Fleeting Glimpse > GIF Animation Instructions > Getting Ready

You'll need some software to make your animations;
  • a graphics program to make the individual images
  • a GIF animation program to assembly the images into a single GIF89a file and add the timing information
  • a compression program to compact the animation file. Some GIF animation programs include this function so you may not need a separate program
There are several good programs available for free or very inexpensively.
Getting Ready step1

A graphics program
I use Paint Shop Pro, (PSP) an excellent and inexpensive graphics program from Jasc for PCs. There are lots of other graphics programs you could use instead, including Adobe PhotoShop, Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, or even the MS Paint program that comes 'free' with Windows. It's easiest if you use a program that can output GIF files, but you can use bmp, tif, jpg or even avi files. These instructions will give directions for using PSP, and I'll assume you can translate the actions into your graphics program. http://www.jasc.com

I use Gifcon to assemble the animation and A Smaller Gif to compress it.

Programs to assemble and compress the animation
Jasc, makers of Paint Shop Pro, now offers Animation Shop, an excellent GIF animation tool. It is included free with Paint Shop Pro, or can be purchased separately

Gifcon These instructions are based on Gifcon (GIF Construction Set for Windows) from Alchemy Mindworks. This is a very well featured and inexpensive shareware program for PCs. It includes an Animation Wizard to automate assembly, 10 transitions (like wipes, splits and sandstorm), a banner creator, font shadowing and embossing. It also has an integrated compression function. http://www.mindworkshop.com/alchemy/alchemy.html

Other good animation programs include;

Gif Animator - Microsoft's PC program is very basic but free. Some limitations -- it can only import gif images; a work-around to import bmp, jpg of tif files is to copy the non-gif file to the clipboard and paste it into Gif Animator. It's viewer sometimes has trouble displaying compressed animations. It has no optimization function. But it's free. Microsoft doesn't offer it at their site anymore but you can still get it at Softseek. Just seach for "Gif Animator" and it will show up in the results.

ULead Gif Animator Lite - Another freeware animator you can get at Softseek. Just seach for "Gif Animator" and it will show up in the results.

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Some more advanced, more expensive programs to consider if you are going to make animations often;

PhotoImpact Gif Animator from Ulead Systems for Win95/NT. Full featured like Gifcon.

A Smaller GIF from Pedagogue Software doesn't assemble animations but I use it because it does a better job of compressing files than other programs. The unregistered version won't save files but will tell you how much they will be compressed and functions fully as a viewer.

Gif.gIf.giF is a special purpose program by Pedagogue Software for making gif animations the quick and easy way -- by screen capture. And it compresses the file to a very compact size. Gif.gIf.giF is available for MacIntosh, Power MacIntosh, Win3.x with win32s, and Win95 for $28. If you are a Photoshop user and generate your animations using layers, this program is great -- for each frame, just make visible the appropriate layers, and grab it with Gif.gIf.giF. This program is cool. http://www.peda.com/ggg

For more on colors on the web, there are links on my More Information page.

A web palette
You should also get the "web palette" (also know as a "Netscape palette", "Browser Safe palette" or the "non-dithering palette") to use with you graphics program. The palette contains the 216 colors that are supported by both PCs and Macs and both Netscape and IE on monitors with at least 256 colors (the other 40 colors vary on Macs and PCs). If you use colors from this palette, people will see them exactly as you drew them.nondithered But if you use colors not in this palette, they may be approximated on 256-color monitors either by shifting to the nearest web color or by dithering, that is, approximating the non-web color by combining pixels of two or more different web colors resulting in a grainy, speckled look. Either way your work of art may look different, and worse, than you intended. The figure on the right shows how two different colors would look on a 256 color display - first a web color that will appear as solid (non-dithered) and a non-web color that would be approximated by dithering with 3 web colors.

The R-G-B hex values for web colors are limited to 0, 33, 66, 99, CC, FF (in decimal 0, 51, 102, 153, 204, 255)

216 color paletteThe 216 colors in the web palette are shown on the right. Some programs like Adobe PhotoShop come with a web palette already included. To make a web palette for Paint Shop Pro, first save the image on the right. Now open the image in Paint Shop Pro, then save the image's palette by selecting COLORS|SAVE PALETTE and naming it something like 216col.pal. Save it to a directory where you can easily find it later. More on using this palette later.

Wondering how many colors your video display shows? Here are a some ways to find out;

  • For Windows 3.x: In Program Manager, open MAIN then WINDOWS SETUP
  • If you have PaintShop Pro or Gifcon: Click on ABOUT in the main menu

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Fleeting Glimpse > GIF Animation Instructions > Get Ready