How to Create GIF Animations in GIMP

Thursday, July 7, 2011  at 6:58 AM
Learn to create stop-motion GIF animations, frame by frame, using GIMP.  Personally, I love inserting GIFs into my blog posts (just a few out of my many examples!).  I think they add a touch of whimsy and they remind me so much of the moving paintings at Hogwarts.  I love how they add a bit of motion without being in-your-face, how they can convey more of a feeling of a place or event, but how they do not require the commitment of a video clip to watch.  They are also very easy to make!

Welcome to the fourteenth article in my Photography Editing in GIMP series!

Previous articles:

Article 1: Easy Photography Editing in GIMP
Article 2: How to Crop in GIMP
Article 3:  How to Control Saturation in GIMP
Article 4: How to Control Contrast and Lightness
Article 5: How to Change Color Photos into Black and White
Article 6: How to Level a Horizon
Article 7: How to Correct a Skewed Perspective in GIMP
Article 8: How to Square All of Your Corners in GIMP
Article 9: How to Adjust Curves in GIMP
Article 10: How to Adjust Color-Specific Saturation in GIMP
Article 11: How to Blur a Background in GIMP
Article 12: How to Create Stunning Landscape Photos in GIMP
Article 13: How to Control Layer Masks in GIMP

This tutorial will show you how to turn a series of boring old photos into a GIF animation like this one:

sailboat GIF animation

Step 1: Take at least four photos.  What I do is set my camera up on a tripod, then set it to take multiple photos in a row.  The minimum for a decent GIF is four photos, here I used six and sometimes I use as many as thirty!  However, most of the time I use five to eight photos.  You want the photos to line up so the GIF isn't jerky--this is why I set it up on a tripod and then set it to take multiple shots in a row, without me having to press the button each time.  Even if it is only a small shift in the camera, it will be jarring when two not-aligned photos are put in a GIF together.

Make a GIF Animation with GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C

Step 2: Open all of your photos in GIMP.  If I am making a GIF with more than eight frames, I will start by only opening the first eight and then open the rest later.

Make a GIF Animation with GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C

Step 3: Make sure your Layers Dialogue box is on.  Select the first photo in the series--this will be the Background, or first, layer in your animation.

Make a GIF Animation with GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C

Step 4: Select the second photo in the series and copy it.  I hit Control+A, then Control+C to make sure I have copied the entire photo.

Make a GIF Animation with GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C

Step 5: Go back to the first image in your series, the one that will be the background (first frame) for your animation.  Select Edit ->Paste As ->New Layer.

Make a GIF Animation with GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C

Step 6: Repeat for all of your frames.  You will see them stacking up in the Layers Dialogue box.

Make a GIF Animation with GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C

Step 7: After all of your frames have been inserted as layers, scale the image to the correct size via Image -> Scale Image.

Make a GIF Animation with GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C

Step 8: THIS IS IMPORTANT. Select File -> Save As.  Change the extension of the file to .gif

YOU DO NOT WANT TO SAVE IT AS ANYTHING OTHER THAN .GIF

Make a GIF Animation with GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C

Step 9: A box will pop up.  Select "Save as Animation." Do NOT select "Flatten Image," otherwise all of the work you just put in will be flattened!  After you have selected "Save as Animation," select Export.

Make a GIF Animation with GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C

Step 10: At this point, you can add a comment (a meta tag for the animation) or you can change the frame rate.  I usually use a frame rate of 200 milliseconds, but feel free to play around and see what works best for you.  The best way to do this is to save the file with a specific frame rate, then open up the saved file to see how it looks.  If you don't like it, open it with GIMP and re-save with a new frame rate. 

Make a GIF Animation with GIMP tutorial by Danalynn C

Step 11: Enjoy your awesome new GIF animation!

sailboat GIF animation by Danalynn C
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