How to Make a Back and Forth Animation

How to Make a Back and Forth Animation

In this tutorial, we’ll show you a hidden feature in PhotoMirage that you can use to make a back and forth animation. The technique involves adding and manipulating nodes on a standard motion arrow to change the one-directional animation to back and forth. Use it to make tails wag, hair flutter in the breeze, pendulums sway and much more.

What kind of objects or images would you add a back and forth animation to? Share your results in our PhotoMirage animation gallery.

Download Resources:
Written tutorial (PDF, 492 KB)
Sample images (Zip file, 4.25 MB)

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How to Make a Back and Forth Animation

In this tutorial, we’ll show you a hidden feature in PhotoMirage that you can use to make a back and forth animation.

Click on any of the images below to view full-size.

Creating a Standard Animation

Open PhotoMirage, and on the main screen click the Open button to upload an image that you want to animate. In this example, we’re using a photo of a goldfish.

  • Click on the Anchor points icon and plot anchor points around the area(s) that you want to remain static (in this case the fish’s body, so that the animation won’t extend past its tail).

  • Click on the Motion Arrow icon and draw an arrow on the part of the image you want to animate (in this example, the fish’s tail).

Click on the Play button to preview what this looks like as a standard, one-direction motion animation.

How to Make a Back and Forth Animation

Hold down CTRL on your keyboard and then click in the middle of the motion arrow you’ve just created. This adds a little square node to the arrow.

Carefully click on this node and drag it in the direction you want to make the animation follow.

Press Play again to preview the difference between this motion and the last one.

  • Make adjustments to the motion by clicking on the tail of the motion arrow and dragging it in a different direction.

Repeat this process with other motion arrows to make a back and forth animation across multiple parts of your image.

Press Play to preview and you’ll see that both the tail fins are moving back and forth independently, giving the illusion that the fish is swimming around!

How to Animate Straight and Wavy Hair

In this next example, we have a photo of two different women facing the water with their hair blowing in the wind.

  • First, add anchor points around both women separating them and restricting the movement to just their hair and not the background or their bodies.
  • Add three short motion arrows facing downwards at the bottom of the blonde woman’s hair.
  • Then add three motion arrows to the brunette woman’s hair as well.

  • Hold down CTRL on your keyboard and click on the middle of the motion arrows to create a node.
  • Drag the node to the left so it will make a motion going from left to right.
  • Repeat this with all three arrows.

Note: As you create more motion arrows, it will appear as though your motion arrow has been reset as now all the arrows look the same. But they will still follow the motion pattern we created.  

You can tell this by clicking on the Select button and dragging a box around one of the motion arrows to select it. When you move this arrow around, you can see the outline of the back and forth motion we just created.

  • Add more back and forth motion arrows to create a fuller effect over all the woman’s hair.

Remember that you can adjust the speed of the animation by adjusting the speed bar to the right or left.

Press Play to preview your animation.

The blonde woman’s hair follows a simple downwards motion, while the brunette woman’s hair has a wavy back and forth motion.

These are just a couple of the fun ways you can experiment using this feature on your photos with PhotoMirage!

Thanks for watching! We hope you found this tutorial helpful and we would love to hear your feedback in the Comments section below. And don’t forget to visit our social media pages and show us what you’ve learned by sharing your photos, videos and creative projects with us.

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Comments (5)

  • Robert (Bob) Stoker Reply

    I AM BLIND I use the computer with the aid of specialised audible assistive software but I will NEVER allow my disability to overpower my ABILITIES. I help out at a blind club where all the members have varying degrees of sight loss
    Would it be possible for one of your clever people to create an animated signature with a symbol (blind man holding a guide cane) running along below the text?
    Please email me for text details

    April 15, 2021 at 7:37 pm
  • Jim Reply

    Cool, yes. Cool.
    What about saving it as a file? I am on no social media or will be.

    December 27, 2020 at 11:20 pm
    • Adam Reply

      Hello Jim,

      Not to worry! The social media presets resize the image for that channel’s preferred resolution, but there is still a file on your computer in the end. The full version of PhotoMirage also includes a fully configurable custom save option in addition to the social media templates, meaning you can save the file as needed.

      Hope this helps,

      Discovery Center Team

      January 2, 2021 at 5:17 pm
  • James Shewhorak Reply

    I already bought the software but i could not save in a file that I can upload on my facebook .
    Can you please show me how save it in MP4 file ?

    Thank you
    Parmeshwar Shewhorak ( James)

    June 13, 2020 at 8:52 am
    • Adam Reply

      Hello James,

      The simplest way to export a file for Facebook is to use the Facebook preset in the Export menu. You can also use the Custom export option to manually specify resolution and file format. For more detail on how to export, check out How to Save and Export Photo Animations!

      Discovery Center Team

      June 14, 2020 at 12:05 pm

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