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Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF

I’ve been thinking about the sky a lot lately, although I’m not entirely sure why. It’s not like I actually look at it all that often, but when I do I get this sense of wonder— I marvel at how vast and expansive the universe is, how as the sun dips below the horizon the light changes color as it passes through more and more atmosphere, how we know so much about the laws of physics and yet we’re still stuck here, on earth. You know that picture they took on the Apollo 8 mission, the one where you can see earth as it rises above the moon’s horizon? In the photo the sky is completely black, save our little planet, halfway veiled in shadow. The sky is black because the moon has very little atmosphere; it does not scatter light like as earth’s atmosphere does. Although I’m praying that, at some point in my life, I’ll be able to go to the moon, I’m sure that if I ever do I’ll miss the blueness of earth’s sky. I’ll miss how that blue shifts in complexion as the sun moves across the sky, and how at dusk that blue is transformed into a vibrant spectrum of red, orange, and yellow as the sun sinks below the horizon.

That was all in the back of my mind as I went into this assignment. Starting with a brilliant blue oil-type brush I drew a random scribble on the canvas. Then, exploring some of the other brush options photoshop has to offer, I used the wet blender brush to smudge the blue around until the entire canvas was filled. Since everything was all very blue, I created an RGB shift add a bit more color and variance to it. Using duplicate layers and that same smudge brush, I then attempted to create an impression of the sky graduating from light to dark blue, as if the sun were about to set but wasn’t quite close enough to the horizon for the blue light to be completely scattered away. Finally, using layer visibility in conjunction with a frame animation, I created this gif:


For this next gif I wanted something a little more stylized, possibly something reminiscent of early 2000’s selfie gifs (blingee, glitterfy, etc.), but still focused on the sky— so I went with twinkling stars. I started out with a light green splatter brush, but quickly changed my mind and decided to just go with blue again. Using the same splatter brush, I painted over most of the green until only specs of it were still visible. This, I thought, would give the sky a bit more texture, and could possibly give an impression of some sort of nebula or supernova in the background if you wanted to think a little too much about it. I then created 14 layers of light pink stars, each one unique and different. Finally, using a frame animation I created one frame for each layer of stars. However, the stars were too few and far between so I went back and added some of the other star layers to each frame, resulting in this:

stars copy

The final gif in this series veers away, visually, from the blue sky theme I had going. For the selfie glitch assignment I wanted to create a sense of weightlessness, as if I were in the future using an old barely functioning VR rig to attempt to fly. To create the weightlessness effect I used an iPhone app called Focos. Focos is basically a tool which allows you to fine-tune the bokeh effect on photos taken with a dual-lens camera. Notably, it has this neat little feature where you can adjust the angle of the photo, which focos then displays projected onto a heightmap of the depth information from the photo. Using this feature, I took screenshots of my photo angled one degree to either side of the original:

focos_example copy

I then took those three screenshots, cropped them so it was just my picture on the gray background, and started messing around with glitching. Unfortunately I was only able to get those streaky line glitches using the text editing method, so I turned to glitching RAW files too. Fairly satisfied with the results, I imported them all into photoshop. For whatever reason when I imported them photoshop turned them all black and white, but it looked cool so I went with it. I then used a frame animation and created the following gif by changing the visibility of the various photo layers for each frame.

self_glitch_iii copy

Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF

Above is the first gif that I’ve made. It uses the most basic animation technique, as it simply consists of two alternating images, flashing to an erratic rhythm. I constructed these designs in photoshop using the brush tool. The two images were initially created as separate pieces, but I soon noticed that they shared a similar color palette and shape. I then had the idea to pair them, which created the effect of the asterisk-like emblem (the first image) being distorted intoa messy scribble (the second image). As a result of its minimalist color palette and clean style, I find this to be the most visually appealing of the gifs I’ve made. However, from an animation standpoint it is definitely the most basic of my gifs. With my next gif, I set out to practice my animation skills.


Visually, my second gif is quite simple: an orange rectangle diagonally slides back and forth across a teal background, with an occasional trail resembling the type of glitches found on mid-1990s windows operating systems. My intention with this gif was not to create an artistic masterpiece; rather, I sought to create a sense of movement through animation. While the animation of my first gif relied on two flashing images, this gif was an exercise in creating the illusion of movement by duplicating and moving one image (the orange rectangle) across many layers. Each position of the rectangle is a different layer, the visibility of which is determined by the animation frame. I’m happy with how the glitch trails turned out. One aspect of this gif which I feel unsuccessful with is creating the illusion of smooth movement. I tried using the tween effect, but the rectangle’s movement still appears more choppy than I would like.


