Best Free Animated GIF Maker

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Introduction

A picture is worth a thousand words. If this is true for an ordinary static picture then what about a picture that contains motion, or animation? An animation has far greater impact than an ordinary picture. It offers many more possibilities to creators/artists, enabling them to convey greater meaning to users. An animated format can also hold a lot more content which is almost impossible for a normal static image.

Animated Newton's Cradle

There are a lot of image file formats but only three are popular and widely used on the web. These are JPG,PNG and GIF formats. Among these three formats, GIF is the only file type that supports animation.

A GIF file can contain a single image, but to animate an image it will need at least two or more images/frames combined, which can then be displayed for a few milliseconds successively and called as GIF animation.

A GIF animator program makes this process much easier. It usually takes only three easy steps, choosing a couple of images, putting them in desired sequence and setting frame rate, looping and other settings. The result is combined into one GIF animation file.

On the right is an animated GIF image of Newton's Cradle, comprising 36 frames and each showing up for about 2 to 5 milliseconds. It's certainly more impressive than a static image if motions are needed to convey more vivid messages to readers.

From the selection of GIF animators covered in this review, everyone should find something suitable to create their own animated images.

 
Discussion

 

GIF Animator for Photos or Images

PhotoscapePhotoscape is an image suite which is comprised of a photo editor, GIF animator, image converter, splitter, photo layout, screen capture, color picker and other tools. Although, Photoscape accepted the business model of OpenCandy and now comes bundled with it, but, the GIF editor included in the suite impressed me with its clear interface, ease of use, intuition and good features for which i am not removing it from number one postion.

On the Animated GIF tab, you can select a few photos or images in various formats and drag them to the center panel, your animated GIF is then live and instantly displayed for you. Click the save button, give a file name and the animated GIF file is done.

On the frame strip, you can re-order the frames by drag and drop, or right-click a frame to change its display time. On the right panel, you can also adjust the canvas size, background color and photo alignment.

You can even change the transition effect to sliding a frame and the program will automatically add necessary frames to that effect for you, but of course this will increase the GIF file size.

Warning! Photoscape is bundled with OpenCandy. For more information please See our information page here.

 

GifAppIf you think that's overkill to download a large program for just a GIF animator, then GifApp is a good alternative.

GifApp is an open source portable app supported by the Sourceforge project and this is the best gif maker I know after Photoscape. You can add multiple images at once, remove images, adjust dimensions, set frame delay, move frames place and can add 17 different effects like dissolve, crystallize, grayscale, invert, etc. You can also import video and make it as a gif, and preview gif as many times as you want before saving. Output gif quality is also quite good.

It is one of the most complete standalone gif maker programs I know about. Its interface is clean and user friendly. You can adjust the size of the interface as you need. The best part is that you don't need any special knowledge for experimenting with it, just add pictures and start making gifs.

 

Microsoft GIF AnimatorAnother good gif maker is Microsoft GIF Animator.

From your file folder you can drag and drop multiple GIF files to the frame panel, then select looping and repeat, and set delay duration to each frame before saving to a new animated GIF file.

You can also easily re-order frames by pressing the up/down buttons. If you need more advanced features, settings are available for animation width and height, border, undraw method, transparency and so on.

That said, I find the user interface of the program rather small and its window cannot be maximized. It can be frustrating for users who are working on a GIF file consisting of more frames.

NB: This program is no longer available from the Microsoft Download Center but is available at third party download sites.

 

XylemStudio's AnimateGifXylemStudio's AnimateGif is one of the best choices for a very simple set of functions such as light and simple gif animations. It is a portable application and its download size is quite small at around 96.2KB.

The user interface is very simple and supports drag and drop feature. You can balance output gif quality, set loop and frame delay time.

On the flip side, the program has a very small interface with no option for maximizing it. It doesn't have any toolbar or file menu for making it more user friendly or feature rich. It does not support customization of output file which is the biggest drawback of this program according to me. It also lacks frame slides and other transition effects, the features that I missed. But overall it's good for a very basic gif animator as I've mentioned.

