I've been asked to make a tutorial on creating my ‘Mapbox’ animation, so here it is:

The animation to which this tutorial refers is here:


This tutorial assumes some basic knowledge of Gimp, so not all of the instructions will be given in full.

Disclaimer: I'm a novice with Gimp, so there may be easier ways to do this than the methods I've used.

The tutorial is in two parts, Creation and Animation.



A number of images are used, and some of these need to be created using Gimp itself.

The images are:

The background flooring texture
The device drawing
The circuitry texture
The electric spark texture
The blank screen
The screen image
The broken glass texture.

The images labelled as textures are downloaded from an appropriate free texture site.

The device drawing is one I prepared earlier in Inkscape, basically just a white frame with a black panel and a heavy drop shadow. Make your own or find something suitable on the web.

The blank screen is just a dark grey rectangle, but it needs a cut out so you can see the circuit board through it - more on that later.

The screen image is a map I made a while ago in Viewingdale - any image will do. Again, it needs a cut out so you can see both the circuit board and part of the blank screen through it, and I'll describe that process next.

Screen Masks:
The key to the cut outs is the broken glass texture. The texture I downloaded held the 'cracks' against a black background.

First, adjust the size of the texture to fit your device drawing (or vice versa).

Making the Blank Screen Mask:
Use Fuzzy Select to select one 'shard' of the glass (fortunately, the 'cracks' divided the image into separate black areas so that individual shard sections could be selected).

Bucket fill the selected shard with a colour you won't use elsewhere (fluorescent green, perhaps) Likewise select and fill the centre 'bullet hole' with the green.

Use Colour Select to select the green parts and then invert the selection and bucket fill with dark grey everything except the green bits. You have now created a mask of the blank screen with a lurid green cut out that you can later make transparent.

Making the Screen Image Mask:
The process of making the screen image mask is similar, but needs a few additional steps.
Firstly, make a new blank screen image, but with an extra shard coloured green - ie two shards plus the centre.
Open your chosen screen map image and adjust the map image to the correct size then copy the new blank screen mask into a new layer above the map. Colour Select the grey part and Edit > Clear to make the grey transparent. Flatten the image and you should have the map image with a green area for the cut outs.

Making Transparent Glass:
Open the broken glass texture again and use Colour Select to select the black. Change the colour to transparent. This can be done two ways:
Simple Edit > Clear, if the image has multiple layers,

or by adding an Alpha Channel and converting black to alpha:
Layer > Transparency > Add Alpha Layer.
Colours > Colour to Alpha.

This should give you transparent broken glass, with the 'cracks' alone on a transparent background.

At this point you have all the parts you need to create the animation.


Creating the Background:

Open a new drawing. Import the flooring, the device, the circuitry, the blank screen and the transparent glass texture onto successive layers.

When you import the blank screen, use Colour Select and Edit > Clear to make that lurid green transparent. You should see the circuitry in one shard and the centre.

Flatten everything onto a single layer.

Right-click the layer in the Layers Window and click Change Attributes. Alongside the name, type a time in brackets - eg, 'Background' becomes 'Background (5000ms)'
This denotes how long the frame will display when it is animated.

Making Frames:
The animation process interprets layers as movie frames, so you need to create a drawing with layers that represent each frame of your movie.

Layers > Duplicate Layer will make a new copy of your background (you'll need this background in every frame/layer, but you'll modify it each time).

Copy your lightning texture and paste it into this second layer, making sure it's flattened down so you only have two layers overall, not three. The first layer shows the device with a blank screen and the second is identical except it has a spark on the circuitry. Change the attributes of the second layer, perhaps calling it 'Spark' and giving it a display time of (100ms) Remember the brackets, they're essential.

Select the first layer again in the Layers Window and duplicate it again. Drag the duplicate layer up to form a third layer and call it 'Gap (100ms)'

Duplicate the second layer and drag the duplicate up to make a fourth layer.

At this point, check what you've done:

Go to Filters > Animation > Playback. Hit the Play button and you should see your blank screen open for five seconds, a lightning flash will appear for 0.1 second, vanish for 0.1 second, reappear for 0.1 second, before the animation repeats.

The remainder of the animation process is the same - no need to bore you with repetition. Each time you want to add something else in, duplicate one of the previous images that is closest to what you need and copy in your additional material.

For example, your next step will be to duplicate the first frame, copy your screen map image onto the new layer (making the green bits transparent in the process), copy the transparent glass texture onto the same layer too, and time this to 100ms. This should give you your first flash of map image.

Duplicate the bottom layer again and change the timing to make the map flash off to a blank screen for 100ms, and keep building up your layer/frames until you have the sequence you want.

Playback frequently to catch any errors early.

Converting to Gif:
When you have your completed sequence, go to Filters > Animation > Optimise for Gif. Choose Gif animation.

When the optimisation process is complete, save as a Gif.

You should now have your animated Gif.

If you notice any errors in this tutorial or you have any questions or suggestions, let me know.

Happy Animation!