Fade In & Fade Out an Animated .GIF in Photoshop

In my previous post on how to make an animated GIF in Photoshop, a common question in the comments was how can you add the transition effect of fading from one image into the next?



With a Fade Effect:


  1. Set up your animation frames in the Timeline palette (known as the Animation palette in versions prior to CS6). See my earlier post for instructions.
  2. Select the animation frame that you want to start the fade effect.
    In the Timeline palette menu (found under this button at the top right corner of the palette: PsPaletteMenu), click Tween…
  3. In the box that pops up, make sure “Tween With: Next Frame” is chosen, so that the frame you selected will fade into the following frame. Under “Frames to Add” pick the number of new frames you want to add in between the current frame and the next frame. A larger number will make a smoother transition, but will result in a bigger file size. Make sure “All Layers” is chosen, and at least “Opacity” is checked. Click OK
    New frames will be added in between the frame you selected and the following frame. The opacity of each layer is gradually transitioned from 100% to 0% and 0% to 100% respectively. This provides a good start, but one problem with this is that you can see the underlying transparency in the newly added frames, which will artificially brighten the image since there is no background layer. This is not what we want. Instead, we want the initial frame to have an opacity of 100% over the course of the tween, as the following frame gradually fades in. This can be manually edited for each frame in the Layer palette, but let’s avoid doing so:
  4. In the Timeline palette menu, uncheck New Layers Visible in All Frames
  5. Click on your original initial frame to select it. Shift+Click the last of the newly added in between frames. This will select all of the in between frames, while still leaving the initial frame as the “main” selected frame, which is important for the next step.
  6. In the Layer palette, right click on the layer corresponding to the image in the initial frame (it should have 100% opacity). Click Duplicate Layer and then OK. This will copy your initial frame image to each of the in between frames at 100% opacity, which will make it appear that the next frame is fading in.
  7. Change the timing of each frame if needed, click File > Save for Web & Devices, make sure the file format is set to GIF, and save the image!

You can repeat this for each set of two adjacent frames that you want to fade in or fade out of each other. In the Tween dialog box, there are a number of other options which can be used to add effects such as position changes, which can be experimented with.

Tested with Adobe Photoshop CS6, but should also work in Photoshop CS4 and Photoshop CS5

18 comments on “Fade In & Fade Out an Animated .GIF in Photoshop

  • 6

    This does not work as I have tried it numerous times. I got it to work one time and then all images went solid. Something seems wrong with cs6 because it acts goofy and doesn’t always do the same thing! I don’t understand how you can see what is going on in each cell or how to control the cells! they don’t correspond to the layers. I wish you would have included first, how to do this manually so I could get a feel for what the hell is going on. Very frustrated. Are there any other ‘transition’ tutorials? How do I know if cs6 is working correctly?

  • 7

    Hi Allen,
    Which step exactly are you having trouble with? As you observed, the frames in the Timeline palette don’t correspond to the layers in your document after you perform the initial Tween. You can think of them as a separate set of “layers” which you can observe in the thumbnails in Timeline palette. The only way I know of to do it manually would be to open up a document with two layers (the start frame of the fade, and the end frame). Set the opacity of the end frame to 10%. Flatten the image & save it. Then, change the opacity to 20% & save. Then 30%, etc, all the way to 100%. You will then have a set of images for each step of the fade, which you can then combine into an animated GIF with my other tutorial. Hope that is helpful.

  • 8

    I am trying to create fades between four images. After the tween command when trying to add the second layer it sometimes seems to put them on top of the original tween images and blocking them and sometimes seems to put them behind properly, then when I go to the next set of tweens and look back they have changed. How can you examine each panel in the timeline to flip layers or know what is going on in each element?

  • 9

    I assume you are referring to Step 6 where you duplicate the first layer… Have you made sure that “New Layers Visible in All Frames” is unchecked as in Step 4? When you begin, you should also see all 4 of your layers as 4 frames in the Timeline view (after clicking “Make Frames From Layers” in the Timeline menu). I just tested fading between 4 layers on my end & works as I expect… Also make sure you have not selected any extra frames in Step 5… it should only be the initial frame of the current tween as well as the frames that were just added by the tween operation.

    After you make frames from layers, if you click on an individual frame in the Timeline palette, Photoshop will show you the “state” of that frame in the Layers palette. That is, the Layers palette will indicate that the frame you selected is visible while the others are not visible, etc. For the tweened frames, it will also show you that the opacity is some percentage less than 100%. When you modify the visibility, order, or opacity of any layer in the Layers palette , the changes are reflected back into the Timeline palette. Hopefully that answers your question on how to know what is going on with each element.

  • 10
    Prince Adekunle says:

    Interesting, but I did not it all after saving it the saved image did not display as Gif, What could be responsible?. please bail me out thank you

  • 12

    I was having the same problem as Allen in trying to prevent the transition brightening. My solution was to add a step – after selecting the first frame and shift-clicking the last of the tweened frames, first use the “Flatten Frames into Layers” command, then scroll down to find the original frame and duplicate it as Brian describes. Now it works!

  • 15

    DOESN’T WORK along with tons of other PS 6 issues that Adobe continues to ignore. Pitiful service for such a pricey program

  • 16

    Thanks. Figured out (at least for my CS6) that for the fade to work I need to select the frame following the tweens, not the initial frame before them. Then duplicate the corresponding layer after the tweens.
    Selecting the frame before as in your instructions just covered up the tweens.

  • 17

    I need to add another layer into the timeline, I can see it on the layer box but not in the timeline. HOw can I do this?
    Thank you!

  • 18

    This is the first tutorial that really helped (the fade in/out looks great!). But I’m having issues with saving and making sure the images look almost identical quality as they do in jpg form.

    Right now, to make the fade work smoothly, I have 24 frames. Is this too many? And what are the best pixel lengths to start with for images?
    Lastly, what are the best settings to save the gif as, so to keep the images looking professional?

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