You might have noticed that you can actually use animated .gif images in your story feed, but what if you want to use create your own GIF and add it your own stories or posts? In this how-to guide, we’ll be using Adobe Photoshop to easily make a GIF for your Insta feed.
Posting on Instagram is super-duper important, as it is one of the most popular social media platforms in the world and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. So why not spice up your stories or posts a little bit with some GIFs that you’ve made or chosen yourself?
Sounds interesting? Let’s hop right into it!
Why can’t I just upload an existing GIF file to Instagram?
Unfortunately, it’s not exactly easy to get .gif files that already exist on your story. It simply isn’t possible in the app – you can not upload GIF files on there, or at least not animated. When you do upload a GIF, you’ll either be met with an invalid format error message, or a plain picture of the GIF that isn’t moving.
A GIF file that isn’t moving can hardly be called a GIF file, now can it?
Luckily, there is another method to get your GIF files on your story, although we will need to use Adobe Photoshop for this.
The trick is to convert our GIF animation to a movie format, such as .mp4. Even though Photoshop is a photo-editing program, it can actually handle this task perfectly!
Note: do you already have a GIF file ready and don’t need to animate one? Skip to the last step of this article where we convert the GIF to MP4.
How to use Photoshop to animate a GIF for your Instagram stories
Photoshop does have quite the reputation of being difficult to work with and having quite a steep learning curve, but if you know your way around the user interface and follow the steps below closely, we’re sure you’ll be making those GIFs in no time.
Let’s get started!
The first step is to create a new Photoshop project. You’ll want to use a screen resolution that is optimal for your desired outcome. If you want to use a story, you’ll want to go with a screen resolution of 1080 by 1920 pixels. Regular feed posts should be square, so go ahead and use something like 1000 by 1000 pixels (or bigger, as long as both are identical).
Secondly, you’ll want to make sure that everything you’re trying to animate will be in different layers. This will make the process a whole lot easier. For example, you can animate text layers, photos, color changes, brushes… The canvas is your playground.
Next, we’re going to use the Timeline window (Window > Timeline) to start animating the frames. Right in the middle, you’ll want to click “Frame Animation”, otherwise nothing will happen with your frames and there won’t be anything moving. Not really what a GIF is supposed to do. After you’ve enabled this option, a new field should pop up with more settings – and this is exactly what we need.
Now we’re going to add some frames! The Replicate button will be your best friend here, as it will create new frames in the timeline. There are a lot of different things and options you can choose from here, depending on how you want your animation to turn out. For example, you could fade in and fade out your text (pretty much like those old PowerPoint animations you probably remember from school). It’s definitely not a bad idea to experiment here, because you can do some pretty cool things here.
In the end, you’ll want to render the video. It’s probably not a bad idea to double-check all the time duration settings and make sure that everything is going to get rendered as expected (or at the desired animated speed). More concretely, you’ll need to set up a second interval between frames. You can decide for yourself what’s best, although most users would choose for 0.5 seconds and 1 whole second. The more frames you have, the less time you’ll want to use as a delay.
You’ll be able to see the example before you press render, so make sure the GIF looks great!
Also, make sure that the entire animation is actually longer than three seconds, that’s the minimum video length on Instagram.
When you’re satisfied, head over to File > Export > Render Video in the main Photoshop menu. You’ll want to choose the .mp4 file format. Yes, we know you don’t actually need a ‘video’, but it’s the only format that Instagram will take as a story. The platform doesn’t like GIFs, but movies are definitely no problem.
Note: if you actually want to create a GIF as well, the steps are the same, but choose .gif instead of .mp4 in the render settings menu. GIF files are usually smaller in size, and you can also use them on websites. Instagram, however, only accepts .mp4 files.
Even though we’re actually posting a movie, it’s essentially a GIF that you’ve just created yourself.
Next, you’ll want to move the file from your computer to your smartphone. Use a cable, some kind of cloud solution such as Dropbox, AirDrop or go the old-fashioned way and email it to yourself: whatever you need to do to get that movie on your phone and upload it to Instagram.
How to convert an existing GIF to MP4 for Instagram
But what if you don’t need to animate a GIF, and you already have an existing .gif file you want to use on your Instagram feed, either as a story or as a post?
Luckily, there’s a pretty nifty solution for that as well. Basically, we just need to convert the file to another format.
If you’ve already got a file converter program on your PC that can handle .gif to .mp4, great! Simply drag and drop the GIF over there, and use the new MP4 file to upload it to Instagram.
You can also simply upload your GIF to an online service such as EZGIF.com, which will take care of the converting for you, for free. The maximum file size is 35 megabytes, although that shouldn’t be a problem unless your GIF file is extremely high quality.
Happy (animated) Instagramming!
Want a more detailed guide on how to export video from Photoshop for your Instagram? We’ve got you covered: Here’s How To Export Video From Photoshop For Your Instagram
Worrying about which codes, sizes, bitrates, and aspect ratio’s to use for Instagram? Here’s our full guide: These Are The Best Video Export Settings For Instagram (2021)