There are many online tools you can use to create a GIF animation these days. I find making a GIF animation in Photoshop most helpful because I can keep the source file and edit it anytime. Also, it is the most versatile tool so far.

That said, there is some learning curve to using Photoshop. You may have taken hours or days to create one GIF. Hang tight as I’m showing you how to do this step by step in less than 10 minutes.

In this guide, we are going to create a GIF animation in Photoshop for a virtual event.

A static image works fine, but a GIF animation will be more engaging and it shouldn’t take long to create.

In this guide, I will show you how by using a mix of text, logo, graphics and images using Photoshop CC with a MacBook Pro.

For this campaign, I would like to promote a virtual event on social media. I call this event “Virtually Asia Marketing Summit”. This is not a real event, I’ve made it up for the purpose of this guide only.

The eventual GIF animation social media banner will look like this:

How to make a GIF animated banner for social media

Step 1: Source for graphics

Before making the images, graphics and text in the banner move, these items have to be designed first.

Top Tip: When you source for graphics, make sure to look for vectors where individual parts are in separate layers, not fixed to any backgrounds.

In this way, you are able to move each item at different times.

I go to FreePik to look for the graphics relevant to this event. Below is the background graphic I want to add to the banner.

freepik vector illustration map of asia

Step 2: Prepare your Photoshop file

Option 1: Create a new Photoshop document

Go to the top menu and click “File”.

In the dropdown, click “New”.

create new photoshop file

This opens up another window for you to create your Photoshop file.

In order to post this banner on Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin, create a new Photoshop document with these specifications:

Dimension: 1000×1000 pixels

Resolution: 300 dpi

Colour Mode: RGB

Background Contents: White

Click the “Create” button.

photoshop file preset details

Option 2: Upload images in bulk at one go

If you have many images that are ready to be made into a GIF animation, you can skip the above and load up the images in bulk in these steps:

Load files into stack on Photoshop
Browse for files to load layers to Photoshop document

Each of your images will pop up on each layer in Photoshop.

Step 3: Design your social media banner

The background vector I’ve downloaded in Step 1 includes a few formats:

vector illustrator artwork from AI format file

You can open any of these formats in Photoshop.

For this project, I’m using the “.ai” format, opening this file with Adobe Illustrator.

Select the background graphic that you need. Then, go to the top menu, click “Edit” and click “Copy”.

copy vector artwork from illustrator AI file

Or, press “Command” and “C” at the same time on the keyboard to copy the graphic.

Go back to your Photoshop file or document and press “Command” and “V” at the same time on the keyboard to paste the graphic.

You will see a prompt like this:

paste vector graphic as smart object in Photoshop

Select “Smart Object” to preserve its original characteristics. If you wish to learn more about Smart Objects and the benefits, you may wish to check out this article here by Adobe. Click “OK”

Now you will see your background in one layer.

Adjust the size to your liking, then add other items to your Photoshop document.

In the case of this project, I am adding the event logo, venue, date and call-to-action to the file.

Just be sure to add them to individual separate Photoshop layers to allow each layer to animate or move at different timings. Go ahead to design your banner with all graphics, text and images visible on the Photoshop file.

Next, it’s time to label or name each layer so you can identify them clearly as you create your GIF animation. To label the name, go to the layer’s panel which can be found by clicking on “Windows” on the top menu. Then scroll down and click on “Layers”.

Open Layers panel on Photoshop

Once the Layers panel pop up, double click on the first layer, where the words are. They will be highlighted, and that’s when you can change the name of the layer. Do the same for the other layers.

double-click layer to change label or name in Photoshop

Step 4: Go to “Window” and click “Timeline”

Before you can start animating the layers, click on “Window” on the top menu, scroll down and click “Timeline”.

open Timeline window on Photoshop

This opens up the Timeline panel at the bottom of your screen like this.

Timeline panel on Photoshop

Step 5: Click “Create Frame Animation” in the Timeline window

Next, inside the Timeline window, click on the small arrow that’s pointing downwards. Then select “Create Frame Animation” in the dropdown menu.

How to create frame animation in Photoshop

Click “Create Frame Animation” one more time if you get the same as I do below:

Create frame animation in video timeline on Photoshop

A thumbnail of your design will appear in the Timeline window.

Timeline window thumbnail of GIF animation in Photoshop

Step 6: Select “All layers” and create new layer for each new frame

Next, go to the top menu and click “Select”, then click “All Layers”.

Select all layers in Photoshop

Go to the small menu marked with 3 lines on the corner of the Timeline panel that looks like this:

Menu on timeline panel

Click on the three lines and select “Create new layer for each new frame” in the dropdown menu.

