Phase Three: Animating
Used 3D Studio Max™ to animate the character and effects.
Here are a couple of preliminary versions.
Phase VI: Compositing & Formatting
Final Birthday Card Adobe Photoshop was used to reduce frames, and optimize colors. Saved out as an animated gif, with these settings: "Restrictive" color, (216 web colors) Transparent. The trick to achieving the smallest file size was to make the character's coloring more solid (blocks rather than smooth gradients). The solid background is transparent, which drastically reduces file load time. I also limited the movement and reduced frames to 21.