 

GiftedMotionGiftedMotion is another gif maker weighing in at quite a small size of around 72KB (V1.23). Its graphical user interface is very flexible and adjustable, good for very simple and basic gif animations.

You can adjust frame delay time, position of image and frame order. But it is highly lacking in special effects like sliding, background color, etc., and without which gifs don’t look so impressive and interesting.

When you first run this program, you might need some practice as it's a little tough to start out. For this reason, I don't recommend it to those who are new to making gifs as this disadvantage might turn them off, but overall it is good enough for creating simple and basic gifs.

 

SSuiteAnimatorSSuiteAnimator has a very simple graphical user interface but not fully adjustable. It is good for very basic gif animation. You can add/remove images, save list of images for future use, adjust frame delay time and position of frame. It has a list feature which is something new and helpful for you to make a list of pictures and try different frame delay times by only selecting that list without adding images again and again.

Using it is not so easy as it takes some time to practice. I do not recommend it to a novice as it can be very tough for first time users. The program lacks main features and effects to make gifs impressive and it still needs lots of improvement.

 

Stick Figure Animator

And for a great deal of fun, try Pivot Stickfigure Animator, a simple stick figure animation program for you to create an animated GIF by moving sections of the standard stick figure. See this article A Free Animation Utility That can be Used by the Non-Artistic by Gizmo for more details.

 

Online GIF Animators

There are various online services available which allow users to make gifs by uploading picture files from computer or by linking from internet. The main problem with almost every online service is various limitations, watermarks and privacy, some supports no watermarks and private output but not all. However, it is almost impossible to list them all, but here are some of them which I was able to find and test. (Please read there TOS before trying them)

  • GifPal – It limits number of images a user can upload to 24 for a gif. It is a advance tool with so much custom options. Users have to select and add every image separately with or without customising it. User can add effects like charcoal, ripples, thermal, halftone, Warhol and many more and user can also control brightness, contrast, hue and saturation of any and all images. User can add text, fill to gif and add various shapes in any colour they like. User also has control over file quality/size and watermark. Gifpal also give user full control over output files privacy, user can download it to their computer or can save it online where only those can access it with a link or can publish it in their public gallery. It gives user full control over gif file and the gif files are highly customisable. Overall it is as good as 9 out of 10.
  • Picasion - It limits number of images user can upload to 10 and users have to select every image separately. It Gives user custom options like and control over size and speed of each frame. The good news is it does not impose any watermark on gif produced and it also give user control over gifs privacy. Although, it lacks various options for making a good gif but still is one of the best online service for making gif. Overall it is as good as 7 out of 10.
  • Loogix – It limits upload of images to ten for each gif and user has to select them one by one. It makes simple give where user can control only frame speed and size of output file. User can also make animations like painting, zoom, movie, motley, blackwhite, blur and many more but separately. It does not impose any kind of watermark on output gif and also image quality is good enough. Overall it is as good as 6 out of 10.
  • MakeaGif – It limits number of images user can upload to 20, but user can select them simultaneously which is a good feature. User can easily arrange these pictures after uploading as it supports drag and drop feature. User have control over frame speed and size of gif, user can also choose to make it private or public. It imposes a small watermark on the output gif. Gif quality is very good too. Overall it is as good as 6 out of 10.
  • GifUP – User can only upload 1 image, but it gives user option to clone that image 7 more times. It gives user highly customised options like adding text to image, giving it various effects and flipping/rotating options. It impose watermark to the image and also the output gif is not so good. Overall it is as good as 5 out of 10.
  • gickr - It limits number of images to 10, and user have to select each image separately. It gives user very limited custom options like control over size and speed. It imposes watermark on every gif. It lacks many important features which makes gifs more interesting. Overall it is as good as 4 out of 10.
 
