Create gif: how to build animations quickly, easily, and for free

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Stand out from the crowd with your social media posts, make your emails more dynamic or liven up your blog posts: GIFs offer you many uses. How you can easily, quickly and inexpensively create your own GIF, we explain to you.

The Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) is somewhere between a still image and a video. The animations allow us to recreate scenes from old iconic movies, visualize memes, or present messages visually – and usually funny.

Meanwhile, there are even a number of online databases and search engines that allow you to search for GIF files, share them afterwards.

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If we use GIFs for social media posts, we set ourselves apart from the crowd. When we add appropriate GIF animations to emails, we can arouse the interest of our counterpart – if the short videos are appropriate, that is.

In Buzzfeed-like bulleted articles, they’re used to liven things up. But also in normal blog posts GIFs have a place, for example, to explain facts in more detail.

At first glance, it may seem difficult to create. But this is not the case. With the following tools and online services you can quickly and easily build your own short clips in a short time.

Use an image editor to create a GIF

You have special wishes and ideas how your animation should look like? If you have an Adobe Creative Suite, you can use this option.

The prerequisite is that you know how to use Photoshop, because the tools can be overwhelming at first glance. To get started, I’m happy to recommend Hubspot’s detailed tutorial. So you can follow the GIF creation step by step:

  1. Upload images to Photoshop.
  2. Open the "Timeline" window.
  3. Select the "Create Frame Animation" option in the Timeline window.
  4. Create a new layer for each new frame.
  5. Open the dropdown menu again and select the option "Create frames from layers".
  6. Specify how long to display each frame.
  7. Choose how often you want the animation to repeat.
  8. Click play to preview the animation.
  9. Save and export the GIF file.

With Photoshop you string together a collection of images to a GIF or use a short video file. Then use the Video Frames to Layers feature to turn your photos into a short animation.

Online services that let you create a GIF

If you don’t have Adobe Creative Suite or don’t want to use an image editor, you can also use one of many online services.

Depending on the source you get your footage from, there are different offerings you can access online.

The online service Giphy

If you’ve used GIFs on social networks before, you may already be familiar with the online service.

Giphy and its tools are free. The handling is very simple. On the website, click on the "Create" button in the menu and you’re ready to go.

The GIF Maker from Giphy

The GIF Maker from Giphy. (Photo: / Screenshot)

With Giphy’s editor, you can upload multiple photos or a video, or edit an existing GIF. If you want to use a specific video, you can also enter a link to a YouTube or Vimeo video.

The maximum length of the animation is ten seconds. If the clip is not enough, you can add text in different colors and fonts to the image.

The free platform "Make A Gif

Basically, the creation of a short video also works like on Giphy. The advantage of Make A Gif are its other functions.

The editor of Make A Gif. (Photo: / Screenshot)

After clicking the "CREATE A GIF" button, you can not only use a YouTube video, but also enter a Facebook link.

If you want to make a recording of yourself, the menu item "WEBCAM TO GIF" is the best choice. Here you can record a short video via your webcam and edit it afterwards with Make A Gif.

Screen Recorder for GIF creation

You have written a tutorial and are thinking about how you can liven up your article? How about inserting individual steps as an animation?? Use a screen recorder to record screen activity and then convert it to a GIF using the appropriate software.

Online Screen Recorder

For this purpose there are applications like Giphy Capture, Gif Cam, Screen To Gif or Lice Cap. You select the area on your screen that you want to capture. Then start recording. After that you can access an options menu as usual and edit your video.

Screen Recorder on Mac or Windows computer

But there is also an option to use your Mac or Windows computer to record your activities on the screen. Mac users resort to Quicktime.

Birldscreen Recorder from Quciktime for Mac. (Photo: Screenshot)

Under File you will find the menu item "New Screen Recording". Once you press Record, you can film the entire screen or just a section you specify.

After that you can upload your video to a platform or use an image editor to create your own GIF.

To call the Screen Recorder in Windows, press the shortcut "Windows + G". The question "Do you want to open the game bar?"Answer "Yes" in the corresponding checkbox.

To start, click on the record button or press the key combination "Windows + Alt + R". You can stop the recording with the keyboard shortcut.

Screen capture in Windows

Screen capture in Windows. (Photo: Screenshot)

With this method, however, you can only record activities within an application. Unfortunately, the desktop can’t be filmed with the Windows solution. For this you need screen recorder software.

Under the file path "C:\Users\<username>\Videos\Captures" you will find your video. Edit the video footage as usual to create a GIF from it.

Create a GIF with your smartphone

When you’re on the road, you don’t always have your notebook handy. But you can also create your own GIF with your smartphone – or tablet.

The Giphy Cam application

I have already had good experiences with this app. Anyone who has ever used Snapchat will have no problem with Giphy Cam.

The GIPHY Cam app in the iTunes Store

The GIPHY Cam App in the iTunes Store. (Photo: iTunes / Screenshot)

You can record a short series of photos or a video. Afterwards you can edit your image or video material. Animation seems too simple to you? Then, you can spruce it up with filters, stickers, or texts. Afterwards, save the clip and share it on your social networks.

GIF creation with WhatsApp

Until recently, I didn’t know that you can also create short animations with WhatsApp. This is by far the simplest and probably the fastest option.

Create GIFs with WhatsApp. (Photo: Screenshot)

Record a video in WhatsApp as usual. If you look in the upper right corner of the screen after capturing, you’ll already see the GIF icon.

Click on it and a comprehensive editor will open up. Here you can shorten the recording – with WhatsApp you can only create animations with a length of six seconds. You can add text, emojis and, with a little skill, small paintings to the clip. Ready is the GIF!

All roads lead to the GIF

No matter which method you choose, creating an animation is quick and easy before hand. All you have to do is find the tool that works for you.

If it has to go fast, I recommend you WhatsApp. (Here you can go to the detailed tutorial.) For the more creative among you, creating a GIF with Photoshop is certainly the best option. You’re on the road a lot? Then an app like Giphy Cam for example is a good idea.

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Have fun trying it out!

Have you ever created a GIF? Is there a tool that you really like to work with?

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