We’re living in the era of GIFs
Not long ago, we expressed surprise, anger, or amusement with words. But we’ve now largely abandoned words in favor of animated pictures to show how we feel. The writer in me weeps.
How big is the trend? Popular GIF site Giphy serves up more than one billion GIFs a day to over 100 million daily users. That’s a lot of procrastinating people.
And it’s not just millennials and Gen Z-ers. Businesses of all shapes and sizes have turned to GIFs to stay relevant.
Take Dell. You might not expect an old-school IT company to be an example of good GIFing, But their GIF-centric marketing ad campaign gave them a revenue boost of 109%.
Pretty impressive, right?
Wouldn’t it be great if you could spice up your messages and ad campaigns with your own customized GIFs?
This guide will show you exactly how to make your own GIFs using both Photoshop and other free alternatives. And don’t worry—you don’t need to be a Photoshop whiz—just a series of images or a clip from a video, and you’re on your way.
Let’s get started.
→ Having second thoughts on making your own? Here’s our list of places to find the best GIFs.
Method 1: How to make an animated GIF in Photoshop using images
Got some images you’d like to turn into a GIF?
Step 1: upload your images
Make sure all the images you need are stored in a single folder. Then in Photoshop:
- Go to the File menu
- Hover over Scripts
- Choose “Load Files Into Stack”
- Click “Browse” and find your photos
- Hold down the Shift key and select all the files
- Click “Open” then “OK”
It’ll look like this:
Note that these images are uploaded as “Layers.” These layers will become the frames you use to create the animation.
Step 2: set up your animation
Now it’s time to get your animation set up as a Timeline:
- Go to the Window menu
- Click on “Timeline”
- Select “Create Frame Animation” from the dropdown menu
Step 3: convert layers to frames
The next step is to make frames from your layers:
- Click on the arrow at the top of the Timeline panel
- Click “Make Frames From Layers”
- To make your animation loop, head to the “Repeat” menu at the bottom of the Timeline panel, and select “Forever”
- Click “Play” at the bottom of the Timeline panel to preview your GIF
Step 4: export your GIF
The final step is to export your GIF so you can begin sharing it:
- Go to the File menu
- Click “Export” and then “Save for Web (Legacy)…”
- Select “GIF 128 Dithered” from the Preset menu for color optimization
- Select “256” from the Colors menu
- Select “Forever” from the Looping Options menu
- Click “Preview” to see how your GIF looks in a browser
- Click “Save”
Need a specific width, height, or file size? When you’re exporting the GIF, you can adjust these in the Image Size options.
And you’re done! You’ve just created your very first GIF. That wasn’t too bad, was it?
Oh, you wanted to create a GIF from video?
Method 2: How to make a GIF in Photoshop from a video
Got a video you want to change into a GIF?
Step 1: prep your video
The first step is to get your video ready to be GIFed:
- Save your video to your computer
- Cut the video to a few seconds long—two to three seconds is ideal
If you’re looking for a free video cutting tool, this list can help you out.
Step 2: convert the video to layers
Now you need to convert the video frames to layered files:
- Go to the File menu
- Click on “Import” then select the “Video Frames to Layers….”
- Select your video, then click “Open”
- Click “OK” to convert the video frames to a single layered file
- Goto the File menu and click “Save As”
Method 3: I don’t want to use Photoshop. What are my options?
Photoshop not in your budget? There are plenty of free alternatives that can help—not quite Photoshop quality or flexibility, but there are options that work.
Here’s a couple sites where you can easily create a GIF.
Making GIFs with Gifs.com
Gifs.com lets you create GIFs from both images and videos. All you have to do is paste a URL or drag and drop a file.
Swish swishing in Gifs.com
Making GIFs with Giphy
Giphy is one of the leading free GIF-making sites out there. Just paste the URL of your image of video, and decorate the GIF till your heart’s content.
How to Make GIF from Existing Video
Let’s say you want to turn this video of a dramatic chipmunk into a GIF:
You can download this video (or any other video for that matter) using a free YouTube video downloader tool such as Savefrom.net or Keepvid.com.
After you’ve downloaded the video, follow these steps:
Step 1: Import Video into Photoshop
The first step is to import the video into Photoshop. Do this by going to File -> Import -> Video Frames to Layers.
Open the video you just downloaded.
A window will pop up asking you to select the length of the video that has to be imported.
Since our video is pretty small – just 5 seconds – we will chose ‘From Beginning to End’. For longer videos, you can select ‘Selected Range Only’ and specify the length that should be imported.
Make sure that you select ‘Make Frame Animation’ before hitting OK.
Step 2: Create the Animation
If you’re following through from the earlier example, you should already have the Timeline window open. Otherwise, follow Step #3 outlined above and open the Timeline to create the animation.
