Does ImageReady Know Better?

By: jerry | 10/04/2005

ImageReady is a wonderful addition to the Photoshop toolbox, although for the few things I use it for, I’d be happy if they rolled it into Photoshop. I use ImageReady for two tasks. One is slicing and optimizming an entire webpage of graphics. Of course, now that I use CSS instead of tables for layout, it seems like the days of heavy image use have past. An average page used to have tens of images. Now, three or four is not uncommon. The fewer the images, the less need to avoid Photoshop’s built in “Save for Web” tool.

My second primary use for ImageReady is creating animated gifs. While this certainly isn’t a huge part of my average day, it does come up frequently enough to shine a spotlight on one of ImageReady’s more annoying “features.” My workflow for a typical animation project begins in Photoshop. I design the basic framework and then use layers to create the individual frames of the animation. In the “Good Old Days” the final animation would be built with a special tool that read the Photoshop layers and assembled the animation. Now I use ImageReady to do the assembly. Which brings me to my gripe.

Animated gifs work exactly like cartoons. Animation is composed of static cels or frames that appear to animate much like an old fashioned flip book. ImageReady helps the artist manage these frames in a pallete that provides a look at all of the frames side by side. Editing a particular frame is as simple as selecting that frame in the pallete and then turning layers on and off (or moving elements in layers). The problem arises when the artist decides to add an element that isn’t already on one of the layers.

Suppose you forgot to add the company logo in the last frame of the animation. No problem. Create a new layer and place the logo on the that layer. And here’s where the aggravation occurs. Rather than activating that layer for only the frame or frames selected in the animation pallete, ImageReady decides to activate that layer for EVERY frame. So now, although I almost never want this effect, the new layer appears on each and every frame. The only solution I’ve found is to highlight all of the other frames and deactivate that layer. It’s not a difficult solution, but why do I have to do it at all?

Maybe there’s a better way, but I haven’t found it. Have you?


Posted in Design,

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