Coloring Gifs (with gifs to practice on)

Okay, so I love, love, love making gifs. But its not enough to just make the gifs—you have to make the gifs look good. That’s where coloring comes into play. It’s like we’re back in preschool.

So you’ve loaded your image into your stack (File>Scripts>Load Files into Stack, select files) and you’ve made your actual gif (image on timeline bar>Make Frames from Layers>Reverse Frames). But that’s only half the battle. You could use a psd, or, as I’m going to teach you to do, make your own.

I’ll be using this gif to demonstrate.

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It’s a personal preference, but I like to add a Brightness/Contrast layer first. Near all the time, you are going to have to brighten a gif quite a bit, but don’t over-brighten it the point where you can’t tell what it is. Also, don’t add a lot of contrast, as this tends to make the gifs look weird. These were my settings.

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Then, I tend to add a Curves layer and a Levels layer.

Levels:

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Curves:

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Then, and this is my favorite part, I get to add a selective color layer (yay!) or two.

This is a lot of fun. At first, I found it really intimidating, but now it is so cool. You open it up and select a color from the drop down menu. I usually work my way down, but some colors I don’t need to edit because they aren’t in my picture. Here’s my different settings:

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I tend to mess with the black layer to make it a bit more red (but not too much) because it gives the gif warmth and liveliness.

The difference (without/with Selective Color):

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You can add a texture if you want, but I don’t do it often. When I do, though, I favor grainy textures.

I used this texture (NOT MINE).

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This has got to be my favorite grain texture. I added a brightness layer to it and merged it with it, then moved it onto my image. It’s set on a hard light blending mode with an opacity of 46%. Here’s what it looks like:

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I can do a couple more things yet. I added a photo filter and a color balance layer for a few last adjustments. Here are my settings:

Photo Filter:

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Color Balance:

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Here’s what it looks like now:

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There’s a grand number of adjustments you could do now, but it’s all a creative process. Go ahead an add some gradients if you want. More Selective Color? Sure! Why not some vibrance? There’s no reason to not take risks.

And don’t forget that making your own coloring takes a lot of practice.

Original vs. Final Product:

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I hope this was helpful! Best of luck!

Here are some uncolored gifs for you to practice on. I added some light and dark ones so you can experiment with the different settings.  (Please don’t use them in photosets, these are for your practice only.)

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