Note:

For Photoshop versions earlier than Photoshop CC, some functionality discussed in this article may be available only if you have Photoshop Extended. Photoshop CC does not have a separate Extended offering. All features in Photoshop Extended are part of Photoshop CC.

Frame animation workflow

In Photoshop, you use the Timeline panel to create animation frames. Each frame represents a configuration of layers.

Note:

You can also create animations using a timeline and keyframes. See Creating timeline animations.

Photoshop Frame animation workflow
Illustration of an animation. The unicycle image is on its own layer; the position of the layer changes in each frame of the animation.

To create frame-based animations in Photoshop, use the following general workflow.

Open a new document.

If they are not already visible, open the Timeline, and Layers panels. Make sure the Timeline panel is in frame animation mode. In the middle of the Timeline panel, click the downpointing arrow to choose Create Frame Animation and then click the button next to the arrow.

Add a layer or convert the background layer.

Because a background layer cannot be animated, add a new layer or convert the background layer to a regular layer. See Convert background and layers.

Add content to your animation.

If your animation includes several objects that are animated independently, or if you want to change the color of an object or completely change the content in a frame, create the objects on separate layers.

Add a frame to the Timeline panel.

Select a frame.

Edit the layers for the selected frame.

Do any of the following:

  • Turn visibility on and off for different layers.

  • Change the position of objects or layers to make layer content move.

  • Change layer opacity to make content fade in or out.

  • Change the blending mode of layers.

  • Add a style to layers.

    Photoshop provides tools for keeping characteristics of a layer the same across frames. See Unifying layer properties in animation frames.

Add more frames and edit layers as needed.

The number of frames you can create is limited only by the amount of system memory available to Photoshop.

You can generate new frames with intermediate changes between two existing frames in the panel using the Tween command. This is a quick way to make an object move across the screen or to fade in or out. See Create frames using tweening.

Set frame delay and looping options.

You can assign a delay time to each frame and specify looping so that the animation runs once, a certain number of times, or continuously. See Specify a delay time in frame animations and Specify looping in frame animations.

Preview the animation.

Use the controls in the Timeline panel to play the animation as you create it. Then use the Save For Web command to preview the animation in your web browser. See Preview optimized images in a web browser.

Optimize the animation for efficient download.

Save the animation.

There are different options for saving your frame animation:

  • Save as an animated GIF using the Save For Web command.

  • Save in Photoshop (PSD) format so you can do more work on the animation later.

  • Save as an image sequence, QuickTime movie, or as separate files. See also Export video files or image sequences.

Add frames to an animation

Adding frames is the first step in creating an animation. If you have an image open, the Timeline panel displays the image as the first frame in a new animation. Each frame you add starts as a duplicate of the preceding frame. You then make changes to the frame using the Layers panel.

  1. Make sure the Timeline panel is in frame animation mode.

  2. Click the Duplicate Selected Frames button .

Select animation frames

Before you can work with a frame, you must select it as the current frame. The contents of the current frame appear in the document window.

In the Timeline panel, the current frame is indicated by a narrow border (inside the shaded selection highlight) around the frame thumbnail. Selected frames are indicated by a shaded highlight around the frame thumbnails.

Select one animation frame

  • Do one of the following in the Timeline panel:

    • Click a frame.

    • Click the Select Next Frame button  to select the next frame in the series as the current frame.

    • Click the Select Previous Frame button  to select the previous frame in the series as the current frame.

    • Click the Select First Frame button  to select the first frame in the series as the current frame.

Select multiple animation frames

  • In the Timeline panel, do one of the following:

    • To select contiguous multiple frames, Shift-click a second frame. The second frame and all frames between the first and second are added to the selection.

    • To select discontiguous multiple frames, Ctrl‑click (Windows) or Command-click (Mac OS) additional frames to add those frames to the selection.

    • To select all frames, choose Select All Frames from the panel menu.

    • To deselect a frame in a multiframe selection, Ctrl-click (Windows) or Command-click (Mac OS) that frame.

Edit animation frames

  1. In the Timeline panel, select one or more frames.

  2. Do any of the following:
    • To edit the content of objects in animation frames, use the Layers panel to modify the layers in the image that affect that frame.
    • To change the position of an object in an animation frame, select the layer containing the object in the Layers panel and drag it to a new position.

    Note:

    You can select and change the position of multiple frames. However, if you drag multiple discontiguous frames, the frames are placed contiguously in the new position.

    • To reverse the order of animation frames, choose Reverse Frames from the panel menu.

