Creating Animated GIF Layouts in Photoshop & Elements

Welcome to December everyone!!! I am super excited to kick off this month on the Scrapaneers Blog because we have a very special surprise in store for you. There are so many amazing digital artists out there who have supported Scrapaneers over the last three years, that we wanted to spend December giving something back to all of you.


Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in December, we will highlight designers in the digital community and give away mini-kits that they have designed – all of which coordinate into a massive Mega-Collection that we lovingly call The Magic of Beginnings. In addition to the kit downloads, the Peers will demonstrate a variety of techniques throughout the month to help you grow your digital artistry and memory-keeping skills.


Ready to take a look at The Magic of Beginnings and learn how to make an animated GIF layout in Photoshop? Then come on in and join me . . .



I love taking my digital art to the next level, so learning how to create animated GIF layouts was a no-brainer for me!  Haven’t seen an animated digital layout?  Then take a look at this one (with a sneak peek at The Magic of Beginnings Collection):

Created primarily with The Magic of Beginnings Mini-Kit by Etc. by Danyale | The Magic of Beginnings Marquee Alphas by Artful Musings

Created primarily with The Magic of Beginnings Mini-Kit by Etc. by Danyale | The Magic of Beginnings Marquee Alphas by Artful Musings


Ahhhhh, isn’t the collection gorgeous?  You are only seeing one small part of it too, just wait until you see the rest of it roll out throughout December!  You will be able to download Danyale’s (Etc. by Danyale) mini-kit and the Lighted Marquee Alpha today.  New mini-kit downloads will be unveiled every Monday, Wednesday and Friday this month – so be sure to check back often. 🙂


I seriously adore this technique and you can make it as simple (or as complicated) as you want.  The layout above was created with just two layers in the GIF.  But you can also create one with more a more intricate lighting pattern like this:


Animated GIF Layout in Photoshop


I created this GIF with six total frames (one will all low lights, plus one high light frame for each letter).  This particular pattern would work great with an arrow element (imagine the high light starting at the back end of the arrow and moving toward the tip).


Animated GIF Layout Tutorial

So let’s get to it!  Here are the steps for building your own animated GIF layout . . .


Step 1 – Build Your Layouts


You need to start by building the layouts that will be used as the frames in your GIF animation.  The first layout above is composed of two (2) frames/layouts.  The only difference between the two layouts is that one has a low light effect on the Focus marquee letters, and the other has a high light effect on the letters.  (You will get both the high light and the low light versions of the Alpha I used on my layout in today’s downloads.)


The trickiest part of this step is to make sure that your blinking letters line up exactly.  Otherwise, it won’t just be a lighting effect, but the letters will shift also.  I lined up my letters by using the Auto-Align function under the Edit menu in Photoshop.  You can also try to align the two layers on your own by nudging them with the arrow keys, or using the alignment functions on the upper panel when the Move Tool is selected.  For these particular letters, the auto-align function worked the best.





Once you have everything in place, save your document in a web-sized format (the same size you would post in a digital gallery or on social media).  I saved mine at 72 dpi/800×800 pixels.

Step 2 – Build the Animated GIF File


Now that you have your layouts saved, create a new file the same size as your web-sized layouts (in my case it was 72 dpi/800×800 pixels).  You can either add in the layouts by dragging and dropping them into the new file (and then deleting the background layer), or you can use the stack function which is located under File>Scripts>Load Files into Stack.  This function does not create a blank background layer.



Step 3 – Set Timeline


Now that you have all your layers added, open the Timeline Panel by going to Window and clicking “Timeline.”  The Timeline Panel should appear at the bottom of the Photoshop work space.


Click on Create Animation Frame in the center drop down panel.  You should now see a thumbnail of the top layer in the Timeline Panel.  Locate the drop down menu to the far right side of the Timeline Panel and choose Make Frames from Layers.  Now you should see thumbnails for all the layers in your file.


Step 4 – Create Animation


Now we’ve reached the fun part!  At this point, you need to set the speed and duration of your animation.  Set the duration by clicking on the duration drop down menu (the default setting is “once”).  If you want the animation to play continuously, choose “Forever,” or you can choose a specific number of repetitions.


