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How to Make GIF Animations

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

The advent of new digital technologies brings about new approaches to communication in which we can be creative. GIF animations are used throughout the internet and social media platforms. This GIF Animations course will introduce you to developing the skills needed to conceive, create and share your own ideas.

How to Make GIF Animations is a course which responds to advancements in contemporary culture, looking at expansive ways in which we can be creative with the advent of newer technologies.

A Graphics Interchange Format or GIF is a series of images or frames in a single file. The frames are presented in a specific order in order to convey an animated sequence.

Although first coming into existence over 30 years ago, internet culture and social media have seen GIFs given a new lease of life to the point where they have become omnipresent within daily life. A new form of language has evolved in which ‘reaction gifs’ are used to convey a variety of emotions, convey hidden meaning in plain sight using humour to subvert and critique. There are also examples of how it has moved into a midstream conscious with advertising mimicking well know gifs in advertising campaigns. It’s this playfulness and versatility that make GIFs an exciting form for the extension of creative practice.

This class will draw on remix culture taking media that exist in the public sphere, reconceptualising and reframing it in new and innovative ways. Considering rules around copyright and media open to use, we will look at introductory technical skills which will give students the springboard and understanding of how they can use gif animation in creative and imaginative ways.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

A familiarity of the Mac interface.

Special Information

Content of Course

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to this area within contemporary culture, making them aware of creative commons laws around copyright and giving them the introductory technical skills necessary to conceive, create and distribute their own work:

1. Introduce students to GIF and meme culture.

2. Explore ways in which meme culture exists and is used currently.

3. Explore the idea of counterculture moving into the mainstream e.g. advertising using and mimicking famous GIFs.

4. Copyright issues around accessing and reinterpreting media. Creative commons laws and access to media that is available for use without fear of copyright infringement.

5. Explore ways in which contemporary culture is used as an extension of art practice.

6. Technical skills: how to use specific software such as Photoshop to create basic animations, using their own taken footage but also repurposing media already in existence.

7. Explore websites specifically designed for fast creation and distribution of GIFs.

8. How to share and distribute GIFs across various platforms.

Teaching method(s)

This is a technical led class based in an Adobe Mac Suite, in which the tutor will demonstrate specific technical skills using software such as photoshop and gimp and gif creation websites such as and

The class will commence with the subject being introduced, examining examples of the creative use of GIFs from the internet and a discussion around how they can be used. Creative commons laws around copyright issues will be introduced and sources for using media free from copyright infringement will be discussed.

The afternoon session is a space in which students can use the knowledge and skills covered in the morning to create their own work supported by the tutor, with the class culminating in viewing and discussing the work created.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Show an understanding of the issues around copyright to conceive and create GIF animations;

  • Demonstrate a basic understanding of the software and technical skills needed to create GIF animations;

  • Show an understanding for how to create and distribute GIF animations across multiple platforms.


Core Readings


  • Miltner, K.M and Highfield, T., 2017 Never Gonna GIF You Up: Analyzing the Cultural Significance of the Animated GIF, Social Media + Society, July-September 2017: pp. 1-11.

  • Adobe Creative Team, 2012 Adobe Photoshop CS6 (Classroom in a Book) Adobe Mac Win Pa edition

Web Sources

Class Handouts


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.