How to Make Your Own Animated GIFs

No matter where you go online, you’re sure to come across an animated GIF. Animated GIFs are short, looping videos made up of several still shots that for a while were forgotten due to the advent of streaming video and Youtube. But recently they’ve made a comeback — thanks to social media and entertainment pages/apps.

Whether you want to give people a laugh or show off your work on a portfolio page, knowing how to make your own animated GIF is a particularly useful skill nowadays. Here you’ll read our roundup of several programs that make creating your own GIFs a breeze — plus tips on how you can get the most out of these digital creations.

Photoshop

It’s no surprise that the world’s best graphics editing program can also be used to make animated GIFs. Don’t worry, though: if you do not have Photoshop or access to Photoshop, there are a number of free software programs that will do similar. Yet Photoshop is an especially powerful choice. (Note that only some of the most recent versions of Photoshop include the animation features you need.)

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After arranging your layers in the order you want them to be animated, it’s time to sequence them. Instructions for doing so differ, depending on your version of Photoshop. If you have CS5 and older, click Windows + Animation. If you have CS6 or Photoshop CC, open Windows + Timeline. For CC, you’ll have to also select Create Frame Animation from the drop-down menu.

From here, simply find the Make Frames From Layers option to set things like the duration of each frame, how many times the animated GIF should loop, etc. Now hit File and Save for Web to start sharing your GIF with others.

Other Animated GIF Creation Programs

Don’t worry if Photoshop isn’t an option! There are plenty of excellent programs out there that can help you create your own animated GIF. Many of them are even free to use and come with plenty of online tutorials. (Insider secret: online tutorials are tools that even the most experienced graphic deigners use to keep their skills up to date. Don’t be afraid to use this resource!)

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If you already have a video file on your computer that’s ready to be turned into an animated GIF, Zamzar is a great choice. This web application takes your video and converts it into GIF format without the need of any other software. Giphy is another option for easily creating an animated GIF out of a small video on your disk.

To make GIFs out of individual images, we recommend GIMP. This free, open source image editor lets you take a collection of still images and turn them into a GIF. Other options include Giffing Tool for windows users and GIF Brewery for Mac owners. Both of these have some extra features you can pay for that give you more control over your animated GIF.

Other programs worth mentioning include Gifster, Giphy Capture, LiceCap, Gifcam, and Gifox.

Incorporating Animated GIFs Into Your Work

Here are some common practices for easily integrating your GIFs, for maximum effect:

Online Portfolio

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As an aspiring graphic designer, your goal is to use those talents to make a living right out of college. Of course, there are also countless other graduates who will be applying to the same jobs as you. You’ll need something to help you stand out when recruiters begin checking out your online portfolio.

With animated GIFs, you can demonstrate your skills and show off work you’re proud of in a fresh and exciting way. We don’t recommend bombarding viewers with a bunch of GIFs on each page. However, a few of them combined with still images can help your page convey a modern, interactive feel.

Marketing

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When you think of animated GIFs, perhaps several online memes come to mind that spread across your social media pages like wildfire. The fact is that GIFs are great for grabbing people’s attention as they scroll down Facebook or Tumblr — which means they’re perfect for marketing.

What better way to announce a new product than with a catchy animated GIF on your website or in an e-mail? Marketing companies like Bluefly have even done research on the impact of regular images vs. animated GIFs, and have found that GIFs pull in more revenue for advertised products.

Visual Instruction

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It’s one thing to read instructions on how to bake a cake and another to actually watch someone do it. This is why Youtube is flooded with tutorial videos that show us how to do everything from boil an egg to dance like Michael Jackson. Even so, sometimes sticking a video in your work isn’t the best approach.

Instead, create a GIF animation showing a product illustration in motion. Whether you’re building a how-to section on your site or you want to show people how a product works, one or more animated GIFs can do the trick. You can also add small text descriptions below each individual GIF so readers have no trouble following your steps or understanding what you’re trying to convey

First time making a GIF, or are you a seasoned pro? Let us know how you use your GIFs in the comments below!

Interested in learning more about graphic design? NYFA’s graphic design program may be for you.

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