How to make a GIF: A guide to creating high-quality GIFs

Learn how to make an eye-catching GIF easily with this step-by-step guide to making GIFs for social media, websites, and more.
October 24, 2023
Vivian Tejeda
No items found.
In this article
Start editing audio & video
This makes the editing process so much faster. I wish I knew about Descript a year ago.
Matt D., Copywriter
Sign up
Start editing audio & video
This makes the editing process so much faster. I wish I knew about Descript a year ago.
Matt D., Copywriter
Sign up

A GIF captures emotion, humor, and shared experience faster and more accurately than words ever could.

Some have gone so viral they’re practically household names, like Homer Simpson Backing Away or Mariah Carey saying “I Don’t Know Her.” But even without viral status, there are enough GIFs out there to fill libraries. And the world could always use more. 

That’s where you come in. This guide dives deep into GIF making and dissects the elements that take your GIF from mediocre to memorable.

What is a GIF?

A GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) is a digital image format that allows for animated sequences. Compared with video files, GIFs are more lightweight and easier to share across social media and messaging platforms. 

CompuServe developed this bitmap image format in 1987, and it got a lot of attention for supporting color and simple animations. It was originally made for practical web graphics, but now it's a popular format for memes, visual jokes, and quick explanations. 

How to make GIFs on any device

You can create GIFs on just about any device, whether you're an iPhone or Android user. Here's how to get started:

How to make a GIF on iPhone

1. Open the Camera app and select the circle in the top right of your screen to switch to the Live Photo option.

Taking a photo on iPhone for a GIF

2. Now take a Live Photo of whatever you’d like to turn into a GIF.

3. Once saved, open the Photo app and scroll down to tap on the Live Photos option to see your Live Photos.

 Image of album folder on iPhone

4. Choose the photo you want to turn into a GIF, then tap Live in the top left of your screen. 

5. Choose Loop or Bounce from the dropdown to create your GIF effect.

Selecting Bounce option on iPhone

6. Save your newly created GIF by tapping Add to Album or select the Share option to share it with your friends. 

7. There you have it! You’ve created a GIF on your iPhone. 

How to make a GIF on Android

Here’s how to quickly create a GIF on Android. 

  1. Open the Google Photos app and locate the video you want to turn into a GIF.
  2. Tap on the video to play it, then tap on the three-dot menu icon at the top right corner to reveal additional options.
  3. Select Export and then choose GIF from the available formats.
  4. Customize your GIF by selecting the duration and speed. Once you're satisfied, just save your file. 

How to make a GIF on desktop

Creating a GIF on a desktop can be done several ways. If you’re savvy with photo editing solutions like Photoshop, you can certainly go in that direction. Otherwise, for an easier, more straightforward way to create a GIF on a desktop in second, try the free web app GIF Maker by GIPHY.

Here’s how to get started: 

1: Upload your source material

Image of GIF maker from GIPHY

On the main screen of GIPHY's GIF Maker, you'll see an option to upload several different file types.  

Click on Choose File under GIF and either drag your video or image files or select them from your device. You can also paste a YouTube or Vimeo video link if you're looking to convert a snippet into a GIF.

GIPHY supports the following file formats: 

  • JPG
  • PNG
  • GIF
  • MP4
  • MOV
  • WebM

2. Edit and personalize your GIF

Using GIPHY’s GIF editor online

Once your file uploads, the editor will open. Use the sliders to select the part of the video you want to convert into a GIF. I’ve uploaded an image. In that case, I’d layer in a few more images to add some motion to my GIF. 

You can also add text, stickers, layer images, animations, add filters, and even draw directly on the GIF to make it your own. GIPHY provides a user-friendly editor with shortcuts to popular editing options.

3. Finalize and share your creation

After you're done editing, click on the Continue to Upload button at the bottom if you’d like to upload your GIF onto GIPHY’s public platform. Otherwise, click Download and the GIF will automatically download to your desktop in .gif format. 

And you’re all done! Here are my results: 

 Image of GIF created by author
GIF created by author in GIPHY

How to make a GIF from a video

GIPHY’s free GIF Maker also allows you to create GIFs from video. Here’s how. 

1. Upload your video file

Creating a GIF using video on GIPHY’s tool

On the GIPHY's GIF Maker main screen, you'll find a Choose File option under GIF. Click on it and either drag and drop your video and image files or browse to select them from your device. 

GIPHY also allows you to paste YouTube or Vimeo links if you want to convert a specific video segment into a GIF. Supported file formats include GIF, MP4, MOV, and WebM.

