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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.
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.
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.
GIF Animator for Photos or Images
Photoscape 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, 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 the 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. See our information page here for more information.
If 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.
Another 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 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.
GiftedMotion 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.
SSuiteAnimator 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.
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.
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 support no watermarks and private output but not all. It is almost impossible to list them all, but here are some which I was able to find and test. (Please read their TOS before trying them.)
- GifPal – It limits the number of images you can upload to 24 for a gif. It is an advance tool with many custom options. You have to select and add every image separately with or without customising it. You can add effects, like charcoal, ripples, thermal, halftone, Warhol and many more; control brightness, contrast, hue and saturation of any or all images; add text, fill to gif and add various shapes in any colour you like; and control over file quality/size and watermark. Gifpal also gives you full control over output file privacy, ability to download it to your computer or save it online for access with a link or publish it in your public gallery. It gives you full control over gif files that are highly customisable. Overall it is as good as 9 on a scale of 10.
- Picasion - It limits the number of images you can upload to 10. You have to select every image separately but it gives you custom options like control over size and speed of each frame. The good news is it does not impose any watermark on a gif produced and it also gives user control over file privacy. Although it lacks various options for making a good gif but still is one of the best online services for making a gif. Overall it is as good as 8 on a scale of 10.
- MakeaGif – It limits the number of images you can upload to 20 but you can select them simultaneously which is a good feature. You can easily arrange these pictures after uploading as it supports drag and drop feature. You have control over frame speed and size of a gif, and can also choose to make it private or public. It also supports making gifs from various sources and file types like videos, youtube urls, webcams and other gifs too besides pictures from your computer. It imposes a small watermark on the output gif even though gif quality is very good. Overall it is as good as 7 on a scale of 10.
- Gickr - It limits the number of images to 10, and you have to select each image separately. It gives you very limited custom options like control over size and speed. It imposes a watermark on every gif. It lacks many important features to make gifs more interesting. Overall it is as good as 5 on a scale of 10.
- 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.
- Stykz is a multi-platform stick figure gif animator program, like Pivot Stickfigure Animator.
Related Products and Links
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- Best Free Web-Based Image Editor
Xylem Studios' AnimateGif
Because Main Site is Down Here is Alternate Downlaod Link from Softpedia: http://www.softpedia.com/get/Multimedia/Graphic/Graphic-Others/AnimateGi...
Sadly, author discontinued support and development of this app. for further info: http://ivanbochko.com/gifapp/comment-page-1#comment-405
Microsoft GIF Animator
SSuite Gif Animator
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