October 7th, 2010

HOW TO: Make animated GIFs (in GIMP)

EDIT: Please use this updated tutorial instead

Animated GIFs are fun. They’re all over Tumblr. Yet they’re a mystery to a lot of people — I’ve seen many a messy gif made with sites like gifsoup and people admitting they just don’t know where to begin in making their own. Allow me to teach you*, Tumblrites, how to make a simple animated gif from a YouTube video using all entirely free programs. Awesome. (I just figured out gifs in GIMP last night so experienced GIMP users should forgive any GIMP stupidity contained in this tutorial :P)

*assuming you aren’t on a Mac because I’m not sure GIMP is available for you. Everyone else should be okay. I’ll be demoing from Windows 7 (don’t hurt me.)

Today, I will be making this simple gif:



Download/Install those as necessary and then ONWARD!

Find a YouTube video you’d like to make a gif from (the section you wish to animate should be no more than a few seconds long for best results). Using 1-Click YouTube Video Download, download it to your computer — choose “MP4” (or “HD”) formats. I’m going to download this promotional video for the Japanese production of Spring Awakening.


Now open Avidemux and open your video (as a side note, if Avidemux won’t open the file, try dragging the file onto it and see if that works). If you get an “H.264 detected” message just click “No.”

Find the place you want your animation to start (try using the arrow keys to nudge to the perfect spot). Click the [A button. Find where you want the animation to end, and click the ][B button. Now File > Save > Save Selection as JPEG Images… and give your set of images a name (you might want to create a new folder to save them in just to stay organized).


Check and make sure Avidemux successfully saved a bunch of JPGs where you told it to (there should probably be around 50-100 images depending on how long your animation is):


Awesome. Now let’s open GIMP — we’re going to have it take all of those frames and spit them back out as an animation!

Once GIMP is open, drag the first image in the sequence (the one ending in 0000) into GIMP. Now you’re going to want to drag about every other image on top of that one (so they all will end up layers within the same document). The reason we don’t drag in every one is it’s not really necessary — the animation will still look smooth without every frame, and we have to be careful about how large our file size ends up.

Make sure you can see the Layers dialogue (Windows > Dockable Dialogs > Layers) — it should be full of all of your images.


Now you’re going to want to crop and resize as necessary. In GIMP you crop using this tool: image Click and drag to choose the area you want to keep and hit enter  to crop it. To resize, go Image > Scale Image… You probably don’t want most gifs to be over maybe 250px at most in height or width.

Now we need to tell GIMP how long it should play each of these frames. To do this, we double-click on the name of a layer and add the number of milliseconds it should last for in parentheses after the name, like so, and hit enter:


100ms should be pretty good for something like this. Do this for every layer.

Let’s check out how it’s looking, shall we? Go Filters > Animation > Playback and click the play button. If everything’s going right, it should look good! Let me show you how to make it fade to black if you so desire, and then we’re almost finished:

Fading to black

I’m going to keep this pretty simple. First I will go to the last frame of the animation (that’s the layer at the very top of the layer list) and duplicate it (Layer > Duplicate Layer, or there’s a little icon right at the bottom of the Layers window that does it). Then I will make a new layer (Layer > New Layer etc), make sure my foreground color is black, and go Edit > Fill with FG Color.

Over in the Layers window there’s a slider to change the opacity of a layer. I’m going to want this black layer to be at about 50% opacity.


Then go Layer > Merge Down. We’ve now successfully created a layer that is partly faded to black.

Now make another new layer again and go Edit > Fill With FG Color to fill it with black again. You’re probably going to want the black layer to stick around a little longer, so I’ll set mine for 1000ms instead of 100ms (and I’m going to go back and set my half-black layer from the previous step to about 70ms just to make that transition a little smoother).

All Done?!

Once everything looks peachy, go Filters > Animation > Optimize (for GIF). When the new window comes up, go File > Save As…, give it a name, go to Select File Type at the bottom of the window and choose GIF Image. It’ll ask you if you want to Merge Visible Layers or Save As Animation — we want to save an animation of course! Hit Export. You’ll probably want to keep all the options in the next window as the defaults, so just click Save.

A ha! An animated gif!


A little roundabout perhaps (especially if you’re used to Photoshop as I am…)? Perhaps. But did you just make a gif all by yourself for free and without any weird tags from websites or anything slapped on it? Yes you did. And I’m sure it’s beautiful.


I hope this was of some use and not too confusing. If you have any questions about this tutorial (or spot any mistakes) you can drop it in my ask box and I’ll see what I can do for you.

Now I need to go quickly eat lunch because I spent almost all of my break between classes writing this. The things I do for you, Tumblr.

text. 328 notes.
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  5. mtranier reblogged this from arqueete and added:
    I followed the tutorial…
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  8. senoritafish reblogged this from ruminia and added:
    Ooh. Yay!
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