How to Create Animated GIFs the Quick and Easy Way

how to create animated gif

You're putting the finishing touches on a blog post that you're hoping will get lots of views and shares. You're scanning the final draft, and you decide that the post isn't quite ready yet. It needs something extra to grab readers' attention and improve visual flow — and you can't find a still image that works perfectly. You need something a little more interesting. It's the perfect opportunity to make a GIF.

If you'd like to spice up your blog or social media presence, you're in the right place. In this article, we're going to explain how to create a GIF the easy way. We'll also explain what the GIF image format is and why it should interest you.

Just how me the how-to

What Are Animated GIFs?

The Graphics Interchange Format — invented in 1987 — is a creation of the now defunct online services provider CompuServe. The GIF format was revolutionary in 1987 because its built-in compression algorithm made it possible to download high-quality images relatively quickly over slow dial-up connections. Since the GIF format creates small files that virtually every web browser can display, the format remains popular more than three decades after its creation. 

One of the most interesting features of the GIF format — and the feature on which this article will focus — is the fact that it supports animations. Web browsers treat animated GIF files like still images. Animated GIF files download much more quickly than video files. Displaying them also requires less computing power than video files require. While displaying video content might slow an older smartphone to a crawl, the same smartphone should have no problem displaying an animated GIF.

Why Should You Create Animated GIFs?

When used tastefully, an animated GIF is the perfect addition to a blog post or social media feed. Motion attracts attention, so an animated GIF jumps out on a page full of still images. Like a video, an animated GIF can convey a large amount of information in a small space. Another great aspect of animated GIFs is that they're highly shareable. All of the popular social networks — including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest — support animated GIFs. If you create and share an animated GIF that's funny, informative, beautiful, interesting or surprising, social media users will probably share it. Creating an animated GIF, therefore, can be an easy way to generate traffic for your blog or increase your number of social media followers.

The most important thing to remember about creating and publishing animated GIFs is that you should always do so tastefully. One animated GIF on a page full of static images draws in the reader and maintains attention. A page full of animations, though, may look overly busy.

The GIF image format supports a maximum of 256 colors per image and uses dithering to simulate additional colors. If you make a GIF from a video that's highly detailed and subtle in color, you may see artifacts in the finished GIF file. For the best chance of success with the GIF format, you should use videos with high-contrast colors. If you're unhappy with the image quality of the resulting GIF file, you can make the animated GIF smaller to disguise compression artifacts.

How to Create a GIF with…

Now that you know why creating animated GIFs is worth the effort, it's time to learn how to do it. The great news is that there are several free online tools that you can use to create animated GIFs. In this section of the article, we'll identify some of the best tools and explain how to use them. 

GIPHY GIF Maker (Link)

How to use Giphy

How to use Giphy to make a GIF

Supported formats: MP4, MOV, MPG and M4V

Features:

  • Supports videos uploaded from your computer or phone
  • Allows you to credit your work by linking to your website
  • Uploads your GIF to a searchable database so others can find it

How to use GIPHY to make a GIF:

  1. Click the “Choose Video” button and select the video file that you would like to convert. If you see an error message at the top of the page, you've selected an incompatible video and need to choose another. If the conversion is successful, you'll see a preview of the animated GIF on the next page.
  2. Use the two sliders to indicate the desired start time and total duration of the GIF. Click the “Continue to Decorate” button.
  3. Use the “Caption,” “Stickers,” “Filters” and “Draw” buttons to add captions and decorations to the GIF. After adding something to the GIF, you can click and drag to change the item's position and size. Click the “Continue to Upload” button when you're happy with the way the GIF looks.
  4. Enter the URL of your website if you'd like GIPHY to credit your site as the source of the animated GIF. You can also enter tags to help others find your GIF when searching GIPHY. Click the “Upload to GIPHY” button. This completes the GIF and takes you to the GIF's page on GIPHY.
  5. Right click the GIF to download it to your computer.

Imgur Video to GIF (Link)

imgur gif maker

How to create an animated GIF with Imgur

Supported formats: Online videos only

Features:

  • Very fast GIF creation
  • Uploads your GIF to a searchable database so others can find it

How to use Imgur Video to create a GIF:

  1. Paste a video URL into the text box at the top of the page. If you see the message “An error occurred when loading this video,” you've entered the URL of a video that Imgur doesn't support. Try a different video. If Imgur support the video, you'll see a preview of the GIF.
  2. Drag the markers under the video to indicate the desired starting point and duration of the animated GIF.
  3. Click the text box at the bottom of the video to add a caption.
  4. Click the “Create GIF” button. The tool performs the conversion and automatically takes you to a page containing the completed GIF.

GIFS.com (Link)

gif.com how to

How to build an animated GIF with Gifs.com

Supported formats: Not specified

Features:

  • Supports videos uploaded from your computer or phone
  • Some image manipulation features not available elsewhere
  • Interface resembles video editing software provides several undo steps and makes it easy to modify and remove captions and other decorations
  • Uploads your GIF to a searchable database so others can find it

How to use GIFS.com to generate a GIF:

  1. Paste a video URL into the box at the top of the page or click the “Drag & Drop or Select File” button to upload a video file from your computer. If the file type is unsupported, you'll see an error message. If the file type is supported, the tool performs and conversion and brings you to a new page with a preview of your GIF.
  2. Click the markers at the bottom of the page to select the starting point and duration of the animated GIF.
  3. Click the buttons on the left side of the page to modify the animated GIF by adding captions, filters, stickers and other decorations.
  4. Click the “Create GIF” button. Finalize your GIF by giving it a title and adding tags for searching. Click the “Next” button when you're done.

Note: Although the GIFS.com tool is free to use, it adds a watermark to your image. To remove the watermark — and access additional image manipulation features — you'll need to purchase a premium account. A GIFS.com premium account costs $7.99 per month at the time of writing.

GIFMaker.me (Link)

gifmaker.com how to

How to make a GIF with Gifmaker.com

Supported formats: Still or animated GIF, JPG and PNG

Features:

  • Creates an animated slideshow from still images
  • Can add background music to a slideshow using the audio track from any YouTube video
  • Can stitch together multiple animated GIFs into a single GIF
  • Can create downloadable video files from still images
  • Doesn't save animated GIFs to a public database — deletes all temporary files automatically after six hours

How to use GIFMaker:

  1. Click the “Upload Images” button. Find one of the images that you'd like to use for your animated GIF. Double click the image to upload it. Repeat this step until you've uploaded each image that you would like to use.
  2. Drag the image thumbnails to change the order in which they appear in your slideshow.
  3. Use the slider under “Canvas Size” to adjust the dimensions of your slideshow.
  4. Use the slider under “Animation Speed” to indicate how long the slideshow should display an image before switching to the next one.
  5. Enter the number of times that you would like the slideshow to repeat. If you enter “0”, the slideshow repeats infinitely.
  6. Paste the URL of the YouTube video that you'd like to use as the background music for your slideshow.
  7. Click “Create GIF Animation” to convert your slideshow into an animated GIF. You can also click “Create Video Animation” to create a video version of your slideshow.
  8. Click “View the GIF” to open the GIF file in a new window. You can also click “Download the GIF” to download a copy to your computer.
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