For my third gif, I decided to take the concepts of animated movement and flashing slides even further by creating a series of appearing and disappearing geometrical patterns that completely transforms throughout its loop. The goal of this gif was to take the audience on a visual journey as the image transforms entirely. There is no grand concept behind this gif; it is simply the product of me playing around with different combinations of layers I created in photoshop.

Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF


When we first started making animated GIFs in Photoshop, I had no idea what direction I wanted to take mine, but I was excited by the possibility of depicting a short and whimsical narrative, as well as playing with color. This GIF, which I’ve come to refer to as “starbirth,” was an experimentation with both of those concepts. It tells the story of a star that falls through the dark blue sky and out of sight, where it crashes to the ground of a planet. The crash knocks up star debris which billows in bright green and rainbow clouds and then shoots up into the sky, lighting it up with the birth of new stars. I had never made any animated art before, so making this forced me to consider color’s relationship with an evolving narrative.

When the star fell, it was a semi-transparent bright green with a lavender shadow against the dark blue background which made the whole “sky” appear dimly lit. After the star disappeared, I used the same shade of bright green, but now at full opacity, to build the elements of the aftermath, and the story ends once the whole sky changes to that shade of bright green. I found the juxtaposition between the dark and the bright to be visually appealing and support the narrative, especially at the end when the bright green takes over the sky, signifying the brightness of the new birth and contrasting the dimness of the first set of frames. Most of the frames for this GIF were drawn using the paintbrush tool, but the stars were made using a brush I had created during one of our first lessons in Photoshop. Since the star shape was rough and sketchy looking, I felt that it paired well with the casual hand drawings and made the whole GIF kind of abstract and whimsical, like something from a child’s imagination. One struggle with this one was the hand-drawn illustrations though, because I had initially wanted them to be much neater, and found it difficult to draw using a laptop and the paintbrush tool. In the end however, I grew to like the imperfections in the way it is drawn, and am happy with it as a first exploration in GIF-making.


As I continued my exploration with GIF-making, I considered ways to work around my problem of illustrating with a computer mouse, and decided I would try different styles that involved more shapes and premade graphics. I began creating lines and playing with how I could animate them. When I was trying to space them evenly, I discovered the grid lines and the ability to snap graphics to these grid lines. This sparked the idea of making a gridded pattern and having shapes pass up and down through the grid. So I created a black background with green gridlines and filled in the corner boxes with blue and white, creating squares that I would move diagonally toward the center, and then back. Inspired by the theme of the class, “club visuals,” I flipped the grid colors in every frame, to create a strobelike effect. I found it really satisfying to make a GIF that appealed to the digital nature of this form of art-making. This GIF also seems like one that I could expand on if I want my work to go in that direction. Part of its appeal is the flashing effect it creates, which makes it almost difficult to look at, and creates subtle color effects as a result of the rapidly changing colors. I could build a series of these GIFs that grow in complexity through modifications to the color palette, grid, and motion of squares, creating different visual effects that affect the way the viewer perceives them.


This GIF could be considered a product of all my experimentations in digital art thus far. Previously, the GIFs I made were building on my skills in Photoshop, but this one came later, after we had begun working in After Effects. As I produced more digital art, an interest in color and the way it can affect perception emerged. When we started with After Effects, we had an assignment to use the LoopOut(); command. In class, we had used it in conjunction with motion paths, to make the motions repeat themselves. I took in interest in applying this to color. Inspired by the work of http://flrngif.tumblr.com/ as well as psychedelic posters designed by Victor Moscoso in the 60s and 70s,I picked a rainbow color palette and assigned each oval a color. Then I created keyframes where the colors would change to the next color in the rainbow order, and applied the LoopOut(“pingpong”); command so that the ovals cycled through the rainbow palette and then cycle back for the duration of the movie.

Since the assignment was dealing with motion paths and not color, and also because I wanted to add some more interest, I decided to add some bright yellow stars that would meander from the top of the frame to the bottom as the colors went through their cycle. This was challenging because it was difficult to design the motion paths exactly how I envisioned them in my mind. My goal was to make them whimsical and floaty, but their motion ended up much more quirky than I had intended. When it was finished, it was just existing as an After Effects movie, so when I decided to turn it into a GIF, I dragged it into Photoshop and saved it using Photoshop’s GIF format. While it seems less complex than all the others, this GIF ties together a lot of the skills I have developed in both Photoshop and After Effects, and is starting to solidify the direction that I am going to take my future digital art.

Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF









My plan with these gifs was to practice my skills with Photoshop. I’ve had experience with gif-making in Photoshop before due to some gifs I made in my 3D Modeling class.

