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GIMP Animation Tutorial

:megaphone: Attention!
Considering the great amount of time since I have thought about emotes or animations, never mind the neglect I've put on my digital editing programs, I can no longer truly provide satisfactory advice for all you budding emoticonists and animators. I still love to see a new emote now and then, and the comments on both my tutorials are very uplifting. However, the flood of questions must come to an end.
But, I won't just leave you in the dark. There are many resources out there in the deviantART community that can really help.
Be sure to check out #Emotication for other tutorials and a long list of resources for all aspects of emoticon creation. If you need a mentor, they have a program set up to give you the kind of help you need.
If you have a specific question about emoticons or emoticon creation (including animation), head over to #WeEmote. The group there are sure to have an answer for you, or at least point you in the right direction.

For those of you that use this tutorial for non-emoticon art forms, I can't guarantee that either of those resources will be helpful. Check out the Groups page and search for a group that can help; there's bound to be one out there for you. And of course, dA has a massive section on tutorials for some of the most popular programs (as well as general tutorials) that can be easily found in the Resources and Stock Images > Tutorials gallery.

If you comment or send me a note, please don't be offended if I direct you elsewhere. I really can't provide you with the help you deserve.


I have had countless eager animators ask me the same question countless times, so here's hoping this can reduce the amount of repetition.
Many people have explained a situation in which the layers "stack" on top of each other when the animation is played. In other words, instead of showing one frame at a time, the previous frame (layer) does not go away. If you are having this problem, please be sure that your layers ALL look like the example below before contacting me for assistance.
Layer B (200 ms)(replace)
Layer A (100 ms)(replace)


If you do not use the replace method, or do not indicate that you want to use this method, GIMP may automatically assume things it should not assume. Ensure all frames have the (replace) indicator in them. As well, make sure all layers have a unique name.
Examples of unique names:
:bulletgreen: Layer 1, Layer 2, Layer 3
:bulletgreen: Start, blink, close
:bulletgreen: Frame A, Frame B, Frame C

Layers CANNOT include any of the following at the end of its name, which are created by duplicating layers:
:bulletred: copy, copy #1, #2, etc.

If you are still having issues, but you have ensured that all layers are named properly, you can comment and ask for assistance. I should be able to point you in the right direction, but I don't know everything. If I can't answer your question, feel free to do a google search. They're useful, trust me.


Forgot to mention: steal my lighting style, and I'll have to give you a kick in the pants. Oh, and I'll bitch at you. Stealing styles is the same as stealing art; not only does it show a lack in originality, it's just pathetic.

To see the final result of the emote used in this tutorial,
click here.

(The emote is using the Combine method, though it would look the same if it was using the Replace method. Note that the times of the layers are 2000ms and 70ms.)

`CookiemagiK said that he wasn't sure how to animate in GIMP, so I figured I should make a tutorial.
Yes, I know, it's ugly as hell, but it's the information that counts. ^^;
Cut me some slack, it's my first tutorial.

The tutorial starts AFTER you have created something to animate, so this is useless for those of you who can't make emotes or pixel art. Maybe I'll make a tutorial for that later. :shrug:
This goes through the process of animating, including both methods of animating, layer naming, and the final touches.

Keep in mind:
This is a basic tutorial; build and learn off of it. If you want your emote to move, then each new layer would be shifted up, down, left or right.
If you want the emote to talk, you need to animate the mouth closing, then opening.
Walking consists of diagonal movements.
Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Programs used: GIMP (pixel art and screenshots), Paint.NET (tutorial).

Requested by ~aicaz: Advanced Animation tutorial at the GIMP website, using the GIMP GAP tool, easily found and downloaded around the GIMP site.

Permission given to to use this tutorial.
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© 2008 - 2022 12hc12
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pin09091's avatar
hmmm to much reading
LoudlyTransparent's avatar
if your animation moves out of it's originl spot I would recommend non transparent as the stacking has happen to me (for anyone with this problems)
Chefia-64's avatar
Heh, I'll try something tomorrow. Seems easy! xD Let me see if my brain can understand it all =P
Pretecheft86's avatar
Excellent tutorial! :D Thank you! :meow:
PawsTheKitty's avatar
Too hard.. :/

I don' even know how to change the pencil color..
Smoki8's avatar
Ehm, when I duplicate it is won't let me erase the eye so I can make it closed...pwease help


TheLezh's avatar
Eh, sorry if this question isn't related enough to this tutorial (Which was very helpful by the way.) but
i'm having problems loading in a gif.

I used "Open as layers" As all the layers did match all the frames of animation. But for some
reason, the parts/colors of some of the original gif frames were lost.

Some frames would be nearly transparent were there was white as only one specific frame
retained everything (It was mostly white too.) And any mode I put this on, it doesn't work.
Infact, everything turns black in index mode. (Otherwise i'm doing this in RBG for the most part.)

I think it might have to do something with transparency but it doesn't explain the one mostly white image
that survived intact. When that was loaded in, Gimp named it "background (1000ms) as all the other
effected layers are named "Frame[Increasing in Number starting from 2](100ms) (combine)."

I have no idea what's happening and I tried to search for solutions but it feels like i'm the only one
who's having this problem. Maybe you can help?
LaceyLocks's avatar
Thanks a lot for the help with this tutorial, it was very easy to follow along with.
zeldatwilightfreak's avatar
How would you transfer images that you have already drawn and then make an animation? I prefer to draw with SAI so I made my little pics there but I'm not sure how you would put them all in one gimp file like that because I tried and I had to keep on copying and pasting but It still didn't work, Am I doing something wrong??
Stairfell's avatar
*sees your comment so long after you posted it*

save it as a psd file (for photoshop). If you open it in gimp, it'll still have layers
zeldatwilightfreak's avatar
oh, okay! That makes since! Thanks so much! :iconmoesmileplz: :iconrenaspinplz:
sourpony's avatar
Wow, I'm getting GIMP, so this is fab.
Staar-Gazer's avatar
Thanks a lot! This really helped :D
Winter-Wondermare's avatar
Sir, I must thank you in advance for this tutorial. I was testing out an animation today and it worked perfectly. Now all I have to do is finish it. :)
bleachxfan's avatar
This helped a lot thank you.:)
SolBriller's avatar
THIS HELPED ME TONS! I made my first animation and I loved it! THANK YOU
Lucille0765's avatar
Thanks~ This helped a lot, but if you don't mind answering I have one question. In my animation it works and runs smoothly in the program, but when I put it in an email to show my friends it works fine till about half way through and then this thick white line appears somewhat over the other half of the animating part. Is there any way to solve this problem?
Smoki8's avatar
What type of email do you have?

*sees this comment so long after it was posted*
runningsquirrel7's avatar
Kyo-comics's avatar
Thank you! I had looked at another tutorial for gimp and it said how to make it but not how to save it!
umbreonthedark's avatar
Thank you, this tutorial really helped. c:
Leren-Love's avatar
Thank you for sharing! I just downloaded GIMP and didn't know how to use it, this helped a lot :3 thanks ^^
InnocentNarwhal's avatar
thanks so much! I'm going to use your tutorial to animate my DA icon I'm drawing :):):)
PandorasMusicalBox's avatar
Thank you so much for this! It helped me create my new icon (which I'm very happy for).
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