2. Edit your clip

Example of creating a GIF from a video 

Once your file uploads, GIPHY's editor appears. Use sliders to specify the video segment you want to turn into a GIF. Keep in mind that the max length for a GIF on GIPHY is 30 seconds. 

The good thing is you're not restricted to only video frames. You can also add text, stickers, or even doodles directly on the GIF. 

3. Download or share your video GIF

After applying your final edits, click on Continue to Upload if you plan to share it on GIPHY's platform. If you'd rather keep it to yourself or share it elsewhere, hit Download. The GIF file will save to your desktop in .gif format.

There you have it. Your GIF is ready for prime time.

Tips for making great GIFs

Whether you’re creating your first or fifth GIF, keep the following tips in mind.

Keep it short and sweet

Your GIF should be a quick hit of information or entertainment. Aim for a duration of 2 to 6 seconds to keep your audience engaged. Any longer, and you risk losing their attention.

Choose the proper frame rate

A higher frame rate isn't always better. For smooth animations, 24 to 30 frames per second (fps) is often ideal. However, for a more retro or "choppy" look, you might want to go as low as 15 fps.

Use high-quality source material

Start with the highest quality video or images you can get your hands on. The better the source material, the more polished and professional your GIF will look. Don't cut corners here—quality in equals quality out.

Experiment with text and effects

Get creative! Add text overlays to provide context or humor. Experiment with filters and effects to add a unique flair. Your GIF is a canvas—make it your own.

The best way to make a GIF with Descript

If you're committed to producing high-quality animated GIFs, your search ends with Descript. This is the go-to platform for creating GIFs, videos, and even podcasts. It’s an end-to-end platform that offers you the tools you need to take your social media content to the next level. 

1. Open Descript

Open the Descript editor and drag and drop your video file or image file into a new Video Project. Descript supports JPEG, PNG, TIFF, BMP, EXIF file formats, GIF images, and most video formats. If you have sound in your video clip, Descript's automatic transcription kicks in instantly.

Uploading video or image files to Descript.

2. Edit your GIF

Once your files are in, use Descript's multitude of editing features. Create frame animation by adding text and choosing your fonts, colors, and sizes. You can also add transitions between series of images, making your GIF animation smoother.

Adding stylized text to a video clip in Descript.

3. Share your GIF

Once you’re done, open the “Share” menu and select “Export.” The GIF option is right there in the file export row, and from there, you can set dimensions and choose video quality.

Exporting video project as a GIF in Descript.

Descript is intuitive. But that doesn’t mean it’s basic. Here are some features that make it the standout platform for video creation: 

  • Ease of use: If you've tried to create GIFs using Adobe Photoshop's legacy systems or attempted to make frames from layers in more complex software, you'll appreciate Descript's user-friendly interface. And if you get stuck, Descript's YouTube tutorial videos are a click away.

  • Transitions: Descript makes it easy to add transitions, resize your GIF image, and even mix in audio. These are the sorts of premium features usually found in dedicated GIF maker apps for iOS and Android.

  • All-in-one utility: No need to bounce between some online video-to-GIF converter, Photoshop for adding fonts and transitions, and another program for compressing the file. Descript's all-in-one functionality means you can create, edit, and export in GIF format, all from the same platform. 

Want to join the thousands of creators already using Descript to create video content? Take a tour of the dashboard today.

How to make a GIF FAQs

Can you make a GIF from a photo?

Absolutely. There are many ways to create an animated GIF from a static photo. With Adobe Photoshop, you’re able to make frames from layers, which turns each layer into a frame in your GIF animation. Alternatively, simpler GIF programs like GIPHY’s GIF Maker can also work. 

How can I make a free GIF?

There's no shortage of options when it comes to making a free GIF. Platforms like GIPHY and Ezgif offer easy-to-use interfaces where you can drag and drop image files to create a GIF. Some also provide options to add stickers, resize, or adjust frame rate. 

What is the easiest way to make a GIF?

The most straightforward way to make a GIF is to use a dedicated online GIF maker like GIPHY. You can drag and drop a video file or a series of images and create a GIF in seconds. These platforms often offer shortcuts like sliders to adjust frame rate or templates to make your gif creation process even easier.

Vivian Tejeda
Vivian is a content marketer who loves writing, creativity, and is obsessed with the art of storytelling. Her free time is taken up by learning golf, reading books, and touching grass.
Start creating
The all-in-one video & podcast editor, easy as a doc.
Sign up
Start creating—for free
Sign up
Join millions of others creating with Descript

How to make a GIF: A guide to creating high-quality GIFs

How to make a gif

A GIF captures emotion, humor, and shared experience faster and more accurately than words ever could.

Some have gone so viral they’re practically household names, like Homer Simpson Backing Away or Mariah Carey saying “I Don’t Know Her.” But even without viral status, there are enough GIFs out there to fill libraries. And the world could always use more. 

That’s where you come in. This guide dives deep into GIF making and dissects the elements that take your GIF from mediocre to memorable.

Remove all your “ums” and “uhs” with a click, correct your voiceover by typing, and get studio-quality sound wherever you record. Check out our
Tools that work for creators.

What is a GIF?

A GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) is a digital image format that allows for animated sequences. Compared with video files, GIFs are more lightweight and easier to share across social media and messaging platforms. 

CompuServe developed this bitmap image format in 1987, and it got a lot of attention for supporting color and simple animations. It was originally made for practical web graphics, but now it's a popular format for memes, visual jokes, and quick explanations. 

How to make GIFs on any device

You can create GIFs on just about any device, whether you're an iPhone or Android user. Here's how to get started:

How to make a GIF on iPhone

1. Open the Camera app and select the circle in the top right of your screen to switch to the Live Photo option.

Taking a photo on iPhone for a GIF

2. Now take a Live Photo of whatever you’d like to turn into a GIF.

3. Once saved, open the Photo app and scroll down to tap on the Live Photos option to see your Live Photos.

 Image of album folder on iPhone

4. Choose the photo you want to turn into a GIF, then tap Live in the top left of your screen. 

5. Choose Loop or Bounce from the dropdown to create your GIF effect.

Selecting Bounce option on iPhone

6. Save your newly created GIF by tapping Add to Album or select the Share option to share it with your friends. 

7. There you have it! You’ve created a GIF on your iPhone. 

How to make a GIF on Android

Here’s how to quickly create a GIF on Android. 

  1. Open the Google Photos app and locate the video you want to turn into a GIF.
  2. Tap on the video to play it, then tap on the three-dot menu icon at the top right corner to reveal additional options.
  3. Select Export and then choose GIF from the available formats.
  4. Customize your GIF by selecting the duration and speed. Once you're satisfied, just save your file. 

How to make a GIF on desktop

Creating a GIF on a desktop can be done several ways. If you’re savvy with photo editing solutions like Photoshop, you can certainly go in that direction. Otherwise, for an easier, more straightforward way to create a GIF on a desktop in second, try the free web app GIF Maker by GIPHY.

Here’s how to get started: 

1: Upload your source material

Image of GIF maker from GIPHY

On the main screen of GIPHY's GIF Maker, you'll see an option to upload several different file types.  

Click on Choose File under GIF and either drag your video or image files or select them from your device. You can also paste a YouTube or Vimeo video link if you're looking to convert a snippet into a GIF.

GIPHY supports the following file formats: 

  • JPG
  • PNG
  • GIF
  • MP4
  • MOV
  • WebM

2. Edit and personalize your GIF

Using GIPHY’s GIF editor online

Once your file uploads, the editor will open. Use the sliders to select the part of the video you want to convert into a GIF. I’ve uploaded an image. In that case, I’d layer in a few more images to add some motion to my GIF. 

You can also add text, stickers, layer images, animations, add filters, and even draw directly on the GIF to make it your own. GIPHY provides a user-friendly editor with shortcuts to popular editing options.

3. Finalize and share your creation

After you're done editing, click on the Continue to Upload button at the bottom if you’d like to upload your GIF onto GIPHY’s public platform. Otherwise, click Download and the GIF will automatically download to your desktop in .gif format. 

And you’re all done! Here are my results: 

 Image of GIF created by author
GIF created by author in GIPHY

How to make a GIF from a video

GIPHY’s free GIF Maker also allows you to create GIFs from video. Here’s how. 

1. Upload your video file

Creating a GIF using video on GIPHY’s tool

On the GIPHY's GIF Maker main screen, you'll find a Choose File option under GIF. Click on it and either drag and drop your video and image files or browse to select them from your device. 

GIPHY also allows you to paste YouTube or Vimeo links if you want to convert a specific video segment into a GIF. Supported file formats include GIF, MP4, MOV, and WebM.

2. Edit your clip

Example of creating a GIF from a video 

Once your file uploads, GIPHY's editor appears. Use sliders to specify the video segment you want to turn into a GIF. Keep in mind that the max length for a GIF on GIPHY is 30 seconds. 

The good thing is you're not restricted to only video frames. You can also add text, stickers, or even doodles directly on the GIF. 

3. Download or share your video GIF

After applying your final edits, click on Continue to Upload if you plan to share it on GIPHY's platform. If you'd rather keep it to yourself or share it elsewhere, hit Download. The GIF file will save to your desktop in .gif format.

There you have it. Your GIF is ready for prime time.

Tips for making great GIFs

Whether you’re creating your first or fifth GIF, keep the following tips in mind.

Keep it short and sweet

Your GIF should be a quick hit of information or entertainment. Aim for a duration of 2 to 6 seconds to keep your audience engaged. Any longer, and you risk losing their attention.

Choose the proper frame rate

A higher frame rate isn't always better. For smooth animations, 24 to 30 frames per second (fps) is often ideal. However, for a more retro or "choppy" look, you might want to go as low as 15 fps.

Use high-quality source material

Start with the highest quality video or images you can get your hands on. The better the source material, the more polished and professional your GIF will look. Don't cut corners here—quality in equals quality out.

Experiment with text and effects

Get creative! Add text overlays to provide context or humor. Experiment with filters and effects to add a unique flair. Your GIF is a canvas—make it your own.

The best way to make a GIF with Descript

If you're committed to producing high-quality animated GIFs, your search ends with Descript. This is the go-to platform for creating GIFs, videos, and even podcasts. It’s an end-to-end platform that offers you the tools you need to take your social media content to the next level. 

1. Open Descript

Open the Descript editor and drag and drop your video file or image file into a new Video Project. Descript supports JPEG, PNG, TIFF, BMP, EXIF file formats, GIF images, and most video formats. If you have sound in your video clip, Descript's automatic transcription kicks in instantly.

Uploading video or image files to Descript.

2. Edit your GIF

Once your files are in, use Descript's multitude of editing features. Create frame animation by adding text and choosing your fonts, colors, and sizes. You can also add transitions between series of images, making your GIF animation smoother.

Adding stylized text to a video clip in Descript.

3. Share your GIF

Once you’re done, open the “Share” menu and select “Export.” The GIF option is right there in the file export row, and from there, you can set dimensions and choose video quality.

Exporting video project as a GIF in Descript.

Descript is intuitive. But that doesn’t mean it’s basic. Here are some features that make it the standout platform for video creation: 

  • Ease of use: If you've tried to create GIFs using Adobe Photoshop's legacy systems or attempted to make frames from layers in more complex software, you'll appreciate Descript's user-friendly interface. And if you get stuck, Descript's YouTube tutorial videos are a click away.

  • Transitions: Descript makes it easy to add transitions, resize your GIF image, and even mix in audio. These are the sorts of premium features usually found in dedicated GIF maker apps for iOS and Android.

  • All-in-one utility: No need to bounce between some online video-to-GIF converter, Photoshop for adding fonts and transitions, and another program for compressing the file. Descript's all-in-one functionality means you can create, edit, and export in GIF format, all from the same platform. 

Want to join the thousands of creators already using Descript to create video content? Take a tour of the dashboard today.

How to make a GIF FAQs

Can you make a GIF from a photo?

Absolutely. There are many ways to create an animated GIF from a static photo. With Adobe Photoshop, you’re able to make frames from layers, which turns each layer into a frame in your GIF animation. Alternatively, simpler GIF programs like GIPHY’s GIF Maker can also work. 

How can I make a free GIF?

There's no shortage of options when it comes to making a free GIF. Platforms like GIPHY and Ezgif offer easy-to-use interfaces where you can drag and drop image files to create a GIF. Some also provide options to add stickers, resize, or adjust frame rate. 

What is the easiest way to make a GIF?

The most straightforward way to make a GIF is to use a dedicated online GIF maker like GIPHY. You can drag and drop a video file or a series of images and create a GIF in seconds. These platforms often offer shortcuts like sliders to adjust frame rate or templates to make your gif creation process even easier.

Featured articles:

No items found.

Articles you might find interesting

Product Updates

Marketing Campaigns: Touch Your Audience in a Creative Way

What is a marketing campaign, and how do you use it to increase brand awareness with your target audience? We break down the basics right here.

Video

35+ TikTok stats to guide your strategy in 2024

to give yourself the best chances of growing an audience on TikTok, you need to understand the platform beyond just scrolling and consuming content.

Related articles:

Share this article

Get started for free →