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Learn how to create and add GIFs to interactive layouts in Adobe InDesign

Graphics Interchange Format — or GIF files as we know it most commonly today — was first introduced 23 years ago.

Today, the file format is popular on many platforms — especially social media and messenger apps.

However, in this tutorial, I'll show you how GIFs can be quite useful for design purposes, especially in Adobe InDesign interactive layouts.

In this lesson, we'll go over how to create and export a GIF in Adobe Photoshop and place it into an InDesign project.

First let's create a GIF in Adobe Photoshop, using the Timeline panel.

Create Frame Animation

  1. Go to File > Scripts > Load Files into Stack

  2. In the Load Layers Window, click Browse and open the two images (JPG or PNG, preferably) you'd like to stack in the Layers panel.

  3. Click OK (You should have both images appear in the Layers panel).

  4. Go to Window > Timeline to open the timeline, which will be the tool we'll use to put together our simple GIF.

  5. In the Timeline panel, click Create Frame Animation — this will start one frame with the first image in your Layers panel.

  6. Click on the Plus symbol to duplicate the frame in the timeline, but in the Layers panel, hide the first image and show the second layer.

  7. In the Timeline frames, set each to play for 0.5 seconds.

  8. To export as a GIF, go to File > Export > Save for Web (Legacy)

  9. In the preset options, select GIF 128 Dithered from the dropdown

  10. Change your Image Size (if necessary) and click Save.

Great! You have now set up the GIF and are ready to move on to the Adobe InDesign stage!

The above GIF is what we'll be working on in this tutorial. It's for a fictional brand called Motive.

If you'd like to follow along with the same document in this tutorial, it is set to 1920 x 1080 with 72 px margins all the way around.

Placing GIF Images and Adding Animation

  1. Go to File > Place and select the GIF animation created previously in Ps.

  2. Click Open.

  3. With your loaded cursor, roughly draw out the size you'd like the GIF to be in your InDesign layout.

  4. Go to Window > Interactive > Animation

  5. With the Selection Tool, click on the image frame (not the image content) and in the Animation Panel, select a Preset. (In this tutorial, I chose Fly in from Left for first GIF and Fly in from Bottom for other)

  6. In the event, select On Page Load

  7. If you have more than one GIF in a layout, such as this tutorial, go to Window > Interactive > Timing

  8. In the Timing Panel, click multiple files and in the bottom right-hand corner click on the icon to Play Together (Link with Arrowhead)

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