Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF


This was the final GIF I made. It originated from a brush I made that depicts the shape of cattails, and I used the Fractal Trace tool in GIMP to create swirling shapes.

I was inspired by the work of Yayoi Kusama, and the detail and depth in her infinity rooms. I like her varied use of color, texture, and light. My favorite pieces by her were the Dots Obsession Infinity Mirrored Room, Obliteration Room, and the Aftermath of the Obliteration of Eternity. My absolute favorite was the Aftermath of the Obliteration of Eternity, because it reminds me of both the vastness of outer space and the way city lights look from a distance, and it is so intricate that I could look at it for a long time. I was also inspired by the lush, detailed patterns of Gustav Klimt and by Daniel Buren’s use of space and color in his art installations.


This GIF used the Sparkle tool to create the cloud-like effect on white pixels in the image.

Since I have not made GIFs or any sort of animated images before, my plan going in to this project was to experiment with different tools and ideas to see what works and what doesn’t. I found that I often needed more than 6 frames to be happy with the motion of the GIF, and most that I made had between 8 and 12. I also found that once the images are compiled the final appearance in motion is sometimes different that what you would expect. I think I need to continue to experiment both with the software and with expanding my imagination around colors, shape and scale. One challenge that I had was feeling limited by my ability to draw shapes and to imagine what to draw. I found that by picturing what I wanted the motion of the GIF to look like I was better able to make the individual frames mesh into a collective GIF that made more sense to me. I think that experimenting with lots of different tools and filters in GIMP worked well for me because it gave me new ideas and helped me start to learn the capabilities of the software.


This is probably my favorite of the GIFs I created, because I think that I got the smoothness of the motion right and I like the combination of the subdued color palette with the detailed confetti effect.

Author: Leyana Dessauer