You can set the speed by clicking on the arrow at the bottom of each thumbnail in the Timeline Panel and choosing a time frame.  After experimenting a little, I chose 1 second for each frame.  I wanted it to be a slower, more deliberate flashing an 1 second seemed to work the best.  You can test the speed of the animation by pressing the play key, or by hitting the space bar to stop and start it.


Step 5 – Save in GIF Format


Once you have settled on the speed and duration, save your file as a GIF.  In Photoshop CC+, you can do this by going to File>Export>Save for Web (Legacy) and choosing GIF in the top drop down menu.




And that is it!!  How fun was it to create an animated digital layout?  GIFs are supported on most of the social media sites now, and in several of the digital scrapbooking galleries, so it should be easy to share with all of your friends and family online.


All of the instructions are written out above, but for those of you who like see things in action, I created a short video that walks you through the animation process.



Directions for Photoshop Elements


And for those of you who want to achieve the same effect in Photoshop Elements, here are the steps:


Step 1:  Load web-sized layouts into a single document with no background layer.


Step 2:  Go to File>Save for Web




Step 3:  Once the Save for Web window opens, set the file type to GIF, click the animate button, set the looping options and frame delay (similar to Step 4 for Photoshop).  You can preview the animation by either clicking on the Preview Button (which will open the layout in a web browser) or click on the Play button within the Animation Frame.




Step 4:  When you are happy with the animation, save the layout as a GIF file.


There are sooooo many possibilities for this technique.  Think about blinking lights on a Christmas tree, or sequential blinking on an arrow element, or even with the headlights or brake lights on a car.  Be sure to share your animated GIF layout ideas with us – we would love to see them. 🙂


The Magic of Beginnings Giveaway


Drum roll, please!!!!  And now for the grand reveal of the Scrapaneers December Giveaway – The Magic of Beginnings.


On behalf of everyone at Scrapaneers, I want to thank all the amazing designers who contributed to this Mega Collection.  The Magic of Beginnings is perfect for your holiday and December sequential projects, but it is about so much more than that.  Think about plans and goals for the new year, starting a new stage of life, new relationships or simply the start of exciting new adventures.  This collection is so big we could not fit it all into one preview, so here is glimpse at the collection in two parts (we couldn’t fit everything in the preview so know there’s MORE!):


Magic of Beginnings Collection


Magic of Beginnings Collection


Magic of Beginnings download links are no longer available.


Don’t forget to check back on Monday, December 5 for the next set of downloads, and an awesome black and white photo technique from Kim.


Until next time ~












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  • Lynn Goshert December 2, 2016   Reply →

    Thanks so very much! I can’t wait to scrap with this beauty! Merry, Merry Christmas to you all!

  • Yobeth Puckett December 2, 2016   Reply →

    Wow, this is such a cool technique. Thanks.

  • Karen December 2, 2016   Reply →

    I’ll have to go and read this tutorial because I have no idea what GIF is. Maybe it’s an abbreviation for something, or something just for Photoshop and not elements. I’m so excited about all this December fun. Just want to stay home today and play!

    • Courtney December 2, 2016   Reply →

      It actually even easier in PSE!
      Gif is basically an animated jpeg. I mean, that’s not the technical definition, but that’s what it is.

      • Karen December 3, 2016   Reply →

        thanks for that explanation!

  • Sandy_in_MD December 2, 2016   Reply →

    Thank you for the awesome tutorial, and to both Etc. by Danyale & Mommyish for their generous freebies.

  • Jo Campbell December 2, 2016   Reply →

    What a beautiful Christmas gift. Thank you so much. Love the animation. I am assuming there is no work around for Elements?

    • Judie December 2, 2016   Reply →

      There is a way to achieve this effect in Elements. I will be posting a video tutorial for you shortly. 🙂

      • Tammy Davis December 2, 2016   Reply →

        Woo hoo! Thank you, Judie!

      • Mary Kruschke December 3, 2016   Reply →

        Judie, thank you so much for this PSE edition!

