How to make an animated GIF in photoshop

Over the past couple of years quite a few people have asked me how to make an animated gif, as I often used animated gifs to document my work. I learned how to make a gif in photoshop by using a mish-mash of online tutorials. In the tutorial below I have combined this mish-mash into one place.

In this tutorial you’ll make a gif in 15 steps using CS5 on a Mac.

1. Organize and name files you are using for your animated gif into sequential order.

2. Open Photoshop, and import files as layers to one image, go to: file –> scripts –> load files into stack…

3. Click browse and choose the images you organized in step 1.
Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 12.55.51 PM

4. Be sure to check “attempt to automatically align source images” (see image above)

5. Hit OK, and images will open as multiple layers in one image, and automatically align (as best as possible).

6. Now to make the animation. First get the animation window up: window –> animation

7. The animation window will open, this is where you will create the animated gif.

8. Note: sometimes when you open the animation window it may not open with frames automatically, and it will look like the image below. If this is the case, choose “convert to frame animation” in right bottom corner.

9. Before you start making the animation, it is best to set up the time delay on the 1st frame (as this will duplicate for any frames you add, and it is a pain to change each one individually). Click the arrow for the time delay menu, this will be how long between each frame. I recommend 0.1 or 0.2, but you can experiment with this.

10. To create you frames, click the duplicate frame box to add the desired number of frames (in this case 4).

11. To create each frame, you’ll need to correspond each layer, so that it is visible on the frame the frames you want. Getting this right it the trickiest part.
i.e.
1st frame = top layer is visible
2nd frame = 2nd layer is visible
3rd frame = 3rd layer is visible
4th frame = bottom layer is visible

above -1st frame

above -4th frame

12. Select the looping options to determine how many cycles you want your GIF to run through (I usually choose forever)

12. You can test the animation at any point by by hitting play –and continue to make any edits you need to.

13. You’ll probably need to crop the image so that there is no dead space around the edges, where the layers do not align. Sometimes I use the patch or clone tool to create a “fake” border if one of my layers is too small -this is a good trick if you don’t want to loose the edges of all of your layers.

14. Now you’ve made the animation, and need to save as a gif file. Go to file –> Save for web and devices…

15. Use the same preset options below. If you have a large image, adjust image size (If you are embedding in a blog or Flickr, you will need to add the media in it’s original size, else it does not function properly. So choose a good width for viewing. I usually go for a width of 600-700 px). I also choose “original tab” as this is slightly better quality, but does not make a huge difference. Now hit save.

Congratulations -you’ve made a gif!

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