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How to Create a GIF Using After Effects and Photoshop

Caleb Ward

This easy-to-follow step-by-step tutorial will show you how to quickly create an animated GIF using After Effects and Photoshop.

More and more clients are demanding GIF files of their projects for social media. Rather than relying on a third-party GIF compressor that may create too much heavy noise, make your GIF look clean and professional using After Effects and Photoshop.

In the following video tutorial, we’ll take a look at how to create an animated GIF using After Effects and Photoshop and discuss a few things you need to know in order to create the best GIF possible. The tutorial covers:

  • Creating GIFs
  • Working with Dithering
  • Reducing File Sizes
  • Optimal Frame Rates
  • Color Depth

Here’s the tutorial. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask us in the comments below. Alternatively, if you prefer to read (over watching a video), you can follow the step-by-step guide below.

Download the Free Project File and PremiumGuide to GIFs

In addition to the tutorial itself, we are giving away the project file, video clips, and the PremiumGuide to GIFs. Simply click the download button below and all of the assets are yours.

DOWNLOAD FREE PROJECT FILES AND THE PREMIUMGUIDE TO GIFS

Step-by-Step Tutorial: Create a GIF

The following step-by-step tutorial will show you everything you need to know to quickly create GIFs in After Effects and Photoshop.

Step 1: Export Video From After Effects

How to Create a GIF Using After Effects & Photoshop: Export Video From After Effects

There isn’t a great way to export a GIF from an After Effects composition. So after you have created your animated sequence, follow these steps to export your composition to Photoshop.

The first thing you need to do is simply export your footage from After Effects. Select your composition and go to Composition > Add to Render Queue. Once inside the render queue, adjust your settings as needed and click the ‘Render’ button. Remember that the best way to reduce the file size of your GIF is to optimize the video in After Effects — be sure to change your frame rate to 12-15fps and reduce the amount of movement and colors.

Step 2: Import into Photoshop

How to Create a GIF Using After Effects & Photoshop: Import Into Photoshop

Go to Photoshop and import your clip by navigating to File > Open and selecting the video clip. You can now adjust your clip as needed. Many of the functions inside of Photoshop will still be available to you. You can colorize and scale your video just like an image.

Step 3: Save for Web.

How to Create a GIF Using After Effects & Photoshop: Save for Web

Once you’re ready to save your GIF, simply navigate to File > Save for Web… (In older versions of Photoshop, you’ll need to navigate to File > Export > Save for Web(Legacy), but it’s the same window nonetheless.) Once you’re inside of the Save for Web window, you will see a lot of options.

The video tutorial above goes into detail about what each setting does, but the important thing to remember is simply to reduce the amount of colors and only turn on dithering if you are comfortable with noise being in your image. Alternatively, if you would like for your GIF to load a low-res version before it loads the full-res version, go ahead and select the ‘Interlaced’ button. The rest of the defaults are usually great. If you want your GIF to loop, be sure to change Looping Options from ‘Once’ to ‘Forever.’

Once you’re ready to save, simply navigate to the ‘Save’ button at the bottom of the window.


If you want to learn more about creating GIFs or how they work in After Effects, I personally recommend checking out the “GIFs in After Effects” post over on RocketStock.

You also may have noticed the professional transitions used in the tutorial. Those transitions come from Stanza, an exclusive pack of 200 video transitions from RocketStock. Stanza is the fastest way to create professional video transitions. Here’s a quick demo of Stanza in action:

What’s you favorite way to create GIFs in After Effects? Share your thoughts in the comments below.