Photography • How-To How to Create a Stop Motion Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Use multiple photographs to create a moving GIF image. 

Photos don’t have to stand still. With a few quick steps, you can easily add movement to your images. In this short tutorial, see how Aaron Bernstein animates his photos using masks and the Timeline feature in Adobe Photoshop.


Aaron Bernstein is a New York City–based creative and a former Adobe Creative Resident. Under the digital guise of “Hungry Boy,” Bernstein uses food to reflect facets of contemporary culture in photography-based projects.

Take a one-minute look at Bernstein’s process in this video; the steps are written out below.

Before You Start 

Use this sample file if you like, or practice with your own.

Step 1: Add Some Pop

The practice file has two layers, the kernels layer and the popcorn layer above it. Create a layer mask on the popcorn layer, and invert it using Control-I (Windows) or command-I (macOS).

Step 2: Sneak a Peek

Bernstein selected the layer mask, chose the Brush tool, and set the color to white. Then he painted over the mask to reveal the first piece of popcorn.

Step 3: Reveal in Stages

This step is where Bernstein spent much of his time. He duplicated the layer where the first popcorn kernel was revealed: Control-J (Windows) or command-J (macOS). Then he painted with a white brush to reveal more popcorn. He repeated this step until he had a lot of layers and all of the popcorn from the layer below was visible.

Step 4: Create the Timeline

Bernstein clicked Create Frame Animation in the Timeline window (Window > Timeline).

Step 5: Make Animation Frames

To create each state of animation, Bernstein chose Make Frames From Layers from the Timeline. He then toggled the visibility of the kernels layer off and on to make it visible on all of the frames of the animation.

Step 6: Loop It

Bernstein worked in the Timeline to create the looping animation. He chose Select All Frames, then Copy Frames, and then Paste Frames. Then he chose Reverse Frames so the popcorn would appear to pop and unpop. He clicked Play in the Timeline to preview the animation. Bernstein used the Save For Web feature to save the looping animated GIF.

Make Moves

Give life to your images with short animations.

Note: Project files included with this tutorial are for practice purposes only.

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