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Creating Sparkle Shapes

You can use any shape or dingbat for this effect

This tutorial deals with creating the animation and not the background.


This tutorial is written for Paint Shop Pro 8, but it should be possible to follow the instructions with other versions, making only minor adjustments for the differences between the versions of PSP.

This tutorial is aimed at those with some experience of using PSP, and so actions such as placing shapes, dingbats and selecting materials/colours are not covered in detail. 
Please see the Beginners Tutorials for detailed instructions for these features.

You will need to download my sparkles_multi-jh tube for this tutorial - Download it HERE.  If you are using PSP7, rename the file to use a .tub extension instead of .psptube


Before you begin, you will need to choose shapes or dingbats to use to make your sparkle shape.  You can use a combination of shapes, lines and dingbats if you wish, but your design should not be too big.  

I have a collection of shapes which you might like to use HERE.

There is a wonderful selection of Dingbat fonts at http://www.katsfunfonts.com/   They are free for personal use but please check the terms of use that come with the fonts for yourself.

Create a new image 250 x 250 pixels, Black background


Layers menu, New Vector Layer

If you are using a dingbat font for your shapes, make sure you have the file open (and minmized).

Click on the Shape or Text tool (depending on whether you are using a shape or a dingbat).

On the materials pallet, set the foreground colour to white and the background colour to null .  If you are using a dingbat font, you might have to switch them over to foreground null and background white - it depends of the font.

If drawing a shape make sure the "Retain Style" box is unticked.

Set the Line Style to Solid Line and the Width to 4.


Draw and arrange your Shapes or Dingbats.   Some sort of curved line leading to a shape works well.  I've used a loop and some hearts.  Its actually the same heart shape used 3 times in different sizes and rotated to different angles.
Click on the Object Selector Tool (Picker tool in PSP Photo XI), and use it to select all your shapes by holding down the SHIFT key while you click on each one.  Alternatively you can drag diagonally across the group of shapes, enclosing them all.


Selections menu, From Vector Object - marching ants will appear around the edges of the white lines.


Layers menu, New Raster Layer

On the Layers Pallet, turn off the visibility on layer Vector1 (as shown)

This will leave you with just the marching ants showing over the black background.


Select the Paint Brush tool.

On the materials pallet, set the foreground colour to white.

Use the following settings for your brush.....

When you've made all the settings, you can click the Presets button and then click the floppy disk symbol to save these settings so you can call them back again easily next time you make a sparkle shape.


You need to fill in your shape in about 10 to 15 stages, starting at the bottom of your shape.

Paint with the brush over the selected area to fill in the first stage.  You don't want to fill it in fully, so only go over the area once.  It is supposed to be speckled.

Layers menu, New Raster Layer

On this layer, start where the brush will overlap the upper end of the previous stage and paint a little further along the line, shape or ding.  In my example, I've gone half way around the loop.

Where the brush work on the stages overlap, the fill looks denser but as it is on different layers it will create a shimmering effect in the animation.


Continue creating new layers and filling more of the shapes on each layer. 

When you get to the end of the line leading to your main shape, don't overlap onto it when you are filling in the main shapes.


As you fill in around the main shape/shapes overlap back to the beginning of that shape so that as you get all the way around it, it will form a complete shape and shimmer.

Add an additional layer at the end painting over the whole of the main shape (the big heart on my example with the shape filled in again.



I've used 12 painting layers all together.  In the following images, the areas where the brush painting overlaps, from one layer to the next, have a red line around them.

Raster 1

Raster 2

Raster 3

Raster 4

Raster 5

Raster 6

Raster 7

Raster 8

Raster 9

Raster 10

Raster 11

Raster 12


Selections Menu, Select None

On the Layers pallet, click on layer Raster 1

Click on the tube tool and select my sparkle tube "sparkles_multi-jh".

Set the scale to 60

Add 2 or 3 sparkles on or near the area you filled with the brush on layer 1. 

Select each layer in turn and add a few sparkles on or near the area that is filled on that layer.  If when you click you don't get the size of sparkle you want or it's in the wrong place, use the Undo button on the tool bar at the top to go back a step (or as many as you need to) and try placing the sparkle again.

If you can't remember which section you have filled on what layers; turn off the visibility on all the layers except the one you are working on, and then turn them on again as you are ready to work on them.

Remember - making a layer visible doesn't make it the active layer to work on, you have to click on its name to select it as the active layer.


Sparkles added
to layers 1, 2, 3 and 4

When you have finished adding sparkles, make all the layers visible again.

Delete the layer "Vector 1"

Delete the bottom layer "Background"


Save the file using the file type "Animation Shop (*.psp)" on the pull down list.  If you have PSP7 you won't have this type, but saving as a PSP7 file works just fine.

Once it is saved, close the file in PSP.


Start up Animation Shop.

File menu, Preferences, General Program Preferences

Click the Layered Files tab, and make sure you settings are like this:

File, Open

Browse to the folder where you save your file.  If you can't see it, pull down the list "Files of Type" and change the setting to "All Files"

Select your file and open it.  (your file should have a .psp extension)

As it loads into Animation Shop, the layers should get converted into frames.


To see what your sparkle shape will look like on a coloured background: 

Animation menu, Animation Properties - select Opaque and then click the colour block to choose a colour.

Then click the animation preview to see how it looks.


There is no point saving this as a gif from Animation Shop as its better load up the .psp file each time you want to use the sparkle shape on a background tag.  This was just so that you can check that it works OK before you do that. 

If you are going straight onto the next part "Adding Sparkle Shapes to Tags" go back into the Animation Properties and set the background back to Transparent.