      • Monica Skowbo December 5, 2016   Reply →

        Thank you Judie!!

  • Jan December 2, 2016   Reply →

    Thank you so much for the tutorial and lovely mini kit. I especially like that you’ve provided the written instructions and a video.

    • N. Lambert December 3, 2016   Reply →

      I agree! Having both is AWESOME!!!

  • Zani aka Jane December 2, 2016   Reply →

    What a thoughtful way to treat all the Scrapaneers loyalists! Thank you all so much1

  • Peggy S December 2, 2016   Reply →

    Amazing gifts!! I don’t know if I am more excited about the high quality mega kit or all the tutorials. I love learning new things. Some day maybe I will get Photoshop Cloud and can do these animated gifs. Fun! Thank you so much for all your time and work on these for us amid your own family busyness.

  • lizanne December 2, 2016   Reply →

    Thank you so much for the tutorial & this mega kit – very excited to see the whole thing at the end of the month!

  • Jen Flaherty December 2, 2016   Reply →

    Mind-blowing! Great tutorial, Judie!

  • Kath Black December 2, 2016   Reply →

    Amazing!!! Love the tutorial just wish I could do it in elements!

    • Monica December 2, 2016   Reply →

      Me too, Kath! Hopefully there will be cool techniques for Elements in this series, too!!

    • Judie December 2, 2016   Reply →

      Actually you can do it in Elements! I will post a video for you in just a bit. 🙂

      • Monica Skowbo December 5, 2016   Reply →

        Thank you so much!

  • Francey True December 2, 2016   Reply →

    This is one of the prettiest kits I’ve seen for a while. I can’t wait for the follow-on releases. Thanks to all for your generosity.

  • Carol December 2, 2016   Reply →

    This is wonderful! Not only great instruction (step by step) but gorgeous gifts to use while you learn. You guys are just incredible. Thank you!

  • Katy December 2, 2016   Reply →

    Judie, thank you for the awesome tutorial, and thank you to Etc. by Danyale & Mommyish for their amazing freebies.

  • Libby Wiers December 2, 2016   Reply →

    Thank you all so much! Interesting tutorial, even though I have only PSE, wonderful kit pieces, and generous coupons! Christmas came to my house!!

    • Judie Barger December 2, 2016   Reply →

      You can do it in PSE – I just added the instructions to the post. 🙂

      • Jo Campbell December 5, 2016   Reply →

        Thanks so much. Can’t wait to give it a try.

  • Courtney December 2, 2016   Reply →

    I made a gif layout over the summer. The layout doesn’t change, the photo does! Like the wizarding world.
    I’m not sure how to share it.

    • Jen December 2, 2016   Reply →

      Courtney this is very cool!!!

    • Judie Barger December 2, 2016   Reply →

      I love that page, Courtney!! I need to figure out a way to incorporate my live iPhone photos onto a GIF page.

  • Rae December 2, 2016   Reply →

    Thank you so much!

  • Jen December 2, 2016   Reply →

    Great tutorial! I followed your example but when I save it, its too large (1.08MB) for uploading to specific galleries/social media. I did the layers as save for web, any other suggestions on how to reduce the size? Thanks!!

    • Judie Barger December 2, 2016   Reply →

      You might try adjusting the Quality settings in the Save for Web window. I’m not sure what yours are currently set on, but if you take it down to medium or high that might help some. You could also try “optimize for file size” in the drop down at the top right of the Save for Web window and set it to the maximum size permitted in the gallery.

  • Jen December 2, 2016   Reply →

    I was able to upload what I created to Imgur. Here’s the link:

    • Judie Barger December 2, 2016   Reply →

      That is amazing, Jen – I love it!!

  • Annette Dragon December 2, 2016   Reply →

    I have wanted to make animated gifs for quite a while now and this tutorial looks like exactly what I need! Thank you very much.

  • Tammy Espino December 2, 2016   Reply →

    Thank you so much! What a gorgeous collection!

  • Donna P. December 2, 2016   Reply →

    Thank you! I hope to try this with some pictures I took last week.