However, unlike the projects in digital tools, these were made in Blender and the stills were imported into Photoshop. In Digital Tools, I was able to make my art from scratch in Photoshop and also turn them into gifs. I had a lot of fun with them. Atomic Melt and Atomic Melt 2.0 are two variations of each other. I practiced angles and playing around with shapes. I also was able to play around with layering and different filters. With Lakshmi Pujo I played around with Indian/Bengali motifs. I sent it to my mom because at the time she was celebrating Lakshmi Pujo. This is a festival dedicated to the Indian goddess of wealth. Neither of us are particularly religious but we do participate in the cultural aspects of the festival. My goal with this gif was to create one of those “WhatsApp” shareable gifs. My favorite gifs, however, were the good vs. evil ones.



The point of these was to create an evil and good version of yourself. While they’re both pretty peppy, I tried to “meme-ify” them a little. My last conference project was a critical theory study on economic memes. I tried to make “evil_moyna” evil by creating a text containing the word “capitalism” at the bottom. I also played with darker lighting. I do wish that I had inverted or flipped the image so that it would look more distorted. The “good_moyna” gif had lighter colors and a text containing the word “blep” at the bottom. A blep is when an animal sticks out their tongue. In the original image my tongue was out a little bit. I thought to add the text because it was kind of a wholesome meme/image. I really enjoyed playing around with glitching. Especially since we played around with glitch code in System Aesthetics.



I again used a cultural reference for this gif. I modeled this after Ashoka’s chakra which you can find on the Indian flag. It kind of just became a clock with different layering methods. The wheel part also reminds me of Bridget Riley, who we studied in Art from Code. Overall I’m happy with my gifs so far. I can’t wait to make more. I’ll put a few more gifs I made below.


Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF



I had nothing more than a few hours’ worth of Photoshop experience at the beginning of this course. Since creating an animated GIF was one of the first assignments, I had to spend a large chunk of time learning the software, becoming frustrated, and then attempting to learn it again. I am a complete perfectionist, but one thing that art assignments continue to force me to is to let go of my perfectionist nature and to instead explore what the software allows me to create. While making these GIFS, I found a few different brushes that I really liked, ones that if I enlarged, created patterns almost a stamp. This is how I created the Polka Dot GIF. For the Purple & Orange GIF, I used a wallpaper and tile that I made for previous assignments. The wallpaper began with a drawing. My sole goal with this drawing was to practice using the brush tool, but my professor advised me to select one piece of the drawing and create a wallpaper with it. I used this piece to create a pattern overlay which became a wallpaper. I wasn’t a huge fan of this piece of the drawing originally, but I love it when it’s smaller and repeated like it is in the wallpaper and GIF.


I really did not have a plan for this project. I had a ‘just get it done’ mentality, which probably wasn’t the best thing, but now that I have more experience with the software and am caught up to the level of the rest of my class, I can spend more time with the details of my art. I can create pieces and then go back and revise them, but I think it took just completing a few assignments for me to be able to get to that place. My art-process for this class has been less planned out, which is completely out of my comfort zone, but I’ve learned that it works better for me to have maybe a slight idea of what I want my piece to look like, but then to be flexible and see what I can create digitally. It doesn’t always exactly match my vision but usually, I like the end-product better anyway.TWEENED-purple-and-orange

Another part of my process was trial and error. I had to spend time just playing and experimenting in Photoshop and I had to learn what patterns and colors appealed to my eye. I prefer GIFs that don’t have too sharp of a contrast in color or pattern, which I learned by making a GIF that I absolutely hate. One layer of this GIF is blue & orange and the other is a layer from the Polka Dot GIF. The combination of a drawing that doesn’t appeal to me, two vastly different patterns/designs, and a completely different set of colors made this GIF one of my least favorites. On the other hand, I’m proudest of the salmon background GIF and the Flower GIF because the colors change slightly, while the pattern remains very similar. Through making the Polka Dot GIF, I also realized that I often like images that are symmetrical and have a sense of order to them.


Digital Tools: The Art of The GIF


My plan for the animated GIF assignment, as it has been for all of my assignments thus far in Digital Tools, was to create cohesive content, digital art with an aesthetic that carries from one style of digital media to the next. As I discovered early on this semester, through the wallpaper assignment, I am very much inspired by the Jonathan Adler and Kate Spade aesthetic. This came as quite a surprise to me as I certainly do not adhere to this aesthetic in my own fashion choices or interior design, but I find I am attracted to this colorful, preppy, clean look of playful design mixed with attractive color schemes.

The three GIFs I have chosen to include in this post are pieces I created with an audience in mind. I wanted to create GIFs I could imagine Millennials sending to friends or loved ones via Facebook, Email or text. I made GIFs that contain universal themes, with messages that can be expressed through imagery rather than text. I chose to create a wink, a kiss and a birthday cake.


