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Learn how to add high-quality GIFs to an InDesign project

Adding animated GIFs to an Adobe InDesign interactive layout can really elevate a digital publishing project. However, adding high-quality GIFs to an InDesign interactive layout can take it to another level.

Follow along closely in this tutorial and learn how to use Photoshop to remove a background from a rotating planet video and convert it to a high-quality looping GIF that can be placed in an InDesign project.

The great thing about adding GIFs versus videos in an InDesign project is that it also allows you to overlay them over a background while maintaining higher quality.

In this lesson, we'll also go over how to add a Grow animation to an image of the starry night galaxy, which gives an amazing illusion that the stars are in motion as the 3D rendering of the planet rotates.

Here is a look at how the final product will appear:

If you'd like to follow along step-by-step with this lesson, click the link below to download the practice files.

Ceres Presentation
Download ZIP • 156.44MB

The first step is opening the video in Photoshop. This video – a 3D rendering of the Ceres Dwarf Planet – is from Adobe Stock's free collection and can be licensed for yourself here.

The video is saved in the practice files as

Removing Background from Video

  • Click the Open button on the home interface, or go to File > Open.

  • Once the video is open, launch the Timeline panel by going to Window > Timeline.

  • Access the Contextual Task Bar. If you don't have it opened, go to Window > Contextual Task Bar.

  • In the Contextual Task Bar, click the Select Subject option. This will use Photoshop's AI to detect the planet and make a selection.

  • Add a Layer Mask by clicking the third icon in the Contextual Task Bar. It's the square with an inner circle to signify a mask effect.

Click or swipe through the image slider to view the steps explained above:

Once the background has been removed, you can test the video by moving the playhead forward or backward in the timeline.

Next, let's export the video with the transparent background as a high-quality GIF.

Before exporting this as a GIF, let's add a Hue and Saturation Adjustment Layer so the color of the Ceres planet contrasts better against the starry night image once placed in the InDesign project.

Hue and Saturation Adjustment Layer

  • Go to the Layers panel and click the circle icon with the half white fill, which is the Adjustment Layer icon (see image below).

  • Choose Hue and Saturation.

  • Adjust the Hue and Saturation slider to your liking. In this example, it's set at -48.

Here's a look at the settings, as explained above:

Exporting GIF

  • Go to File > Export > Save for Web (Legacy).

  • In the Preset options, choose GIF 128 Dithered as the file format.

  • For best quality, choose Original from the top tab options. For lower quality, and a smaller file, choose Optimized.

  • Ensure that the Transparency option is selected.

  • Set your desired image size. For this tutorial, let's set the width to 1920 px.

  • Click Save.

Here is a look at the export settings as explained above:

The next part of the tutorial will focus on placing the GIF in the InDesign document provided with the practice files and saved as Ceres.indd.

Once the project is open, you will notice some space on the left side to import the GIF.

Importing the GIF

  • Go to File > Place and then locate the GIF exported from Photoshop.

  • Select the file and click Open. This will load the GIF in your cursor, where you will have two options: click on the page to drop it in or drag the desired size. Let's choose the latter.

  • The width of the content in the example shown below is 1095 pixels. However, this is not a hard-and-fast size. Use your own judgment when placing the GIF and adjusting the size.

The GIF, once placed, should appear like this on the page:

Go ahead and test the GIF by opening any of the interactive panels and clicking the play icon in the bottom left corner to launch the EPub Preview window.

Even though the GIF looks great on its own, let's take it one step further by adding an image of a starry galaxy behind it. Not only that, let's add a Grow animation to give the illusion the stars in the image are moving – all while the 3D rendering of Ceres is rotating.

In the tutorial practice files, there's a file called space sky.jpg. This is the image we'll import and send behind the planet GIF.

Importing Image and Adding Animation

  • Go to File > Place and choose the file called space sky.jpg.

  • With the image loaded in the cursor, hold your Shift key down and drag the shape of the image – starting in the upper left corner margin to the bottom right corner margin.

  • In the Control Panel, click the icon to Rotate 90° Clockwise to change the orientation of the image from horizontal to vertical.

  • Also in the Control Panel, click the Fill Frame Proportionally icon to fit the content to the frame.

  • Click the Frame and in the Animation Panel (Window > Interactive > Animation) set a Preset of Grow.

  • Set the Duration to 15 seconds.

  • Click the Loop option.

  • Under Properties, in the Animate dropdown, choose From Current Appearance.

  • Set the Scale W and H to 110%. For a larger grow effect, increase the percentage to your desired setting.

  • Cut the entire frame by going to Edit > Cut. Alternatively, you can also press Command (Mac) / Ctrl (Windows) and X on your keyboard.

  • Select the Rectangle Frame Tool and draw out another frame with the same dimensions. This will become the container that holds the image and will allow you to add the Grow animation.

  • Right-click the container frame and choose Paste Into.

  • Right-click the container frame again and go to Arrange > Send to Back.

Click or swipe through the image slider below to see the steps as explained above:

The final step in this lesson is publishing the project online to see the GIF and animated image in action.

Publish Online

  • Save your document and then go to File > Publish Online.

  • Give the project a title. By default, it'll use the same name as the InDesign document.

  • Click on the Advanced tab.

  • Set the Format to Automatic, the Resolution to Standard (96ppi) and GIF Options Palette to Web.

Swipe through the images below to see the Publish Online settings as explained above.

To view the document, click the View Document button, which will launch the project in your default browser.

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