A bit about the author...

Khalid Majid Ali

Khalid is a web designer/developer; who is on a mission to make stuff look beautiful, and feel interactively alive on the web. He has been obsessed with design since as long as he can remember, and spends his leisure time drawing and sketching.

How to create an animated GIF in Photoshop

A picture is worth a thousand words; but an animation is worth a million! :) Today we’ll learn to create basic animated graphics using Photoshop. The techniques used in this tutorial will help us create much more complex animations in the future.

So i’ts time to put on that creative hat, roll up our sleeves and dive into awesomeness!

What we’ll be creating

Here is a preview of the finished animation that we’ll learn to make.

The Final Result


All we need for this tutorial is a system with Adobe Photoshop installed on it. As for the version of the software, it should be Creative Suite (CS) or above. If you have an older version of Photoshop installed, you can follow the same instructions in Adobe Image Ready.

However it is highly recommended that you download the latest version of the software, it’s certainly worth it.

Step 1

Open Photoshop and create a new document. You can choose the settings shown in the image.

Step 1

Step 2

Now click on the horizontal type tool or press T, now click on the canvas and type in some text. We’ll be animating this text in the next steps.

Step 2

Step 3

Now we’ll enable the animation tab by going to Window » Animation in the main menu. This will open the animation tab at the bottom of the Photoshop window.

Step 3

Step 4

There are two types of animation techniques available in Photoshop, the default is the Timeline animation and then there is the Frame animation.

In this tutorial we'll be focusing on the frame animation technique. To switch to the frame animation option we'll click the tiny little button at the bottom right corner of the animations tab.

Step 4

Step 5

Now that we are in the frame animation mode, you’ll notice that there is a square thumbnail available in the animation tab, it is titled 1 as it is the first frame of our animation.

What we’ll do next is make our text move horizontally on the canvas. We’ll first select our text layer and then click on the move tool or press V and move the text all the way out of the canvas, towards the right.

Step 5a

To move the text press and hold the Shift Key and then press the Right Arrow Key on the keyboard. Holding the shift key ensures that the movement is strictly horizontal.

Step 5b

Step 6

Now that our text layer is completely moved out of the canvas, we'll add a new frame to our animation. To do this, simply click on the duplicate selected frame button at the bottom of the animation tab.

Step 6

Step 7

Now with this new frame and the text layer already selected, click on the move tool or press V and this time move the text to the center of the canvas by pressing and holding the Shift Key and then pressing the Left Arrow Key on the keyboard.

Step 7

Step 8

In the animation tab, select the first frame and then press and hold the Ctrl Key and click on the second frame then press the tween button available at the bottom of the animation tab.

Step 8a

When the tween popup opens, choose the settings shown below and press OK to apply the tweening. By doing this we added 15 frames in between the first and the last frame, all the tweened frames contain the position of the text as if it were moving.

Step 8b

So now we have a total of 17 frames in our animation. We can set the delay time for each frame. To set the delay time, just select the first frame and then press and hold the Shift Key and click on the last frame or frame #17. Now press the small arrow that is pointing downwards on frame #17. This opens up a menu which has the delay timings on it, select 0.1 seconds from the menu.

Step 8c

Step 9

It’s time we tested our progress, we can test our animation by pressing the play button available at the bottom of the animation tab.

Step 9

Step 10

At this point it is quite clear to us how a basic animated graphic works using frames. However there are a few more things we’ll look into before finishing up.

We’ve noticed that when we play our animation it just plays once and stops but we can make the animation loop infinitely. To do this simply click the looping option button available at the bottom left of the animation tab, then choose the Forever option from the menu and play the animation again.

Step 10a
Step 10b

Step 11

Now we have an infinitely looping animation but it’s not very smooth because it jerks to the first frame at the end. To fix this we'll add a bit more tweening.

Select frame #17 in the animations tab and duplicate it by clicking on the duplicate selected frame button.

Step 11a

Now with the newly created frame #18 selected turn off the visibility of the text layer in the layers panel.

Step 11b

Its time to tween! select frame #17 then press and hold the Ctrl Key and select frame #18. Now press the tween button. When the tween popup shows, choose the following settings and press OK.

Step 11c

Finally set the delay timings for frame #17 and frame #23 to 2 seconds and 1 second respectively. Now play the animation.

Step 12

Our animation is a lot smoother now that we’ve tweened it a bit more. With our animation complete, it’s time to save it as a GIF file, to do that, go to File » Save for Web & Devices....

Step 12a

When the options window opens choose the following settings and press save.

Step 12b

The Final Result

Here is the final result of our efforts. I’ve just added a background and gradient and reduced the canvas size a bit.

The Final Result


Today we learnt how to create basic frame based animated graphics in Photoshop. We looked into tweening between frames and with this knowledge we can create much more complex animations.

I've added some examples of the very first animations that I created using similar technique. These will give you an idea about what is achievable with Photoshop. Hope you enjoyed the tutorial, thank you for reading.

Example 1

Race X on Fire!

Example 2

Queen Snow White!

Example 3

Race X Milky Way!


  • Salman Hussain

    Salman Hussain

    6th of March 2011, 10:50 AM

    A very well explained tutorial, loved it!
  • Faheem ud Din

    Faheem ud Din

    20th of March 2011, 1:24 AM

    wow! An amazing tutorial ! Really loved it.

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