Adobe Photoshop/Making Animated GIF

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You can use Photoshop to make an animated graphic like this bouncing ball.

Or you can use Photoshop to create a "slide show" for the web.

Like this. Nebula.gif

To Make an Animated Graphic

To show the animation window choose Window>Animate.

The animated gif is made by repeating and varying "frames" for the image or object selected on the screen.

  • Create or Place the Object on a transparent background. See menu File>Place to "import" a graphic image from another file into an existing or blank Photoshop canvas.
Note: a "placed" graphic will need to be "rasterized" by the menu Layer>Rasterize>Smart Object...

  • Use the menu for Window>Animate to display the tool for GIF animation.
Photoshop window animate.png

The controls illustrated above are then used to:

  1. Duplicate a frame
  2. The selected frame then may be modified
  3. The duration of the frame can be set&Mdash;in this case, it is set at .2 seconds.

Tweening is not used in this example. See next section for discussion of tweening.

In the example, a single layer and a single object on that layer is modified in each frame, changing its position to create the illusion of a "bounce." The animation can to be set to repeat forever, or repeat once or for a defined series of times.

This is a screen shot of the animation window and the canvas in the original.

Ball frames photoshop.png

To save an animated Gif, choose File>Save for Web or Devices... and select for the file type "Gif."

Animated images will be processed automatically.

To Use an Animated Gif for a Slide Show for the Web

Dialog for New File with Web Preset Selected
Screen shot of slide show animation in progress...
Dialog of GIF file options...

You can create an animated GIF that basically rotates through a series of images within a single file. The "rotating" images are created from multiple "layers" in a Photoshop file. Then the viewing of the layers are animated to alternate between them.

Here are the steps for creating an animation of four different images which have been scaled to a preset web canvas of 640 x 480.

Steps to Create Layers

  1. Use menu for File>New. See Dialog to the right with preset web design.

    NOTE: Background is set to transparent.

  2. Use menu File>Place to select a photo or other image file and place it on the canvas in the first layer. Press ENTER to accept it.

    NOTE: you may need to resize or crop your images to fit the canvas.

  3. Use menu Layer>New to create a new layer in an empty canvas.
  4. Repeat File>Place with the new layer selected.
  5. Repeat the process of New Layer and Place until you have as many images as you wish to rotate in your animated GIF.

Steps to Animate Layers

  1. Use menu to open Window>Animation.

    NOTE: The opening frame will show the topmost visible layer, which will be the last image "placed" onto the file.

  2. Set the image duration in the first frame at 5 or 10 seconds as the default for all frames. You can change each individual frame there after.
  3. Duplicate the frame.
  4. With the new frame selected, make the topmost layer invisible so that the next image (layer) comes to view in the frame.
  5. Duplicate the frame and repeat the process of revealing the next image (layer) until you have come to the last image (frame).


Selecting a layer, and clicking on the tweening option will offer you a dialog in which you can choose to create a transition between the selected frame and the one before it or the one after it. By default it will create a 5 frame sequence of gradually fading from one to the other. There are variations that can be made to this.

NOTE: you will want to set the image duration of these "tweened" frames to something like .1 or .2 seconds to enhance the effect.

Steps to Export to a GIF File

  1. Use the menu File>Save for Web & Devices...

  1. In the dialog use a preset for GIF such as 128 colors dithered, or set to 256 colors. Only GIF will animate.
  2. Set the animation for "Forever" if it is not so set.

Here is the resulting animated GIF in a scaled down image.


Other Resources

How to Create .GIF Animation in Photoshop