How To Animate a Photo

Gone are the days when animating a photo required a powerful computer with extensive graphic design capabilities. Now you don’t even need to be a Photoshop pro to animate an image. Developers have worked around the clock to build intuitive and feature-rich applications to help get the job done.

How To Animate a Photo

If you want to know how to animate your photos, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, you’ll learn how to add motion to your pictures using simple apps you can download to your phone or computer.

How to Animate Photos Using Adobe Creative Cloud Express

Adobe is your go-to app for all things graphic design. So why not use it to add some life to your photos?

Here’s how to animate your images using Adobe:

  1. Go to Adobe and sign in to your account.
  2. On your dashboard, select any template widget to proceed.
  3. A new workspace should open where you can play around with your designs.
  4. On the left sidebar, click on “Photos.”
  5. Upload the photo you’d like to animate and drag it into your workspace.
  6. On the right sidebar, click on “Animation.”
  7. From the provided animation styles, select the one you’d like to have on your photo.
  8. In the upper left corner of the screen, click on “Download” and export your newly animated picture.

Note: Expect your download to be in MP4 format since it’s an animation.

As you can see, Adobe Express is an excellent freemium solution for animating photos, but it’s far from the best. You can only do so much with the app because it has limited options. If you’re looking for robust photo animations, this isn’t the app for you.

On the upside though, the program is completely free and totally web-based, so you won’t have to install any programs.

How to Animate Photos Using Canva

Canva is an excellent design tool that has taken the internet by storm in recent years. It’s simple to learn, making it accessible even to those with no prior knowledge of graphic design. You can hop onto the tool and start dragging and dropping things around.

Here’s how to animate a photo using Canva:

  1. Go to Canva and create or sign in to your account.
  2. On the dashboard, create a new design by clicking on “Create a Design” and then choose a template to proceed. Alternatively, you can choose to go with a custom design. To do so, click on “Custom Size.”
  3. A new workspace should open up.
  4. On the left, click on “Uploads” and upload the photo you’d like to animate.
  5. Drag the photo you’ve just uploaded into the workspace and let the fun begin.
  6. At the top, click on “Animate” to access the available animation styles that you can add to the photo. Choose one animation to apply to your photo.
  7. Also, you can spice up your animated photo by going to “Elements” and choosing any element that goes with the aesthetics of your image. Drag and drop the element onto the image.
  8. If you’re satisfied with the outcome, click on “Download” and choose the format you’d like your animated photo to be in.

With Canva, you can go from a still image to an animated photo in no time. You can also capitalize on the countless number of design elements that come with the app to add more life to your photos.

Additionally, Canva comes in as a web-based solution, but you can still use it as a mobile or desktop app.

Pros of Using Canva

  • It features a variety of design assets and elements, including pictures, textures, and effects.
  • Easy to learn and use.
  • An Intuitive and modern design.
  • It offers a free trial

Cons of Using Canva

  • You might be compelled to get the pro version to access some extra features like removing background from the image.

How to Animate Photos Using PhotoDirector

Animating a photo can be more than just applying generic animation styles – that’s where PhotoDirector Essential comes in. Such a robust app allows you to create more realistic animations from your still images. Plus, the software is powered by AI, making it even easier for you to animate your photos.

PhotoDirector comes as a desktop application. It also features a mobile application which is available for IOS and Android.

If you’re on your computer, download the application here to get started.

Here’s how to animate your photos using PhotoDirector on your computer:

  1. Launch the PhotoDirector app.
  2. To upload your photo, navigate to “Library > Import.”
  3. After a successful upload, open the photo you’d like to animate.
  4. On the top bar, click on “Guided.”
  5. On the sidebar, go to “Animation Effects > Photo Animations.”
  6. Click the first arrow and use it to indicate the direction of motion you’d like on your picture by dragging it over the parts you’d like to animate.
  7. Click on the anchor icon to control the path of the motion.
  8. Use the snowflake-like icon to exclude motion from certain parts of the photo.
  9. If you’re satisfied with the final look of your animation, click on “Produce,” which is at the bottom of the window.
  10. On the new widget that pops up, choose the preferred presets for your animation and click on “Produce.”

Animating your photo using the PhotoDirector app is pretty similar to the steps mentioned above, but with minor differences in the look and feel of the interface.

