GIFS 101

What is a GIF?

A gif is a lores image file format. It has been used on visual interfaces for a long time with its initial release of June 15, 1987. Gifs are popular file formats because they are typically light weight file sizes that can be animated. An animated gif is an animated image file, not a movie.

Gifs have an iconic look/feel to them and were incredibly popular on the early days of the internet. Its lowtech, kitschy aesthetic defined many personal websites hosted on Geocities, Angelfire, or Expages. It’s still a widely used image format and you can embed it into most websites, emails, or even Instagram stories.


How do you make a GIF?

Photoshop is most commonly used to create a GIF. Here are a few different techniques:

Frame by Frame

  1. Think through your design as a series of layers. You will hide and show the layers to create the effect. Once you have your layers ready, pull up the Timeline by going to window/timeline and then click on “Create Frame Animation” in the timeline.

  1. Set up your first frame by showing it, once you’re ready click the new frame button, click on it, and then hide/show the layers you want to see on that layer.

  1. Select the dropdown underneath each frame to specify how long the frame should show. .03 is what the human eye sees. Experiment with timing and see how it impacts your composition.

  • You can also “tween” between two frames to create a smoother animation. Remember, the more frames you have, the larger file size you get.