I recently took some funny shots of my cousin and wanted to create my own animated GIF instead of using the “Auto Awesome” automatically generated by Google+. Since I have Photoshop CS6 installed, I decided to give it a try and see what happens. At first I thought it would be quite simple: import the images into separate layers and then just save them as a GIF file with animation. Wrong!
If you try to create a GIF this way, you will notice that the Animation section in the Save for Web dialog box is grayed out. In order to activate this feature so that you can choose the looping options, you need to create a so-called frame animation in Photoshop CS6. It sounds complicated, but it’s pretty easy to do. In this article, I’ll show you how to create your own animated GIF from still images.
I will also show you how to import a video and convert it to an animated GIF. Only the import process is different when importing a video, the rest of the steps remain the same.
Step 1 – Import all images
The first thing you need to do is import all images in separate layers into one Photoshop file. For example, if you have 6 images, open them all in Photoshop, then create a new file, copy and paste each of the images into a separate layer in the new file. Layer 1 should be your starting image, and the last layer should be the last image in the animation.
This part of the process will probably take the longest of all the steps. There is probably an easier and faster way to do this in Photoshop, but since I’m not a professional user, I manually copy and paste each image into a new Photoshop file. If you know a faster way, let me know in the comments.
Step 2 – Create a Moving Frame
The second step is to create the actual animation in Photoshop itself. To do this, you first need to open the timeline window. Go up to the Window and select the Timeline.
You will now see a timeline window open at the bottom of the screen. To begin with, it must be completely empty. Now, to create a frame-by-frame animation, simply right-click anywhere in the timeline and select “Create Frame-by-Frame Animation”.
When you do this, you will now only see one image in the timeline with a small unit in the upper left corner. This will be either the image you selected in the Layers panel or the last layer added (the last image in the animation). For now, this is a one-shot animation, which we don’t want.
Instead, we want all layers to be included in the animation. To do this, we have to click on the tiny down arrow button in the far right corner of the timeline window. Next to it is a small down arrow and a couple of horizontal lines. when you click on it, you will see the option “Create frames from layers”.
You should now see a border for every layer in your file. Each frame will also have a small drop-down menu below the image that lets you choose how long each frame is displayed.
As you can see above, the duration of the first frame is 5 seconds and then the remaining ones are 0. You will need to adjust them accordingly, but you can also choose your own time.
Once you’ve chosen the timing for each frame, you’re ready for the final step – saving your new animation as a GIF file.
Step 3 – Save the GIF file
It’s time to save your animated GIF. To do this, go to “File” and click “Save for Web”. At the very bottom of the save dialog, you will see an Animation section that should no longer be greyed out.
Your options here are pretty easy to understand. You can really only choose how you want it to loop and then preview the animation before saving it. That’s all! Hope this tutorial helps you create an animated GIF in Photoshop CS6 without any problems!
There are a few things worth mentioning. First, if you find that the animated GIF is too large, you first need to reduce the size of the individual images before creating the final multi-layered Photoshop file. You can either crop the images if you only need a portion of the photos to create your animation, or reduce the size of the entire image.
Second, if you have video, you can automatically import video frames into layers by choosing File, then Import and clicking Video Frames To Layers.
That’s all. Again, to control the size, you might have to lower the image quality to create a small GIF file. Enjoy!