Creating an Animated GIF in Photoshop

Creating an Animated GIF in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I will go through each of the steps in creating an animated GIF using a set of images. Also, I will show some techniques you can use to improve your workflow not only for making GIFs but also for other projects.

I will be writing a separate tutorial on creating an animated GIF from scratch later on. If you are interested in creating an animated GIF from scratch, check out this tutorial on how to build an animated steampunk robot.


  • Created in: Photoshop CS3 Extended


  1. Opening your image sequence
  2. Organizing your images into a layered file
  3. Creating the animation frames
  4. Tweaking the animation
  5. Saving your animated GIF
  6. Video: Complete steps

I have included a full video on creating a GIF using the steps below. Feel free to jump down to the end of the post to view it, but I would recommend that you read through the steps first to get a better grasp of the process shown on the video.

So let's begin! For this tutorial, I have already prepared a sequence of images for our GIF. You can follow along by using any set of photos you have to practice with.

Step 1

Our goal is to bring all these images together into a single file - set them as layers instead of having them as separate files. But as far as I know, Photoshop does not have the option to open multiple files as layers Ok, I just checked, Photoshop has this script you can run via File » Scripts » Load Files into Stack... but I could not figure out how to make it compile my layers in the order I want it to - always ends up alphabetically :( so I guess we will have to do this manually (or through an action I made, demonstrated in the next few steps).

First thing to do is to open your images in Photoshop. You can either drag and drop your images or use the File » Open (Ctrl+O) method.

I would not advise on opening all your images at the same time especially if they are BIG ones (in file size, I mean) - it could slow down your computer or maybe even leave you staring at a Not Responding program :(

TIP: In using File » Open (Ctrl+O), you can select several files to open at the same time by using Ctrl+Click or Shift+Click.

Step 2

Next is the part I do not enjoy at all - copy-pasting the images as layers in a single file. However, I have finally thought of creating an action for it (about time I made one!) to at least eliminate the manual-copy-paste process. But first, I will show you the manual way first so that you will have an idea of how the action works.

Manual copy-paste ugh!

As you can see in the image below, I have opened all 16 of my images. This, however, poses a problem: all my windows are stacked on top of one another. Since we will be manually copying and pasting the layers together, going through the stack will be troublesome - not to mention that we have to preserve the correct order of our image sequence.

Open your image sequence
Even the dog-bear thinks it's troublesome..

So to help make our copy-pasting easier, we can arrange our windows so that we can see all our images. Simpy go to Window » Arrange » Tile Horizontally (or Vertically if you prefer). Then our windows will now look like this:

Arrange windows horizontally.

Now we can proceed to the copy-pasting. Select the window to copy from then Select All (Ctrl+A) » Copy (Ctrl+C) then Paste (Ctrl+V) at the window of your first image (in my case, 001.jpg). You can close the image you have already copy-pasted as it is no longer needed. Repeat. OR you can simply drag and drop the layers as I did on the video below. Either way, make sure you are pasting the layers in the correct order.

Drag and drop the layers.

But what if we have a lot more images? Copy-pasting 16 images was tasking enough for me to do. So.. enter the Action.

Let's use an Action instead!

The action I created follows the steps we made earlier (Select-Copy-Paste-Close) but before using this action, make sure that you opened your images in their proper order, otherwise, the layers will get jumbled up and you would have to rearrange it later.

To check the order of your images, just click on the Window menu and check the file list at the end of the menu.

Check the order of your image sequence
Check the order of your image sequence.

Now we are good to go! First download the To-layers action I created.

You can load the action in Photoshop by just double-clicking it but I'm not sure if this will work in other versions (mine is CS3). If it doesn't, on the Actions (F9) window, click on the Options and select Load Actions....

TIP: You can set your Actions to Button Mode to make it easier to click on. On the Actions window, just click on Options » Button Mode. Alternatively, you can just set a shortcut key. While NOT in Button Mode, select your action then click on Options » Action Options... then set your preferred Function Key.

The Actions Window
The Actions Window

Again, before playing the To-layers actions, make sure that your images are opened in order. Next is to set your first image as the current window. Go to Window » FIRST_IMAGE_FILE. Then, click/play the To-layers Action until you have consumed all the images except for your layered file - be careful not close it!

Using the To-layers Action.

Step 3

Alright! Next is adding the animation. If your Animation window isn't opened yet, go to Window » Animation. In case you are seeing the Timeline instead of the Frames Animation Window, just click on the button found at the lower right corner of the window.

Switch from Timeline to Frames Animation
Switch from Timeline to Frames Animation

Still on the Animation window, click on the Options and select Make Frames from Layers

Select Make Frames from Layers
Make Frames from Layers

You will notice that your animation frames have been generated from your layers. So each layer now has its own frame.

Select Make Frames from Layers

Step 4

Next, let's do some tweaking on the animation. By default, the first frame will be assigned a frame delay of 10 seconds and the rest of the frames are set to 0. You can easily change this by clicking on the Frame delay option at the bottom of the frame and selecting whatever value suits you. To customize your frame delay, just select Other....

You can assign the same frame delay to all the frames by selecting Select All from the Options at the Animation window. To select multiple frames, you can use Ctrl(or Shift)+Click.

As for the animation loop count, you can set this on the drop-down menu at the lower left corner of the Animation window. Set it to Forever for an infinite loop or input a specific number using the Other... option.

You can test your animation by clicking on the Play button found beside the loop count menu.

Setting the Frame Delay and Loop Count
Setting the Frame Delay and Loop Count.

Step 5

And finally, saving your GIF. Go to File » Save for Web & Devices... and a dialogue box will appear. Under the Preset section on the right side, select GIF as the file type.

On the lower left corner of the preview image, you will see the file size. If you need to lessen the file size without cropping or resizing your GIF, try lowering the Colors value (Under the Preset section). But take note that the lower the number of colors you use, the lower the quality your resulting GIF will be.

Below the color table on the right side, you will see the Looping Options, which you can adjust and the Play controls for previewing your animation.

Save for Web and Devices
Save for Web and Devices


Complete steps.

And that's it! Hope you find this tutorial useful and feel free to tell me what you think. Questions and comments are most welcome!

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  1. There is a script that will let you load a bunch of photos into one document and close them when done. You have to open the images first, but, then, it does the rest. That script and some others, all free, are at
    I am in no way affiliated, I just love the script. The one I mention above is "Copy and Close".
    I am off to try this tutorial. It makes perfect sense! Thank you!


  2. It looks great, I am not very good at animated GIFs but I am willing to learn :)!

  3. Thanks!I'm starting to learn to use photoshop, and it helps!