How I made a winning GIF for GIF IT UP 2020

Last year I was delighted my GIF was selected to be the Grand Prize Winner for GIF IT UP 2020. I never quite got round to celebrating properly as a month later I gave birth to my first baby. Now, nine months down the line I’ve finally found some time to show what I made and how I made it.

2020: the year of social distancing

Très Parisien, 1927, No. 11 : -1: Créations Doucet (…) – 1927 – Rijksmuseum, Netherlands – Public Domain.

2020 was the year of COVID and lockdowns and measuring whether you were far enough away from the people around you and I wanted to capture this strange year in a GIF. I came up with the concept of ‘social distancing fashion’ – when someone got too close, you could just pull a strap and your clothes would make sure the other person was nudged a safe distance away.

How I found a picture to start with

I needed some sort of fashion image to get started – and I remembered some lovely illustrations in French fashion magazines from a collage I’d made before. So I searched ‘Très Parisien’ on Europeana and found the perfect picture.

Setting up my canvas

I usually work in Photoshop because that’s what I use for my collages, but you don’t need Photoshop to make a GIF! If you’re not sure how to make a GIF just look at ‘How to Make a GIF‘ on the GIF IT UP website for tutorials.

First I clear the background to make it easier to have characters move in the foreground. That way, if something in the foreground moves, you don’t have to spend any time patching up the gap it leaves in the background.

Then I extracted each character so they would be able to move independently.

Très Parisien, 1927, No. 11 : -1: Créations Doucet (…) – 1927 – Rijksmuseum, Netherlands – Public Domain.

Adding movement

I use the Timeline window in Photoshop to create a frame animation that becomes the GIF. I try to keep it as simple as possible, as GIFs are usually seen in a small size – if you spend lots of time on getting all the details right, it will probably be too small for anyone to notice your efforts! For example, the character just slides into the frame, rather than having to animate any steps: it’s not how people really move, but it doesn’t matter so much.

I use Photoshop to draw/cut/paste any elements I need to get the animation to work. For example extending the bottom of the coat so it bumps out, or moving the arm slighly to create the trigger for the coat’s expansion.

To get the timing right I just play around with the settings and watch it over and over again so that in the end the movements look fairly smooth.

The GIF is made up of 17 frames.

My winning GIF IT UP 2020 submission: the original image, and the GIF frame by frame. Très Parisien, 1927, No. 11 : -1: Créations Doucet (…) – 1927 – Rijksmuseum, Netherlands – Public Domain.

Make a GIF for GIF IT UP 2021

GIF IT UP is an annual competition and from 1 October you can start submitting your GIFs for 2021! You have until 31 October to submit your work so:

  1. Check the GIF IT UP website for the rules.
  2. Go find some source material that inspires you on Europeana. You can save anything you find in your own galleries if you make an account – it will make life a lot easier! Check out my gallery, Pictures that make great funny GIFs for an easy start.
  3. Make your GIF and check out what others are doing!

Good luck!

Published by scissorsandglueandyou

I am an Edinburgh-based digital collager with a masters degree in human geography. I like thinking about things (stuff, belongings, objects), walking (aimlessly, purposefully, tours, alone, together), and finding lost coins.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s