top of page

Learn how to place GIF cutouts in an Adobe InDesign layout

If you've followed my InDesign tutorials long enough, you likely know by now that GIFs are supported in Adobe InDesign.

However, I was recently doing design work and a client wanted a GIF inside of a shape object.

Is this even possible? Yes, but with a little help from InDesign's big brother Photoshop.

Follow along in this tutorial and let's take a closer look at how you can mask a GIF within a vector shape using a movie clip in Photoshop. We'll then take that GIF cutout and place it in an InDesign file, while also adding a few other animations to strengthen the visual design.

Click the link below to download the lesson assets and follow along step-by-step.

GIF Mask Lesson Files
Download ZIP • 369.32MB

Placing a Regular GIF

Firstly, let's attempt to place a GIF inside of a vector shape that we'll copy over from Illustrator. Copy and paste it into the InDesign layout to the right where there's white space.

Now, because this is a vector shape, it's treated as an object, which means you can place images inside of this shape. But can you place a GIF natively in InDesign? Let's give it a shot.

  • Click on the shape and go to File > Place.

  • Locate the GIF file in the lesson notes. It's saved as Coding_Full.gif.

  • Click open.

Now, it seems as if it works fine when previewed on the page, however, if you press the EPub preview icon (located in the bottom left of any of the interactive panels) you will see that the GIF is no longer contained inside of the object shape.

If you're looking to achieve this in a layout, you will need to use Photoshop to mask the content within the shape. For this, we'll be pulling the GIF animation from an Adobe Stock video. You can license it in the Stock free collection, but it's also included in the lesson files saved as

Clipping Mask

  • In Photoshop, open the video by going to File > Open and choosing the video file.

  • Open the Layers panel, and drag the video out of the of the Video Group folder. You can trash the folder, so the only thing in the Layers panel is now the video.

  • Open the Timeline panel, by going to Window > Timeline.

  • Adjust the video length to your liking by dragging the right side of the frame in the timeline. Remember, the longer the video, the longer the render will be when exporting the GIF.

  • Copy and paste the object shape from the Illustrator file. Paste it as a Smart Object.

  • Adjust the shape size.

  • In the layer stack, ensure that the shape is at the bottom, below the video.

  • Right-click the video layer and choose Create Clipping Mask. Alternatively, you can also hold Option (Mac) or Alt (Windows) and hover between the layers and then click to create the clipping mask.

Here's a image slide highlighting the steps as explained above.

The clipping mask has been created and you can see that the video is contained within the shape. From this point, the next step is to export the GIF that can be placed in the InDesign document.

Exporting GIF

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

  • Choose Original for the highest-quality GIF or Optimized if you'd like it to be a smaller size. In this case, let's choose Original.

  • Make the size 1280 x 720 to make the dimensions a little smaller in size.

  • Choose Loop Forever, so the GIF repeats.

  • Click Save and save the GIF as Coding_Final.gif.

We're done with Photoshop and we can now hop back over to InDesign to place the GIF into the layout.

Placing a Masked GIF

  • As mentioned earlier in the tutorial, Make your way up to File > Place and locate the Coding_Final.gif file exported from Photoshop.

  • With the GIF in the loaded cursor, you have two options: click and drag the size you want or drop it into the layout by clicking on the page once. Let's do the latter. Click to drop the GIF on to the page and adjust the position accordingly.

To test the GIF, go to any of the Interactive panels, for example choose Animation, and click the EPub Preview icon located in the bottom left corner.

Let's take the layout a step further by adding some simple animation to the GIF and the main title in the design.

Open the Animation panel by going to Window > Interactive > Animation. Let's first add a Grow animation the GIF, giving the illusion that shape is unfolding when the page loads. The second animation will be a fly-in from top to the main title.

Adding Animation to GIF

  • Click on the GIF and in the Animation panel, assign a pre-set of Grow.

  • Set the Duration to a quarter of a second (0.25).

  • Choose a Speed of Ease in and Out.

  • Set the Animate dropdown To Current Appearance.

  • Set the Scale Width to 100% and the Height to 0%.

  • Set the Origin point of the animation to start in the center.

Adding Animation to Title

  • Click on the title and in the Animation panel, assign a pre-set of Fly in From Top.

  • Set the Duration to half a second (0.5).

Now that the animations have been applied, let's focus on the Timing panel to play them together and add a slight delay.

In the Timing panel, you will see both of the animations listed. Click on the GIF and while holding Shift, click on the main title. In the bottom right corner of the Timing panel, click the link icon to play the two together.

Finally, click the GIF animation in the timing panel once more and apply a 0.5 second delay, which you can see at the top of the panel.

Here is how the GIF will appear once completed:

195 views2 comments

2 comentários

23 de mai.

Angelo, another great tutorial. I love digital publishing and it aligns with the services we offer for my business. Keep up the GREAT work!

Angelo Montilla
Angelo Montilla
23 de mai.
Respondendo a

Thanks Darren!

bottom of page