DNZ Blog


How to make a simple animated GIF with free software

By thomasin sleigh.

Gif It Up Banner    2015    6    With Europeana Trove Label

The GIF IT UP challenge returns for 2015! To help you on your way to GIF superstardom, we've developed a series of tutorials and step-by-step guides on how to make a simple animated GIF, a GIF from a stereograph, and a GIF using the GIMP image editing software.


1. FIND AN IMAGE

Before making our GIF, we need to make sure the content we are animating is copyright-free. Using search services such as DigitalNZ, the Digital Public Library of America, Europeana, and Trove, are easy ways to access copyright-free photographs, videos, and huge range of other material. These services will also allow you to search by usage, so you know that you are only returning results which can be changed and edited.

For example, on digitalnz.org, click the 'Open Filters' tab, and then click 'Modify' to return remixable results:

Modify


2. DOWNLOAD YOUR IMAGE

Once you've found a reusable image you'd like to work with, click through to the collection it is part of and download your selected image. Save it to your desktop. For example, this image from Auckland Libraries:

Auckland Libs

Take note of the licence information on this page, we can only use material which is:

  • ‘no known copyright’,
  • has a Creative Commons license which allows for reuse,
  • or is in the public domain.

Create a folder on your desktop, titled for your GIF, and save this image inside.


3. EDIT YOUR IMAGE

We are going to use this free in-browser editor to edit our image: https://pixlr.com/editor/

NOTE: Step three is for one frame of our GIF. You will need to repeat step three several times to generate multiple frames.

Click ‘Open image from your computer’ and upload your Auckland Libraries image.

Pixlr

There are lots of options for editing your image depending on what you’d like your GIF to do. Our GIF is going to be made from a series of edited images, like a film strip, so think about how you’d like your GIF to flow.

We are going to do some simple colouring to make these flowers bloom.

In the sidebar, select the brush tool:

Brush Tool

Then select the colour box to find a different colour:

Colourbox

The ‘WEB’ palette is an easy way to browse and select colours:

Web Palette

Change your brush size, shape, and opacity using the menu at the top. To exit the menu, click outside the menu, but not inside your image.

Brush Size

Use the scroll on your mouse to zoom in and start colouring. You can hold down the space bar on your keyboard to move around on the zoomed-in view. Colour as many flowers as you like for the first frame. Remember, we need to make a series of frames, so if you colour the flowers all at once, your GIF will be made of two frames, with all the flowers blooming at once, rather than appearing sequentially.

Pink Flowers2

If you make a mistake, use CRTL+Z to undo.

You can also use the magic wand tool:

Magic Wand Tool

To select an object:

Magic Wand

You can hold down the SHFT key to multi-select areas, then fill them with colour using the paint bucket tool:

Pink Flower

To deselect use CTRL+D.


4. SAVING YOUR IMAGES

Once we’ve coloured in a couple of flowers, we are going to save this image as one frame of our GIF. Make sure your image is about 100 KB.

Saving

Save your image in a folder, and put a number after the file name, such as “Flowers2”. You’ll need to make sure you name your records in sequential order, so you know which order to upload them to the GIF maker.

Repeat this process with different colours, remembering to save a new file at regular intervals. Now that I’ve coloured several sections, I’m going to save my file as ‘Flowers3’, and so on.

Pink Flowers


5. ANIMATE YOUR GIF

When you have a whole sequence of coloured files, we’re ready to experiment, and make our GIF. Go to: http://ezgif.com/maker

Click ‘Choose files’. Find the folder with all your files, and, holding down CTRL to select all the files to upload. If the files are numbered sequentially they should upload in the correct order.

You can change the delay time across all the images, or you can have the delay longer between selected images:

Time Delay

Click ‘Animate it’ to see what your GIF looks like.

Voila! Here is your animated GIF:

Final Flowers 3

You’ll see there are various editing options underneath the image. You can click the @ symbol to save your GIF to your computer.

Editing Options

TIP: When re-posting or sharing our GIF we must include the correct attribution of the source material to Auckland Libraries. This can be easily copied and pasted from underneath the image:

Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19390621-52-1. No known copyright.


6. EXPERIMENT WITH FILTERS AND OTHER TOOLS

Once you’ve got the basics down, you can experiment with different brushes and tools in Pixlr to add to you’re a GIF. For example, make the people say something with the text tool:

Text Box

Play with some of the options under ‘Filter’ and ‘Adjustment’:

Water Swirl

Use the lasso tool to identify a component of your image, copy and paste, and make a flashing flower sky:

Flashing Flowers


7. ENTER GIF IT UP

Gif It Up Banner    2015    6    With Europeana Trove Label

The GIF IT UP challenge runs from October 12–November 21 and calls for animated GIFs reusing copyright-free material found via DigitalNZ, the Digital Public Library of America, Europeana, and Trove.

All the entry information can be found right here. We look forward to seeing your ingenious and endlessly-looping creations! Please post a comment below, or ask us on Twitter, if there is anything in this guide that is unclear.

Make a Comment

Showing 3 comments

Donte Grundy says:

nice

Sue Kini says:

Awesome tutorial Thomasin; well explained and a clear process to follow - I'm excited to give it a go!

its a well explained process to gif it up! says:

Lets start!