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Hello! I love to draw and make gifs of various things, but mostly cats.

GIF tutorial

(If you are looking for a tutorial about how I do my drawn gifs, please click here!)

Since many people have been asking about it, here is how I make gifs.

PLEASE NOTE there isn’t only one way to do them, this is just how I do them and it works for me. I suggest also looking at other GIF tutorials around Tumblr by clicking here.

Things you’ll need for this:

· Footage of what you want to gif in MOV format (I use iMovie or Adobe Premiere to cut the scene)

· Photoshop (I use CS5)

· IMPORTANT In Photoshop, make sure you have the Animation window open (Go to Window -> Animation)


This is done by going to File -> Import -> Video Frames to Layers…

Then you look for the file in MOV format that you want to GIF and this will show up:

That’s a preview of the video you’re going to gif. Make sure you have the SELECTED RANGE ONLY option chosen. Then you hold down Shift and drag the time marker so you approximately choose the part you want to choose (It doesn’t have to be exactly, you can remove all the frames you’re not using afterwards).

After this, your workspace should look something like this:

What we just basically did is turn all the frames to layers and arrange them in the animation timeline.


Once we have all the frames, it’s time to delete the frames we aren’t using. In order to do this, just choose the frames in the animation window you don’t want to have in your gif and drag them to the small trashcan down there or press Backspace/Delete. I chose these frames:

You don’t really have to do this but I like to crop the scenes so GIFs are square shaped rather than wide (Kubrick would’ve killed me in this case). Use the crop tool and crop it however you want to.

Now we need to resize it since Tumblr allows a 500px width maximum! Go to Image -> Image size… and put 500px width. Make sure you are constraining proportions!

Click OK and all the frames should be now resized. In case you still don’t like how it looks like, you can always comeback and recrop or crop the resized one!


This is the fun part where you can play around and make it suitable to upload.

(NOTE you can always press Spacebar in any moment to preview the animation)

There are many ‘tricks’ to make a gif retain its original quality but I’m going to a simple edition here. For example, I’ll add some Brightness and contrast to the it. To do this, add a Contrass and brightness adjustment layer as a top layer.

Just play with the values until it looks right to you. If for instance, you want to turn it black and white, add a Black & white layer. If you want to play with the hue and the saturation, add a Hue/saturation layer and so on.

Photoshop also lets you to change the speed of each frame so it suits whatever you want to do. I normally choose all the frames holding Shift and then give them 0.5 or 0.6 secs. To do this, you got to click the small around beneath the frame thumbnail and click ‘Other…”

Just play around with all the variables you want. Photoshop is massive and it can allow you to make many more creative things with them.

If you want to add ‘subtitles’, for example, use the Text Tool (The one with the T) in the first layer, choose a colour and then type whatever you want. The most common font to use is Helvetica in its Regular and Bold variables. To add the famous stroke in letters, press the Stroke… option in the Fx button at the bottom of the layers window. NOTE: Make sure you’re on the first layer while applying effects!

Another you can do is blur the subtitles using the Gaussian blur (Filters -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur…). I did that for this GIF we’re making.

As a final recommendation in this step, you can delete frames in between by choosing them holding cmd/control and deleting them. This is a small trick that can help making the file smaller yet still good looking. Be sure to change the frames speed after you do this!

STEP 4: Saving

This is the hard part: Tumblr has a 1MB size limit so gifs that are heavier than it won’t work!

In order to export the file in an animated GIF format, go to File -> Save for Web & Devices… (Using Save As… WON’T work)

A new window will pop up showing all the different options to compress the file.

I have highlighted all the important things you’ve to pay attention to:

  • Optimize to File Size… : This is an automatic option that will change all the variables in order to fit the desired file size. I prefer doing this by hand but you can always use it if you want to. REMEMBER THE GIF SIZE LIMIT IS 1MB SO BE SURE TO OPTIMIZE IT TO 1000KB.
  • Colours: Amount of colours used in the GIF. This is very important since it will determine how big your file is. For colour GIFs, I recommend using around 130 colours if you want it to look nice and 32 for the black and white ones. Notice that the less colours your gif uses before compressing, the better they’ll look when you choose this option. Adding more contrast and brightness will help doing this!
  • Pattern: This is optional, but it will render your file smaller and it looks nice (Especially for black and white vintage GIFs in my opinion)
  • Current file size: This will live update as you change options. Pay attention to this before saving the GIF
  • Preview in Browser: Always check your GIF before saving! This will run in the real speed, just like it will look like in Tumblr.
  • Player: It plays the GIF in the preview window. It doesn’t run in the real speed so I wouldn’t recommend using it. You can check frame by frame here though which might be useful.
  • If the GIF is still too big or it looks bad, you can always Cancel and go back, remove some frames, add some more contrast and such to make it smaller!

The final result:

[NOTE: Please don’t save and repost the final GIF, click on the picture to go the permalink and reblog it if you want it in your blog!]

I hope this basic tutorial is helpful. There are many MANY other ways to experiment and have fun with GIF making but that’s up to you to try.

Leave me a shout in my askbox if you have any questions about this!