By Christine Erickson 2013-04-19 02:10:45 UTC
We've all been there: searched for the perfect animated response to a Gchat conversation, only to realize that GIF you had in mind is now MIA. What gives, Tumblr?
Perhaps it's time you step up your game and start making your own GIFs. Creating your own animation is not hard and actually kind of fun.
OK, so now what?
Now that GIFs are more popular than YOLO. you might feel overwhelmed by all the search results on how to make your own.
Take a deep breath — it's okay. By the end of this comprehensive guide, you will have become the Karate Kid of GIF-making. Now go wax my car.
1. Get Photoshop
Don't be intimidated by Photoshop; you don't have to be an advanced artist to use it. Still not convinced? Here's an example of something I've made with Photoshop.
Now that we're on the same level, Photoshop is actually the easiest way to create a GIF. That doesn't mean it's impossible to use other resources, but it's the best option.
If you're still not persuaded, or simply can't afford it, here are some other options:
Adobe Elements: Much cheaper, though only effective for making GIFs from still images.
GIFBrewery : This Mac app is well worth the $5 download. In fact, it is more user-friendly for GIFs from video than Photoshop. If you simply want to capture one slice of a video, and only need editing options to resize and crop, this is for you.
GIFSoup : This is a free service that allows users to make GIFs from copying and pasting a YouTube video's URL. The free service will place an obnoxiously large watermark over the GIF, but for $5 a month, you can opt to remove it. (Note: The site is extremely unreliable, and it is extremely difficult to cancel your subscription. So if you want to be charged $5 per month forever, this is the site for you.)
GIFBoom : GIFBoom is the most popular app for making animated loops on the go. There's also Cinemagram for iPhone users.
2. Find a GIF-Worthy Moment
The best GIFs are small clips that show some sort of reaction: an eye roll, an epic fail. nature's funny moments. something cool in science. etc.
If all else fails, anything Jennifer Lawrence does is GIF-worthy .
3. Create a Video File
Video is the most common format for making GIFs, so let's assume that's what you're using. You can download any YouTube or Vimeo video from KeepVid.
Before you work with the video in Photoshop, it's a good idea to trim the video down to the GIF-worthy moment you've already pin-pointed. Otherwise, you will have to work with an unnecessarily large file.
If you are working on a Mac, iMovie is an easy, free way to trim video. Windows users can edit on Movie Maker.
4. Import the Video in Photoshop
Once you've opened Photoshop, go to File > Import. Select "Video Frames to Layers," and a small player will pop up in which you can select how much of the video you want to work with.
You can always delete layers later, but it's good to cut down as much as possible.
5. Editing Layers Within the GIF
By now, your GIF has split into a series of layered images. If you don't want to do anything
to the GIF, you can skip the rest of this section and move on to step six.
If you're feeling comfortable with Photoshop so far, and want to manipulate the GIF a little, you can do a couple of basic things. In order to do so, you will need to work with individual layers — think of it like stop motion animation or a flipbook.
Let's start with the "Deal With It" GIF — a pretty easy beginner step. (Let's also pretend there's not already a generator for that.)
Upload a PNG of the sunglasses and move it a little in each frame. An easy way to stick your place in each frame is by holding "ALT" and dragging the image into the next layer. Then use the arrow keys when adjusting to avoid losing the place.
Want to make a profound quote you found on Tumblr move across your GIF? Let's start with something simple.
In this case, you would simply place text across each layer. Easy enough.
But maybe you want to send a more striking message that will capture attention.
To get the flashing effect, you need to remove the text from every other frame or two. The fewer frames, the faster the flashing effect. (Remember, you want to get their attention, not give them a seizure.)
You could also make words move, or appear as if you're typing them out. This is basically the same as the PNG instructions above.
6. Save Your GIF
The hard part may be over, but it's important that you prep and save your GIF properly. Select File > Save for Web (not the same as "Save"). A menu will pop up, complete with a few musts.
Depending on which version of Photoshop you're using, you might need to specify that this file is animated. If there's a box for that, make sure it's checked. Also, make sure the file is saved as a GIF.
It's good web etiquette to make the GIF file size as small as possible — no bigger than 1MB, if possible. This might mean tweaking your images bit. The easiest way to cut down your GIF is by resizing its dimensions. If you were planning on uploading the GIF to Tumblr, it needs to be smaller than 500 pixels across.
Try to avoid tweaking color and dither, because they will affect the quality of your GIF. Colors should be at the highest setting, which is 256. Avoid going any lower, if you can. You also want the Dither to be as high as possible. Lossy, on the other hand, should be as low as possible.
Give your newborn GIF baby a home on the Internet. If you don't use Tumblr, you can upload it to Imgur or another file hosting site.
Finally, show off to your friends. They will bask in your glory and you will forever be their leader. Or they'll think you're a total nerd. Either way, you created a thing with your bare hands (with assistance from your computer, whoever made the YouTube video, Adobe, the site hosting your GIF. this is all beside the point, though).
Remember that practice makes perfect, so it might take a couple tries before you create GIFs you'd actually want to share. For a little inspiration, check out this video from the kings of animated loop art, Mr. GIF.
Mashable composite, images via iStockphoto, ULTRA_GENERIC. and Nyan Cat
Category: Personal Finance