September 2, 2014 | Melanie Chandler

How to Make an Animated GIF for Free!

 You probably come across dozens of animated GIFs each day—even online news outlets are using them now.

GIFs tend to get a lot of engagement and are great for social media, but they may seem difficult to make. The good news is that they don't have to be.

Free Easy GIFs

I'll tell you how to make an animated GIF for free in just a few steps!

First, the basics: an animated GIF is an image file that appears to be moving. In the early days of GIFs, they were made up of a series of static images set on a loop. Like everything else on the internet, animated GIFs have evolved, and you can now turn a video snippet into a GIF.

Animated GIFs are great because they are compressed files, so load times are minimal, and they're not too difficult to make. Photoshop is my software of choice when it comes to creating fun GIFs, but there are tons of free sites out there that will guide you step-by-step through the process.

It's your lucky day, because I'll be walking you through how to make an animated GIF for free using one of these sites. First, let's look at making a GIF using MemeCenter. Because this is a free site, they mark your final product with their website URL for some free advertising.

Let's start with creating an animated GIF using a series of photos.

Step 1: Choose "Create Animated GIF"

MemeCenter lets you choose between creating an animated GIF or creating a reaction GIF.

MemeCenter Step 1

Step 2: Select Your Canvas

I chose "blank page" because I was using a string of photos from one of our team photo shoots to create my GIF.

MemeCenter Step 2 for Photos

Step 3: Add Your Photos

On the right hand side, MemeCenter gives you all sorts of options to adjust your blank canvas. I changed the width and height to match the dimensions of the photos I'm using.

When you click "add image," another window pops up to allow you to choose your image from your own files. However, you can only add one image at a time, so repeat "add image" as many times needed until you have all your photos uploaded.

MemeCenter Step 3

Step 4: Adjust the Timing

Once you get all your photos uploaded, you're ready to adjust the timing between each image.

You can take the sliders below your canvas and adjust how long each photo will display before transitioning to the next one. You can test your timing with the "play" button just above the list of uploaded images.

MemeCenter Step 5

Step 5: Save Your GIF

Once you're happy with your GIF, you're ready to save. Click "Save GIF" and the site walks you through the rest.

You don't need a login to save your final product, just click "save to your computer." It will prompt you to rename it and choose where on your computer you want to save it to. Once saved, you can view it by dragging your GIF into your web browser.

MemeCenter Step 6

Result: "Team VIEO Repeatedly Fails at Taking Jumping Photo"

Team VIEO Jumping GIF

Next, let's use this same site to create an animated GIF using a video.

The first step (Choose "Create Animated GIF") is the same as above because we are still creating an animated GIF, so let's skip to the next step.

Step 2: Select Your Canvas

This screen is the same as above, but we will be choosing a different option. Since we are using a video instead of a string of photos, "Create a GIF from Video" is the option we want to select.

MemeCenter Step 2 for Video

Step 3: Upload Your Video

For this step, I used the video from our very own Tim Lott's video blog. Since we have that video on YouTube, I just used the YouTube URL. MemeCenter also supports videos from Facebook, Vine, and Coub.

MemeCenter Step 3 for Video

Step 4: Select Your Clip

Once your video loads, a window pops up and lets you select the snippet you want to use. Animated GIFs aren't usually that long (usually 3-5 seconds), so I would choose a short clip. Drag the start and stop brackets so they wrap around the clip you want to use, or you can enter the times into the slots. This is great because you can customize down to the millisecond to get the perfect clip. Then click "add video" once you're happy with the clip you chose.

MemeCenter Step 4 for Video

Step 5: Trim Your Clip

Once your video snippet is uploaded, you can trim it again to get it perfect. Then save when you're happy with the results.

MemeCenter Step 5 for Video

The saving steps are the same as the ones above for a string of photos, so let's skip straight to the results.

Result: "GIF Tim Loves Moolah!"

GIF Tim Lott

There are tons of other free sites you can use to create GIFs, and here's another one if you want an easier option.

As the name suggests, GIF YouTube lets you make GIFs from YouTube videos. Copy and paste your YouTube URL and it will walk you through step by step (day by day) to your final product. It's easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

GIF YouTube

Creating animated GIFs is easier than you think. If you have a free site that you like to use, let me know in the comments below!

Stay tuned - next, I'll walk you through making GIFs using Photoshop.

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Melanie Chandler

Melanie Chandler

As design director, Melanie Chandler leads the design team and works with them to create consistently compelling and engaging website designs, images for digital marketing, and other visual content to communicate corporate identity and drive traffic on websites and social media.

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