Creating Animated GIFs from Images with Photoshop CS6

I recently took some funny pictures of my cousin and wanted to make my own animated GIF instead of using the “Auto Awesome” that was automatically created by Google+. Since I have Photoshop CS6 installed, I thought I’d give it a shot and see what happens. At first I thought it would be fairly simple: import the images into separate layers and then save them as an animated GIF file. Wrong!

If you try to create the GIF this way, you’ll notice that the Animation section in the Save for Web dialog box is grayed out. To get that activated so that you can choose the looping options, you need to create what’s called a Frame animation in Photoshop CS6. It sounds complicated, but it’s quite easy to do. In this post, I’ll walk you through the steps on how to create your own animated GIF with still images.

I will also mention how to import and convert a video to an animated GIF. Only the import process differs when importing a video, the rest of the steps remain the same.

Step 1 – Import all images

The first thing to do is import all your images in separate layers into one photoshop file. So for example if you have 6 images open them all in Photoshop and then create a new file and copy and paste each of the images in 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 most time of all the steps. There’s 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 of a faster way, let me know in the comments.

Step 2 – Create Frame Animation

The second step is to create the actual animation in Photoshop itself. To do this, you must first open the timeline window. Go upstairs Window and choose Timeline

photoshop timeline

Now you see the Timeline window opens at the bottom of the screen. It must be completely empty to begin with. Now to create a frame animation, right-click anywhere in the Timeline box and choose Create frame animation

create frame animation

When you do this, you will now see only one image in the timeline with a tiny little 1 in the top left corner. This is either the image you selected in the Layers panel or it is the most recently added layer (last image in the animation). At the moment it is a single frame animation which is not what we want.

timeline animation

Instead, we want all layers to be included in the animation. To do this, we need to click on the little down arrow on the right side of the timeline window. It has a small downward arrow and a few horizontal lines next to it. if you click on that, you will see an option called Creating frames from layers

create frames layers

Now you should see a frame for every layer you have in your file. Each frame also has a small drop-down list below the image that allows you to select the length of time that each frame should be displayed.

frame animation

As you can see above, the first frame is 5 seconds and the rest are set to 0. You will need to adjust them accordingly, but you can also choose a custom amount of time.

frame animation time

Once you’ve selected the time for each frame, you’re ready for the final step, which is to save your new animation in a GIF file.

Step 3 – Save GIF File

Now it’s time to save your animated GIF. Go to File and click Save for web† At the very bottom of the save dialog, you’ll see the Animation section, which should no longer be gray.

animation options gif

Your options here are pretty easy to understand. You really can only choose how you want it to loop and then preview the animation before saving it. That’s about it! Hopefully, this guide will help you create your animated GIF in Photoshop CS6 without any problems!

Conclusion

There are a few things worth mentioning. First, if you feel the animated GIF is too large, you should first reduce the size of the individual images before creating your final Photoshop file with the multiple layers. You can crop the images if you only need part of the photos to create the animation, or you can reduce the size of the whole image.

Second, if you have a video, you can automatically import the video frames in layers by going to . to go Filethen Import and click Video frames to layers

video frame to layers

So that’s all. Again, to manage the size, you may need to reduce the quality of the images to create a small GIF file. Enjoying!



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