Others
These are some GIF animators programs or online apps or related products which were brought up in comments here or noted from other sources. As they are not rated in this review, I am listing them here with brief descriptions and relevant links for ease of reference.
  • UnFreez is a small program for creating animated GIF files but is short of more advanced features.
  • Gimp a free software raster graphics editor good for image editing and retouching. Using this as an animator requires you to go through a steep learning curve; think of every layer as an animation frame.
  • GifMaker is a online app which user can use to create a gif animation.
  • mother effing animatedgif is again an online app which helps user to create a gif animation. It uses drag and drop which makes the whole process easier for the user. 
  • Stykz is a multi-platform stick figure gif animator program  like Pivot Stickfigure Animator.
 
Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

 
Quick Selection Guide

Photoscape
5
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Better interface, ease of use, adjust canvass size, background color, photo alignment, auto transition effects, supports for importing various formats.
Bundled with OpenCandy (see information link in review text). Might be an overkill to download a large program if you just need a standalone GIF animator.
3.6.5
20.3 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
Windows NT/2000/XP/Vista/7
GifApp
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
clean interface, user friendly, easy to use, adjustable canvas size, auto transition effects, support various formats and video to gif conversion is possible.
takes time in extracting frames from video.
http://ivanbochko.com/gifapp
1.3
7.14(32 bit) / 7.32 (64 bit)
32 and 64 bit versions available
Open source freeware
This product is portable.
upto date java

Sadly, author discontinued support and development of this app. for further info: http://ivanbochko.com/gifapp/comment-page-1#comment-405

Xylem Studios' AnimateGif
3.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
easy to use, clean and simple interface, small installer size.
User interface is small and non-adjustable, Very limited functions, no user control over output.
1.1
96.2 KB
32 bit only
Unrestricted freeware
This product is portable.
Windows XP/Vista/7/8
Microsoft GIF Animator
3
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Drag and drop multiple GIF files, looping and repeat, set delay duration to each frame, re-order frames, undraw method, transparency and more.
Rather small user interface, Microsoft discounitued its development.
1.0.0.101
1.08 MB
Unrestricted freeware
Windows 95 to Windows 7

Downloading this program is no more available from the Microsoft Download Center but from third party download sites.

GiftedMotion
3
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
No installation required, user interface is adjustable, download size is very small, Can add multiple images at once, user can change images position by dragging, preview function available.
Very less features, output is very basic, take time for loading big size images or large number of images.
1.23
72KB
Open source freeware
This product is portable.
256MB ram

requires up to date java

SSuite Gif Animator
2
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Simple and clean GUI, Small installer size.
supports only jpg, jpeg, and bmp images. Very limited functions. User have only control over frame speed in output.
http://www.ssuitesoft.com
1
453 KB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
This product is portable.
Windows XP/Vista/7/8

Editor

This software category is maintained by volunteer editor Sahil Waste. Registered members can contact the editor with any comments or questions they might have by clicking here.

 
Tags

best gif animator, free gif animator, create animation, animated image, animated photo, animated picture.

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Comments

by dommyshan9 on 13. April 2014 - 14:22  (115662)

Hi! I read through the products...and er, wondering if there is any features that you didn't list that includes animating by dragging the mouse around while the program records your movements?

Like, you drew a happy face, then select happy face, and press record, and you move the happy face around with your mouse to make it dance. then hit Stop Recording and you can play back the animation.

Do any of the programs you listed do that? Yeah I saw the features listed, but maybe it wasn't important enough to mention? Just checking :D

Because I've been searching for the past 2 days looking for such a program. I remember I had such a program many many years ago (when I was using the new Windows XP system). For the life of me, I can't remember the name or what the interface looked like.

It may not even be an animated gif program. I'm desperately going around the internet asking people now. Thanks if you or any of the users here know of a program that can do this type of mouse-recorded animation! :)

by Sahil Waste on 16. April 2014 - 9:52  (115734)

Hi Shan,

What you are looking for is not a animation program but a screen capturing utility, a screen capturing utility can capture dancing smiling face dragged by mouse. But, as per my knowledge it is not possible with gif animators, if in case i am wrong please correct me, as i love to know this. ;)

But if you are looking for something similar to this(i created this as an example):
http://tinypic.com/r/213ncbd/8

I created this with the help of:

1. A screen session recorder
and
2. A Paint program

you can also create something similar with the help of these or similar products,

Please refer to our Best Free Paint Program(http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-paint-program.htm) and Best Free Screen Session Recorder(http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-screen-session-recorder.htm) sections.

