In addition to using relevant GIFs in conversation with your friends, GIFs can add a lot of movement and motion to your blog, Twitter feed, email newsletter, or website. I’ve had a really fun time incorporating them here on A Touch of Teal, so today I thought I’d show you the two ways I make GIFs for my blog.
The first—and easier!—way I make GIFs is via gifmaker.me.
This GIF generator site is perfect for instances where I do not need a transparent background or need to layer parts of the final GIF onto a singular background. It essentially is creating a digital flip book of your images, so it works best for layering pictures on top of each other, like the walking GIF above or the snow throwing GIF in this post.
In order to achieve the best results with gifmaker.me, it is key that you edit your pictures prior to uploading. I usually do any color corrections I want, and crop them so the background and angle of each photo is the same. This helps to create a seamless transition between each image so the movement you’re trying to highlight with the GIF really stands out.
Once you have selected and edited the images you want to comprise your GIF animation, you simply upload them to the site and drag them into the order you want. Then, on the righthand side bar under “Control Panel,” you can select the speed, the GIF output size, and whether or not your GIF loops continually (mine always do).
Finally, select “Create GIF,” and a new panel of options will come up. You can view the GIF to ensure the output is what you want it to be. After I make sure I am happy with the output, I download the GIF and upload it to my blog like any other media. Simple, right?
The second—and slightly harder, but more flexible—way I make GIFs is in Photoshop.
Because gifmaker.me does not recognize transparent backgrounds that PNG files offer, if you upload PNGs to the site, it turns the transparent background into a white background. This means you cannot use the generator to layer objects on top of each other, like the first image in today’s post or the books in this post. In those instances, Photoshop becomes my go-to place for making GIFs.
Since this one is a bit more complicated, I’ll walk you through step-by-step what I do in Photoshop. A note that I use Adobe Creative Cloud, so if you’re on CS4, CS5, or CS6, your steps may vary slightly:
1. Collect images you’re going to use and save them all in a singular folder.
(Note: I generally make sure the images that I want to layer on top of the bottom/background layer are PNGs and have a transparent background. This might require you to crop the background out of some images. I will do a tutorial on this soon!)
2. Open Photoshop. Then select File > Scripts > Load Files into Stack.
3. Select Browse and navigate to the images you want to be in your GIF. Then click OK.
4. Once your images are loaded into Photoshop, each on a separate layer, select Window > Timeline.
5. The timeline window will appear in the bottom of your screen. Select Create Frame Animation from the dropdown—it may be hidden under Create Video Animation. Once it is selected, click the center of the Create Frame Animation button and your timeline window will look like the second screenshot below.
6. In the Timeline Fly Out Menu on the upper right hand side of the Timeline Window, select Make Frames From Layers. (Mine was already selected.) Once you do, each image will appear in your Timeline Window as a frame.
7. Now the real fun starts! I also think this is where it gets tricky. Conceptually, I think of each frame as a different document within Photoshop.
On my first frame, I don’t want any animation, so I only turn the eyeball on for the background image. In my layers panel, I also make sure to move my background image to the bottom layer so I can layer the PNGs on top of it. If you have the background image on top, it will cover anything below it since it has no transparent properties.
8. Then I go frame by frame and turn on the layers I want to appear next. For instance, in the second frame, I pick one additional layer to turn on. In the third frame, I pick two additional layers to turn on, and so forth until I have worked through every frame.
It is during this process I also change the size of any images (control/command + T allows you to transform the image, you just have to make sure the layer you want to alter is selected) and drag them to where I want on the background (also by using control/command + T and then dragging the image to its new location).
9. After you have your images the way you want them, you can press the Play button to test it out and make sure the order is correct. Then, under each frame, select how long you want each frame to appear. It’s based on personal preference, but I like the background image to be up for 0.2″ and everything else up for 0.5″. Be sure to select Forever for number of times the GIF loops. Press Play to confirm your GIF is exactly as you want it.
10. Your GIF is ready to use! Go to File > Export > Save for Web. A menu with a lot of options will come up. I keep things simple and just click Save. Then congrats, you’re done!
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to let me know!