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How to Customize an Animated GIF in Photoshop


Photoshop is a wonderful tool for quickly allowing you to adjust things like brightness and color curves for your videos, which also makes effecting your animated GIF easy.

You will only be able to customize your GIF the first time you create it. Unfortunately Photoshop will not read a GIF into frames, so if you try importing a GIF you've previously imported you will not be able to edit the animation.

Importing Your Footage for GIF Creation

Photoshop will read videos files easily. All you have to do it go to File > Import > Video frames to layers and your video file will open up.

You will be able to select the frame range that you want for your GIF, or you can import the entire section. Once you hit okay, you should be able to play and scrub through your GIF. If you don't see the timeline at the bottom, you can bring it up by going to Window > Timeline.

Editing specific frames in Photoshop

Editing specific frames in Photoshop

Once you've imported your footage, you also have the option of deleting or duplicating certain frames from your GIF by selecting the frame and either hitting the trash can to delete or the duplicate button, to the left of the trash can.

Quick Tip

Keep in mind that the more frames you put into your GIF, the larger the file size will be. Consider how long it'll take for people to load the image before adding too many frames.

Easily Change Image Size and Crop your GIF

Adjusting the image size and cropping your GIF is really easy.

Since all of your frames are on their own layer, you essentially only have one image open in Photoshop, so to crop your image you only need to grab the crop tool and use it like your normally would for a photo.

Adjusting the image size is the same as changing the size with photos. (Image > Image Size)

Using Effects and Adjusting Colors to Your GIF

In order to effect all of the frames at once, you need to use an adjustment layer. This will allow you to change the color, level, brightness or other attribute of all your frames with one easy setting.

Organizing frames into groups.

Organizing frames into groups.

Create a New Adjustment Layer

  1. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer and select the attribute you'd like to change.
  2. In your layers window, make sure that your new adjustment layer is at the top. Anything that it below the adjustment layer will be effected. You can use this to selectively edit a certain range of frames.
  3. You can add as many adjustment layers as you'd like! You can also change the effect later on by double clicking on the layer, or right clicking and choosing "Edit Adjustment".

An easy way to keep all your frames in one place is to group your frames together. This makes it easier to add text onto so you don't accidentally change the order of frames. It also keeps your layers window nice and neat.

Adding text to your GIF

Adding text to your GIF

How to Add Text to your GIF

If you want to add text to the entire GIF or if you want to add text to selected frames, both ways are easily adjusted and straightforward - and actually the same process! You can edit, change typeface and color like you normally would.

Like adjustment layers, anything that is below the text layer will have the text on it. So to easily add text to selected frames, just place the text right above the last frame you'd like the text to show up on.

If you want text on the entire GIF, just place it at the top of the layers list.

Saving Your GIF

In order to save your GIF out of Photoshop there is a special method to use. Just saving as a .gif will not save your animation.

To make sure that your GIF is saved out with all your frames and animation, go to FIle > Save for Web and make sure the format is GIF. You also should consider compressing the file to reduce the file size and make it stream better on the internet.

You can select the "2-up" tab to easily compare between settings. You want to make sure that your GIF still looks good, but also is not a huge image size.

If you'd like to make changes to your GIF layer on, don't forget to save it as a Photoshop file, otherwise you won't be able to import your GIF to edit specific frames.


Jonas Rodrigo on July 26, 2015:

Noelle, this a very useful hub. I'm still trying to learn the basics of photoshop but I'll bookmark this for when I think I'm ready to do this project myself.

Noelle (author) from Denver on June 28, 2013:

Hi Jamin, try grouping all of your layers under the adjustment layer and see if that works for you.

Jamin I on June 27, 2013:

When I did the adjustment layer, even when it was on the top it only affected one layer...

Carly Sullens from St. Louis, Missouri on April 09, 2013:

You are really good at explaining complicated information so the reader understands.

Dil Vil from India on April 08, 2013:

Excellent hub, lesson made easy, i like this hub. Thanks for sharing.