How to make GIFs

Have you ever wanted to create your own GIF, but don’t know where to start? Canva makes going from idea to animation easy, so you don’t need to be a pro to begin designing.

From unleashing your inner artist to engaging your audience with memorable content(opens in a new tab or window), GIFs provide the perfect platform for letting your imagination run wild. GIFs are also useful in personalizing emails(opens in a new tab or window), company communication and even surprising friends and loved ones.

Let’s start with the basics: What actually is a GIF?

GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format, which is just a fancier way of saying a rotating loop of images that have been compressed together — kind of like a sped up slideshow.

As they are compressed, GIFs are far easier to share via text, social media, and work communication channels than videos. This makes GIFs the perfect creative art to master as they’re bound to impress everyone.

How to make a GIF

Source: giphy.com/hif_australia

Canva provides the perfect online GIF maker and video editing(opens in a new tab or window) platform for making basic and more complex GIFs, with everything you need right at your fingertips.

If you’re just starting, it’s best to begin with a short loop of slides that you can alter gradually. Once you feel confident, you can begin to create more complex GIFs including those using a longer loop of slides, multiple moving objects and making GIFs using videos(opens in a new tab or window).

Although we’ve given tips throughout, our biggest tip of all is this—get comfortable with the basics first!

Step 1: Pick your GIF’s goal.

Before you begin, think about why you’re creating your GIF. Is it for work? Is it for friends or family? Or is it simply to build your own personal brand?

Once you select your purpose, think about your animation.

Your GIF might be as simple as moving a few letters in a word, or a graphic around a few slides but make sure you know before you start. You could even change the color palette, or the colors of different objects or letters.

Whenever you get stuck, remember these two things: why you’re creating your GIF and how you want to create it.

Step 2: Select a key design element.

Once you’ve decided on your why and your how, consider the design of your GIF.

If you’re basing your design around an image, select one from our library or import from your desktop by dragging it into the download screen. You can also import from your Instagram or Facebook accounts, or even from external storage devices like Google Drive or Dropbox.

If you’re using text, start playing with the design by exploring different text types(opens in a new tab or window) and text formatting(opens in a new tab or window) on the first slide.

Step 3: Choose the number of slides you want.

The number of slides you choose affects how complicated the final GIF design is. So the more slides you use, the more you’re animating or moving objects which can be challenging initially if it’s your first design. If you’re new, start with a few slides and if you’re feeling confident remember - you can always add more!

Tip: Start with fewer slides and add more as you need them!

Step 4: Customize your GIF design.

Channel your inner artist as you create your signature design on the first slide.

As you gain confidence, work your way up to blending different design elements(opens in a new tab or window) - like stickers and graphics, from our library.

Don’t forget to use our drag-and-drop feature to add them from your desktop too. Personalize further with unique text styles, fonts, and color palettes until you’re happy.

Tip: If it’s your very first GIF, it’s important you master an easy design before creating a more complex one.

Step 5: Add animation or effects for the magic.

Now for the exciting bit – adding movement or animation. There are two ways you can add some pop and sparkle to your GIF:

  • Move the text or object manually on each frame. Speed up(opens in a new tab or window), it will automatically animate for you. Remember to move your text or object gradually across each frame, and not too dramatically at first.

Tip: Try a few different designs to see which one you like best.

Step 6: Preview, download and share to the world.

When your GIF is ready to download and share with the world, check the preview by clicking the play button that sits next to the download button, in the top righthand corner of your screen.

If you’re not yet ready, that’s okay! Go back and keep designing until you’re happy with the final GIF. If you’re ready to go, click the download button, and use the drop-down menu and select the GIF option to save all or selected pages of your design.

Before you share your creative work online, make sure to add a subtle watermark(opens in a new tab or window) to protect your ownership while sharing it with friends, and colleagues at work, or posting it on your socials.

Tip: You can select every slide, or simply the slides that work the best for you before you download.

How to make a GIF from a video

Once you’ve mastered the basic GIF, it’s time to up your GIF game with a video GIF, the most widely shared GIF on the planet.

Great for capturing funny life moments or wowing friends and family on special occasions, GIFs can be made using any video you like(opens in a new tab or window) - providing you have legal ownership of or the copyright to it.

Step 1: Find and download the video you need.

Download a YouTube, Vimeo, or another video that you’d like to make into a GIF(opens in a new tab or window).

You might have captured a funny moment between friends or want to find a new way of celebrating a family memory, it’s up to you what video you use.

Just make sure you have legal ownership of it or the copyright to it!

Step 2: Upload the video to Canva.

Upload your video to Canva(opens in a new tab or window) by dragging it from your desktop into the download screen.

Alternatively, you can also import it from Instagram or Facebook accounts, or external storage devices like Google Drive or Dropbox.

Step 3: Begin editing the video.

So, now you’re ready to start editing your video(opens in a new tab or window). Move your video to the ideal spot on your slide. Then, click the scissors icon that sits at the top left-hand corner of your white toolbar. Using these, cut your video down to what you’d like to turn into a GIF. Don’t forget to add text(opens in a new tab or window), animations, music(opens in a new tab or window) or other effects to personalize.