    Note:

    The frames you want to reverse do not have to be contiguous; you can reverse any selected frames.

    • To delete selected frames, choose Delete Frame from the Timeline panel menu or click the Delete icon , then click Yes to confirm the deletion. You can also drag the selected frame onto the Delete icon.

Unify layer properties in animation frames

The unify buttons (Unify Layer Position, Unify Layer Visibility, and Unify Layer Style) in the Layers panel determine how the changes you make to attributes in the active animation frame apply to the other frames in the same layer. When a unify button is selected, that attribute is changed in all the frames in the active layer; when that button is deselected, changes apply to only the active frame.

The Propagate Frame 1 option in the Layers panel also determines how the changes you make to attributes in the first frame will apply to the other frames in the same layer. When it is selected, you can change an attribute in the first frame, and all subsequent frames in the active layer will change in relation to the first frame (and preserve the animation you have already created).

Unify layer properties

  1. In the Timeline panel, change the attribute to one frame.

  2. In the Layers panel, click Unify Layer Position , Unify Layer Visibility , or Unify Layer Style  to have the changed attribute apply to all other frames in the active layer.

Propagate Frame 1

  1. In the Layers panel, select the Propagate Frame 1 option.
  2. In the Timeline panel, change the attribute for the first frame.

    The changed attribute is applied (in relation) to all subsequent frames in a layer.

Note:

You can also propagate frames by Shift-selecting any consecutive group of frames in the layer and changing an attribute in any of the selected frames.

Show or hide unify layers buttons

  • Choose Animation Options from the Layers panel menu, and then choose one of the following:

    Automatic

    Displays the unify layers buttons when the Timeline panel is open.

    Always Show

    Displays the unify layers buttons whether the Timeline panel is open or closed.

    Always Hide

    Hides the unify layers buttons whether the Timeline panel is open or closed.

Copy frames with layer properties

To understand what happens when you copy and paste a frame, think of a frame as a duplicate version of an image with a given layer configuration. When you copy a frame, you copy the configurations of layers (including each layer’s visibility setting, position, and other properties). When you paste a frame, you apply that layer configuration to the destination frame.

  1. Select one or more frames you want to copy in the Timeline panel.

  2. Choose Copy Frame(s) from the panel menu.
  3. Select a destination frame or frames in the current animation or another animation.
  4. Choose Paste Frame(s) from the panel menu.
  5. Select a Paste method:

    Replace Frames

    Replaces the selected frames with the copied frames. No new layers are added. The properties of each existing layer in the destination frames are replaced by those of each copied layer. When you paste frames between images, new layers are added to the image; however, only the pasted layers are visible in the destination frames (the existing layers are hidden).

    Paste Over Selection

    Adds the contents of the pasted frames as new layers in the image. When you paste frames into the same image, using this option doubles the number of layers in the image. In the destination frames, the newly pasted layers are visible, and the original layers are hidden. In the non-destination frames, the newly pasted layers are hidden.

    Paste Before Selection or Paste After Selection

    Adds the copied frames before or after the destination frame. When you paste frames between images, new layers are added to the image; however, only the pasted layers are visible in the new frames (the existing layers are hidden).

  6. (Optional) To link pasted layers in the Layers panel, select Link Added Layers.

    This option works only when pasting frames into another document. Select it when you plan to reposition the pasted layers as a unit.

  7. Click OK.

Create frames using tweening

The term tweening is derived from “in betweening,” the traditional animation term used to describe this process. Tweening (also called interpolating) significantly reduces the time required to create animation effects such as fading in or fading out, or moving an element across a frame. You can edit tweened frames individually after you create them.

You use the Tween command to automatically add or modify a series of frames between two existing frames—varying the layer properties (position, opacity, or effect parameters) evenly between the new frames to create the appearance of movement. For example, if you want to fade out a layer, set the opacity of the layer in the starting frame to 100%; then set the opacity of the same layer in the ending frame to 0%. When you tween between the two frames, the opacity of the layer is reduced evenly across the new frames.

Photoshop create frames using tweening
Using tweening to animate text position

  1. To apply tweening to a specific layer, select it in the Layers panel.
  2. Select a single frame or multiple contiguous frames.
    • If you select a single frame, you choose whether to tween the frame with the previous frame or the next frame.

    • If you select two contiguous frames, new frames are added between the frames.

    • If you select more than two frames, existing frames between the first and last selected frames are altered by the tweening operation.

    • If you select the first and last frames in an animation, these frames are treated as contiguous, and tweened frames are added after the last frame. (This tweening method is useful when the animation is set to loop multiple times.)

