How to make an animated flag with photoshop

Updated April 17, 2017

Adobe Photoshop is one of the premier photo-editing applications in the world, providing users with a wealth of capabilities for altering their images. One of the more interesting features that was introduced with Photoshop CS3 Extended was the ability to create animations directly inside the program. Before this, users had to create the frames of their animation in Photoshop and then export them to ImageReady (a companion program that shipped with Photoshop) to turn them into animation. An example of the kind of animated graphic you can create in Photoshop is an waving flag.

Load an image of the flag you want to animate onto your computer. There are many online sites where you can download free copies of virtually every flag currently used.

Open Photoshop. Select “File” and click “Open.” In the dialogue that opens, browse to and open the flag image you downloaded.

Select “Image” in the menu and click “Image Size.” In the dialogue that opens, make note of the width and height of the document. Then click “OK” to close the dialogue without making any changes.

Select “File” and click “New.” In the dialogue that opens, make the width and height the same as the image, make the image “Grayscale” and click “OK.”

Select the “Gradient” tool from the toolbar and use it to drag a basic gradient across the image. Select “File” and click “Save.” In the dialogue box, type the name “flag displacement” and save it as a JPEG file.

Go back to your flag document. Right-click on the flag layer and choose “Duplicate.” Select “Filter,” then “Distort” and click “Displace.” In the dialogue, select the “flag displacement” document as the map and click “OK.”

Select “Windows” from the menu and click “Animation.” A time line will appear at the bottom. Click on the menu in the upper right on the time line and choose “Make Frames from Layers.”

Select “File” and click “Save for Web or Devices.” In the dialogue that pops up, choose GIF as the file type and set the “Duration” for the frames in the animation. Select “Save” and save your file.

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About the Author

Daniel Ketchum holds a Bachelor of Arts from East Carolina University where he also attended graduate school. Later, he taught history and humanities. Ketchum is experienced in 2D and 3D graphic programs, including Photoshop, Poser and Hexagon and primarily writes on these topics. He is a contributor to sites like Renderosity and Animotions.