How to Make a GIF from Scratch (Step-by-Step Guide)
To grab the attention of your audience, you need to know how to make a GIF..
GIFs work because you can say a lot more with images than with plain words and with a short GIF you can say even more without boring viewers with a long video. Also, on-page media automatically attracts more attention. GIFs work great in social media posts, ads, emails, and also blog posts
Below we’ve shared four simple ways to create a GIF. We’ve also included some extra tips on making and using GIFs.
How to make a GIF using Photoshop
There are two ways to make a GIF with Photoshop. First, you can take several images and create a timeline with layers. Or you can take one image, create several versions of it (using layers) directly in Photoshop and then make a timeline. We’ll explain how to use the first method, but you can easily apply the same technique to the second.
Step 1: Fire up Photoshop and open your file
Open Photoshop on your computer. If you haven’t got it, you can sign up for a trial.
Next, open the file you want to edit in Photoshop.
We created this simple illustration with Adobe Illustrator earlier. We’re going to make it into a GIF that shows the text in the speech balloon word by word. We’ll also make the character blink.
We created different versions of the image where the words appear one at a time. We also made one that contains the entire text in a speech balloon and got the character to blink.
Step 2: Add the other images as layers
After you open the image, you can add the other images as layers by simply opening the folder(s) the images are in and dragging the file(s) into Photoshop.
Photoshop will automatically add the images as layers.
You can also click on the new layer icon or use the shortcut cmd+shift+N (Mac) or ctrl+shift+N (Windows) to create the new layers and add the images.
Using whichever technique you prefer, add all the images you created to the layers.
Step 3: Create a frame animation timeline
After you add all the layers, click on “Timeline” under “Window.”
A button titled “Create Video Timeline” will appear at the bottom. Instead of clicking on this, click on the drop-down icon next to it. This will reveal the option, “Create Frame Animation.”
Click on it. Then click on the below button with the lines on it.
And click on “Make Frames From Layers”.
Photoshop will then make an animation with your layers.
Step 4: Customize your animation and preview it
You can customize this animation by setting how long each frame appears and how many times the GIF plays. Once it’s read, click the play button to preview your GIF.
Step 5: Save it
If you are satisfied with the way it looks, go to File>Export>Save for Web (Legacy).
And finally, save your GIF.
Here’s our GIF!
How to make a GIF using Canva
Canva isn’t as customizable as Photoshop, but it’s simpler. It’s handy for creating social media posts or attention-grabbing ads.
Step 1: Choose a design type
Start by choosing the type of design you want to make. We’re going to make an Instagram post, so we’ll select “Instagram Post.”
Step 2: Add text and images and animate it
Next, add your text and/or images and click on Animate.
Then choose an animation. It will make your image into an animation.
You can click on “Add page” if your GIF has more than one frame. You can also adjust how long each page is going to play.
Before you download your GIF, preview it by clicking on the play button next to “download.”
Step 3: Download your GIF
If you’re happy with how it looks, click on Download and download it as a GIF.
Here’s our complete GIF.
This should only take a few minutes.
How to make a GIF from a YouTube video
People upload 500 hours of video to YouTube every minute. There’s a lot of content here you can make into GIFs. You can use them as memes or clips on social media and blog posts. Making a GIF from a YouTube video is very straightforward.
Step 1: Visit the video and copy the the YouTube video URL
Start by going to the video you want to make into a GIF and copying the URL.
We’re using this video from AppSumo.
Step 2: Paste the URL into gifs.com
Next, visit gifs.com and paste the URL in the field provided.
You can also add “gif” before “youtube” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjZ1xHwV2u4, which takes you directly to the site to edit your selected YouTube video.
For example, for this video, it will be https://www.gifyoutube.com/watch?v=GjZ1xHwV2u4
Step 3: Clip the GIF and edit it
The video will open in an editor. You can choose when you want the GIF to start and end.
You can also use the editor to add captions, images and make various other changes.
Step 4: Download GIF or share URL
After you make the edits, click on “Create gif” and give it a name. You can then download your video or simply copy and paste the URL.
Embed GIF: https://gifs.com/gif/first-gif-nROjmD
Note, however, that gifs.com will add a watermark to it. To remove it, you will need to subscribe to a paid plan.
How to make a GIF from a phone video
To make your GIFs from scratch or from a video you already have, you can use the Giphy App. It’s available for both Android and iOS.