  3. Do one of the following:
    • Click the Tweens button  in the Timeline panel.

    • Choose Tween from the panel menu.

  4. Specify the layer or layers to be varied in the added frames:

    All Layers

    Varies all layers in the selected frame or frames.

    Selected Layer

    Varies only the currently selected layer in the selected frame or frames.

  5. Specify layer properties to be varied:

    Position

    Varies the position of the layer’s content in the new frames evenly between the beginning and ending frames.

    Opacity

    Varies the opacity of the new frames evenly between the beginning and ending frames.

    Effects

    Varies the parameter settings of layer effects evenly between the beginning and ending frames.

  6. If you selected a single frame in step 2, choose where to add frames from the Tween With menu:

    Next Frame

    Adds frames between the selected frame and the following frame. This option is not available when you select the last frame in the Timeline panel.

    First Frame

    Adds frames between the last frame and first frame. This option is available only if you select the last frame in the Timeline panel.

    Previous Frame

    Adds frames between the selected frame and the preceding frame. This option is not available when you select the first frame in the Timeline panel.

    Last Frame

    Adds frames between the first frame and last frame. This option is available only if you select the first frame in the Timeline panel.

  7. In the Frames To Add box, enter a value, or use the Up or Down Arrow key to choose the number of frames. (This option is not available if you selected more than two frames.)
  8. Click OK.

Add a new layer for each new frame

The Create New Layer For Each New Frame command automatically adds a new layer visible in the new frame but hidden in other frames. This option saves time when you are creating an animation that requires you to add a new visual element to each frame.

  • Choose Create New Layer For Each New Frame from the Timeline panel menu.

    A check mark indicates that the option is turned on.

Hide layers in animation frames

When you create a new layer, it is visible in all animation frames by default.

  • To show new layers only in active frames, deselect New Layers Visible In All Frames from the Timeline panel menu.

  • To hide a layer in a specific frame, select the frame, and then hide the desired layer in the Layers panel.

Specify a delay time in frame animations

You can specify a delay—the time that a frame is displayed—for single frames or for multiple frames in an animation. Delay time is displayed in seconds. Fractions of a second are displayed as decimal values. For example, one-quarter of a second is specified as .25. If you set a delay on the current frame, every frame you create after that will remember and apply that delay value.

  1. Select one or more frames in the Timeline panel.

  2. Click the Delay value below the selected frame to view the pop‑up menu.
  3. Specify the delay:
    • Choose a value from the pop‑up menu. (The last value used appears at the bottom of the menu.)

    • Choose Other, enter a value in the Set Frame Delay dialog box, and click OK. If you selected multiple frames, specifying a delay value for one frame applies the value to all frames.

Choose a frame disposal method

The frame disposal method specifies whether to discard the current frame before displaying the next frame. You select a disposal method for animations that include background transparency to specify whether the current frame will be visible through the transparent areas of the next frame.

Photoshop Frame disposal methods
Frame disposal methods

A. Frame with background transparency with Restore To Background option B. Frame with background transparency with Do Not Dispose option 

The Disposal Method icon indicates whether the frame is set to Do Not Dispose  or Dispose . (No icon appears when Disposal Method is set to Automatic.)

  1. Select a frame or frames for which you want to choose a disposal method.
  2. Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) the frame thumbnail to view the Disposal Method context menu.
  3. Choose a disposal method:

    Automatic

    Determines a disposal method for the current frame automatically, discarding the current frame if the next frame contains layer transparency. For most animations, the Automatic option (default) yields the desired results.

    Note:

    To preserve frames that include transparency, select the Automatic disposal option when you are using the Redundant Pixel Removal optimization option.

    Do Not Dispose

    Preserves the current frame as the next frame is added to the display. The current frame (and preceding frames) may show through transparent areas of the next frame. Use a browser to see an accurate preview of an animation using the Do Not Dispose option.

    Dispose

    Discards the current frame from the display before the next frame is displayed. Only a single frame is displayed at any time (and the current frame does not appear through the transparent areas of the next frame).

Specify looping in frame animations

You select a looping option to specify how many times the animation sequence repeats when played.

  1. Click the Looping Option Selection box at the lower-left corner of the Timeline panel.

  2. Select a looping option: Once, 3 Times, Forever, or Other.
  3. If you selected Other, enter a value in the Set Loop Count dialog box, and click OK.

    Note:

    Looping options can also be set in the Save for Web dialog box. For more information, see Save For Web & Devices overview.

Delete an entire animation

  • Choose Delete Animation from the Timeline panel menu.

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