As I created these GIFs, one by one, I found I grew more confident in my drawing abilities on Photoshop. I had always felt I lacked skill in the drawing department, and with the introduction of the pen tool I’ve found a world of opportunity I didn’t realize existed.

I am most satisfied with the color scheme I have included throughout my GIFs. I’ve had a lot of fun utilizing my favorite pale shade of pink and finding other colors that work well alongside it. I am also very happy with the cohesion of these pieces.   I feel like they work well alongside one another, which has continued to be my hope for all of my work produced in digital tools.

If I were to change anything about these GIFs, I would have utilized a background other than white in my wink.   I also would have created the second frame of the kiss to have a more pursed lip detail. Overall I am very happy with my animated GIFs. I’ve already sent out the birthday cake in a happy birthday message. I have a feeling I will use it again soon.

Birthday Cake

Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF


This glitch gif started as a cut-out mask of my image from the original photo.  This I layered over a stock photoshop background.  I saved this file in various formats, like png, jpeg, and bmp.  I then experimented by converting the files to txt, opening the text file, and making changes to the text.  I started by typing sentences or phrases, like “hi mom!” into the code because I wanted to find out what these sentiments looked like, and whether an angry sentence produced a different glitch than a happy one.  This process initially produced very subtle changes that were not extremely glitchy enough for my taste.  The alternate image in this gif is a glitched png in which I deleted large blocks of text before I converted it back to a png.  I then opened the two files in photoshop and alternated them with one another in the timeline. After learning to tween the layers, I wanted to play with a subtler shifting.   I played with color overlays of pink (the file behind the pink image is a jpeg glitch) and introduced a peek of city hall behind me in one of the between layers.  So, the portrait can be seen glitching from my original photo to a color shifted, turquoise toned block in the middle of the image.


These two gifs are variations of an animation which shifted the color of the background layer behind graphic tiles.  If I were to make this again, I would start with a suitable base file.  Instead of opening a tile pattern on top of a base layer, I started with the jpeg image I had made as a wallpaper of leaves.  Then, I used the magic wand to select the negative space around the leaves and delete it to show the purple layer beneath.  This resulted in a pattern with small imperfections in the mask – they can be seen in the final gif.  However, what I like most about these two gifs is their style of clunky, neon internet art.  So I’m happy that these look like the myspace background of a clueless 13 year old.   These two gifs show how I developed my animation of the lighter pink square.





Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF


I am going to be very transparent in this post: learning the ropes of Adobe Photoshop and Adobe After Effects was quite a long and perilous journey for me.  It might be important to add, or not so much at all, that I had no plans or ideas going into this project… which brings me to introduce the gif above.  This gif developed from the repeater effect on AE.  Generally, in my art, I tend to use a nice complementary palate.  Lately, I have been enjoying the feeling of pastels.  In this gif I played around with different functions and characteristics, such as opacity, rotation, trim lines, and changing of position.  I would say this composition worked O.K., however, it’s not too much to my liking.

My next gif was more thought through, and much more engaging than my first.  A few years ago I discovered the artist Deth P. Sun.  A great deal of his paintings have dark, grey, night-like backgrounds… usually featuring a cat with a sword at his waist.  This cat is often depicted in a colorful yet seemingly quiet environment, whether it be a tropical forest or his cluttered bedroom.  I love Deth’s scenes and wanted to reciprocate that quiet but brightly colored world he creates.  I created the star shapes with stroke and without fill, as it seemed to be gentler and allowed the atmosphere of the gif to be more inviting.  The stars all rotate at different degrees, and some are rotating at a negative degree to add some diversity.  Once I had completed the stars, I felt as though the gif was too monotonous, so I added some fast moving trim lines throughout.


Recently I discovered a really exciting and magical Japanese artist called Ikegami Yoriyuki.  Her paintings are so inviting with their deep and bright colors, and the characters shown appear to be emotional and sometimes indulgent.  Ikegami’s imagination is full of rabbits that dress and walk like people, small fluffy dogs, serene and dazzling nature.  A painting of hers that I saw not too long ago depicted very small pixie-like persons with wings for hair.  They were hiding inside of bold colored tulips, and flying to them from different angles.  In my final gif I wanted to create a scene of nature, that was also magical and serene.  Yes, it was very difficult to do… but it worked.  I created the flowers with the shape and pen tool, arranged them neatly in a row.  Then I drew a trim line that curves and curls playfully, as to represent the trail of a bumblebee.  I made sure that the line kissed the top of each flower, while it traveled across the image.  When the gif was almost complete, a risky idea came to me.  The thought was to show a tiny ball of yellow above each head of the flowers, and to make it disappear once the trim line came into contact with it.  This worked by way of me meticulously timing keyframes for the opacity of the yellow dot to diminish completely upon meeting the trim line.  This gif I like the most because of its color scheme and seamlessness.  I’m hoping to create sillier images in the near future.


Digital Tools: The Art of The GIF


The inspiration for this gif originated from one of the brushes I created in Photoshop. I designed this brush after the cross hatching drawing technique I learned in my art studies. When I started to stare at the lines where they intersect I could see all the shapes they made. Then I thought it would be more interesting to see the lines move in different directions and see how the shapes in between them change. I decided to make four rows of lines going in different directions. I made the vertical and right diagonal rows go clockwise and the horizontal and left diagonal lines go counter clockwise. Initially, I was going to have the lines rotate all the way around but since I was assigned to work only in photoshop that seemed a bit too tedious. So instead I decided to let each row go in a direction for a few frames then have them rotate back. I also made the frame where the lines rotate the most invert colors to add more interest.



When I first started this glitch portrait I was not sure what kind of glitches I wanted to use. I decided to take the trial and error approach and stop when I found something I liked. After several tries I finally came across the black screen and the disjointed face glitches as seen above. I achieved the former by first turning the png file into a txt file. Then I copied a small portion of text and pasted it in random places. The first glitch I made only had this glitch at the bottom part of the picture. I decided to copy the first glitch photo and repeat the same process going further up the txt file as I went along. I repeated this task until I had several glitch photos that could serve as animation frames to make the glitch look as if it was creeping up the photo.  I created the disjointed face glitch while messing with a bmp file.  I also erased the eyes out of my normal photo and layered it on top to give the glitch an eerie feeling.



My original idea for this gif was orange and purple rectangles rotating at different rates on a white background. However I liked the idea of the background alternating between the two colors in time with the squares movements. I eventually settled on the background color changing in accordance with the corresponding rectangle that reaches the bar at the bottom of the screen. It took about 13 frames to animate each rectangle going up or down. Once I got them to go in opposite directions on the vertical axis I copied and flipped the frames around to create a loop effect. I also made the bar at the bottom change its color to a slightly darker version of the color of the background and rectangle.

Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF


For the first gif, my plan was to be make a gif with alternating patterns based on the brush I created for the first assignment. I intended to create a series of the finger print patterns with enlarging scales. So each new finger print pattern shown on the new frame would be larger than the previous ones. In addition, both the background color and the color of the finger print would reverse compared to the previous frame. Thus, there were alternation of color in both background and foot prints. The pattern in the previous frame would be the same color as the next background, and vice versa.  My plan in the change of scale worked well, so there was the effect of stepping up and leaving finger prints. However, the alternation of color was difficult in workshop because every time when I switch color, Photoshop was not giving me the accurate reversal color I needed. So on the second and forth frame of the gif, the pattern on the right bottom is visible when it is not supposed to be.


For the second gif, my plan was to make a gif of a pimple popping disaster. The gif is supposed to have a random pattern of blood flowing on the person’s face. I drew the image of the nose based on an image searched on google. It took me more time to make this gif than the first one because this one has more frames. I was considering the color of the nose and the nostrils so they would look both natural enough. I chose purple of the lips before the pimple popped out so the face looked more peaceful compared to the later disastrous face. I specifically chose this perspective of the face so it would be more unexpected. It also gives more attention to the nose compared to other parts of the face. It was difficult to draw the needle. I considered the brush tool, but I was not confident of drawing a perfect straight line and giving a sharp end. The line shape tool seemed to be a better option, but it still looked more of a thin rectangle than a needle. I enjoyed drawing the pimple the most. I used a larger brush with a blurred edge to draw a red dot and drew a smaller orange one on top of it. After all, I am happy with this humorous presentation of a disaster in daily life.


Finally, making glitch portraits was one of the most exciting experience in this class since I’ve enjoyed playing around with my self-portraits on some glitch photo making apps on my phone and listening to 8-bit music. I had never expected the theory of making a glitch art could be this simple. I did not really have a plan in my mind when I was glitching my portrait. In the process of glitching, I found some come patterns. Codes that are closer to the beginning of the file is describing the upper parts, and vice versa; longer codes contain more image information so when I edited with longer codes, more areas of the image were changed. I was having a hard time with glitching in jpeg format. I did not give me much effect as other file types. After I finished glitching some images, I selected eight of them for the gif. I arranged images with similar glitch methods separately. The final gifs change glitch from up to down repeatedly. I wished I could have added more glitch or pattern on the background too.

Digital Tools: The Art of The Gif

In making these gifs, my aim was to make them fun and playful, nothing too stiff. In making digital artwork, I oftentimes feel as though it is easy to lose the fluidity that comes with working in traditional media, due to the precise nature of items such as the brush tool, the shape-making tools, etc. In general, some of my favorite artists whose work I generally attempt to draw from are Aiden Koch, Maria Ines Gul, my good friend Valerie Wrede (@eggflowersoup on instagram/tumblr–seriously check her out) Daniel Clowes, Kendra Yee, Raymond Pettibon, and Hellen Jo. However in making my patterns and gifs I found myself being very inspired by pictures and illustrations I’ve seen of cells and protozoa. There is something very appealing to me about the way these organisms move and interact with the environment, and in the chaotic-yet-organized way that they are composed.


This gif is definitely my favorite, I was aiming to give it a sort of 60s psychedelic feel without being too corny, and i think I succeeded in doing so. I was also satisfied with how the changing of the colors conveyed a sense of motion, like ripples in water.


This gif was an experiment in color more than anything. I wanted to challenge myself and go beyond my typical pastel pallet. I wasn’t expecting the motion to be all that interesting, but I think it turned out to be more exciting than I anticipated.


In this one I was trying to be more illustrative. I do illustrations that use a lot of comic-type elements without really explicitly being comics (like Aiden Koch’s work). This gif felt very fun and in-line with what I typically doodle in class, giving this doodle-like thing motion felt very satisfying. I would love to maybe even attempt a short animated film in the future.

Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF



This is one of my earlier tries to create gifs.  This gif is designed to have a foreground layer and a background layer, just like my other gifs.  I create a kind of flickering light effect to the background.  The texture of the background layer is contrasted to the foreground layer.  I also like my organic drawing of the watermelon because my purpose is to change the usual look of the one of my favorite fruits to a more artificial look.  We can still tell that they are watermelons, but they are more fun and playful with their colors.




In this gif I incorporate a picture of the helmet from the brand supreme that I found on the website.  I tried to use bold colors not from the actual color themes from the brand but from my impression of pop culture in general.  The used of red in the background tile was also a subconscious choice because of their distinctive red box logo.  When I look at this gif now, I am less satisfied with it because the movement of the background does get disturbing as one look closely.


This is probably my favorite gif: not because of the complexity of making it but because of the conscious color choices I made.  This is a little experiment of color consistency to me.  First I created a grey texture of spiral waves and I transformed grey texture into pink, blue, green, and yellow segments.  I overlaid the four different segments to create my tile.  Then I simply applied color filters with almost same colors that I used for pattern.  As a result, my tiles change as the I put on different color filters.  Therefore, depend on the color interaction, the spiral wave tenure of the segment of different colors become more or less ambiguous.

Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF

Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF



I can’t say that I was inspired by one artist per-say, but more so a specific style. I’m very fond of geometry and optical illusions and I was inspired by “Op Art”.  Most famously, artists Bridget Riley and Victor Vasarely created optical illusions with their paintings. Some Op Art relies on the difference of foreground and background to create a seemingly 3D image on a 2D surface. Figure-ground perception allows us to distinguish a figure from the background.  Based on which one you focus on you’ll perceive the same image differently. By using red against a black and white backdrop, the red is perceived more likely as the figure creating one optical illusion. The pattern that I made to use as part of this gif had an interesting effect that made the middle diamond look like it was a circle every now and then. I wanted to create another optical illusion going forward. The rapidness of the gif makes the stills come alive in a way that suggests expansion. It looks as if it’s growing; which is something I hadn’t anticipated. I’m a big fan of gifs in general. I like to look at one for a long time and watch it over and over again. That’s not really something you can do with the particular gif and some of my other work. It almost instantly causes eye strain or gives you a headache. I guess that comes with the type of gif I made. Perhaps moving forward I can try to make more eye-pleasing work.


The created shapes in this gif have a game-like quality to them, both in movement and their physical shape. I’m by no means a gamer but I appreciated the vintage game-like quality of it, so I went further with that. At first it seems as if the shapes are all revolving together. The longer and closer you look you realize that’s not the case. Some are moving in opposite directions and even at different speeds. If you stare at a certain section for too long, the arrows sometimes look as if they’ve changed directions and that’s not the case at all! The gif comes from several tiles I made and replicated. I like how you can’t see the tiles, and the gif looks like one big animated one. It would be interesting to see this completed in another color. I could see the shapes starting out in one color, then after a few revolutions, one seemingly random shape would change color, then after a few more revolutions, another shape would change color and so on and so forth. There’s also a game-like quality in that too I suppose.





This gif is representative of my “crazier” gifs. I can’t stare at it for too long. At the beginning when everything is small it feels like things are morphing. It has a certain biological, cellular quality to it, as if the shapes are going through mitosis and evolving. Then all of a sudden things go berserk with the rapidly-paced, larger images. The morphing was something that I was striving for, so I’m pleased about that, but I wanted it to be a more organic growth. The final gif grows but  happens all of a sudden. To be honest that’s okay too though. It catches you off-guard and changes the rhythm. The interesting part is that the time between each frame is actually the exact same between all of them. Perhaps the smaller frames have more variation causing more of a flow.

