The Gainsborough rat

I was lecturing today on the way that the black rat population of Europe, which carried plague fleas, gave way to the brown rats around 1750, leading to fewer deaths by plague.

I was looking at animated gifs and thinking about lovely 18th century paintings, and decided to put the delightful brown rat in one. Then I can ask students, is he a troublemaker?


 I did this in a frustrating couple of hours in Fireworks, learning how to edit all the frames of the rat by using onion skinning, showing all frames, and selecting all. The placement on the canvas was important, as I added the painting, and put it on a separate layer, which for some reason had to be corrected in all 9 frames. Then frame 4 had a darker rat. I had to darken the rat to get it to show against the golden background, but even after adjustment, frame 4 stayed darker. I decided to leave it so the rat could call attention to himself.

Then, no matter how much I reduced its size, I can’t get it to play properly here in Posterous, so you have to click the “slideshow” link – ugh.

Perhaps adding an animated gif to a still image would be a cool assignment, but the way I did it was too hard. Web 2.0 solutions, anyone?


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