I've seen one other tutorial for Christmas lights, but it was so incomplete and so badly written that I had to do it from scratch, so I decided to create a tutorial as I worked. This is the result - not perfect, but it works. The only thing similar to my tutorial and the one I tried to use is that they both use the same tubes.
Supplies Needed:Paint Shop Pro
Open a new transparent image 350 x 50 16mil colors.
Flood fill with color or a pattern. I filled mine AFTER I finished the tube placements, but you can fill it at any time. Notice that mine is filled with the same background I use on most of my Web pages so that my lights appear to be transparent when they're finished.
Add a new layer. Name it line, then select the drawing tool and use these settings to draw a curved line:
Draw a line the way you'd like. Here's mine:
You should have two layers now.
Save as bulbs.psp. Remember to save as you progress through the tutorial.
For each bulb you add, add a layer. This will enable you to move the bulbs around on the line and to turn on the bulbs later. If you haven't installed the bulb tubes, do it now. I named all of mine with "off" in the name. I had intentions of creating "on" but never got around to it. Select the tube tool and the first bulb tube. Use these settings:
Place the bulbs on the line until you have as many as you wish, remembering to put each bulb on its own layer. Move it using the Move tool.
Your final layer palette should look similar to this one - depending on how many bulbs you placed on your line:
Once you have all your bulbs placed, you can use the Move tool to change their positions on the line. All you have to do is touch the move tool to a bulb, and you'll be able to move the correct bulb. The layer palette changes as you touch the bulbs with the tube tool. Rotate some of your tubes. Here's one set of rotate settings:
Once you have all your bulbs placed, moved, and rotated to suit you, the fun begins preparing the image for animation.
Each bulb needs to be turned on, so to speak. We're going to do that by using Color/Adjust, then Brightness/Contrast for EACH bulb. Yes, it's tedious and takes time, but it's a little easier than adding a new on layer for each bulb, turning this layer on and that layer off, and so on. However, be VERY careful doing this. Since the layers are not merged, each bulb can still be moved, and you don't want them moved.
Begin with the first bulb on the left. Bear in mind that once you select by touching your Move tool over it, it may or may not be layer 1. It all depends on how you moved your bulbs around on the line.
Using the Selection tool, Rectangle, Feather and antialias unchecked, draw a small rectangle around the bulb. Select the Move tool, touch lightly on the bulb inside the selection to select it.
From the top menu, select Color/Adjust and then Brightness/Contrast. For the lighter bulbs, use these settings:
The darker tubes need to have the brightness setting at 75. Or wherever you decide it looks best.
Selection off. Go to Layers/Merge/Merge All (Flatten). Save the file as bulbon1.psp. Select Edit and undo back to and including New Selection.
Repeat for each bulb layer. Name each save as the next incremental number and not as the layer number. Numbering is left to right until you've turned on each bulb.
After turning on the last bulb, undo again as you did in Step #7. Then go to Layers/Merge/Merge All (Flatten) again. Save this file as bulbsunlit.psp. Undo again. Save as you did in the beginning, bulbs.psp, so you'll have a copy to work with again if you need to or want to change the background. To change the background, select the background layer and flood fill it with color or a pattern.
Time to animate! Launch Animation Shop, select the Animation Wizard, accept the default options, making sure the time is set to between 25 and 35. Add all your saved psp files starting with bulbsunlit.psp through the largest numbered bulbonx.psp. Or put them in any order you please for a variation of on/off lighting. View your animation. If it's okay, save it. If you see bulbs and lines instead of the entire image, you've forgotten to merge one or more of your psp files. Go back and do that, then start your animation again. When the Optimization Wizard starts running make sure the level is all the way to the top.
There are many ways to customize this tutorial the way you want. Make the line longer; add ornaments; some poinsettia; some branches. But these must be added BEFORE you begin turning the bulbs on.
Added November 4: Lady Gem created a beautiful variation which you can see by clicking HERE to view it. It's 127,685 bytes, so be patient as it loads. Lady Gem is the owner of the eGroup, PSP_W_LadyGem. Thanks, Lady Gem, for giving me permission to post this for others to see.