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Not every design job has to have the glamour of a title open. As a matter of fact, if you do your map animations right, you can create something that's not just informational, but also beautiful at the same time. The key thing is to make sure that you have a script to reference so you know the exact moves and features you'll need to create. Now there definitely a lot of third- party map applications out there that'll allow you to create some pretty complex and amazing map animations. But for the most part I've found that I've had to create my map animations myself with whatever resources I could find.
But it doesn't require this. So you don't necessarily have to provide that credit. I typically recommend providing as much credit as possible because that helps keep these things free and available for use. So let's go ahead and download our maps. Go back to the Home section of the web site and go to the right side of your web browser. Under Collections click on Blue Marble. This is one of my favorite collections. I like the Blue Marble collection because you can see there are overviews of the earth that were captured at different months.
So if you notice in January here there's lots of snow cover. But if we go down to June, not so much. So let's go ahead and download a map from the June section. Now there are a couple different size options you can choose from. Most of the time this 5400x2700 file is plenty large enough, but if you really need to zoom into specific detailed areas, you might want to download one of the larger images. Now I've already downloaded this file at 5400, but there's one other file we need to download.
So let's go back just by clicking Back on our web browser and jump to the third section. If you look in the middle lower section in your web browser, there are three sections of maps. Go ahead and click on the third one. Now this BMNG imagery right here, if you go ahead and click on it, you can download the exact same size file. Now the reason I like using this file is the fact that the land is all knocked down in black. It's very easy to change this into a mask allowing me to cut out the land features of the other file that we've just downloaded.
So that being said, let's actually jump into Photoshop so I can show you how to prepare these files. Here in Photoshop you can see, this is the large color capture of the file and I'm only at 16% magnification. So let's go ahead and change that to 100%. So you can see exactly how close we can move in on the scene. This is actually plenty close enough for what we're trying to do, because in our map animations all we're trying to do is just have a little blip pop up in the same general area wherever the artist lives that we are featuring within the show.
So this is perfectly fine detail, but what if we want to actually just knock out the land and not necessarily have this ocean underneath of it? Well, that's when this map comes in handy. So in order to use this map let's make some quick changes. First thing, if you go up under Image, in the mode it's set to Grayscale. We need to change this to RGB Color. Now with RGB Color set, I want to go to my Channels panel. Under Channels you can copy any one of these channels.
So let's just click and drag on Red and drag it down to the bottom of the panel where we can duplicate that Red layer. Now we've actually created an alpha channel named Red copy, but since the ocean has all these little slight variance of gradients, we need to actually blow out these white levels a little bit. In the way to do that is just press Command+L or Ctrl+L to open up levels in Photoshop. Now if we click on the black eyedropper, we can make sure when we click in any landmass that that setting is 100% black.
Now let's do the same thing with a white eyedropper, but instead of clicking on an area that's already white, we want to click on the darker areas of the ocean. Now you notice as we click around we've actually knocked out all those extra features. Now sure we can go in and paint out all these little areas, but all in all this has done a pretty good job of creating a mask for me. So when we click OK, now I'm actually ready to load this landmass as a selection. In order to do that, all we have to do is go up under Select and choose Load Selection.
By default, Load Selection will load whatever channel is set up as the alpha channel, which is our Red copy layer. So we can go ahead and click OK and now you notice all of the water has been selected. So if we turned our color channels back on just by clicking on the RGB layer here, we can jump back to the Layers panel. Now what I want to do is just create a new layer here just by clicking on the New layer button in the bottom of the Layers panel and filling this new layer with the selected area.
So let's go ahead and fill this with black, so you can just go up under Edit and say Fill and choose Black. We could've also chosen the foreground color, but let's just choose black and click OK. Now we've filled in the ocean. If we turn off the visibility of the background layer, you'll notice that now the landmasses are transparent. We're going to use this as a mask layer when we actually animate our maps. So let's turn off our selection by going to Select and Deselect, or Command+D or Ctrl+D. Now I want to use this as a mask and the easiest way to do that is to copy that mask into our color document and since the documents were originally the same size, this will line up beautifully.
Just Ctrl+Click or right-click on the layer and choose Duplicate Layer. Now we need to choose the other document and when click OK and jump over to the other document you'll notice now the ocean is all black, and that's because I've copied this black layer right into the other document. So now all we have to do is make this background layer active by double-clicking and let's rename this Color Map, and Layer 1 we can rename that Mask.
Now we're ready to actually import this for animation. The easiest way I found to notate that this file has been prepared is come up under the File and choose Save As. When we choose Save As, now we can go ahead and rename this file Map_AE and that lets me know that this map is ready for animation in After Effects. Now I'm going to go ahead and save this project file right into my ch12 folder under the Psd-Comps.
Now when we click Save and OK, we've saved our layered Photoshop document ready for animation. Could we have downloaded these files and dropped them directly in the After Effects? Probably, but it's often faster to jump right into Photoshop so you can optimize the files and make sure everything is the proper size before you get started animating.
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