How to Make a Gif in Illustrator Tutorial



Are you excited to create animated GIF from your illustration/vector/artwork? You’ve just landed to the right place. However, just before we begin, if you’ve not created any GIF earlier (link embedded in statement), this would be a better first step.


Many steps in the tutorials are same, but, this procedure is a bit more advanced. When making a GIF from out of a video, you are cutting existing frames and editing them to a GIF. But in illustrations, the frame don’t exist, and you’ll have to create new frames. Now this can be tricky, so follow my lead and we’ll sail your through this process in an organized manner.


Step 1: Select the illustration/artwork/icon you’d like to animate

For this tutorial, I will be using a vector icon to keep things simple and convinient

Step 2: Separate your artwork into layers

In this step, first convert the art work into a PSD docx. You can do this by importing layers from illustrator and procreate etc. or maybe copy paste layers in between programs. Keeping layers separate is an important thing that needs to be looked out for. This will assist in animating specific elements.

Since this is a vector icon created in Adobe Illustrator, I’ll just copy and paste my elements in one at a time.

  • Open the vector artwork from the illustrator file.
  • Decide which layer is needed and which elements are to be animated
  • The layers you don’t want to animate merge them together and copy to Photoshop file.
  • Paste them in as a Smart Object (a window will pop up asking you this)
  • Only one at a time, paste the layers that are to be animated.
  • NOTE: Separately copy the layers. For example if I want to animate the little sparks around my icon one at a time that means each spark is neede to have its own layer.

In the above image, you’ll see I have all my artwork separated into layers. I’ve highlighted the layers I want to eventually animate in yellow, and the layers I want to stay static in orange.

Step 3: now it’s time to Set up your timeline

After pasting the layers open the “animation” or “timeline” window in the Photoshop (name depends upon which version you are using)

  • Open the Photoshop and select the “animation” or “timeline”
  • Open the “Create Video Timeline” after the window opens.
  • Click on the three horizontal lines called the hamburger menu on the top right corner of the screen in the same window and a menu appears.
  • Place your mouse on the convert frame and click on the “Convert to Frame Animation”.
  • In the end you should have only one frame on you timeline.

Your “timeline” should look like the above photo (I’ve also circled the “hamburger menu” in yellow if you weren’t able to find it)

Step 4:  Begin animating frames

You can continue animating your artwork after you have your file set up. Since in my GIF I want that the sparks around the bulb to shine all at once and for this it means each actions should have one frame. I want 10 frames since I have 9 sparks around the bulb. They are mentioned below.

  • Frame 1: 0 sparks visible
  • Frame 2: Only Spark 1 visible
  • Frame 3: Only Spark 1 & 2 visible
  • Frame 4: Only Spark 1, 2 & 3 visible
  • etc.


You can see from the small thumbnails in my Timeline window how the sparks are appearing one by one. You’ll also see a little “5 sec” below each thumbnail. That means each frame will be on screen for 5 seconds before moving to the next. We will fix that amount of time in the next step!



This is a simple GIF animation tutorial but if actual movement is required across GIF then the same process has to be repeated.

If I wanted to float my bulb across the screen from left to right then the whole light bulb is required to be in one layer and visible on frame 1.

After that I will create frame 2 (to create a new frame, hit the icon next to the trash symbol in the Timeline/Animation window), then create a duplicate of the light bulb layer, and poke the new layer to the right (hold down shift, and hit the right arrow key) and the previous layer is hided.

Before creating layer 3 the duplicate of the previous layer is made again and poked to the right corner and the previous layer is hided again. Repeat this process until the light bulb moves across the whole screen.


Step 5: Edit key frame rates

After the creation of all the frames when you play the GIF you obviously think why this is taking so long? This is the point where key frame speed comes to rescue.

You need to select all the frames in your timeline, click on the little arrow on the back of time and select the required time. The time can be selected based on the need of the project and your taste.

After you choose a specific key frame rate for your animation then you will also want to hit the dropdown for looping options and click “Forever”. After doing so your GIF will loop for infinity.


Above images show before and after I set my framerate/looping time

Step 6: Play and Export!

After the above mentioned steps, have a look at your GIF how it looks and animates. Once you are satisfied with the GIF then you are ready for final export.

When exporting a GIF, you won’t just “Save As” like you might with a JPG. You’ll want to go to File > Export > Save for Web. Once you hit “Save for Web,” a popup should come on screen. There are a lot of different options here, but in most cases you should just be able to hit “Save” and be done!



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