If you need further help, you can drop a reply here or post a topic in our forum (http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum)

-----
Sahil :)

by chefleez on 20. January 2014 - 2:32  (113735)

Gif Ap works ... PhotoScape comes with a bunch of unwanted software ... MIcrosoft Gif Animator appears to only read already made gifs and opens them up but does not create new gifs.

by Jojo Yee on 20. January 2014 - 3:43  (113737)

Different from your finding chefleez, Microsoft GIF Animator did allow for creating, editing and saving as new animated gif files with no issue as I tested it on Windows 7.

by chefleez on 21. January 2014 - 0:24  (113790)

Sorry my previous comment had some text missing. GifAnimator worked fine. MicrosoftsGifAnimator only opened existing gifs I could not see how to create a new on with Microsoft gif animator.

Thanx for bringing this to my atention.

by Jojo Yee on 21. January 2014 - 2:57  (113795)

You're welcome chefleez. You will need to have individual gif files ready for input to Microsoft GIF Animator, which shall then combine them and save as a new animated gif file. If you have image files in other formats, try some free products suggested at Best Free Digital Image Editor to convert them to gif formats before using Microsoft GIF Animator.

I hope I've got your point right.

by Sahil Waste on 25. January 2014 - 16:01  (113976)

thanks jojo ;)

by mklalli on 14. December 2013 - 17:28  (112945)

FYI
MS GIF Animator comes from Softronic which includes this in their EULA:

"In addition, a toolbar will be offered, and it shall change the User’s home page, default search settings and 404 error traffic, in the event the User selects such options."

The install option is set by default to install and includes this paragraph:

"By choosing to install and automatically enable the appbario19 Toolbar and SearchProtect in your web browser and set the search features you agree to these products’ terms, license agreements, and privacy policies. I also agree to the Value Apps terms and privacy policies, which may include third-party apps that may access, collect, and use your personal data, including your IP address and the address and content of web pages you visit. By clicking Next you accept the legal terms and the privacy policy of SpeedTest 137, which places a shortcut"

by Anupam on 14. December 2013 - 17:43  (112946)

Thanks for the alert. Have now changed the download site for the product :).

by Sahil Waste on 18. December 2013 - 8:51  (113023)

Thanks anupam.

by Anupam on 18. December 2013 - 9:05  (113025)

My pleasure :).

by FIRSTLIONHEART on 21. November 2013 - 11:38  (112426)

I have done both computer hardware and software design since 1985. Owning my own computer company for a couple decades has filled my retirement years with opportunities to work for the greater good in computers which is all done free of charge. I'm looking for some animation software which is not to expensive where I can make minor changes to photos and create gif animation files. I could use my Adobe Account to get what I need but I've given them enough over the years. I did 10 solid years in software design so I might have time to work on projects here but my community service work comes first. I need no income, life has been good to me. I'm not saying I won't help but I'm not looking for a job either.

I had no idea what to write here so I just like it is.

Regards,

by Anupam on 11. July 2013 - 6:58  (109116)
by Sahil Waste on 12. July 2013 - 12:52  (109165)

Hi Anupam, thanks for the input..:)

by Anupam on 12. July 2013 - 14:13  (109168)

My pleasure :).

by Fixer_MED on 27. June 2013 - 20:57  (108760)

A good one is Gifcam: http://blog.bahraniapps.com/?page_id=21

Can record frames and allow you to edit frame by frame, record a single area of the screen, record the mouse pointer and more. Its easy and intuitive. In the link above explain very well how to use it. Give it a try!.

by Sahil Waste on 10. July 2013 - 12:38  (109099)

hi Fixer_MED, thanks for your input i'll surely give it a try. thanks :)

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