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Create an animated GIF with Gimp

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“We didn’t need a special word for interactivity in the same way that we don’t (yet) need a special word for people with only one head.” 
― Douglas Adams

It’s here! Twitter has introduced the ability to share animated GIFs directly from your timeline on as well as iPhone and Android application.  Before, we had to use third party apps to share GIFs, I personally used to use Giphy (which I still love!) but know, we can just share them directly from out timeline without taking that extra step.

For this exercise, I’ll use my own graphics; you can use photos you take with your digital camera or phone, online videos and collages, and Gimp, and Open Source and free image editing software.

My composition looks like this:

Creating Animated GIFs

Creating the Gimp composition

Create a new document with the size of the file you want to work with.  In my case, because I have a color background and I want to keep it throughout the animation; I’ll select the background color to foreground (in my document I have created the color I want to use as foreground).

Animated Gif Composition New File

I will now start adding all the elements in different layers.

I’ll add the first text layer for the CREATING word.

Animated Gif Composition Text Layer

Add the Animated word in the script font I selected and arrange it accordingly.

Animated Gif Composition Text Layer

Add another layer for the word and the graphic ornament.

Animated Gif Composition Text Layer

Animated Gif Composition Ornament Layer


How does Gimp handles animation?

Gimp creates frame by frame animations, so they way that’s set is that it will turn on and off (or replace) the layers in the order they are arranged.  This is great for simple animated GIFs like this one, but if you want to create moving elements or more complex animations, you’ll need to create all the frames involved in the motion in order to get them animated.

To animate this file, I need to define how I want the elements to appear in the animation area, which ones will be visible (if I want some of them always on the screen) and any other detail like order of appearance, transparency change, position, and so on.  I’ll keep it simple for now so you can follow along!

I’ll go with the reading order of the phrase “Creating Animated GIFs”.  By default, Gimp will create an animated GIF based on the layers from my file.  We can check that state by going to Filters > Animation > Playback

Animated Gif Composition Playback

This is only a preview.  To save your file and be able to share it online, you’ll need to export it: File > Export. A new window will be prompted, here you’ll be able to give your file a name, select the location where it will be saved and select the type of file you want from the drop down menu at the bottom.  Click on the Export button.Gimp Animated Gif Composition ExportThe Export Image as GIF option window will be prompted.  Activate the checkbox for As Animation.  Under Animated GIF Options activate the checkbox for Loop Forever if you want the animation to run without stopping. And the default result is the following:

Creating Animated GIFs Default State

This is way too fast for a nice animated gif, it makes it very hard to read and it becomes quite annoying after some time.  (I made the animation stop at the end for a period of time in purpose so it wouldn’t make you dizzy)

Setting up the speed of the animation

Export your file again:  File > Export.  Under Delay between frames where unspecified type a number higher than the one that’s showing as a default: 100.  I made that speed of 300 to make the difference more obvious.

Creating Animated GIFs Slower State

This is a great option, but maybe we don’t want to have each layer animated with the same timing.  An animation will be more interesting if we play around with the time each element is shown in screen.  That’s the trick I’ll show you now!

Go to Windows > Dockable Dialogs > Layers in case your layers dialog box is not activated. All the layers shown are the ones that will be animated.  Select the layer you want to edit the time, right click and select Edit Layer Attributes.

Gimp Animated Gif Composition Layer Attributes

This will open a small window that will show the name of the layer.  Just after the name type (100ms) with the parenthesis!  ms=milliseconds.

Gimp Animated Gif Composition Layer Attributes ms

Feel free to give each layer the time you consider appropriate for each layer to create the animation you want.  I spent some time playing around with the values of time for each layer and checked how it looked like with the playback option.

Gimp Animated Gif Composition Layer Attributes ms

And my final animation looks like this:

Creating Animated GIFs Custom State


image credit: joansorolla

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  • Bell Do

    Hi Jen!
    I’m loving the tutorials 🙂 I didn’t know Gimp was capable of creating animated GIFs, I’ll try it later on today. I can see how adding animated headlines and graphics can make my content more interactive!

    • jenniferdopazo

      Hi Bell!
      Glad you enjoyed it 🙂
      I’m a big fan of Gimp, and any free & Open Source tool I can get my hands on. Please share your creations with me!

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