Create new layer for each new frame in Photoshop

Step 7: Click “Convert to video timeline”

Next, go to the bottom left of the Timeline panel and click the icon for “Convert to video timeline”. It looks like this:

Convert to video timeline in Photoshop

After clicking the icon, this should appear in your Timeline panel. You will see all your layers on the left

Timeline layers in Photoshop

Step 8: Make the effects you want with keyframes

Right now, all layers will appear at the same time and you won’t see any animation going on if you click the “play” button.

The next thing to do is to only have the first graphic you want to see and hide the rest first.

Do this by clicking the “eye” icon next to the layers you want to hide in the Layer panel.

In this case, the only layer that needs to be visible at the start of the animation is the map and background, hence uncheck the “eye” icon for all layers except for the map and background layer.

What you should see now is only the image of the map and a light yellow background layer.

hide the layers by unchecking the eye icon in Photoshop

Next, to make the fading in effect of the map image, click the small arrow on the image layer in the Timeline. A dropdown will appear with three keyframe functions: position, opacity and style.

Keyframe position opacity style in timeline Photoshop

For this GIF animation, I would like the map image to be invisible at the start and slowly fade in to become visible. Hence, I should use the “Opacity” function.

Next, make sure the red vertical line in the Timeline window is dragged to the “00” part of the keyframe. This tells the software that you’d like this first effect to start right at the beginning of the GIF animation.

Then, click on the clock icon next to the word “Opacity”. Now you will see a yellow diamond icon appear on the left side of the clock icon only in the map layer timeline.

Check opacity function keyframe in timeline Photoshop

Next, go to the layers panel, select the “Map” image layer only and make opacity all the way to 0%.

Reduce opacity to 0% or invisible in Photoshop

Now your Photoshop document only shows the light yellow background.

Go back to the Timeline window, move the red vertical line to a timing where you want the map image to appear. In this case I shifted the timeline to 02:00f.

Shift timeline by moving the red vertical line in Photoshop

Next, click on the diamond icon on the left side. Clicking the icon makes a diamond icon appear in the timeline keyframe. This is to indicate that the first opacity effect you’ve added before will end where you’ve shifted the red vertical line to.

How to end or stop opacity in timeline in Photoshop

Then, click on the diamond icon that is sitting along the same line as the red vertical line in the Timeline window so that the image is selected at that keyframe. You will see that it is selected if it changes to yellow in colour.

Go back to the Layers panel and change the opacity to 100%.

Make layer opacity to be 100% in Photoshop

Now if you where to scroll the red vertical line in the Timeline from 00 to 02:00f, you will see the map fading from 0% to 100%.

Step 9: Shift each layer frame to the time you want it to start appearing

The layer that appears next is the tagline that says “Becoming a better marketing leader”.

Make sure the “eye” icon is checked or visible for only the tagline in the Layers panel.

Check the eye icon to make layer visible in Photoshop

Then, go to the Timeline window, roll your mouse or cursor over the tagline layer keyframe until a black icon with a bracket and left and right arrows appear.

Drag timeline keyframe for each layer in Photoshop

Drag that icon and you will see the keyframe shifting right and becoming shorter.

You are doing this so that the tagline starts later.

In this case, I’ve stopped dragging it until 01:00f, means the tagline image will start appearing from 01:00f.

Then make sure to shift the red vertical keyframe line to 01:00f where you want the tagline to start fading in.

Make layer timeline keyframe start later in Photoshop

Next, do the same for the event logo layer, CTA and date.

Repeat the same process in Step 8 and 9 like what you’ve done to the opacity for the Map image and tagline. The only difference is having the individual layer keyframes to start at different timelines for them to show up at different times.

Here’s a screenshot of how my Timeline window looks like after adjusting the keyframes and timelines for all layers.

how to set layers and keyframes on Timeline to make GIF animation in Photoshop

Step 10: Click the play button to preview your GIF animation

Now you’ve created your GIF animation on Photoshop, it’s time to preview your work by clicking the play icon here:

Preview and play your GIF animation in Photoshop Timeline

Step 11: Export your GIF animation

If you are happy with what you’ve done, save your Photoshop file as a .PSD format, then export it as a .GIF format.

The .PSD format is the raw working file where you can edit and make changes later on, while the .GIF format is the GIF animation file that can be used to upload to the social media of your choice.

To export as a GIF animation, go to the top menu and click “File”, scroll down to click “Export”, and in the expanded menu list, click “Save for web (legacy).”

Export your PSD to GIF animation in Photoshop

Next, another window opens, go to “Preset”.

Click on the arrow that points downwards.

Export preset window on Photoshop

A dropdown appears, click “GIF 128 Dithered”.

Save GIF animation by selecting preset GIF 128 dithered in Photoshop

Then, go to the bottom and click the “Save” button. Have it saved in the folder of your choice.

Congrats! You have created an animated GIF in Photoshop for a virtual event!

how to make a GIF animation in Photoshop for a virtual event

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