Have you ever wanted to create GIFs? If your answer is a resounding yes then please read on.
Let me start by saying that creating GIFs isn’t that hard, once you have the basics down you can make some pretty cool animations.
But, I didn’t always think this way!
At first I thought they would be too time consuming to learn, too hard, I really didn’t know were to start… All the usual excuses that come up when one is unsure.
But, I gave myself a chance and started learning… I didn’t have anything to lose. ..Right?
GIF’s range from really easy to quiet complex. One of the good things about them is that once you get a basic understanding, you begin to relax and start to explore a little bit further each time.
And because it’s so much fun, you want to keep on creating!
The other good thing is that people LOVE GIFs, they seem to do well on social media and you can use them in different ways. For example, to explaining something, to advertise, to make fun of etc.
Today, I want to show you how to make a very basic GIF so that you can see how easy they are to create. Warning! It can be addictive.
So, without further ado here it is.
What you’ll need
-Photoshop and a basic understanding of Photoshop.
-A simple illustration for the animation (all dolled up and ready to go into Photoshop). Try to think ahead on how you want to animate the various parts of your illustration. In other words which bits you’d like movement on. Make sure these are on their own layers when placed in photoshop.
Or to get you started you can use the two flower motifs I’ve provided (click here).
How to make an animated GIF
Create a new document in Photoshop.
I like to use the following settings. Since, the GIF will be for web use only I often make my template square in size and rather small (600px X 600px), RGB color mode (for web only) and at a resolution of 72dpi.
Then, place your images into Photoshop. Here are all my images that’ll be using.
You can see in the above picture my overall brainstorm on how I want my images to appear during my animation.
“i bring” will come in first, then “you“, after that “flowers“, then the blue background and immediately the flower bunch. This flower bunch will be making two-three rotations/ spins.
At this stage I need to make sure that all the above sections used in the animation are placed into separate layers.
Using the Timeline menu
From these separate layers you’ll start creating frames by using the Timeline menu. Think of frames as the different pages in a little book and as you flick the pages you see the animation happening, that’s what we are trying to do with the frames.
Frames create the animation.
To take this example further, you’ll need to know how fast you want to flick the pages; the term I’ll be using for this is the delay. Also, all animation for GIFs exist in loops and so we’ll need to make it into a continuous loop.
Let’s start by opening the timeline menu you’ll need to go to Window> Timeline
The menu will appear at the bottom of the workspace. This is where all our animation begins.
In the middle of the timeline workspace you’ll see Create Frame animation. If you can’t see it, click on the arrow to open the drop down menu to select it.
By clicking on the Create Frame animation, you’ll have your first frame. Make sure that your first layer (in the layers panel) is turned on. In my example it’s “I bring”
Under the first frame you’ll find a drop down menu to select how much time or rather delay you want each frame to have before the next one appears. In this example I’ll be choosing 0.5 sec, the default is 0.
Let’s ensure that the looping is also set, so select >Forever.
To create the second frame, click on the Duplicate frame icon (found just before the garbage can icon) that’s at the bottom of the Timeline panel.
Then go to the layers panel and make the layer that’s on top invisible. Then make your next frame visible. In my case I turn off “I bring” and turn on “you”. This is how the animation gets recorded.
Again, click the duplicate icon, make sure you’re on the new frame, go to your layers panel, make the previous layer invisible and make visible the next layer.
In my case I turn off “you” and turn on “flowers”
You’ll need to repeat this for all the frames that your animation will need.
To test the animation, select the Play button that’s also found in the Timeline menu.
How to save your GIF as an animated GIF file or as VIDEO for social media.
To save your animation as a GIF file:
Go to File>export> Save for Web
What you need to make sure of in the Save menu
Preset needs to be at GIF 128 Dithered
At the Bottom of the menu make sure Looping is set to Forever.
N.B sometimes your file can end up being too big, if this happens you can
- Resize the image (what I almost always do). To do this, go to Image> Canvas Size (add in your new size, this resizes the canvas, but it won’t distort the image) or
- Remove some of the frames
To save your animation as a video:
Instagram is the social media I mostly post in, so I’ll explain how I prepare my GIF animation for this purpose. Instagram videos need to be at least 5 seconds long. To achieve this time I need my animation to be longer.
I know how long it is by adding up all the delay times on the frames (found in the right bottom corner of each frame).
In this example I only needed to duplicate the entire set of frames twice to reach just past 5 sec.
How to duplicate?
You can do this by selecting all the frames and then pressing the opt key to duplicate and drag all the frames to just past the last frame in the group.
Make sure you select all the frames you want to copy then go to the upper right (where there are three lines)in the Timeline menu and click >select Copy Frame and then again click the three lines and select >Paste Frames
When your animation is done, go to File> Export > Render Video
What you need to make sure of in the render menu
Make sure Range is set to All Frames and click Render to save it.
This often takes a little while.
And there you have it, that’s really all there is to animating your own GIFs
I hope this was useful!
And I would really love to see what you come up with.