How to Create an Animated GIF with InDesign (& in5)

InDesign to Animated GIF via in5

Animated GIFs are a great way to hand off an animation as a single file that works all over the web (though notably not in a PDF).

A few great use cases for animated GIFs are

  • Email newsletters (which don’t support complex content)
  • Banners & ads (when HTML5 is not needed or supported)
  • Social media images (e.g., for Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin timelines)

Thus far, the best way for a creative to create an animated GIF was to

  1. Open Adobe Animate
  2. Create animations using tweens
  3. Export as video
  4. Open the video in Photoshop (because Animate doesn’t do a great job with the colors)
  5. Export as a GIF using the Save for Web dialog

That process is okay if you’re fairly comfortable with both Animate and Photoshop, but it’s a bit convoluted even then (created the tweened animations, especially).

I recently opened Adobe Animate, which was formerly Flash Professional, to create an animated GIF. Even though I lived in Flash Pro for years, it still took me a half hour to create a simple 125 x 125 pixel ad.

Don’t get me wrong, Animate is great if you want fine control of your animation, but sometimes that’s overkill.

Why use InDesign?

In comparison, InDesign’s animation tools are superbly easy: simply apply a motion preset (adjust if needed). No keyframes, no timeline.

If you just need some simple fades and fly-ins this InDesign workflow is ideal.

The main limitation: There hadn’t been a way to export InDesign’s animation as animated GIFs, but now there is.

How to Create an Animated GIF using InDesign

Here’s a quick outline of the steps.

  1. Create a new file in InDesign. in5 v3.5.1 comes with a convenient Social Media Image document preset.document preset from File menu
  2. Add a Motion Preset via the Animation panel (Window > Interactive > Animation). Adjust and repeat with other items if desired.
  3. (Optional) Adjust the sequencing of multiple animations using the Timing panel (Window > Interactive > Timing).
  4. Export using in5 (in5 > Easy Export Wizard).
  5. Open the exported content in Google Chrome and use the in5 Animated GIF Maker extension to record and save your GIF.

You can now share the file via email or via social network updates.

Check out the steps in the video below.

You can test this out using a free trial version of in5.

The in5 Animated GIF Maker extension is available for free in the Chrome Extension Store.

Check out the GIF Maker Extension

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  1. Michael Stopka says:

    It appears that the extension isnt working as followed by this tutorial. The In5 gif maker extension is appearing as grayed-out after I perform the In5 export and open in default Chrome browser. Strange because it becomes active (turns orange) when I flip through my other Chrome tabs. So, its like its not recognizing it as In5. I’m new to In5, so I may be doing something wrong, but I believe I followed the tutorial exactly. I’m on a mac w/ current Indesign, current In5 and current Chrome browser.

    1. Justin says:

      It looks like if you’re running the extension on a local file, you need to go into the Extensions (click on the icon and choose Manage Extensions), then go into the in5 Animated GIF Maker and choose Details, then turn on “Allow Access to File URLs.”

      I’ll see if I can turn this on by default in an upcoming version.

  2. Chris Harrison says:

    Hello, I have added an animated gif into indesign and exported it via the in5 export, but it is not loading when viewing in chrome, I am using the demo version at the mo, can you confirm that gifs will work in the full version?

    1. Michael Stopka says:

      It created simple animated GIFs just fine for me after following Justin’s instructions. But, I’m not sure if you are saying that you want to take an actual animated gif and pasted it into InDesign or if you indeed created the animation in InDesign. I created mine in InDesign and it worked ok. Pre-made ones I do not know about.

  3. saba says:

    i have added the extension to chrome and made the gife in indesign but that option you have in indesign top bar of in5. that is not there. how will get in5 option in indesign

  4. Claude Marc says:

    HI. i just create my animation but I can’t convert it into a gif., as your youtube video. is it because I am on the trial version?

    1. Justin says:

      No, you should be able to test it with the trial. Send us your files and we’ll look into it for you:
      https://ajarproductions.com/pages/contact.php?category=in5&software_issue=bug

      1. Claude Marc says:

        Hi Justin,

        thank you for your quick reply.

        I looked at reply you did to some else and tried it and it worked for me.

        I noticed that my on second test, i have watermarks behind some items. is this normal? or should I start from scratch?

      2. Justin says:

        Glad to hear it. Watermarks are indeed part of the demo. They can be removed by licensing in5, and re-exporting your output.

      3. Claude Marc says:

        Hi Justin, can I get only one month subscription?

      4. Justin says:

        Yes, just make sure to choose a Monthly plan (they’re annual by default) then contact us when you want to cancel.

  5. Mellanie Wuld says:

    Hello – Just wondering if you can use multiple pages when creating InDesign Animated Gifs… you example showed a single page only.

    Thanks

    1. Justin says:

      Hi Mellanie,
      Good question. Single pages only. But you can create a slideshow using the in5 Slideshow Widget to change the content of a Multi-State Object. This could appear like a page change.

  6. Dunno says:

    Too bad there’s a watermark as restriction. You could have chosen for something else, this way I can’t demo it to my clients…

    1. Justin says:

      Sorry. If there wasn’t a watermark, then there’d be no incentive to purchase the full product. 😉

      1. Vicki says:

        Is there a way of exporting without purchasing another software/plugin straight from Indesign? Thanks!

      2. Justin says:

        Hi Vicki, Nope. That’s why we created this Chrome extension to work with in5. 🙂

        You can always export to Publish Online or Fixed Layout ePub and use screen recording software to capture a video.

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