What exactly is a GIF? It stands for "Graphics Integrated File," and you've probably seen a bunch of them.
Widely used for web design and animating business logos and banners, GIFs are also popular on social media for sharing short clips of "moving" images. That makes it perfect for creating viral bites of stop motion magic!
Consider this clip by Ian Padgham. It auto-plays a sequence of frames, and on the surface appears to be a GIF, but it's actually a video file put on constant loop. A true GIF will store as an image file with no associated sound, taking up less space and loading faster.
The Magic Etch-A-Sketch
You can convert a video clip into a standard animated GIF image with the quick and easy tutorial here: How to make Animated GIFs with Photoshop. You'll get the best results with a clip between two and ten seconds long, and adjusting the compression settings so that the final file size is under 1 MB.
Below are some examples of stop motion concepts showcased in a GIF.
Miniature Kitty Slide
Notice how the kitty slides all the way out of frame off the page, not just disappearing at the edge of the notebook. This playful loop by Pencilfury is roughly two seconds long.
Feeding The Creative Spirit
Perspective artist and animator Pencilfury visualizes giving his creative spirit a snack. Lined paper helps guide the matching accuracy of each drawn frame.
Office Stationery Accident
Pencilfury strikes again, this time with a gut-wrenching claymation twist, lasting a full four seconds in the loop. Image quality for this one is quite low. This is partly because the color palette was severely narrowed to remove the blue spectrum, either as a stylistic choice or to minimize the file size.
What's not to love about this fast-folding paper rhinoceros? The constant camera movement does add significant interest to the shot, but it also makes the animation loop more obvious. Because GIFs are compressed for easy viewing on the web, it helps to start out with a limited color palette in your subject to reduce the artificial loss of shading (like in the previous GIF).
A clever twist on the Wooly Willy toy, which you may have seen at some point. Instead of a magnetic wand and metal filings, this animator uses a stack of printed photographs and some glitter to give his subject a beard (which disappears quickly!)
Ready to make your own?
Here is an in-depth two-part tutorial featuring a holiday-themed GIF by: