Great pun but this is no cartoon movie. On the Web an animated image is actually one image file that has two or more rotating images. It can all be incorporated into one image file with a .gif ending.
To the right is an example. This digital image file is titled CaD-a.gif on my computer. The small "-a" is my way to remember it as an animated image file.
GIF files are the only file extension (.gif) that supports an animated image. The downside is that the images are limited to 256 colors. But for smaller images, I rarely feel that this compromises the impact more than the benefit of eye-catching animation.
I love animated images, it's a great way to show multiple views of one object, painting, sculpture, etc. You can actually adjust the timing on the rotating image rather easily. The rotating images can even be set to turn off after a few cycles and show only one image thereafter.painting, sculpture, etc. You can actually adjust the timing on the rotating image rather easily. The rotating images can even be set to turn off after a few cycles and show only one image thereafter.
If you own PhotoShop most likely you own ImageReady (the software that creates animated images). All you need are two or more images that are all the same size to combine together into one file. I learned how to do this in about an hour.
Multiple close-ups plus the full view of the same artwork are an ideal application for animation. This is one of those special features you can easily add to your web site with fantastic impact.
Animated images are like a strong spice. A little bit goes a long way. Don't put more than one animated image on the same page of your web site. It looks very confusing when several animated images are moving at the same time.
WARNING! Do not send animated images in a portfolio of your work or in emails. These animated .gifs are compressed files. Because the image keeps moving it is not suitable for close inspection. The limited color selection and compression means that these images are not suitable for print. GIFs are a fantastic option for an animated image on your web site, just keep in mind the limitations.
Frankly, I am not sure if Web 2.0 social networking sites will support animated images. The sites often say that they will accept GIF images files, but when I tried to upload an animated GIF, the animation did not work. I have a feeling that animated images are best on your own web site. CLICK HERE to see how I used this animated image on my web site as an example.
One more issue related to animated images: Make sure you include the ALT tags (image description) in the HTML code for better SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for your images.