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I'm interested in creating a Java app that creates animations of various effects on images (e.g. sliding, shredding, change color in specific parts etc) and on several layers of images. The selected images and effects will depend on input from the user.

I'm familiar with Java's swing and awt packages. I'm looking for tools with easier learning curve for a graphic design newbie like me. Any ideas?

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Well there's mixed views here about whether coded graphics are on topic here and not sure you'll get much response. Here's that discussion if you'd like to add to it. meta.graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/288/… –  Ryan Feb 21 at 17:22
    
Yes, i guess i had this phrase wrong. I did mean i'm looking for a tool i can learn easier. –  PushAndPop Feb 21 at 17:53
    
I don't know enough to leave a comment but I always thought Processing was the way to go for this sort of thing in Java, and a quick search found wiki.processing.org/w/Swing_JSliders which might be what you're after? –  Ryan Feb 21 at 18:14
    
What is your goal here, to learn programming? If so, Java tends to be one of the de-facto 'learning' languages for computer science newbies. That said, there's really nothing about Java designed for graphic designers. It is very much about Object Oriented Programming. –  DA01 Feb 21 at 18:24
    
Actually this is for the final project of my bachelor's degree in computer science. I don't have any experience in coding animations though. @Ryan Processing looks interesting. i'll defiantly gonna check it out. many thanks! –  PushAndPop Feb 21 at 18:37

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You'll want http://processing.org. It's not only exactly what you want, but even more.

And it is probably the easiest way to get into programming, full stop. With one caveat... you have to like Java-esque languages.

I don't. I prefer Objective-C, but nobody cares about that, right? RIGHT!

The Processing community is second to none in terms of online creative communities.

http://processing.org

And it's basically Java. But even easier.

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