The following post is from David Opie. David is collaborating with Wayt Gibbs (a Knight Science Journalism Fellow and former senior writer at Scientific American) on the book app Did the Big Bang Make a Sound? Simple Answers to Cosmic Questions. David, who loves space, has illustrated picture books, chapter books, and many educational reading books. To view more of his work, please visit www.spacemandave.com.
So I’ve had this book idea that I’ve been developing with a friend for a long time. In trying to find the right approach, I’ve changed the characters and style several times. Traditional book publishers showed some interest, but we couldn’t get a contract. Then I heard about Composer, and I thought that this would be the perfect format for our project, Did the Big Bang Make A Sound? Simple Answers to Cosmic Questions.
One of the first features in Composer that I explored was “Physics” because I really wanted to make one of the characters float weightlessly around in space. I imported the artwork, assigned some settings under “Physics,” and the astronaut zipped off screen when I previewed it. I tweaked the settings and soon had the astronaut floating out of the panel and into the surrounding space. His empty speech bubble even floats off in a different direction. It’s a simple yet convincing effect, and I was hooked! You can guide the astronaut back to his panel with the swipe of your finger, but he’ll float off again as soon as you let go.
Another technique that works well with Composer is frame-by-frame animation. In the app that I’m working on, we explain some cosmic processes, which is perfect for animation. I create individual frames in Photoshop, export them, and use the “Add Animation” feature to put the frames together to make a little movie. There are some great controls in Composer to fine-tune the animation for your specific needs. It’s been an effective method for my app, and I’m excited to see our project finally coming to life!
Here are a few of the frames that I created in Photoshop for the frame-by-frame animation. Cosmic bodies crashing into each other–now that’s fun stuff!