Create gif animation

This post shows you the fastest way to create a full GIF animation from a series of images using GIMP.

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GIF animations are currently celebrating a big comeback, because messaging services like Whatsapp and co use them as small moving icons in the status. Animated GIF were very popular at the time of the early internet, because they were the first moving images on the still few web pages. The 256 color limit and transparency have made this really old file format popular.

This is how it works with GIMP

Start GIMP as usual. While GIMP starts slowly in the background, you can open Windows File Explorer in parallel. Once both applications are fully operational, position GIMP and Explorer side by side on the screen, like in the following image.

Arrange GIMP window and Explorer side by side

Create a new, empty drawing in GIMP using the menu File – New. The drawing should have the size of the later GIF, it can also be larger, because you can crop the image later with GIMP.

Important preparation | The Layers dialog should be visible in the toolbox, if not, please set it up or start it with the key combination Ctrl+L. Furthermore you should already navigate in the file explorer to the folder where your images are located that should be created to an animated GIF.

GIMP animates a GIF

Select all images in the file explorer and drag them with pressed left mouse button to the Layers dialog of GIMP, drop everything there (release mouse button). Press if necessary. the key combination Ctrl+A to select all images in the current folder.

GIMP will then add all the frames as a separate layer to your drawing. Depending on the number of frames, this can be very fast or take quite a long time if you have a lot of images or very large images.

GIMP layer dialog with imported images

The background layer that GIMP creates when you create a new drawing can be deleted if you don’t want it to be part of the GIF animation. You can now also crop the animation to your taste.

Sequence | The animation sequence starts at the lowest layer (first image) stepwise ascending to the top layer (last image) in the Layers dialog. Set there the running direction of the animation by editing the sort order.

Save GIF animation

Save your GIF animation using the menu File – Export. or File – Export as. under a meaningful name as animation. It is important that you give the file name the suffix .Specify GIF so that GIMP recognizes that it should use the GIF export filter for file creation.

Export dialog and GIF settings

Confirm the file export step, the GIF dialog will open Export image as GIF (see image above), there you can set some important parameters of your GIF animation.

Interlace | This parameter hardly plays a role nowadays. It is used to display a low quality preview on network connections with low data rate. Only gradually the missing image data will then be added.

GIF comment | It is quite useful to add a comment there if you want to sign your work or indicate the copyright.

As Animation | You must enable this option, otherwise you will not get a GIF animation but just a non-animated image.

Repeat loop endlessly | If you want the animated GIF to repeat continuously, you have to activate this option, otherwise the animation will be played only once when the image is loaded or exported. was displayed. Also specify the time interval that each individual image pauses. A value of 100-500ms is sufficient for smooth playback.

Play GIF animation

Windows does not have a separate player for playing GIF animations, but you can play the GIF in the Internet Explorer or Firefox browser by dropping the GIF file with the mouse on the empty window of the web browser.

The animation starts playing as soon as the file is completely loaded by the browser.

Something does not work?

In the following section you can read some problem solutions in connection with GIF animations under GIMP.

Wrong order

It could happen that the animation is played in a wrong order, in this case you should change the order of the layers in the Layers dialog. Move the layers via drag&drop to the right order of the list.

If you use an extremely large number of images and can’t reorder them manually in the Layers dialog, it helps if you reorder the images in File Explorer when importing and then import them into GIMP.

The playback sequence starts from the lowest level (first image) and runs through to the top (last image above).

Animation is jerky

The animation is jerky or plays sluggishly? Possibly the images you have chosen are much too large to be loaded meaningfully into the cache by a browser. Try to make the image resolution (maximum megapixel) as small as possible and as large as necessary. Scale the images if necessary. down.

File can be used in Whatsapp (and co.) do not play

Messaging services like Whatsapp and similar try to optimize images. If they are too large, the application will try to shrink them to save disk space. In such cases the property of animation can be lost, you often get a still image. Alternatively, you can share such images with others via alternative cloud storage platforms like Dropbox or Mega.

GIF animation does not arrive in Mail

When sending you have to take into account that many mailboxes have an attachment limit of 5MB. Images exceeding this limit are automatically rejected by the mail provider.

GIF animation is not clean

GIF files have only a color resolution of maximum 256 colors, therefore all colors in between have to be created by mathematical methods like dithering (pixel blending), this reduces the image quality. GIF works best with pure colors. Furthermore you have the problem, if transparent areas exist, hard block heels (pixel stairs) are shown in the border areas, because this file format does not support any edge smoothing.

animation facebook gif

This could be interesting

The following articles might fit thematically (articles with identical keyword)

mng animation png

The MNG format is an animatable extension of the well-known PNG format with all its advantages and disadvantages. In practice, however, there is little to be found.

gif animation webp mjpg

GIF animations are very easy to create from layers.

webp animation gif transparent invisible visible compression

The image format released by Google in 2011 combines features of JPG, PNG and GIF. Images can be compressed lossless, have an alpha channel and the ability to animate. The file size is still significantly below comparable JPG images.

The animated GIF format is one of the oldest image formats that exist. Because of its animatability and low color depth (256 colors) it is still popular on the internet.


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