i’ve been asked how i make gifs, so this post will outline my method :-)
i will be making this gif:
in order to easily follow along, you will need to have:
- adobe photoshop CS5 or CS6
- an .mp4 or .avi HD video file
ok so first off, i get the impression that my process of giffing is slightly unorthodox regarding the process of creating layers. and i don’t know too much about how that might affect the process from platform to platform (i use a mac), so i don’t know that i’d be too helpful fielding technical queries. i intend to just show you how i gif and i’m more than happy to answer questions concerning what i did within photoshop. ok, here we go!
1. so step one, open photoshop (i use CS5, mainly bc i loathe the cropping tool in CS6).
2. open the video file within photoshop that you want to create a gif from. make sure the file you’re using is HD; at least 720p (1080p is the best, i really don’t bother with 720p files even though they are fine to use. (file>open>select video)
*CS5 will only allow you to play around with .mp4 and .avi files, so try to find files with such extensions
3. make sure the animation toolbar is visible on your desktop by going to window>animation.
4. it’s time to essentially create the gif. i know a lot of people make screen caps with kmp player or whatever it’s called. i downloaded it, and i have no idea how to use it, it’s too complicated for me. i prefer making my stuff directly within photoshop, i think it’s way easier (bc it’s the only way i’ve ever done it) and way more convenient. you can control the area of the video you want gifted within the animation toolbar. toggle the work area ends to the points where you want the gif to start and end (you can adjust the zoom of the frames by pressing the double mountain button as indicated below).
let’s get a closer look at the animation toolbar:
A: these are the respective ends to the work areas that will show where your gif will start and end.
B: this tool is called the ‘current time indicator.’ it’s job is to basically match up the video with the frames in the animation timeline. it helps you more precisely mark where you want your gif to start and end. it requires a little bit of patience (for me anyway, i’m working with an i5 processor, if you have an i7 it may be way more responsive).
C: this toggle helps you to zoom in more specifically on the scene you’re looking to gif. when you first open your video, you’ll notice when you drag the current time indicator that it will show you essentially the movie in its entirety. by pressing the double mountain symbol all the way to the right on the toggle under the red letter ‘C,’ you have more control over the area you select to gif. the frames will become more consecutive the more you zoom in. notice in the screenshot of the animation toolbar the numbers in red that are ticking off certain parts of the video. the bigger the numbers are, the further you’ve zoomed in. i tend to zoom in three times, and it’s sufficient for me.
i select the area i’m going to gif and i’ll zoom out to show you how small it is relative to the size of the video file.
so as you can see, the numbers marking the time on the video are in much larger increments (10 minutes apart), and my workspace for my gif is not discernible.
it’s really important that you set the work areas as closely to where you want the gif to begin and end, not only bc it cuts down on the wait time for the video clip to export, but also bc when we go to create the layers we don’t want it to be so big that we have to skip layers. skipping layers is a no-no if you want to create super smooth, fluid gifs.
5. after you’ve selected the area you want to gif, you go to file>export>render video. this screen will pop up:
save the video as whatever you want to call it (i mostly keyboard smash, which i don’t recommend, especially if the video thumbnails have attitude problems and don’t show up whenever they feel like it, like mine do~), then hit render. then you’ll have to wait an amount of time, depending on how fast your machine is running (i recommend not having a lot of stuff going on in the background, that’s gonna use up ram and slow down the process).
6. when it’s finished, we can create layers, hurray! so, go to file>import>video frames to layers. locate the clip you just exported and click open. this screen will pop up:
make sure ‘from beginning to end’ is selected, that means when the layers are selected no frames will be skipped and the gif will run seamlessly. then hit ok.
7. the frames will open in photoshop. here’s what my desktop looks like atm:
that obviously needs to be cropped, so i click on the cropping tool and adjust my dimensions. if you want the set to include one gif in each row the width needs to be 500px, for two in each row it’s 245px and for three it’s 166px. the height is variable depending on how you want the set to look. for the purposes of this gif it’s going to be 245px by 140px.
8. i think my cropping is extremely boring (and i’m trying to work on that), so i don’t want to spend a lot of time talking about cropping. so yeah, click and drag and a dotted outline will appear, demonstrating the area that will be cropped. then double click. we now have the makings of a tumblr-friendly gif!
gross, right? we now need to sharpen, set a new frame delay, and add a coloring.
9. first, it’s time to sharpen the frames. i used to individually sharpen every frame, but that’s super tedious, especially considering the gif size limit for 245px gifs has been raised to 2mb. that’s a lot of frames for us to work with and it’d be a pain in the ass to sharpen them all one-by-one. luckily, there are some awesome people on here that have created sharpening actions. if you’re unfamiliar with actions, here is a tutorial that explains how to use them. i use this action, by the talented tumblr user hollandes :-) bear in mind this only sharpens up to 150 frames, so try to keep your gif confined to that many frames (depending on the colors in the scene that gif would be way too big for tumblr anyway). to delete frames, click on the first or last frame you don’t want to use so it’s highlighted, then hold down the shift button to highlight all the other frames you don’t want. then click on the tiny trashcan within the animation toolbar and they will delete.
10. next i set the frame delay. as far as i can tell there’s no hard and fast rule of what speed is ‘right’, it’s all subjective. i think when i was starting out i was setting mine to 0.1s (i was also skipping frames oop). then i changed to 0.08, then 0.06, and now i set mine to 0.05. essentially to do this, you go to the drop down arrow on the far right of the animation toolbar and select ‘select all frames.’ once all the frames are selected (they’ll be highlighted), click on the down arrow of any frame, it doesn’t matter which, and select the new speed. if you set it to 0.05 like me, there is no preset for that, so you’ll have to choose ‘other’ and type it in manually.
11. next you add your coloring. i do intend to make a coloring tutorial, but this one is rather long already so i’m going to save that for another time. my gif now looks like this:
12. assuming you’ve tested your gif and you like how it moves and how it looks, the final step is to save. so go to file>save for web and devices. i’ll break that screen down into sections:
the first part on the bottom left tells you how big the gif is.
we’re under 2mb, excellent. if it was over there’s a couple different ways to remedy it. the quickest solutions are usually to delete frames and/or to darken the gif a bit.
this part decides how the pixels are distributed within the gif or something, idk. these are pretty much always my settings, i don’t like messing with the colors or the web snap (and thanks to the new gif limit i don’t think it’s really necessary anymore, unless you’re making a really big gif).
so yeah, that step is important bc it determines how quality the gif looks or some shit.
this part tells you about the dimensions of the gif, how many frames there are and allows you to select whether you want the gif to run forever or only once. make sure you always have ‘forever’ selected.
13. last but not least, save your work! i also recommend saving the psd (by going to file>save as) bc then you can go back and use the coloring again if you wanted to (you won’t be able to access that stuff after it’s been saved as a gif).
here’s my finished product:
so that’s pretty much how i make a gif. i hope it was informative and that i explained things clearly, but i know from when i was starting out and following tutorials, i was confused a lot of the time even if the instructions were really clear and there were a lot of helpful pics to show me where stuff was. so don’t hesitate to ask if you’re confused about anything i covered within the tutorial, but bear in mind i am by no means a photoshop expert and that google is your best friend :-)