There’s still room on the internet for an old school animated GIF, especially if you can create your own bespoke ones to slip into emails or instant messages, and it doesn’t take much technical knowledge to create one, in fact Photoshop does it with ease.
Open any image in Photoshop, or just a blank file, make sure it’s not too large, no-one enjoys a 12 megapixel GIF. Now choose Window and then Animation and Photoshop will bring up a little Animation Frames window at the bottom left. If you’ve ever used Flash this will already be very familiar, but what this window does is allow you to add frames of animation to your sequence, it can just be a two frame loop, or something much, much more complicated.
You will notice that your original image appears in the first window, if you now click the duplicate selected frames icon (to the left of the dustbin icon) at the bottom of your animation frames window it will give you two identical frames. Both frames should show as 0 sec underneath, this is how long the frame displays, change both of these to 0.5sec so you can see the change happen without missing it by blinking. Try making an adjustment, just a small one, to the second frame by altering what you see on your Photoshop canvas while the second frame is selected. When you are happy with the change, press the play icon and the GIF should loop for you. That’s all you need to know to create basic GIFs, you can add multiple frames, loop them once, forever or just a limited number of times, you can even use Photoshop to tween by adding frames between the ones you have made to give smoother animation, this only really works with simple blocks of colour or linear movement, but it’s fun to experiment with.
Once you have your animation though, don’t forget it needs to be saved in a format that allows animated sequences, so choose File, Save for Web & Devices, and you’ll see on the right hand side you have a ‘looping options’ box to choose what kind of loop you desire, then save the image as a GIF file and you are done, you have successfully created your animated GIF.
[Image via Russ Payne]