How To Make a GIF

Look anywhere online and you’ll see a practical explosion of animated GIF (Graphic Interchange Format) files. These cute little moving pictures are popular because they add quick humor and spunk to blog posts, emails, messages – really any digital platform. Best of all, they are easy to create.

Let me walk you through the process of making a stop-motion-style GIF – in this case, an animated banana peel.

1. First things first: you will need to take some photos! In order to keep your background consistent and still, mount your camera on a tripod in an area where the lighting is unlikely to change. Between each photo you take, move your subject slightly until it has progressed through some kind of brief movement or story. If the photos were strung together in a flip book, a fluid motion would be visible. Below, you can see my workspace where I took 15 photos to progressively move a banana peel across the frame.

camera setup


2. Next, import your photos into Photoshop. Place each photo on top of the last so that the bottom layer is the first frame, and the top layer is the last. Then, click on the “Timeline” view in the Window menu.

Photoshop timeline


3. In the timeline panel that appears below your composition, a button will either read, “Create Frame Animation” or “Create Video Timeline.” Use the dropdown menu to the right to select “Create Frame Animation.” Then click that button.

Photoshop create frame animation


4. Now, locate the hamburger menu to the top right of the Timeline panel and click it to make a drop down menu appear.

Photoshop timeline hamburger menu

Make sure the menu has a checkmark beside “Create New Layer for Each New Frame” and not beside “New Layers Visible in All Frames.” Then, click “Make Frames From Layers.”

Photoshop make frames from layers


5. When a series of frames appear in your Timeline, click the arrow beside the word “Once” on the bottom left of your Timeline panel. Change “Once” to “Forever” in order to make your GIF loop infinitely.

Photoshop loop forever


6. Now, you will need to select the length of time each frame should play by clicking the dropdown to the right of “0 sec.” on each frame. If you want all frames to play for the same length, hold down the shift key then click each frame to select all. When you change the speed on one dropdown, all the frames will all play at that speed. You can view the animation by clicking play on your Timeline. I left my animation at the default because I want it to move quickly, but feel free to play around until you’re pleased with the animation speed of your frames.

Photoshop frame length


7. Time to export!

Before attempting to save your animation, Click Image/Image Size, then adjust the dimensions to make sure that your image is reasonably sized. Since this is a digital file, your resolution does not need to be more than 72 ppi, and and your height and width dimensions should both be under 1000px. Anything much bigger may make for a much longer and unnecessary exporting process.

Photoshop resize


8. Click File/Export/Save for Web (Legacy)…

Photoshop Save for Web

A window will appear, where you must select GIF as the file type. Click Save, name your masterpiece and select the location where you wish to store your GIF animation file.

Photoshop GIF export


There you have it! Place your GIF into emails, webpages and any other digital media for a rad visual enhancement, sure to sweeten your content.



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