Making Animated GIF's in Photoshop

About: A Northern Ireland based maker with a propensity to cause trouble and freshly constructed family.

So this is an 'ible on how you animate GIF images in photoshop, dead simple, lots of fun and very easy to do, though a little labour intensive, in comparison to flash, this is frame by frame animation...

You can find more projects, my bloggery, photos and more on my site -


Step 1: You'll Need...

A copy of photoshop.
A copy of Imageready (usually comes with PS)
About half an hour to an hour to play with
A little experience in computer graphics
An idea

Step 2: Create Your New Document.

Ok so make yourself a new document, not too big though, see GIF images that are animated are alot bigger and are also CPU intensive so big one's will crash older computers.

I'd suggest no larger than 300x300px to start with, since it's a lot of drawing or moving involved...

Step 3: Make Your Image/object

Draw your image or object, start out simple, I'm using a ball as the example here, depending on you what you like, a smiley face where something moves is also an easy starter.

Draw your item.

Right click the layer and choose duplicate layer.

Step 4: Start Animating...

So get your new layer, if you made the ball or similar object, select it and move it, we can always come back and add the background.

If you made a face or the like draw a little of what you want it to change to during the animation...

The trick is to use small changes, for the ball or object make it very small for slow movement and a little bigger for faster movement.

In the pictures I've used a transparent background so you can see what's going on...

You can add a background later on with the fill tool or pattern fill tool...

Step 5: Rinse and Repeat...

Duplicate the newly changed layer.

Continue moving the item in question or adding on the new thing as you go along, remember to duplicate the newest layer after each change.

When you get the desired effect you have a choice, would you like the image to jump back to the original or reverse itself before repeating.

If you want it to reverse make a copy of the layers and order them the opposite direction from the top of the newest, so:

Frame 1
Frame 2
Frame 3
Newest (last frame)
Frame 3
Frame 2
Frame 1

If you only want it to jump back you can just skip that bit.

Step 6: Jump Over to Imageready

This is easy, to export over to imageready, click the little image at the bottom of the tool bar, oh now you're in imageready... Also you can hit shift + ctrl + M, not sure what the Mac equivalent is

It'll open and add the file for you.

Now you should see a box along the bottom that says animation, if you don't click on view in the top toolbar and look for it, click it on.

Now go to the little arrow button on the top right of the animation box, click it and choose make frames from layers.

Try playing the animation and see how it goes, if it's too fast you can add delays, too slow and you can take out frames or lower the delay, though my default is no delay between frames.

Step 7: Saving and Extras.

So save your file in imageready... Do that by choosing file - save optimised as...

You can discard the photoshop file or save the PSD. so you can come back to it.

Other tricks:

You can do cool colour shifts by slowly going along the Hue/saturation bar with new colours, for hue/saturation hit crtl-U or Cmd - U for macs

You can use tweens to make simplified morphing animations from two frames, shown in this 'ible be warned it's a little wierd...

You can make eyes blink by making set of three frames, one open one half open one closed, make delays by adding open frames or closed frames...

You can do loads of stuff with these, a little imagination required...



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    38 Discussions


    2 years ago

    what the?? where are the tutorials??


    9 years ago on Introduction

    This is such a helpful educational and informational post. Thanks for the effort.
    You could also use as an add-on or support tool the amazing Wegif Animated Picture Software, and you'll have a great results.

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Just a suggestion for your artwork to be more effective and remarkable, you could try 


    it is but its a pain to make gifs now its part of the video settings WHY photoshop needs video setting i have no idea that's what after effects is for

    I'll maybe go in to that sort of thing at some point, it'd be easy using transformations, this was more a general making things move 'ible though.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    as if my inst. is a bit wierd haha great work, love to see alternative ways to doing things in photoshop. thanks!

    1 reply

    11 years ago on Introduction

    I just got photoshop and wanted to do GIF's, But was never able too. Do you know how to make a GIF with pictures?

    2 replies