Step 4: Download and share your GIF.

Click the Download button, use the drop-down menu and select the GIF option to save all or selected pages of your design. Once it’s been downloaded, impress your friends, your family, your social media audience or your colleagues at work.

How to make a GIF with an iPhone video

Replay those candid, everyday moments again and again with GIFs made from iPhone videos. Easy to create using the app, you have the option of importing from social media or from your own photo library.

Step 1: Transfer the video from your device to Canva.

If you’re on your computer, transfer the video from your photos app to Canva’s design platform by dragging it into the download screen. If you’re using the app, simply import it directly with the upload media button.

Step 2: Edit the video.

This is the bit you’ve been waiting for - start to edit your video. Select the scissors icon that sits at the top left-hand corner of your white toolbar. You can then trim your video down to a few frames.

Step 3: Download and share your GIF.

The final step in GIF creation is downloading your GIF. Click the download button, and scroll until you find the GIF format option. Select and then download your GIF, then share it with friends, family, colleagues or with your social media followers.

How to make a GIF on your mobile

How to use the Canva mobile app(opens in a new tab or window) to create a GIF on the go. Easy to use, import videos from your social media, your phone or your device of choice in a few clicks so you can get your GIF downloaded in no time.

Step 1: Download the Canva app.

The Canva app is available for download from the Apple App Store and Google Play, and downloading is fast so you can start creating in no time.

Step 2: Upload the video.

Upload a video from your phone or from your social media account. Once it’s uploaded, you can choose from our video templates or customize it any way you like.

Step 3: Edit the video to match your GIF length.

Make magic happen, and start to edit your video. Click the scissors icon that sits at the bottom of your mobile screen. You can then trim your video or select a particular section you’d like to turn into a GIF.

Step 4: Download your GIF.

Click the Download button and use the drop-down menu to select the GIF format option and you’re good to go. You’re ready to surprise friends or family, or grab attention on social media.

How to make a GIF’s background transparent

Streamline your GIF and remove any awkward background so it’s more aesthetic and far easier to share with friends, family, colleagues and workmates. Canva’s one-click background remover(opens in a new tab or window) erases image backgrounds so it’s perfect for elevating your GIF game.

Step 1: Upload an image.

Upload your own image by dragging it from your computer desktop into the download screen or clicking the upload media button. You can also select one from our extensive image library if you don’t have the perfect photo or image on hand.

Step 2: Add the effect.

Click on the effects button on the top corner of your toolbar. From there, select BG Remover and you're ready to go. Did you know you can even use the background remover tool in videos(opens in a new tab or window)?

Step 3: Position your image.

Just like that, the background will disappear and your GIF should be looking perfect. You can also adjust your image to the right spot on your slides.

Step 4: Customize your GIF design.

Get creative and customize your GIF to your liking. If you’re new to GIFs, keep it very simple but don’t be afraid to mix graphics, images and text with other effects too as you get more confident. Or check out this guide to graphic design basics for a helping hand.(opens in a new tab or window)

Step 5: Download and share with the world.

Click the download button, and make sure you select GIF. Once your GIF has been downloaded onto your device, you can then share it via email, send to friends or colleagues or post to social media accounts.

GIF ideas to get you started

Not sure where to begin? We’ve got you covered, with GIF starting points sure to generate your own unique creations.

  • Reactions. Laugh with friends over timeless reaction memories.

Source: giphy.com/warwickabrown

  • Memes. Build a GIF that can be shared again and again.

Source: giphy.com

  • Social media posts. Build your brand with content that can be shared.
  • Animated content. Engage your audience and draw in a bigger market.
  • Interactive content. Create a conversation around your brand with purposeful posts.
  • GIF email animation. Impress clients with a design that grabs attention and showcases potential

Tips and tricks for a standout GIF

Finesse your GIFs with advice on how to utilize Canva’s tools, platform and library of templates, graphics and text.

Optimize your design

Depending on where you’re posting your GIF, you can optimize your design template before you even begin by selecting the right social media GIF template(opens in a new tab or window) for the right platform. All templates from the library are easy to find by utilizing the search bar.

Pay attention to the timeframe

The timer at the bottom of the screen can be adjusted to create faster or slower GIFs. The longer the time frame given, the slower the GIF. Before you download your GIF, make sure you try a few different speeds until you’re happy.

Add animations

Be bold and add action with animations and eye-catching slide movements like flicker, pop or skate as well as pre-animated graphics or movement to your photos for a fun finish.

Ask for a second opinion

Not sure about your GIF? Click the share button in the top right hand corner to add a friend or colleague’s email, or copy a shareable link that you can text or message for their thoughts or get them to join the design process.


Start designing your GIF today with a free template or upload your own. If you wish to see more cool GIFs for reference, check out Canva's library of free GIFs(opens in a new tab or window) to get started!

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