How to make a GIF with Photoshop

Have you ever wanted to make your images move in a loop, but didn’t have the computer power to use After Effects or Premiere Pro? If you’re interested in the world of design, then you probably already have Photoshop. If you don’t, I highly recommend getting this software. It’s not only integral to this tutorial, but you can do more than just edit or draw images–you can create moving pictures! Since it’s the holiday season, it’s the perfect time to create a GIFt of your very own to share with all of your loved ones.

We’ll focus on a simple idea here so that you can use what you’ve learned to create GIF’s of your wildest dreams–and be sure to send us what you create because that sounds amazing. A couple days ago, I made a holiday GIF for an email campaign where I made it snow over our logo. It looks a little something like this:

Today, we’ll do the same thing, but make it snowing over a cute little bear so that you can appropriately share your holiday fun with your friends!

First, download the necessary files you’ll need in order to create your GIF. You can right click the images below and save them to your desktop or use your own images to follow along during this tutorial.

Next, let’s open up the bear image in Photoshop and upload the snowflakes into the same document. You may need to resize the snowflakes which you can easily do by holding down ctrl + t. Then take the corners while holding down alt and drag the snowflake until the size is big enough. If you don’t have your timeline set up as shown in the screen capture below, you can open it through the Windows tab and click on Timeline.

Now, duplicate some more snowflakes and scatter them around as if it were snowing.

Next, I’ll merge all of the snowflakes together into one layer and then duplicate that layer. This will help us in creating a seamless loop. You can also use this stage as an opportunity to rename your layers to stay organized.

Now, I’ll move the Snowflake copy layer up until the bottom snowflake from this group is just above the original snowflakes. Then I’ll select both snowflake layers and move them up and down to see how the loop might look.


Now that we’ve set up the images, we can move on to animating them! In the Timeline window, click the Create Video Timeline button. If it’s not there, click the arrow next to the button and there should be an option for it. Then click the menu on the right of the window and select Set Timeline Frame Rate.

Make the fps 12. This will help in creating a smaller file size. The lower the fps, the more choppy the animation, so depending on where you plan to upload your GIF, you can decide if you want to sacrifice quality or file space. For the purposes of this tutorial, we’ll opt for a smaller file size.

Next, we’ll create some key frames. Click the arrows in the Timeline window to expand the animation options. Then click the clock under Position for both the snowflake layers. This will create a keyframe that tells Photoshop that at the beginning of each loop, these layers will be positioned as shown on the canvas.

Now, we’ll create a second set of key frames at the end of the timeline. Selecting both snow flake layers in the Layers window, move the snowflakes down until the Snowflake copy layer is positioned at the same spot as where the Snowflake layer was first positioned at the beginning of the timeline. Using the scrubber on the Timeline window, you can scroll through the timeline to check if the positions line up. You can also play the GIF by pressing the play button in the Timeline window to decide if the snowflakes are moving too fast or too slow. If the speed isn’t right for you, you can extend the edge of the layers in the Timeline window to extend or shorten the animation. You can set the playback to loop under the settings icon next to the speaker button to see how the GIF will loop itself.

Once you’re satisfied with the frequency of your snowflakes falling, we can move on to exporting the GIF! Under File, go to Export and then Save For Web (Legacy). Here you can adjust the image size if the file is too big for where you’d like to upload it, but remember that the quality will also reduce. I’ll resize the image to 600 pixels to save file space. When you go to Save, make sure that the Format reads Images Only so that it will save as a .gif file.

Once you’ve saved your GIFt, you’re free to share your present with anyone you please! Let us know if this tutorial was helpful to you and if you’d like to see another post on how to make recorded videos into GIF’s as well!

Thank you for tuning in to our blog. Happy Holidays!




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