Here’s how to animate your still photo using the PhotoDirector App on a mobile phone:

  1. Open the PhotoDirector app
  2. Upload and open the image you’d like to work on.
  3. At the bottom menu, tap on “Animation.”
  4. Tap on the first arrows and drag the arrows across the parts of the image you’d like to animate.
  5. Use the pin-like icon (also called anchor tool) to control the path of the motion in the picture.
  6. Use the snowflake-like icon to exclude motion in some parts of the image.
  7. Tap on the clock icon to adjust the speed of the animation.

Pros of Using PhotoDirector

  • The app allows for robust photo animations.
  • It’s easy to use, even for absolute beginners.
  • It offers a free trial.

Cons of Using PhotoDirector

  • It’s not free

How to Create Animated Photos Using the Photos App on Your iPhone

If you own an iPhone, then why not just record it yourself instead of looking elsewhere to animate your photo?

Here’s how to take an animated photo using your iPhone:

  1. Open your Camera App.
  2. Focus your camera on the object you’d like to take a picture of.
  3. Make sure that you’re in the “Live Photo” mode by tapping on the concentric circles in the top-right corner.
  4. Press and hold the record button.
  5. Select “LOOP” or “BOUNCE” in the top right corner to get a continuous animation.
  6. To view your animated photo, go to your Photos app gallery.

How to Animate a Photo Using Photoshop

Photoshop is your go-to app for all things photo editing. Luckily, you can use the software to animate your images too. Of all the tools featured in this article, this is perhaps the most robust and richest in terms of features. Unfortunately, Photoshop isn’t the easiest app to use. But with time and practice, you’re sure to get the desired results.

Note: To make the animation process more straightforward and for best results, ensure you use a photo with a clear distinction between the background and the foreground.

Here’s how to animate your photo using Photoshop:

  1. Add the photo you’d like to animate to the workspace.
  2. On the top bar, navigate to “Select > Subject.” You should now have the main object of your photo outlined. If you’re using older versions of Photoshop, you might have to use a pen tool to highlight the main element in your photo.
  3. Enter the Quick Mask mode by pressing the Q button. Now fine-tune your selection by fixing the areas that the AI selection tool didn’t get right. After you’re done, leave the mode by pressing Q on your keyboard.
  4. Navigate to “Select> Modify> Feather.” Go ahead and increase the feather radius by at least 10 px.
  5. Press “Ctrl + j” twice. On the new window that pops up, right-click and select “Create Clipping Mask.”
  6. Right-click on the duplicated layer and select “Convert to Smart Object.”
  7. Go to the timeline and click the stopwatch at the start of the frame to add the first keyframe.
  8. On the timeline, move the playhead towards the end of the timeline. This is what will manipulate the subject you selected in the first step.
  9. Press the play button to have a preview of your newly created animation.

Note: The above photoshop animation works best with the pictures of nature like running water and clouds.

Pros of Using Photoshop

  • There’s a long learning curve involved in learning how to use it efficiently. Hence, it isn’t friendly for beginners.
  • The interface is quite intense, making it hard to use.

Why You Would Want to Animate Your Photo

  • The World is Moving to Video — These days, many people prefer to watch a video over static images and text. Plus, information that’s channeled through a video is most likely to get more attention than the one that’s relayed through a still image.
  • To Have it impeded in a Video — It’s so strange to see a still photo in a video. It just doesn’t sit well. For that reason, you can add simple animations to the photo so that it doesn’t look out of place when placed in a video.
  • To Make Your Presentations Slides Attractive and Interesting — If your presentation slides are dull, no one will want to watch them. To spice things up, you can add a few animations to the photos so that your presentations are fan to watch and follow along.

Additional FAQ

Can you animate PowerPoint photos?

Yes, you can also animate PowerPoint photos tools like Canva. To do so, just follow the steps outlined above.

In what format do I get my animated photos?

Once you animate a photo, it becomes a video. Therefore, expect your animation to be in the form of a video. Some popular video formats include MP4 and GIF.

Can I convert a photo into a GIF?

Yes. You can easily convert your photo into a GIF using a website called Giphy.

Give Your Boring Photos Some Life

You don’t have to be a pro to animate a photo, thanks to the countless number of photo editing tools currently available. Some tools are more difficult to use than others, but they all deliver the same final product. Additionally, some tools are paid. However, the free ones can still do an amazing with your photos too.

Have you ever tried to animate a video? If so, did you use any of the tools featured in this article? Let us know in the comments section below.

Disclaimer: Some pages on this site may include an affiliate link. This does not effect our editorial in any way.

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