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Lesson 9. Creating GIF Animations

Lesson 9. Creating GIF Animations

Animated GIF images use a variant of CompuServe's Graphics Interchange Format. In 1987, the specification was enhanced to enable GIF files to contain multiple images that play sequentially to provide flip-book-style animation. A 1989 amendment to the format added such controls as an optional delay between frames.

For all their advantages, animated GIF images aren't perfect. Because they are GIF files, they're limited to 256 colors. GIF files are far from ideal for photographic images, such as a time-lapse view of a sunset. They're best for animated banners, buttons, and line art.

You can stop a looping GIF animation with a browser's Stop button and start over by reloading the image, but you can't stop and resume playback where you left off. If you need VCR-like playback control, use a commercial animation program such as Macromedia Flash or Director.

Animated GIF images are silent movies; if you want to mix sound and animation, use Apple QuickTime movies or Macromedia Flash.

This image displays several frames of the animation you will create in this lesson.

Despite its shortcomings, the animated GIF file is a good medium for simple Web animation—no plug-ins, no server tweaking, and relatively mild browser-compatibility headaches. GIF animation is a simple technology that came to lead the field because it's simple. In a Web world increasingly obsessed with bells and whistles, that's an important lesson.


In this lesson, you will:

  • Create GIF animations

  • Use onion skinning

  • Change the playback settings for an animated GIF image

  • Use tweening to rotate an item

  • Create symbols and use the symbol library

  • Use an animation symbol


This lesson takes approximately 1 hour to complete.


Media Files:


Starting Files:


Completed Projects:




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