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Learn how to export layers from InDesign to Photoshop and create an animated GIF

Updated: Jul 1, 2023

Wouldn't it be amazing if there was a way to move layers from Adobe InDesign to Photoshop seamlessly?

Well, good news – there is!

In this tutorial, I will go over how to export layers from an InDesign layout to Smart Object Layers in Photoshop. For this, you'll need to install and run a free Apple Script for InDesign, which you can download here with the other tutorial content for this lesson. There is a script that will work for Mac and Windows, which you can acquire here.

In addition, we'll also go over how to create an animated GIF in Photoshop using the same layers from the InDesign project.

Once you have downloaded the file, here are the steps to properly copy the script to the Scripts folder:

Copy Script to InDesign Scripts Folder

  1. Go to Applications > Adobe InDesign > Scripts > Scripts Folder and copy the LayersToSmartObjects.scpt script into this folder (Make sure InDesign is not running when you do this step).

  2. Start Adobe InDesign.

  3. Open the Scripts panel in InDesign by going to Window > Utilities > Scripts and it should be in the list of Scripts named "LayersToSmartObject".

Now that the Script has been copied over, it is simple to run in an InDesign project that has multiple layers. It runs by exporting each layer individually as a PDF and then placing those PDFs in Photoshop. The named layers from InDesign also carries over to the Photoshop project.

Running Layers to Smart Objects Script

  1. In the Scripts Panel, right-click and select "Run Script" or simply double click the script to run it.

  2. A dialog box will appear, where you can set the PDF preference, Color Mode, page to export and resolution.

  3. If Layers are Smart Objects is checked, the Photoshop layers will be converted to Smart Objects and can be edited in Illustrator by double-clicking in Ps.

  4. Click OK and the layered project will open in Photoshop.

(InDesign project and Layers on left, Photoshop project and Layers on right)

Now that the Layers have been moved from InDesign to Photoshop, let's create an animated GIF for mobile device. This is a great way of building your content and Design and creating the GIF in Photoshop.

Watch the complete tutorial as I go into detail on how to create the GIF for a fictional smartwatch company after moving the layers to Ps.

The end result will look like this:

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