We’ve all seen GIFs throughout our travels around the internet. They’re the perfect way to express your thoughts and feelings when, sometimes, words won’t do the trick.

Ever wanted to make your own? We’ve curated the top GIF-making tutorials from our Skillshare instructors for you to learn how to make a GIF using both free and premium tools like Adobe After Effects and Photoshop. You can even learn how to make a GIF from a video. 

We’ll show you just how simple it can be to turn your favorite clips and hand-drawn illustrations into GIFs that you can reuse over and over again.

How to Create a GIF Using Adobe After Effects

1. The Beginner’s Guide to Animating Custom GIFs

animating GIFs
From Jake Bartlett’s Skillshare class, “The Beginner’s Guide to Animating GIFs”

If you’re completely new to any kind of design work, fear not! Motion designer Jake Bartlett is here to show you how easy it can be. In just over 30 minutes, you’ll go from being a complete beginner to having a custom-made GIF—a little red plane looping through some clouds. 

You’ll be working in After Effects to design and animate a GIF from scratch, which makes it perfect for those of you who are new to motion graphics or the After Effects platform. You’ll be walked through each step with easy-to-follow instructions, wrapping up with learning how to save your work as a GIF. You’ll also find out about Bartlett’s more advanced classes—in case you’re interested in taking your new skills a little further.

2. Ready, Set, Go! Create a Simple Animation in Adobe After Effects

You’ve had some time to play in After Effects and familiarize yourself with the basic features, so you’re ready to start working on a new project. The clue’s in the title here—we’re still sticking to simple animations to hone your newfound skills. Led by experienced graphic designer Sebastiaan Destellirer, you’ll learn how to create a traffic light GIF with both light and text animation.

Destellirer will talk you through the basics of making your traffic light using the Shapes tool, before moving on to adding the text layers and animating the final piece. This is where you’ll start to understand why using the Layers feature is so important in making GIFs, a crucial point to remember as you move forward with more complicated designs later on. 

Not only will you learn all the steps to create your GIF in this class, you’ll also find out some handy keyboard shortcuts that’ll help you save time on future projects.

3. Create an Awesome Looping GIF—Using After Effects, Shape Layers & Illustrator

looping gif
From Richard Bolland’s Skillshare class, “Create an Awesome Looping GIF”

Now that you’ve mastered the ins and out of Adobe After Effects, it’s time to start adding in a few extra tools to take your GIFs from good to great. Combining software may seem daunting at first, but instructor Richard Bolland walks you through everything with clear visual instructions.

You’ll start the class in Adobe Illustrator, creating a custom graphic that you can later use for your GIF. Bolland will share some top tips, like making sure your vectors are clear and in layers before importing into After Effects. 

From here, you’ll work on animating each layer in your design before using all of those After Effects skills you’ve built up so far to turn your graphics into a looping video and saving them as a GIF.

How to Make a GIF Using Procreate

4. Animation for Illustration: Creating GIFs with Procreate & After Effects

If you’re an avid iPad user, you might have tried using Procreate in the past to design static images or graphics. But, did you know that you can easily turn those into GIFs too? 

Even if you’re new to the program, instructor and illustrator Heather Seidel will show you how to make a GIF and get you started in Procreate, before moving your designs into After Effects for the animation stage.

Before you dive into the software, you’ll brainstorm and sketch out some basic ideas on paper. Seidel will then show you how to use the iPad and Apple Pencil tools to adjust the line thickness and other stroke properties to complete your drawing, as well as how to prep this to move into After Effects. Once you’re over there, she’ll walk you through how to add texture and other layers ahead of animating. You’ll then be ready for the final touches and to share your GIF with the world.

5. Procreate Animation: Make Fun GIFs and Videos

Don’t have access to Adobe tools? That’s not a problem with Rich Armstrong’s Procreate class! In only one hour, you’ll learn how to design, edit, resize, and export your creations into looping videos that you can use as GIFs, all from your iPad and Procreate. It’s helpful if you have some experience using these tools before diving into this class, but it’s not essential. 

After a quick introduction to animation basics and getting familiar with the features that makes GIF-making possible from the Procreate app alone, you’ll move on to prepping your designs for animation. Armstrong will also walk you through how to animate existing Procreate designs that you might already have saved, along with how to export everything as a GIF straight from your iPad. 

Since this is designed to be a beginner class, you’ll keep your GIF projects quite simple, but there are details at the end of the course about Armstrong’s advanced classes if you’d like to work on more complex techniques.

How to Make a GIF in Photoshop

6. Make a Short Animated GIF Using Photoshop

Many people have dabbled in Photoshop, but Anna Sokyrka’s class will help you take everything you’ve learned with static images and build on that to create unique GIFs. Her five-step approach makes the process fun and easy for beginners, though having some basic Photoshop skills will certainly come in handy.

You’ll get started with setting up your workspace in Photoshop so that you can plan and sketch out the design you want to use for your GIF. Sokyrka will show you how to add all the layers that you’ll need in the looping stage before you add color and final details to your static images. 

In the final step, you’ll learn how to animate everything in a forever loop and save as a GIF. Voilà—you just learned how to make a GIF in less than 30 minutes!

7. Funky Letters: Turn Your Hand Lettering Into Epic GIFs!

From Linda & David’s Skillshare Staff Pick class, “Funky Letters: Turn Your Hand Lettering into Epic GIFS!”

Hand lettering is one of the most on-trend techniques in the design world right now, and it’s simple to transform your calligraphy into GIFs that you can be used on top of photos, videos, or backgrounds. 

Linda & David’s class on turning your hand lettering into GIFs is great for both beginners who want to try something completely new and creatives who are already familiar with hand lettering but need some help animating their designs.

You’ll start with deciding the kind of format you need your GIF to be in and how you’re going to use it. They’ll show you how to import everything into Photoshop, cut the pieces into separate layers, and combine everything together into a final static graphic. You’ll then learn how to animate each layer with special effects and save this as a GIF. 

Linda & David will also show you quick tips and shortcuts to save you time, as well as how to export your GIFs for different formats like social media graphics, blog posts, or digital videos.

How to Make a GIF for Free

If you don’t have access to premium tools like Photoshop or After Effects, there are still plenty of ways to make your own GIFs. 

Giphy is home to millions of GIFs online and offers a free tool to upload your own images and videos so that you can convert them into GIF files. 

Source: Giphy
Giphy is a free online tool that you can use to create and upload GIFs from your own computer. You can even learn how to make a GIF from a YouTube video!

Ever wondered how to make a GIF your wallpaper? Giphy makes that simple, too. Once your GIF is uploaded and live on the site, click “Convert to Live Photo” and save to your camera roll on your smartphone. Find the Choose New Wallpaper option in your phone’s settings and select your creation from the Live Photos album. 

8. Create Animated GIFs Online from Videos for FREE

Want to know how to make a GIF from a YouTube video? Talha Khan’s class is a great step-by-step walkthrough on how to use Giphy to make a custom GIF for free using the URL import function. The best part? You’ll be done in under 10 minutes.

He’ll show you how to import the video from YouTube and find the clip that you want to use for your GIF. You’ll learn how to use the start and end timeline features, add captions, and add any tags you want to use so that other Giphy users can find and use your GIF too. From here, you can easily download and embed your custom GIF anywhere online. This is the perfect tool for beginner GIF-makers to learn how to make a GIF from a video, without needing to invest in specialized tools.

There are plenty of options out there for you to start working on creating your own GIFs, whether you’re working with existing images or videos, or creating animations from your own hand-drawn images. Have fun!

Start With the Basics!

Photoshop Basics: 3 Ways To Make a GIF

Written by:

Holly Landis