How to Make GIF Animations Look Good in Photoshop

Written by richard klopfenstein
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How to Make GIF Animations Look Good in Photoshop
A GIF file is simply a sequence of still images. (Flag of movie image by Yuriy Panyukov from

GIF animations can be created by Photoshop CS3 and higher with the Animation panel. A GIF animation is an image that contains a certain number of frames and will play them one after the other according to its settings. Since the GIF format is an older format, it doesn't have the advanced colour settings of a newer format, such as a JPEG. This can make an animation, especially one created from video, look primitive and grainy. Fortunately, Photoshop has an excellent GIF sequencer that gives you controls over how it processes these files.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Adobe Photoshop CS3 or higher

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  1. 1

    Create your animation as you normally would using the Animation panel of Photoshop. You can use any of tools, filters and levels settings as usual. You can preview your clip by pressing the "Play" button in the animation panel.

  2. 2

    Click "Save for Web..." option in the "File" menu at the top of the program. This will open the optimisation utility.

  3. 3

    Change the file type to GIF by selecting it from the drop-down menu. Photoshop will create a custom palette based on the most common colours in your image.

  4. 4

    Set the number of colours to 256. This will provide enough colour range for most images and is the highest the GIF format allows.

  5. 5

    Change the size of the image by typing in your desired dimensions, then select a resampling method that best fits the change. "Bicubic sharper" is best for reductions and "Bicubic smoother" is better for enlargements.

  6. 6

    Click "Save" to export your GIF. You can preview it by opening it in an Internet browser.

Tips and warnings

  • Some advanced video files will never look great as a GIF because every file must contain 256 or fewer colours.

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