Step 1: Install the app on your phone and open it.
Then click on Create in the top right corner. This will open the camera.
Step 2: Capture a photo or video
You can capture a short video or a photo. To capture a short video, press and hold the round white icon. While for a photo, just click and release. You can also upload a photo after clicking on the image icon.
We wanted to make something quick and straightforward, so we took a video of a pigeon on a tree.
Step 3: Edit the video
After you capture the photo or video, you can make some changes to it. This includes adding captions and stickers. Once you’re happy with the way your GIF looks, click on the button with the arrow.
Step 4: Save the GIF
You will then need to choose whether you want to save the gif or upload it to Giphy.
We chose to save.
You can then save it as a video or a GIF or share it.
5 top tips for making and using GIFs
Here are some tips for making and using GIFs. These will help you get the best out of them.
1. Use good software to create high-quality GIFs
People post tons of images, videos, and GIFs all over the internet. There are so many different types of media trying to grab your audience’s attention.
If you want to stand out from the crowd and attract more attention, your GIFs should contain better content and also be of better quality. So, make sure you use good software that doesn’t sacrifice quality. The software mentioned above, such as Giphy, Photoshop, and Canva, will all work.
Another one you might want to check out is Nexweave.
It helps you create personalized GIFs, images, and interactive videos you can use in your emails, LinkedIn messages, and webpages.
Nexweave normally costs $49 per month. But you can get it on the AppSumo store for life for a one-time payment of just $49!
2. Pay attention to file size
GIF quality is essential, but at the same time, size is also important. Many social networks and other platforms limit file sizes. You need to make sure your GIF is of the correct size to be able to upload it.
Also, when you upload to your website, it is essential to keep the file size small as larger files take longer to load. This can affect conversion rates. Depending on the purpose and platform, you can create GIFs of different sizes. For social networks, a bigger GIF might work, but for your website, it is important to use something small.
Alternatively, you can upload the GIF on another website and then embed or share it. This way, you can still use GIFs of a larger size.
Most GIF creation sites give you the option to easily adjust the size and quality of your GIF like this option on gifs.com.
But if the tool doesn’t have this, you can use a third-party tool to resize your video. For WordPress users, there are plugins like ShortPixel that will automatically reduce the size of images you add to your pages and posts without impacting quality.
3. Limit the amount of overlay text and graphics
Adding overlays such as text, stickers, and other graphics can help your GIFs attract more attention. They can provide some context to what the GIF is about and why you’re sharing it. But don’t overdo it—the GIF should be the hero. The other elements are merely there to make it shine.
Add very few of these elements and make sure they don’t obscure the essential parts of the GIF. For example, if you add a caption, make sure you place it at the bottom. People should see it after they see the main contents of the GIF.
Also, try to use a simple font. Fancy fonts will divert attention from the main content of the GIF and also make it difficult to read. If it is difficult to read, a lot of people might miss the message.
4. Use brand colors and fonts
When creating a GIF, maintain brand colors and fonts. You could also add your logo or website URL, or company name if you’d like to. But make sure it is concise as adding a lot of text, illustrations, and your logo will lead to overcrowding.
When you’re consistent with the appearance of your GIFs, people will begin to recognize your work everywhere, even when using different social media. This will help you attract followers quickly.
Also, if someone steals your content, people will always know that you created it. They might check you out as a result and even inform you that someone stole your content. You can then contact them and ask for credit.
5. Resize for the right platforms
While publishing GIFs, keep the dimensions in mind as different image dimensions work for different networks and websites. If you’re publishing the GIF on your website, you need to ensure it doesn’t exceed the width. But if you are posting on a social network, you will need to follow the best practices there.
For example, if you create a GIF for Pinterest, you need to ensure it is portrait-shaped. The height should be greater than the breadth. While if you make a GIF for Facebook, it needs to be landscape shaped where the breadth is greater. Of course, if you create a GIF for stories on Facebook, it should be portrait-shaped.
Look into what the social network recommends and the best practices. You can read our guide on social media graphics for a quick overview of the different sizes.
Now make your GIF and optimize it
There are so many different ways to make GIFs with various tools. These are some of the top, easy ways anyone can create a GIF from an existing video or from scratch.
If you are looking for tools and software to help you make GIFs, videos, images, and other types of visuals, check out the AppSumo store. We have deals on dozens of tools that can help you out.