Gone are the days when animated GIFs were just flashy stuff that would decorate your geocities page. With GIF being one of the most popular tags on tumblr, it is high time, that you try it out for yourself. And we have a step-by-step instruction manual to assist you.
#1. Photoshop CS5 (or any previous version, the interface will be a bit different. For this tutorial, we’ll stick to CS5). Aslo, my PC runs Windows XP, because I am too poor to upgrade.
#2. VLC Player (or any Media player, which allows taking screencaps from a video e.g. KMPlayer, SMPlayer. Pick your favourite)
Hit the Jump to see the step by step tutorial.
Step 1: Screenshot time:
Take the required screencaps for the GIF you want to make. Although Photoshop allows to make frames directly from a video source, it can often be limited to certain video formats. Using a Media player of your choice, allows you to make frames from any video source, irrespective of the format of the source file.
A few handy preparatory steps to make your screencapping process easier.
Go to VLC preferences by hitting Ctrl+P, and go to Hotkeys to edit keyboard shortcuts. Change screenshot to “S”, and Stop to “Shift+S”. This will allow you to take screenshots, just by holding down S key.
Set your directory, where you want your screenshots to be outputted, in the Video snapshot settings under Video tab.
And also decide whether you want high quality screencaps in png, or lossy jpg screens are fine for you.
Also give a nice naming convention, with a sequential numbering enabled. Photoshop likes order. Refer to the settings in the screenshot below.
For the purpose of this tutorial, we have chosen the latest trailer of The Amazing Spiderman.
Step 2. Prepare Your Photoshop
Open up Photoshop CS5. Now, click on the Bridge icon on the top toolbar, or press Ctrl+Alt+O, or go to:
File->Browse in Bridge. Now browse to your location where the screenshots are located. You should see something like this.
Pick all the images that you want to be in your GIF, and go to Tools->Photoshop->Load in layers on Photoshop.
Step 3. Import Images
Step 2, should import those jpg/png files as layers in Photoshop. If your images are labelled img001 – img050, it will show img050 (as it is the latest one to load). Go to the right hand corner of the animation bar, and click on the edge, and select “Make Frames From Layers”. This will import all layers as frames on the animation bar.
(If you don’t see the animation bar, it might have been unselected. Go to Windows->Animation, to enable the animation bar, and follow Step 3).
Step 4. Setting the order right
The images loaded are set in reverse order i.e. in our example, the animation will show from img050 to img001. Unless you want a rewind animation, you wuold need to reverse this order. Select the first animation frame, and hold down the Shift key, and the last animation frame to select all frames. Then, go to the right hand corner of the animation bar again, and click and select – Reverse frames.
Your animation is now chronologically correct. Also, do necessary changes, such as cropping, and setting your image size using the usual Photoshop tools – Rectangular Marquee, and Image->Image Size respectively.
Step 5: Modifications
If you feel your animation is moving too slowly, then you select alternate frames i.e. img002, img004, ..and so on, and delete them. This will make the animation faster, due to drop in frame count. Conversely, if you want to slow down the animation, select all frames, as mentioned in Step 4, and set the time for each frame, by clicking at the bottom right of any frame. You can also select individual time for each frame.
Step 5: Preview and Save
When you are happy with the animation, you can view the final image in the animation window. It is also advisable to preview it in a browser window, to actually view how it would look like an image (possibly, which is going to be circulated over the web, and viewed in a browser window). For this, go to: File-> Save For Web and Devices. Select GIF.
Now it is upto you to select the settings to save the GIF in. We’ll discuss the different settings in our next post. But for now, I’ll let you know that Dithered gives the lowest size for a GIF compared to Pattern or Noise. And lower the colour count, lower the size. But your GIF won’t look as pretty either. So, we’ll leave it to you to play around with the settings. Once you’re happy with the final optimised image, you can preview it in a browser by hitting the preview button. (You can select which browser you want to view it in as well).
There is another advantage of previewing it, as the time selected for frames, can appear differently in the animation window, compared to the final browser preview.
And that is it, you are ready to save your GIF now. Here is the final image, that we have prepared for this tutorial.
In our next tutorial, we will discuss the optimisation settings of GIF sizes, and also how to add text, like we have done in the following GIF.
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