How to Make an Animated GIF from Scratch for Free

During this season of distance learning, I have been so impressed with the many ways teachers have innovated and created engaging lessons. Projects using Google Slides, Pear Deck and Flipgrid have been designed and used extensively in my district. There are some limitations, though. One day recently, a teacher came to me asking, “How do I make my own animated GIFs?” I was stumped at first. Google Slides has the capability to animate transitions and images, but you can’t create a downloadable MP4 video file or a GIF file. Finally, I found the answer. If you need to know how to make an animated GIF from scratch, you’re in the right place. Read on!

how to make an animated gif from scratch Pinterest image

***Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.*** Already know what you’d like to get from Amazon? Here’s a handy way to get to the website, linked to a very hot item with teachers right now, the auto-tracking selfie stick. Just click on the button below, then browse around and do your shopping.

Take Me To Amazon!

Step One: Find an Image

How do I turn a picture into a GIF? The first thing you need to do is to find an image you can legally use. How do I make a GIF without watermark? A Google search will net you many images that are in the public domain and are watermark-free. However, sometimes it takes some investigating to find an image that is okay to use from a copyright standpoint. My favorite trick is to open up Google Slides and find an image doing a web search. The images that are shown in the results are usually in the public domain, meaning that they are fine to use in presentations, especially for educational purposes. If you want to remove the background from an image once you download it, you can use an excellent, free website called Here’s a little video tutorial to show you how it’s done.

Step Two: Power Up the PowerPoint

I will admit, I’ve rather neglected PowerPoint lately. I’ve been using Google Slides so much that I’d almost forgotten about some of Powerpoint’s amazing capabilities. I did use PowerPoint recently to easily create a video pin for Pinterest. Other than that, PowerPoint has been set aside. Then I remembered all of the animation options included in PowerPoint AND I remembered that saving a presentation as an MP4 video file was possible. I was excited to test out my idea. I opened PowerPoint and uploaded the helicopter image I had found (background removed, of course). Now all I needed to do was to add the action. The teacher who had started me on this fun inquiry had wanted a helicopter to fly up, then over. Here’s how I did that.

At one point in the video, I tried to demonstrate how to export the file as an MP4 video file, but I couldn’t do that while I was recording the screen. Here’s a screenshot of what the export options look like.

how to make an animated Gif from scratch export screenshot

When you are saving the file, just make sure you choose the file type to be MP4, not any other type of file. Here’s another screenshot of what that will look like.

how to make an animated Gif saving file as an MP4

Step 3: Import Video into a Graphic Design Program

For this next step you can use a graphic design program you are familiar with as long as it has the option of converting a video file to GIF file. I like to use Canva or Crello for this. Both programs have free versions. Simply upload your video file into the program, then download as a GIF. If you were wondering, how to save an animated GIF, here’s what the process looks like:

Now that you have made that conversion, you have your GIF, and may use it as needed. 

Step 4: Import Your Animated GIF into a Google Slide

Now we have come full circle and are back at Google Slides, where we started this process to get our image in the first place. You might be asking yourself, “How do I import a GIF?” To import the GIF, you can go to the Insert menu and insert the GIF from its file location or drag it into place. Here’s what mine turned out like. Feel free to make a copy of it for yourself, if you like. When I uploaded the GIF into the first slide, the white background from the Canva conversion from video to GIF was there. How could I remove the background if I wanted the helicopter to fly in a blue sky? I found a great little free site called EzGif, and it’s fun to try. I was able to remove the white background from the GIF conversion, which you can see on the second slide. You can do other things on this site as well, such as choose the number of times you want your GIF animation to loop, or repeat. If you were wondering, “What’s the best GIF maker?” I encourage you to test out the EzGif site.

Show me the GIFs!

How Can an Animated GIF be Inserted into a WordPress Post?

When you upload the GIF using the Add Media button, just make sure you select the Full Size in the Attachment Display Settings”. It’s located in the lower right area of your screen when you upload a new GIF. The one problem with choosing this option is that the larger your images are, the longer your site might take to load. The solution? An image optimizer like ShortPixel will compress the animated GIF automatically. ShortPixel works with JPEG, PNG, PDF, and GIF file formats.

Check out ShortPixel

How do I Make an Animated GIF Free?

All of the websites and programs I’ve shown you are free, with the exception of PowerPoint. If your school district has a license for everyone, that one might be free for you to use as well. If you want to create a GIF and have a background color, the PowerPoint step would be the place in the process when you would do that.

Other Questions About GIFs

How do I turn a picture into a GIF? This process should work well for photos as well as cartoon images. Maybe you don’t want to create a GIF from scratch, and are asking yourself, “Where can I get animated GIFs?” If you do a Google search in Google Slides, you can sometimes find what you’re looking for in the public domain. I did a search in Google Slides for “blinking cartoon string lights gif” and found a Christmas tree which I put into my demo slide show with the helicopter. If you do a Google search, make sure you select Images for the results, and you should see some animated GIFs. You just have to be careful about the copyright. If I find a GIF I want to use, how do I copy and paste a GIF? I have been able to right-click to copy, then right-click again to paste into a Google slide.

Are You Now Eager to Try Making an Animated GIF?

Now that you know how to make an animated GIF, I hope you give it a try. If you make one, I’d enjoy seeing it. You could send me the link to a Google slide if you like, or you could choose the “Publish to the web” option in Google slides and send the link. I’m always amazed at the creativity these types of projects inspire!

Looking for Some More Creative Educational Technology Ideas?


Are you engaging in the hybrid model of teaching right now? There are a lot of things to keep track of if half of your class is attending in person and the other half is attending online. I know this because I spent a few days subbing for a kindergarten teacher during the very first week of hybrid learning in my district. One tech gadget that has been helpful is this auto-tracking selfie stick. If you are moving around the classroom as you teach your face-to-face students, the online students can see what you are doing. It’s a great way to keep everyone engaged!

Here’s Another Fun, Interactive Activity

Since this is a post about making animated GIFs, here’s a fun, interactive Bitmoji Virtual Library that I created which includes some animated GIFs. Each book image links directly to an eBook or audiobook version of the story. 

Bitmoji Virtual Library screenshot 

It’s fully customizable when you make your own copy in Google slides, and is free to subscribers, along with many other resources for teachers.

I’d like those freebies!

Have a wonderful week, and have fun creating animated GIFs!

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10 thoughts on “How to Make an Animated GIF from Scratch for Free”

  1. Thank you for another great video on How to Make an Animated GIF. I am such a visual learner and these videos help me so much. This looks like something fun to do. My wheels are turning. 🙂

    • Oh, excellent! It was a fun project, and I hope you get to try it.

  2. This is such a thorough post on how to make an animated GIF! I’ve never thought about making one, until now. How fun! Thanks for sharing, Lisa 🙂

    • You’re welcome! I wouldn’t have thought to make one either if it hadn’t been for that teacher’s question. I get great ideas from my colleagues!

  3. I often thought that gifs would be a lot harder to make, but this guide on how to make an animated GIF really breaks it down into easy to understand chunks. I will need to play around with this and see if I can make some myself now that I know they aren’t too difficult to make.

  4. Great information on how to make an animated GIF! My kids will love this. Thank you for using PowerPoint in your example. They do their class projects with this program and can use your post as a tutorial. I appreciate all the great tech ideas you share.

    • You are very welcome! I’m so glad your kids will be able to use this. It would be fun to see what they create!

  5. Lisa, I love this article on how to make an animated GIF! I have saved it, so I can turn to it every time I want to make a GIF. Your creativity inspires me – you always find new, creative ways to do things!:)

    • Oh, thank you for the kind words. My ideas are usually the result of a question someone asks. It keeps me on my toes!


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