I want to create the following transform by transforming the BLACK layer of the attached gif. I know how to transform the white part (that's how I created the gif). Is this possible? In my production version, the white part is actually an image of the moon which I want to progressively hide, simulating the phases of the moon. The reason I can't transform the white part is that it distorts the image of the moon. The other 3/4ths of the cycle I have figured out, but this one has me stumped.

enter image description here

  • Long black layer with half circle right side... moved to the right.
    – Scott
    May 10, 2020 at 3:10
  • @Scott what shape would the "long black layer" be to always intersect the white half circle at the top and bottom?
    – mseifert
    May 10, 2020 at 3:18
  • If I made 2 long black layers - both approximately double the width of the half circle - one of the black layers has a transparent half circle cut out of it and overlays the white. The second (a rectangle) sits to the left of the 1st black layer. Then, transforming the first to the right while moving the 2nd to the right took care of it. Not sure if that is what you meant (or makes sense), but it gave me an idea anyway.
    – mseifert
    May 10, 2020 at 3:35
  • The transform of the black is exactly the same as for the wite. But this leads to other problems.
    – joojaa
    May 10, 2020 at 7:01
  • I might be missing something here, but just want to make sure you think about the possibility of simply working "inverted". Create a black fill with a white circle on top which you transform. Then multiply the whole thing on top of the moon which will then be visible in the white parts.
    – Wolff
    May 10, 2020 at 10:35

4 Answers 4


My solution

Based on inspiration from @Scott. Made a layer the same size as the circle. Filled it with black. Moved it 1/2 way to the left (1/2 off screen, 1/2 overlap half circle) Cut out the half circle from the black layer Made 2nd layer, filled it with black and moved it fully off screen to the left. Transformed first black layer using left most middle handle all the way to the right. Moved second black layer to the right simultaneously (needed because the first layer eventually revealed the white circle underneath it since it shrunk toward 0 width.

UPDATE The following gif incorporates the solution above. It is not accurate for the reasons @user287001 points out, but it is sufficient for showing to my class of Sixth Graders.

Figuring out how to transform the rotating moon (while keeping the white part always facing right - toward the sun) was another problem I couldn't solve. I could rotate it perfectly around the center point with the white part always facing in. What is posted has a 3d moon that is manually transformed about 70 time to the approximate position - that is why it is slightly jumpy.

enter image description here


To get it right geometrically and in time, too, you can work with Illustrators or Photoshop's 3D. The next example is in Illustrator, A half-circle is revolved to sphere with 3D revolution effect and a half-black rectangle is mapped onto it. The other half is cyan to make it visible against my white artboard without shading:

enter image description here

In the next image the mapped "art" is scaled to fit. The viewing angles can be changed to fit with all possible views.

enter image description here

Your example view with apparent poles on the top and bottom needs only one angle to be other than zero. You can change it say 12 degree steps from 0 to 360 to get one full cycle as 30 snapshots. You can copy and paste every version to a different Photoshop layer.

Reopen the view setting dialog by clicking "3D Revolve" in the Appearance panel

I said "right in time, too". If you make the frames with uniform rotation angle steps the apparent velocity of the light-dark edge changes right. It's fastest at half-moon and slowest at full and new moons.

Scientifically this is only a coarse approximation because it doesn't take into the account the full complexity of moon's orbit, not even the orbital motion of the earth. But it's more realistic than any linear movement or scaling with a constant speed.

I'm sure people who use advanced video editors would make this directly as video in their program with the same 3D effect + by defining the rotation. It's out of the scope of this answer.

ADD: This was not asked, but Illustrator can also produce exact orbital motion diagram. Object > Transform > Rotate makes exact and easily repeatable (=Ctrl+D) rotations.

enter image description here

The magenta circle is only for the convenience. It's actually colorless and strokeless, it only is there to make the shape symmetric for consistent rotation without a need to set the center.

The original black shape is duplicated (=Alt+Drag) and placed on each rotated version. It snaps exactly in Illustrator if there's Smart Guides ON.

  • I have read through your post and it seems that it offers the correct solution. However, I am not versed in Illustrator and I have not even come close to mastering Photoshop 3D. My solution is indeed inaccurate - especially in the lack of constant speed as you point out. This animation is for 6th Graders, so perfection, fortunately, is not required as it would be for a college level presentation. Thanks for laying this out.
    – mseifert
    May 11, 2020 at 7:23
  • @mseifert Just saw your completed animation. Seemingly you are one of those who put things to happen when the direction is clear. Congratulations. You can well accept your own answer.
    – user82991
    May 11, 2020 at 11:26
  • Your post hopefully will inspire me to take on learning Illustrator once I have any spare time. Thank you again.
    – mseifert
    May 11, 2020 at 18:34

Using a simple black circle, moved to be off the canvas to start. Simply add key markers for Position at the start and end....

enter image description here

Or.. if you need the opposing, half-circle, sort of mask, create a long shape and a half-circle cut out of the right side, then animate it the same way... (Note the above image is actually more correct as to how the moon phases would appear/hide, but I included this to match your question.)

enter image description here

You could feasibly do either of these with a mask on the Moon layer and then animate the mask. You would simply need a background layer in that case.

And, of course, if you want to merely animate the moon moving right, all you need to do is animate that layer and add an appropriate static background layer which gets "uncovered" as the moon moves...

enter image description here

  • It looks like all the comments that were posted have been removed. It appears you go some flak for this post. Unfortunately the 3 effects you've posted didn't address my challenge. I did however gain inspiration from you comment and I appreciate all the time you put into coming up with alternatives.
    – mseifert
    May 11, 2020 at 7:20

Although this is already answered by the user. Let's follow logic.

  1. The moon does not change in shape.

  2. The one thing that changes is the illuminated part.

The answer, use a mask.

Use the animation you already did as a mask over the full illuminated moon over the dark moon.

  • This was exactly what I attempted to do, but have not been able how to figure out how to apply a moving mask created from transformed smart objects. Is there a link anywhere you could share that gives a tutorial? I spent well over an hour trying to find one.
    – mseifert
    May 11, 2020 at 7:18

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