An animated GIF is a simple animation usually made from a series of drawings. It is most often made from just a few frames, and might show a face changing from a frown to a smile, a figure jumping or waving, or an item moving from one side to the other. You can use the frame capability in Photoshop CS2 to create the individual frames of the animation, and then its relatively simple to make the animation.
1. Plan out the animation. Decide what the animation will show, and break it down into steps or frames. For example, if you want to show a stick figure doing jumping jacks, you need a frame showing the figure in each position of the jumping jacks routine.
2. Gather or create the individual images. If they are drawings or images on paper, scan them into your computer or draw them right in Photoshop using the drawing tools.
3. Create a new image in Photoshop by selecting “New” from the “File” menu. Set the image’s width and height to be the same as the largest of your frames, or as large as you want the animation to be. Set the color format to “RGB Color” and “8-bit” in the drop-down lists that refer to color. Using the layer palette, create a separate layer for each frame of the animation.
4. Open the file containing the image you want to use in the first frame. Select “Copy” from the “Edit” menu, then go to the first layer of the image you created in Step 3, Select “Paste” from the “Edit” menu. Copy the second image and paste it into the second layer. Continue copying each image and pasting it in the next layer until you have each frame’s image on a separate layer in one Photoshop file.
5. Open the animation palette by selecting “Animation” from the “Window” menu. Click on the animation palette menu at the top-right corner of the animation palette window, and select “Make Frames from Layers” in the menu that pops up.
6. Click on the drop-down list below the first frame to set the looping options. Select “Forever” if you want the animation to repeat again and again. Select “Once” if you want it to just play through once and stop.
7. Click on the timing menu at the bottom of each frame to set the timing for that frame. The amount of time you choose will be the amount of time that frame is displayed before the next frame shows. For most animations, each frame should have the same timing, though the exact number is a matter of personal preference. You can change it once you play a test playback if you don’t like your first choice.
8. Click on the “Play” button (the triangle that looks like an arrow pointing to the right) in the video control menu at the bottom of the animation palette. This plays your animation. Adjust anything that needs adjusting.
9. Select “Save for Web” from the “File” menu to save the animation. Type in a file name, choose the folder where you want the file saved, and click on the “OK” button.