pretty easy to understand, I guess. The motion picture above is the scene of my dog A’Wang enjoying the cool air from the electric fan, comfortable and joyful. In the dictionary of emoji and stickers, the wind blowing scenery has many meanings which could light the atmosphere of chatting. In different contexts, it could be read as speechless, the Cat Caught the Tongue Situation, real messy, wild playing, craziness, ecstasy, etc. However, in my emoji, I took“Happiness comes the way the wind blows.” In this limited and framed space, only two key elements I chose, or an electric fan and the dog. Since the dog played the main role in the scenery, I kept the camera right on the character and showed a small part of the fan in the invisible camera lens. Then I started drawing. I drew some floating ribbons on the electric fan to display the airflow. According to my dog’s reaction in the real life, I imitated and exaggerated the wind blowing scenery in a cartoonish way, such as his mouth was open wide and his tongue was out, as well as, his eyes were closed while his ears were all back of his head for the blowing wind. After that, I draw the series of static pictures for continuous shooting footage required by the frame-by-frame animation. And I make static ones as keyframes in sequence on the time axis. Finally, a motion picture was created.
The third emoji pack is the same as the previous two, which were created with 24 motion stickers. Every emojis were carefully designed and created by me. For tough movements such as the state of feeling sleepy, the sadness, surprised expression, the touch of hugging, etc., I even rehearsed by myself as an actor to study the relationship between perspective and proportion further. Then, I copied my movements and expressions from it, drew each action scene, and constantly adjusted the keyframes and times in the timeline to let my character’s movements be looked more natural and visualized.
Thank you for your continued support and encouragement. I share my piece of art creations with anyone who would love them. Feel free to collect the “The Daily life of A’Wang – Episode III” on your phone emoji and sticker gallery via WeChat app.
How to claim the full package of my emojis for free?
Scan the QR code below to open the sticker page, then click “ADD” via WeChat app.
Love my original creation of arts, feel free to click “Like the Author” to sponsor me. Maybe Episode IV will be triggered. From now on, let’s pray together and fight against the COVID-19, hoping all will be well soon. Keep at it, we still need it.
Poetry/Artworks/Photos/Interview/Writings/Art Edited & Translated by BubbleSwan
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