As before, you can select the duration of each frame (default is 0.04 seconds as seen above) and the number of times the animation needs to be repeated. For this example, we chose ‘Forever’.
Hit the ‘Play’ button to test your animation. If everything looks alright, move on to the next step.
Step 3: Save the Animation
As with the earlier process, hit CTRL + ALT + SHIFT + S or go to File -> Save for Web…
In the window that pops up, select GIF with 128 colors and 70-90% dithering.
After you’ve saved the GIF, open it in your browser. This is what you should see:
So now you know two methods to create GIFs in Photoshop – using existing images, or importing a video. You can learn more advanced Photoshop tips and tricks like this in course on mastering Adobe Photoshop CS 6.
Step 2: Upload Images or Create them One by One as Layers
If you have already got a few images in mind, save them to a single folder and upload them into Photoshop.
You can do this by clicking: File > Scripts > Load Files Into Stack
Next, you can browse through and select the images that you like and click OK. When you do this, Photoshop will automatically create individual layers for each image.
You can follow along if you already have the images ready, but to give you a better idea, we are going to select one image and then create each frame by setting up individual layers.
The image used for this tutorial can be downloaded here. Once you’re ready, all you have to do is drag and drop it onto your Photoshop canvas.
If you like, you can also adjust the image with effects like Brightness and Contrast, etc.
Step 4: Setup a Timeline
Once you have set up each text layer, you will be ready to open a Timeline, so click on Window > Timeline.
The Timeline tool will enable you to turn different layers on and off at different periods of time. This, in turn, will turn your static image into an animated GIF.
The Best Places To Use Animated GIFs
Now that you’re able to create GIFs, you should probably also know the platforms that support GIFs and the different ways to add animated GIFs to your content. Let’s jump right in!
GIFs are now becoming way more popular on Facebook–probably because they’re easier to create and share on Facebook than videos.
The problem, however, was that in order to upload a GIF to Facebook, you would have to share it using a GIPHY link, which was far from ideal.
Now, Facebook allows you to search for GIFs and add them to a Facebook post–without any share links! Here’s how it works:
- Go to your Facebook page and make a Facebook Post.
- When you create a Facebook post, Facebook will display a drop-down menu that gives you the option to add a photo or video, tag friends in your post, check in at a location, etc. Select the GIF option in that menu.
- Next, Facebook will display another drop-down menu that allows you to search for the GIF of your choice.
- When you’ve found the perfect reaction GIF, select it and it’ll be automatically added to your Facebook post. Note that when you add a GIF to your post, it will appear static, but it will be animated once you’ve published the post.
- Finally, add a catchy caption, if you haven’t already, and hit Post!
Now, this process only applies to a personal Facebook account. Here’s how to share GIFs on your company’s business page:
- Find a reaction GIF that you’ll like to use on Google Images or on GIPHY. Download it and save the file to your desktop.
- Next, log into Facebook, go to your company’s business page, and log into Business Manager.
- Under the Page tab, scroll down a bit to create a new Facebook post.
- Write a caption for your post.
- Next, drag your GIF file from your desktop into the Facebook post. This will upload your GIF as a video. Note: don’t panic if you don’t see a screencap of your GIF in video thumbnail. That just means Facebook hasn’t uploaded your GIF just yet.
- When you’re happy with your caption, go ahead and hit Publish. When your post is published, you’ll see your animated GIF in action!
Thankfully, Twitter makes it super easy to attach GIFs to your tweets. Here are two super simple ways to add GIFs to your tweets.
- The Drag and Drop Method: You can add a GIF from your computer by simply dragging your GIF from your desktop to the Compose new Tweet box. After adding your GIF to your tweet, it’ll immediately appear in its animated form. Finally, hit Tweet to publish your post.
- Alternatively, you can use Twitter’s integration with GIPHY to search for a GIF to add to your tweet. First, click the GIF option in the Compose new Tweet module. Then search and select a GIF to add to your tweet. Hit Tweet to publish your post and that’s it!
Content Management Systems
Of course, I can’t forget about uploading GIFs to your website or blog! While every content management system is different, the process of uploading a GIF is exactly the same as uploading a photo or video. Here are instructions on how to upload GIFs on WordPress, Ghost, and Squarespace.
Open the timeline
Go to Window > Timeline to view the timeline below the files.
Click on the button that says ‘Create Frame Animation.’
*if it says Create Video Timeline instead, just click on the arrow to the right of it and select the Frame Animation option.
Save your GIF
Go to File > Save for Web.
Next, make sure your settings are correct. Select ‘GIF 128 Dithered’ for the preset.
Make sure the Looping Options panel says ‘Forever.’
Save your GIF in your desired destination.
Your final GIF should look like this if you followed my directions to a T!
I’d love to see your GIF—tweet it at me @hannahwacamera or tag me in it on Instagram @hannahwacamera.
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