  • Magda December 2, 2016   Reply →

    Thanks so much!!

  • Mary Merrifield December 2, 2016   Reply →

    The tutorial was awesome and the kit gorgeous. thank you

  • Renee December 2, 2016   Reply →

    Wow – what an amazing way to start the month! The mega is beautiful – thank you to all the designers , and today Etc. by Danyale & Mommyish. This looks like so much fun – can’t wait to go play!

  • Soco December 3, 2016   Reply →

    What a fun tutorial! And loving today’s gifts! Thank you!!!

  • Mary Kruschke December 3, 2016   Reply →

    I can’t wait to take some time to calm my life during the hectic Christmas season! Learn something valuable and share the projects with family & friends. Well, this IS the best Christmas present ever!

    Thank you designers!!

  • Patricia December 3, 2016   Reply →

    Thankyou for the lovely freebie. Looking forward to create with it. I use Artisan 5 but not sure how I can follow this tutorial with this programme. Love to learn.

  • Vivian December 3, 2016   Reply →

    I want to give you a big THANK YOU for showing how to do this in Elements also. It is much appreciated.

  • Kristen December 3, 2016   Reply →

    Beautiful, thank you!

  • willimena December 4, 2016   Reply →

    Thankyou for all the effort you put into explaining this! Also thanks for the high quality freebies.

  • Carolyn December 4, 2016   Reply →

    This is a wonderful tutorial. Thanks so much!!!

  • annelounanrobkin December 4, 2016   Reply →

    Thank you so much! I always wanted to know how to do those GIFs!

  • Blackthorne December 4, 2016   Reply →

    Thank you very much for the gorgeous kit and Alpha too ! 🙂

  • Bonnie December 5, 2016   Reply →

    This is an amazing gift for the Holidays. Thanks for giving directions in Elements, thanks, thanks, thanks!!!!!! Great idea and so much fun for all of us.

  • Lynda Farabee December 5, 2016   Reply →

    Anyway to download the video for PS users?

  • Blackthorne December 6, 2016   Reply →

    Don’t forget to check back on Monday, December 5 for the next set of downloads, and an awesome black and white photo technique from Kim.

    I was looking for further news all Munday but didn´t find anything !

  • Marie H. December 7, 2016   Reply →

    Thank you for the great kit and alpha set. Marie H.

  • Carolyn December 7, 2016   Reply →

    Thank you so much for this fantastic kit and alpha! Great tutorial too!

  • Johanna December 8, 2016   Reply →

    Thank you very much for the gorgeous kit and alpha!! 🙂

  • Squirrely December 8, 2016   Reply →

    Thanks so much, these are amazing!

  • RB December 8, 2016   Reply →

    Thank You SO Much Every Body Involved For Your Stunningly Beautiful Mega Kit,Alpha & Tutorial So Kind & Generous.Cant Wait To Use this Kit It LoOks Amazing! Thanks For creating & Sharing!:) Happy Christmas & New year To You All!:)xXx

  • Jennifer Moore December 9, 2016   Reply →

    Thank you!

  • Amy in TX December 10, 2016   Reply →

    You have blown my mind! Thanks for the great tutorial and lovely freebies.

  • Tricia December 12, 2016   Reply →

    Thank you.the mini is lovely

  • Jewel pease December 17, 2016   Reply →

    Thank you for the tutorial and the goodies!

  • KimR. December 18, 2016   Reply →

    Thank you for the tutorial and lovely freebies!

  • Lis December 27, 2016   Reply →

    Thank you for all the goodies and the tutorial!

  • tulipa December 29, 2016   Reply →

    I think this is amazing and I’ve actually managed to do it! Now, can you tell me how I can transfer the GIF from my PC onto my ipad so I can share it, please?

  • tajicat January 3, 2017   Reply →

    Thanks so much! 🙂

  • TCahal January 14, 2017   Reply →

    This is probably beyond by ability at the moment, but will def have to give this a try when I’m more comfortable with CS5!

    Thank you for the easy to understand tutorial and cute kits!

  • Pingback: Beginnings – Magical or otherwise | January 22, 2017   Reply →

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