Photoshop GIF How-to: Make a Before/After GIF

Animation. The before shot of a web page redesign fades into a scrolling after shot.
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Designers love to use Photoshop to make animated GIFs. Earlier, I showed how to animate a single moving part: a scrolling web page. Now, stack multiple animated parts in a single Photoshop animated GIF. One great example of this is the animated before/after shot. Before and after shots are popular animations to illustrate change and highlight improvements. Follow these steps to make your own Photoshop animation that opens with a static before shot, then fades to a scrolling after shot, all in one compact Before/After GIF.

Animate a Single Moving Part Plus Two Transitions: Create a Fading “Before” Shot Into a Scrolling “After” Shot in Before/After Photoshop Animation

Animation. The before shot of a web page redesign fades into a scrolling after shot.

Create a new document for the Photoshop animated GIF.

Begin assembling all the Photoshop animated GIF pieces into a single document. Keep each image on its own layer. Then, label the parts to find them easily later.

Screenshot. Photoshop animation, step 1.

Convert the GIF to Video Animation.

Open Window > Timeline and Convert to Video Animation again.

Screenshot. Photoshop animation, step 2.

Extend the default timeline duration of the Photoshop animated GIF.

Give adequate viewing time of the before and after shots, including the scrolling of the tall after screenshot. Therefore, make the timeline longer than the default time.

First, drag each layer’s purple box out to 12:00f to extend the video animation. To assist with this, zoom in or out on the timeline by clicking the mountain icons at the bottom of the Timeline panel.

Then once the first is drawn, the others will snap at the same place.

Screenshot. Photoshop animation, step 3.

Start to make the fade: pause on the “before” shot and add the first Opacity keyframe.

To re-cap: the Photoshop animated GIF opens with a “before” shot of a web page design appears, then it fades away to reveal the “after” scrolling shot of a web page re-design.

First, pause on the “before” shot and allow viewers to see it before it fades. Create this pause by simply starting the fade tween later.

Select the “before” layer in the Timeline panel.

Move the scrubber to 01:00f. Then, click the stopwatch beside Opacity to add the first keyframe.

Screenshot. Photoshop animation, step 4.

Add the second keyframe to mark the end of the fade tween.

Move the scrubber to 0:200f.

In the Layers panel to the right, change the Opacity of the “before” layer to zero. Photoshop automatically applies a new keyframe to the Timeline to mark the change.

Running a test play of the Photoshop animated GIF shows the fade quite nicely.

Screenshot. Photoshop animation, step 5.

Create the animated scroll. Add the first Position keyframe.

Immediately after the “before” shot fades away and the “after” shot is revealed in its entirety, begin scrolling the “after” layer to the bottom of the web page screenshot. This tween will begin the same time the “before” shot’s fade tween ends, at 02:00f. However, this tween will manipulate the Position setting instead.

Switch to the “after” layer in the Timeline panel.

Click the Position stopwatch at 02:00f to add a keyframe.

Screenshot. Photoshop animation, step 6.

Add the second Position keyframe.

The scrolling continues until nearly the end of the Photoshop animated GIF—leave 2 seconds to spare.

Move the scrubber to 10:00f.

Then use the Move tool from the Tools panel to click, shift, and drag the layer to its bottom. A new Position keyframe is automatically added to the timeline at the 10:00f mark.

Editing Transform values to adjust X and Y coordinates or using the arrow keys don’t seem as effective for registering position changes in the timeline. So stick with the Move tool.

(Update: late Photoshop CC 2019+ now track movements from arrow keys.)

Hold down the shift key and drag to force the layer to move in 90 degree increments, either straight up and down or straight side to side. This prevents sidetracking for the scroll to move seamlessly downward.

Screenshot. Photoshop animation, step 7.

Add a closing Transition to wrap up the Photoshop animated GIF.

Use a pre-made Photoshop Transition to achieve a fade at the very beginning or the very end of the GIF animation video.

First in the Timeline panel, click the half-filled square icon to open the Transitions menu options.

Note the menu says, “Drag to apply.” Then select the “Fade to White” fade option by clicking it.

Next, drag its ghost icon to a layer’s purple box far left or right edge. Photoshop reveals a black outline marking the transition’s duration while you are hovering over an edge.

Finally, drop the ghost icon at the end to apply.

Screenshot. Photoshop animation, step 8.

Watch the Photoshop animated GIF.

In the Timeline panel, click the “Go to first frame” (with the dash-then-triangle symbol, farthest left) to return the scrubber to 00:00.

Hit Play.

Watch the screenshot scroll in the GIF animation! It scrolls more slowly where the left distance between keyframes was great, and it scrolls quickly where the distance was short.

Screenshot. Photoshop animation, step 9.

Save the GIF animation video for the web.

One of the most compatible video formats is the .GIF. In the Application bar, go to File > Save for Web… and select the GIF format. The preview of the GIF animation may take a moment to load.

Screenshot. Photoshop animation, step 10.

Correct any colors for the final GIF animation.

Nearly always my Preview reveals some color distortion as Photoshop compresses my images and their palette. There’s a quick fix for that before you export. In the more options dropdown menu of the Color Table, select Sort by Luminance. Double-click the bottom-most, right-most color to open the Color Picker. Change the value to white, either by entering the hexadecimal #ffffff or 255 in R,G, and B values. The GIF animation preview will update by switching out the lightest hues with white. Continue switching until the preview looks good.

Screenshot. Photoshop animation, step 11.

Choose GIF animation looping options and save.

GIF video animations are popular for sharing around the web and engaging viewers. Now, you can create your GIF video animations with Photoshop with increasing complexity.

If you’re looking for a tutorial for a more simple animation, start with my first Photoshop GIF animation tutorial here.

Enjoy your video creations!

Animation. The before shot of a web page redesign fades into a scrolling after shot.