Photojojo’s GIF Guide: Your Giffiest Questions, Answered

Our friend Margo (dancin’ on the right there) has a real gift for making gifs.

She can crank out a masterful gif, in a jiff.

Margo has made some jolly good gifs for the Photojojo Shop (and points beyond).

So, we grabbed our most giferiffic questions, and sat her down to gab gifs.

We’ve gathered her answers in The Ultimate Gif Guide. Read it to find how she makes gorgeous gifs, how you can too and just how to pronounce “gif” in the first place.

Read The Ultimate Gif Guide, Then Go Forth And Gif

Q: How do you plan out your gifs?

A: I start off by thinking about what I want to happen. How the gif should start and end, and what will happen in between? Do I need an extra set of hands or any other tools?

I keep a few items in my studio- glue dots, tape, fishing line, just in case I need to keep wiggly objects in place or make other objects levitate.

I try to keep it simple, but fun. Cuz gifs are fun. :)

Q: How’d’ya take photos that’ll work well as a gif?

beforeA: The key here is consistency. I’ve learned my lesson trying to put together a crazy hodge podge of images (that just doesn’t work).

Now when I’m making a gif, I try to make sure my lighting, focus, and camera placement will stay the same. If I accidentally move the camera, I’ll start over from the beginning. Sometimes it’s a pain, but it makes it easier in the long run.

If you’re going for a stop-action gif, tripods are your best friends. Seriously. Unless you have rock-steady hands, which I don’t.

Working in the studio makes it easy. I know my lights, background, and focus will be spot on. Working outdoors, and with models, gets trickier. I try to find a nice shady spot to shoot in, and ask my model to stay as still as possible… which is also harder than it seems.

In any case, try to minimize the variables! Keep the camera on my tripod if you can, and shoot wider than you normally would, so that you can crop in and have room to line things up during post-production.

Q: Got any pro tips for shooting a stop motion gif?


A: How you take your photos totally depends on how smooth you want the action to be.

If you want it to be real smooth, like video smooth, just move the objects a tiny bit at a time. This means more photos, and more editing, but smoother transitions between frames.

If you like the choppy look, you can make larger movements and take less photos.

Q: How do you turn your photos into a gif, on a compy?


A: This part can be as simple or complex as you want it to be, and also depends on how consistently you shot the images.

1. Open the images you want to use in Photoshop, and resize them to a smaller resolution. *Don’t crop or make major edits at this point.* Simply resize.

Since gifs end up being pretty small for the web, and my camera takes really large file size photos, I do this first. It just makes it easier on me and the computer. For the web, the resolution only needs to be 72dpi, so start there.

2. Copy each image onto a new document, pasting them in layers one at a time. With each new layer, lower the opacity so that you can see the image layer beneath it. Use “free transform” to move, resize, and line up the layers.

3. Once you have all the layers in place, crop and edit. By making adjustment layers to the entire document, you make sure to keep the consistency you started with (and don’t have to remember the exact adjustments from image to image).

Bonus Step. SAVE YOUR FILE every few changes. The WORST is when you’ve spent forever editing something, then your computer freezes. It’s made me want to cry.

4. Once it’s all edited, I use the “Create Frame Animation” feature of Photoshop CS6 (free trial here). It creates a frame from each layer. Then set the speed and save it for the web.

This site has a great step by step for making gifs, if you’ve never tried it before.

Q: How do you turn your photos into a gif, on a phone?


A: There are a few apps specifically for gifs.

Gifboom lets you upload from your camera roll, from the web, from a video or from another gif, which means you can make anything you want. You can also add music to it right in the app.

Cinemagram is really great for creating gifs in real time, especially ones where you also want to involve an optical illusion, like your body walking away with out your head.

You can also take still photos on your phone, then using iMovie make a stop action movie. Save that, upload it to Instagram and bam! Watch out world.

Q: What’s the best way to share your new gif?


A: Tumblr is a great way to share gifs, as long as they meet their specs (see below). Be like these guys and make an entire tumblr just for your amazing gifs!

You can make a real-time gif using Vine (just tap your finger quickly as you record).

Or if you want to add it to Instagram, just export your gif in photoshop as a movie. Then send the file to your phone.

Q: Posting to Tumblr can be a pain. What’s the secret?

beforeA: Tumblr is one of the best places for gifs but they have to be a certain size to upload and play correctly. They need to be under 1mb and no more than 500px wide.

Best way to achieve that – First, check your image size. Make sure the resolution is 72dpi, and the width is 500 px or less.

Another way to reduce file size is to reduce the number of colors the gif is using when you are “saving for web.” Instead of 256 colors, try 128 or even 64. Sometimes that makes the gif look strange, but sometimes it looks alright and that does the trick!

If it’s still too big, you may simply have too many frames. Try reducing the number of frames in your gif. Less frames means choppier transitions, but might be the only way to get that gif onto Tumblr.

Q: Once and for all, is it pronounced “gif” or “gif”?


A: Oh man. Such a debatable issue!

I believe the g is actually silent. So I just call them “ifs.”