1. This tutorial is to combine two gifs using layer masks. It’s a good idea for both gifs to be pre-sized to the same height before you combine them, and for them to have the same amount of frames.
Here, I have two 23-frame gifs - completely unedited but the same height - loaded separately into Photoshop:
Go to the gif you want to be pasted on top - in this case, it’s my gif of Kelly. Click on the first animation frame, then shift + click on the last frame to select them all. Go to the little animation window menu (see the arrow in the picture below) and go to ‘Copy Frames’:
2. Go back to your other gif. Click on the first animation frame and shift + click on the last one to select them all. Then go to the animation window menu and select ‘Paste Frames’:
Select ‘Paste over Selection’ when the dialogue box pops up:
3. When you’re working with more than one gif, and especially with layer masks, it’s a good idea to divide everything up into group folders. So at this point I make two group folders. In the bottom folder I put the layers of the gif that will be ‘underneath’ - so in this example, the gif of Nathan.
In top group I put the layers of the gif that will be on top - the Kelly layers:
4. Kelly isn’t positioned quite right, so I select all frames and ALL Kelly layers as well before I use the move tool to adjust the position. If you select all frames, there’s less chance of accidentally messing up:
5. Now I need to make Kelly partially opaque. Some people would try and use the eraser tool, or just make the whole gif opaque, but it doesn’t look as effective AND you can’t always guarantee that you’ll erase the same areas. Layer masking is much more efficient and it looks better.
Click on the group folder of the Kelly gif layers and add a layer mask:
You can tell when it’s been added because a white box appears.
Make sure the layer mask is selected for the next bit. You can tell when it is because it has the double border, like above. When it’s unselected it looks like this:
The trick with layer masks is that black hides and white reveals. We want to hide parts of the Kelly gif, so select the paintbrush tool and choose black. I’m using a fuzzy brush, 100% opacity.
With the layer mask selected, begin painting over the bits you want to hide:
You can see in the above picture that where the black is in the layer mask, the Kelly gif has disappeared. If you made a mistake with this you could just change your colour to white and paint over it and it will reappear.
When you’ve erased what you need with your solid colour, you’ll want to make some of the gif look see-through. Change the opacity of your paintbrush tool to whatever suits you:
Make sure the layer mask is selected and that your colour is black, and start painting again:
Remember, if you make any mistakes, just switch the colour to white and it will restore the image.
6. After I’m happy with what I’ve got, I crop and resize my gif. I only want it to be 245px wide, so I crop out what I don’t need and go to Image»Size and change the width.
Next comes the colouring. For this gif I’m just going to create another group folder and add some basic adjustments into it:
But some people want their two gifs differently coloured - this is where layer masking is useful again. If you want to do this, simply put the two different colourings into two different group folders (NOT the same folders as your layers). Then use a layer mask to block out the parts of the gif you don’t want the colour to affect.
I’ve used simple colouring for this example:
And this is the final result: