Adobe Illustrator CC - Advanced Training

How to make an animated GIF using Adobe Illustrator CC

Daniel Walter Scott

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Hello everyone, we are going to make an animated GIF in Illustrator. This looks… it looks okay, it could be better. I'm going to show you the tools and you're going to make prettier stuff than I have. All right, let's get into it. 

So to make our little bubble blowing whale open up 'Animated GIF', I'm going to start with this. I group it first. We can decide now-- basically it's just lots of Artboards with slight adjustments. Then you export all those Artboards to Photoshop, to stitch together as a GIF. Now there are a couple of things you could do. You could, like every Artboard just have him moving forward a little bit more. That would do something. I'm going to use the Puppet Pin Tool. Now, Puppet Pen Tool it destroys- it kind of distorts what we do quite a bit. If you're doing this on your own, you're finding it a little bit tough, it is a little bit tough with the Puppet Pin Tool but I think it has a really cool effect. That's my first Artboard, I'm not going to distort this one. This is one, he's going to stay the same. 

Now, it's going to be lots of Artboards, open up the Artboard panel. The naming convention is quite important, right? So I'm going to call this 'Whale 01'. The naming convention has to be sequentially ordered for this to work. You can't just put in '1' because when you get to 10, those are two digits, not one digit. So you can't kind of just go 1, 2, 3, 4, all the way to 10 because it freaks out when it sees, there was one digit, now there's two. So it has to be '01'. If you want a hundred different Artboards, I hope you're not, it's going to take a long time but you'd put in 0 before the 1 just to get the sequence right. 

The other thing to know is that Illustrator is not made for this, we're doing it as a bit of a hack, because it's fun, because the main tool to go off and do this for something like Motion Graphics would be After Effects, I love it, I know it very well so I go and do it in there, but I understand it's a big learning curve with that one so if you've got skills in Illustrator you might just stay here, because you know it so well. So I need another Artboard. The quick way is to click, hold, and drag it. So I've got a second one. And what we're going to do in this one is, I'm going to select it all, grab my 'Puppet Pin Tool', I'm going to pin him in the tail, there. There, one there, one there. Anyway I kind of just want it to stay still, it depends on what you want to do, right? So this is what we're going to do, breathe in, breathe out. And we're going to do it per frame. Be prepared, sometimes though I need a bit of a denser, just to have a bit more control as I want just this body popping out. 

So this one here is just going to be a little bit out. Then I'm going to duplicate it again. Curve over here, grab my 'Black Arrow'. Back to my 'Puppet Pin Tool', a bit further down. Duplicate it again. There's going to be a lot of this. Now to speed up your time you've got to click on it with your 'Black Arrow' first then back to your 'Puppet Pin Tool'. Now your Puppet Pin tool doesn't have a shortcut by default. If you go to 'Edit', 'Keyboard Shortcuts', and click on the 'Tools' you can go through and add your own shortcut to it. Up to you, I use Q, because I think Q was the default for the Lasso Tool which I never use. So that's my handy trick, hit 'Q' on your keyboard. Made him a bit bigger. Do one more with this, then we'll speed it up. So 'V' key, click it, 'Q' key, down. And we're going to go to the next one. Now I'll go into super fast mode to do the next couple. 

That didn't take very long. I got to a point where-- he's going to start breathing back in, right? I can totally just manually try and do this. Or, because I want it to kind of loop perfectly, what I might do is-- his breathing out is exactly the same as his breathing in, just in reverse, right? So I'm going to try and do that. So what I need to do is, to make sure we don't get lost I'm going to name my orders here. I get really kind of confused sometimes with numbers in general but we'll speed this up. So what we want now is another few Artboards, maybe another four, or five. So instead of having to duplicate them, we're just going to make a new Artboard. One, two, three, four. Now if I end up going off the page, just grab them with the 'Artboard Tool'. Hold 'Shift', click on the ones you want, kind of move them around, it's up to you. So this is where it gets a bit inception. 

So this one is going to be whale. I'll fast forward this again. So this is where I get kind of confused sometimes because at this distance it's really hard to do copy and pasting, because the Artboards get a little mixed up. So I want this one to go in there. So I want, I'm just looking here. Whale 05 to go to Whale 07. So I'm going to zoom in. So Whale 05 to Whale 07. How do I get to it? I was just going to use this over here. For some reason it's not jumping to it. There you are, 07. I'm going to hit 'Command F' rather than 'Command V'. Command F gets it back exactly where it got off the page. 

So the next one is, so you want from 05 to 07, and you want now-- If you're watching this, and you're like, just copy and paste them, this is where my brain gets boggled. So I'm just going to slowly but surely work my way through, and we'll speed it up. Okay, we're back. That could be it, you might just want to breathe in and out to kind of get a feel for, first of all, they kind of ended up over the side, so what we might do, just-- we can reorder them, we can go into here. Actually this option here, and say "Actually could you make them in one line, or reorder them in two columns?" Click 'OK'. I just ordered them straight up and down. Let's have a little look, a way of kind of previewing what it's looking like. 

So with it zoomed in at 100%, or full screen, which is 'Command 0', or 'Control 0' on a PC, you can just kind of toggle through this, so go all the way at the beginning and hit this arrow here, next, next, next… And this is our very exciting animation. So what I'd like to do when he starts breathing back in, I'm going to do one last thing. You could skip ahead now, but I'm going to get him to blow a little bubble. So when he gets to here he's going to start blowing the bubble. This bubble is going to be pretty exciting. It's going to be the same color as this. Actually no, it's going to be blue even. 

So my 'Ellipse Tool', he's going to blow a big bubble to start with, and it's going to get smaller. I'm going to select kind of about there, and maybe push it behind him. I'm going to copy this, move to my next Artboard. 'Command V', sorry 'Command F' to get it back where you got it, or 'Control F' on a PC. I'm just going to move that Artboard a bit using the keyboard shortcuts, and shrink it down a little bit. If you're doing this kind of shrinking stuff, maybe Smart Guides can be a bit of a pain, so you turn those off. All right, next one. Copy him. Paste in. We'll get it to speed up now so you're not watching this. 

Okay, you're back. Yeah, very exciting, Dan. And he breathes out a bubble. So we've got our animations, right? And we've made sure our naming conventions are all right in here. Now it's about getting these Artboards out, and then to Photoshop. It's easy enough, go to 'File', 'Export', we're going to use 'Export Screens'. Make sure they're all selected. I'm putting mine in this folder called 'Whale' on my 'Desktop'. Put yours wherever you like. In terms of the resolution keep it high now, we'll cut it down in Photoshop later on. So we'll make it PNG, JPEG, it doesn't really matter at this stage. Make sure there's no prefixes. Just '1' scale, make yours look like mine. Let's click 'Export Artboard'. You'll see, in here, I've got mine sequentially numbered. You could name them afterwards doesn't matter, you don't have to do it in Illustrator. And now the trick is, in Photoshop, go to 'File', 'Open'. Click on the very first one, so '01', and click on 'Options'. And this is the magic trick. You can say, I like 01, and check if there's a sequence. Click 'Open'. If you've numbered them correctly it won't have an error. You can't even miss one, if you're missing 04 it will freak out. 

Now Frame Rate, you can come back here and try this a couple of times. There's ways of overriding it afterwards, but 30 frames/sec is fine. Now in Photoshop the trick is to go to 'Window', 'Workspace', and switch it to 'Motion'. Weirdly Photoshop does some pretty cool video stuff, video editing, but for the moment what we want to do is, let's just hit the 'Play' button here to see what our thing does. That is our super exciting animation. At the moment it's happening a bit fast. So there's two things, one is, if yours is really hard core and Photoshop can't play it back because it's freaking out you can go to 'Resolution', turn it to '25%' and it looks worse up here, but it exports just fine. A bit slow. Mine's looking fine because it's quite simple. 

Next thing we will do is right click it, and this is it, Speed. You can speed it up or slow it down. So if you want to speed it up, crank it up and it shrinks down, right, but if I want to slow it down it weirdly doesn't jump back out. That's the way it thinks, if I slow it down to maybe, the lowest is 25%. Yes, let's click '25%'. I have to drag this out. Just keep dragging until you get the whole thing. You might have to drag it twice like I did there. Just keep dragging it until it's all the way out because, otherwise there it is there, goes out to 14 frames. You can zoom out this way, Dan. That's better. Just drag the end out. Now I can see it all, hit 'Play', it's probably too slow now. Yes, too slow. 50%, it streams down fine, but remember, it doesn't go up, just drag the end out. Now it's about exporting it. 

You don't have to do a GIF, we're doing a GIF because GIFs are cool, and they're reasonably, you know, you stick them on social media and they play automatically on lots of website, Facebook included. Now what we're going to do, here's 'File', we'll do the GIF way first. So go to 'File', 'Export' we'll have to use this old school, 'Save for Web' version. 'File', 'Export', 'Save for Web'. And up the top here, 'Preset'. Depending on the quality and size, you'll have to play around with this one. Any of these options work for export. Basically the more numbers you have, 32 looks fine for mine. If you got a really detailed graphic, you might have to get up to 128 colors but the file size if going to be a lot bigger. I'm making mine small. Anything else you can play around with makes very little difference. The big thing that does make a difference is looping. You loop once, or forever, that's what we want. 

Hit 'Play'. It's not a good representation here in this kind of export window so now you sweat at it, it's not quite right. Then we hit 'Save'. And we're going to call this one 'Whale.gif'. Very exciting. It's taken us a while, and a bit of a disjointed class, I know. So I've got my GIF, it's on my desktop, if I hit 'space bar' on my Mac, look at him doing all this GIFness. Now there are some artefacts up here, that's just from the Puppet Pin Tool. I didn't really kind of take much notice of him. I should have fixed that up before I carried on but there's my bubble blowing, it's kind of, well, it's okay. You can also do a video version. 

So back here in Photoshop, there's 'Export', 'Render Video'. In here, it eventually pops up. We're going to export mp4, it's a really common format. I'll have 'Whale.mp4'. Down here we're going to use Adobe Media Encoder, and it's going to be the format, 'H.264' is the most common one to use. Gives you a mp4. On my Mac here, I could do 'QuickTime' as well. Now Quality ratings, you can play around with this. You can get quite low because ours is such a simple animation. In terms of the speed, you control it with this. 30 frames/sec is going to play like it did originally in Photoshop. The lower you go, the more jumpy it is, but the slower it plays. Up to you how you want to do it. 

I'm going to leave mine at '30'. Click 'Render'. Kick back and relax, depending on how long it is. And let's check it in my 'Desktop', there's my 'mp4', I'm going to double click him. And, genius. It's not looping though but that is how to do animation in Adobe Illustrator. Now there are lots of other things you could have done. Is our bubble blowing whale exciting? No. You have the tools now, right? It could be moving, lots of things could be moving around. You could use Puppet Tool, you could use the Liquify Tool. There's lots of things you could do to your animation. Just make sure that the sequence numbering is correct. And then once you get into Photoshop, you can export the GIF or mp4. 

All right, so it's the end, and it is homework time. I want you to do something more creative than what I did. You can use the whale, that's fine, or something else we've drawn in this class, or anything you like. I'd love to see your animation. Post it to me on the website here, under your projects, or on social media. I'd love to see you on Instagram, I'm bringyourownlaptop. On Twitter, I'm danlovesadobe. All right friends, let's get on to the next video.