Digital Tools: The Art of The Gif


This GIF (much like the others that I have made) came about largely by accident. I began making the pattern by kind of stamping with a brush that I had created while attempting to mimic a motif in Sicilian tiles that I was referencing. There is now very little resemblance, but I like the way that it turned out. It’s my first GIF that employs bold colors and I’m pleased with the continuity that’s created beyond the frame by the pattern. It seems like a pattern that could be used in fashion design, so I wanted to echo that same kind of dynamism in the GIF. I used a lens warping effect within a center sphere in the frame in order to create this flashing/popping effect.

I’m a big fan of delicate and soft color palettes— shades and tones which seem to seamlessly meld with each other. There’s a strange metallic yet even flesh-like quality to the palette in this GIF, and it strikes me as being as off-putting as it is pretty. I had a very specific reference for the pattern, copying the rectangular designs that covered a building I had photographed in Prague. Each corner of the square converged in a center point, which gave it a really cool three-dimensionality that I kept coming back to. I found that it does interesting things to other images when used as a transparent overlay. These crinkling distortions are just that— distortions that I played around with in GIMP. It looks like they ended up having a sort of wave effect which I find really cool.


This was the one pattern that I made from something in my sketchbook. It was just a very simple floral line design which I managed to cut out and color in GIMP, turning it ultimately into a brush. There’s not really a specific inspiration for this, other than my admiration for more complex floral patterns and sinuous lines. I wasn’t quite sure how to turn it into a GIF, so I ended up making distortions in alternating sections of the image.

Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF



The above GIF was inspired by Joe Maccarone, a Baltimore illustrator who is known for his surreal animated GIFS. His GIFs usually feature several cartoony illustrations made by hand drawn lines, flat colors and follow a very stream-of-consciousness style of illustration.

Most of his GIFs have narratives that circulate around the issue of mental health  and tend to stir some kind of deep emotion within the viewer. These gifs express something that is unspoken and relatable. My GIF is somewhat like that. I aimed to initially make the lips stretch out upwards to make a smile, so that the combination of smiles and tears could convey the idea of the façade that people put on to establish a sense of normalcy to others, as they are too afraid to reveal their inner turmoil. However I experienced difficulties while sketching it so I just decided to show the lips flashing colors, to evoke a sense of emotional chaos.


The color palette and shapes of the above GIF has been inspired by Mattisse as it uses a combination of pure and vivid colors. The color palette of the diamonds is meant to evoke intense feelings in the viewer while the light background establishes a sense of serenity.

I initially wanted to make tiles of regularly shaped diamonds, however I did not pay attention to the x and y scales , and  ended up making more irregularly shaped diamonds which gained a more cartoony and surreal feel as the animation progressed.



This GIF follows a proper,  fixed narrative compared to the other two as the viewer expects an outcome at the end. I liked the idea of colors swishing inside a ball and upon the burst of the ball, there’s a splash of color , which creates a very satisfying effect. If I could improve upon this GIF, I would make the ball have some designs swirling inside it – maybe a concentric circle. The concentric circle could have the same color scheme as the pattern of splashes in the final layer.  Moreover, the initial background could have a color other than a monochromatic color like white, to make it look more engaging and interesting.


Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF

SAB_GIF_10This GIF was inspired by Valentine’s Day–and the notion that love can cross boundaries no matter where or from who the love comes from. Also, I wanted to mimic what’s called the Dot Test with hearts instead dots. My plan going into the project was to find a way to represent love through the hearts and to represent people through the color scheme of skin color. What worked well was that the colors of the hearts are visible on each skin color, emphasizing the theme, and that when the hearts are outlined they then are able to cross the diagonal and metaphorical ‘barrier’ separating the top left and bottom right hearts. What didn’t work well is that the outline of the top left hearts and their movement towards the bottom right hearts could have been more smooth and coherent.SAB_GIF_6This GIF was inspired by a visiting scholar, Heather Cleary. She presented on digital text and how text can move across the screen and create images. My plan was to try and hand-write a word (which wound up being my name for the sake of simplicity) and give an organic feeling of change to each frame by re-writing each frame of the GIF. What worked well was the sensation of shaky words that fall off the page. What didn’t work well was the color scheme. I chose a Nature Theme on Adobe Kuler for the color pallet and tried it, but I think I should’ve done a black and white color scheme instead of colors.SAB_GIF_3

This GIF wasn’t inspired by a particular artist, but by the idea of building tension. My plan while entering the project was to first, play with one circle shrinking and growing while exterior circles constantly moved. The more I explored the options, the more I realized the center circle seemed to be exploding outwards with tension while the exterior circles are closing in on the center circle. What worked well was that by having the corner circles move a bit each frame, that caused them to look agitated. What didn’t work well is that the center circle doesn’t truly explode. It increases in size, but to add to the tension it would have been better if the cennter circle became spiked.

Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF


I used one of my favorite tiles for the Gif above. What I really became interested in, and what is very evident in the Gif above, is the idea of nature contrasted with the man made. Of course, the images shown are drawn roses-and are a representation of real roses. I really enjoy watching the black lines come in and separate the blocks of roses- making the image a little bit less chaotic.

Throughout my gifs I thought about the word CHAOS a lot. I thought about nature, and the use of computer-made objects such as lines and circles. I stuck with a very limited color scheme and focused on what ideas I had.

For the roses Gif above, I ended up with only 17 images. I started with the basic tile then would add a line here and there, save then repeat. Once I made the gif the first time I did not like how the lines would come out into the blocks then simply cut back to the beginning of the gif. So I then added each layer from 17-1 backwards in Gimp so that I could get the retracting effect of the lines. This created a better flow and a Gif that didn’t make me want to fix something. Although, even now, I wish I could fix the upper left hand corner lines so that they come out from either side rather than in a already square fashion.

In my next Gif I focused on fixed points, fixed areas, and rigid lines. Below, I created a Gif with a very simple pattern and movement that would too look endless in a loop. 


I ended up with 54 layers. To make this gif I made a very precise grid. I followed the grid very carefully so that each line would be precisely positioned in each frame. Watching the gif now, I want to open Gimp and make one where lines intersect. But I do enjoy how this one turned out- although simple. Nothing is jumping around, and it reminds me of the roses gif simply beach of the patterns. Watching it, there are no surprises. 

The gif below takes from the two gifs above. I thought about CHAOS, and about very exact shapes. The precise circles are distributed in an un-perfect circle that although bothers me makes a sort of sense with the chaotic movement of the perfect circles. 


Nothing is exactly perfect in this gif, and although it bothers me. It bothers me in a good sense. Although the gif is somewhat unpredictable it is predictable in the sense that it loops over and over. The gif draws elements from both gifs above. I finished the gif with 39 layers then placed 39-1 so that it would collapse back to the original circle in the center then loop seamlessly. The gif itself has 78 layers.

The process of gif making is much more time consuming than I thought it would be, but I enjoyed creating something I am happy with. There are many many gifs I am not happy with, but the process is definitely about practicing and figuring out what works for you and what doesn’t.

Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF

For this project, I was inspired by a variety of sources. For the first gif, Windows, I was inspired by the shadows of my windows in my dorm room at night. The shadows were more diagonal and haphazardly placed, but the silhouettes overlapped each other which inspired this. Each color is actually a paintbrush of a window frame. I wanted to use red and blue because one evening an emergency vehicle was outside and the shadows were these flashing colors, and then I added green and brown to go with the colors. The light yellow background is based on the color of my walls when the sun is rising or setting. 

This gif was inspired by a 1960s pattern I liked by an unknown artist. The original pattern was just circles on lines, but I decided to recreate the pattern with various other shapes. Then I put all the images in one file on different layers. I made sure to make the gaps transparent so almost all the layers are visible in every frame. The animation is made by cycling through the layers.

I wanted to do a gif that was a little less uniform than the previous two, so I hand drew this gif. I was inspired by a colored scarf I had, but I ended up liking the image without colors instead because it flows continuously. Though it is not visible here, the background of this gif is also transparent because I like the idea of partly transparent gifs.

My plan going into this project was simply to experiment with motion. I enjoyed planning out each gif and imagining how the frames would follow each other, but I think some move faster than I wanted. I can change this in the future by adding more frames. I think my ideas worked well, but my mental image of the result needs work.

Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF



An artist that has inspired me is Patakk.  Their work is geometric and tends to shift between different shapes.  I like the simplicity of the gifs and how they move.  Patakk uses many simple color schemes which I think are great.

My plan for this project was to change the colors of my patterns and to add some effects to them as well.  I like the disrupted look that the effect “shift” has on the gif.  I like the colors I chose to use in my gifs, and I like how I went about changing the colors.  While making the gifs I just went with what I thought looked good, and that’s where my colors came from.  Overall, I’m happy with how my gifs turned out.  I think they look great.  I prefer the ones I made with Gimp rather than the ones I made with Processing.  I think that the ones made with Gimp just have more interest to them than the ones I coded.  I think that if I had added more color variety to the coded ones then they could have been better.

Stars Disturb

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.