Crossfade Howto

The crossfade is one of the oldest "animation" techniques, and it's just the blending of one image into another smoothly. This is a little more complex than it sounds, as the two biggest programs don't actually have an automated option for that. Something else to consider is the fact that a cross-fade introduces a lot of new colors into an image, making it tough sometimes to get it down to under 40k in size. If this is a problem, consider using a dissolve transition effect instead. Here's a comparison of a true cross-fade and a dissolve effect. The fade is 28k and the dissolve is only 17k.

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Now, on to the individual tutorials. One per program, here ya go:

Adobe Imageready

  1. Resize the two images you want to use to the same size (or the size you want them anyway).
  2. Create a new file, with the dimensions you want for the final animation. Normally, this will be 100x100 pixels.
  3. Select and copy the first original image, and paste it into the new file.
  4. With the new file still selected, duplicate the frame (on the bottom of the filmstrip, next to the trash can icon). You should have two identical frames in the filmstrip.
  5. Select and copy the second original image, and past it into the new file.
  6. Notice on the layers palette, you have two different layers. Both of them are marked as "visible" in both frames. Look at the filmstrip, and you should see two identical frames. Don't worry, the other image is there, just covered up. The layers are listed as if you put several pieces of paper atop each other; i.e. the top layer is visible unless specifically marked invisible.
  7. Leave both layers marked visible in the first frame, and go to the second frame. Mark the top layer invisible (remove the little eye). Your filmstrip should now show two different frames, not identical.
  8. Select the first frame. Select the tween button below the filmstrip (looks like a piece of chain). Make sure you have "all layers" selected, as well as "opacity" - the other options are irrelevant for a fade.
  9. Set the number of frames (for a 100x100 photo, 4-6 is good) you want to use for the fade, and set the opacity for the final image as 0. Hit OK and watch it go.
  10. You should be able to hit the "preview" button and see how it turned out. If it isn't what you want, either play with the delay on each frame or hit CTRL-Z (undo) and try again.

Macromedia Fireworks

  1. Open the two images you want to fade, ensuring both are sized to fit in the final animation. (You'll be turning both images into "symbols" to animate them.)
  2. Create a new file with the dimensions you need, and paste both bitmaps into it. The image you want to fade TO needs to be on the "bottom" layer, and that layer should be set to "share across frames" while the image you want to fade FROM needs to be on a separate layer "above" it.
  3. Select the bitmap you want to fade out first. Go to Modify-Animate-Animate Selection (Alt-shift-F8).
  4. Change the default settings in that box to "Frames 5, Move 0, Direction doesn't matter, Scale 100, Opacity 100 to 0, Rotate 0." What this will do is not move it, not rotate it, not resize it, but just change the opacity of the image from 100% (fully visible) to 0% (invisible) in 5 frames.
  5. Fireworks will ask if you want to automatically add new frames. OK.
  6. Your animation should fade from the "top" layer into the "bottom" layer in 5 frames, very smoothly. Adjust the timing of the frames as desired.

Jasc Animation Shop

  1. Open images and paste them into a new animation as two separate frames.
  2. Select the first frame.
  3. Go to Effects-Insert Image Transition. Select Fade and adjust the settings as desired.
  4. That's it.

Ulead GIF Animator

  1. Open images and paste them into a new animation as two separate frames.
  2. Select the first frame.
  3. Go to Video F/X-F/X-Cross-Fade. Adjust settings as desired.
  4. You're done.

This concludes the Cross-Fade Howto. I hope it was helpful, and if there are any points that are unclear (or just wrong) let me know.