How to Create the Perfect GIF in Photoshop

There are lots of quick-and-dirty ways to create a GIF on your PC, mainly using small dedicated apps designed for that purpose. But if a freeware app can do it, then Photoshop can probably do it better, and if you already have Photoshop on your computer, then there’s no need for you to install anything else if you want to create GIFs.

Here we’ll show how to make GIFs in Photoshop – both out of a video file and out of a series of images that you can splice together into a GIF.

Turn Video into Images

First up, if you’re looking to turn a video – or part of one – into a series of GIFs, you’ll need to import that video into Photoshop as a series of layers. (If you’re turning individual images into a GIF, you can skip to the next heading.)

Open Photoshop and click “File -> Import -> Video Frames to Layers.” Select the video you want to turn into a GIF.

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In the window that opens, you can click “Selected Range Only” and use the slider to trim it to just the part of the video you’ll want to use for your GIF. You can also chop down the number of frames you import by limiting the import to every “x” frame.

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When you’re ready to convert the video to layers, click OK.

Create GIF in Photoshop Using Multiple Images

Find all the images you want to use as a sequence in your GIF animation (unless you’ve already added them by converting a video). Ideally, you should have the images in the same folder on your PC and lined up in the order you want them to appear in the GIF animation (though this isn’t essential, as you can reorder them in Photoshop).

Next, open Photoshop and insert the image you want to appear first in your GIF animation. You can just drag and drop it into the Photoshop window, or go to “File -> Open in Photoshop.”

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With your first image in there, you can now select the rest of your images simultaneously (or one-by-one), and drag them onto the image you already have open in Photoshop. They should all appear as layers in the same Photoshop project. (You may need to press Enter for each one in Photoshop to place the files.)

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You should have a Timeline window running across the bottom of Photoshop. If not, click “Window -> Timeline” to make it show up.

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Click the tiny icon with the arrow and four lines at the far right of the Timeline window, then “Make Frames From Layers.” This will add all your layers to the timeline animation.

You can reorder them by dragging the thumbnails around, and preview the animation by clicking the play icon in the timeline window

By default, the animation will loop constantly. Click the Forever icon, and you can change it to loop just once or three times if you’d like.

If the animation is moving too fast for you, you can increase the delay between the frames. Select all the frames in the timeline by clicking the first one, then holding Shift while clicking the last one.

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With all the frames selected, click the time beneath any of them to change the frame delay for all of them. If you click “Other” in the delay options, you can set more specific delay times. Here we went for “0.15,” which seemed perfect for this animation.

See which one suits you by playing the frame animation each time you change the delay.

You can also change the frame delay to being between specific frames by selecting them individually in the timeline and changing their delay there.

Save GIF Animation in Photoshop

To save your GIF animation, go to “File -> Save for Web.”

In the “Save for Web” window, click the “Preset” drop-down, and select “GIF 128 Dithered” for the highest quality. Dithering is the process by which an image format with reduced colour depth (such as a GIF) is given the illusion of colour depth by creating dots to smooth the boundaries between colours.

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In the Save for Web window we also recommend changing “Colors” to 256. Changing the image size dimensions will also have a big impact on the file size, so you may want to shrink it to make the GIF smaller and easier for people to view online.

When you’re done, click Save and you have your GIF!

Conclusion

Photoshop may not be as simple a way of creating a GIF as some of those lightweight apps, but it offers many more options to make your GIF look and play just the way you want it to. Plus, Photoshop skills are pretty handy in general, so it’s a great way to keep familiarising yourself with this powerful software.

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