Simple animation

Animation can be a great tool for advocacy communications, bringing life to your story and presenting your ideas quickly and attractively. Animation is a huge subject; this guide only touches on the ways in which very basic computer animations can support your advocacy campaign – it does not cover sophisticated flash or computer animation.

Why simple animation?
Animation can add an expressive element to your message. Animation can take the form of a slide show with floating text or it can emulate a short movie. Colour, movement, expressions and action can be effective in attracting the viewer's attention in ways that text cannot. Animations can also evoke responses from diverse audiences, helping to overcome cultural or linguistic barriers. The messages they convey can be light and entertaining or serious and powerful.

Simple animations are great for advocacy work:

  •  They can be funny.
  •  They can attract attention more effectively than a still image or photograph does.
  •  They can be used in lots of different spaces and shared and distributed in different ways: via e-mail as attachments, on a website or even via mobile phone.
  •  Small banner animations are a great way for you to publicise your blog or campaign; you can put an animated banner on your website, and ask others to include it on their site.
  •  They can help you talk about sensitive issues through fictional characters. 

GIF is an internet standard for displaying animation. Because of this, all the major internet browsers (and even mobile phones) are capable of displaying it; users don't need to install plug-ins or other applications to see animations created in this way.

Simple GIF animation doesn't require complex software or amazing graphic skills. At the same time it is best not to become over-ambitious at first – even short GIF animations can take a long time to create. A GIF animation is usually created using traditional methods, where multiple versions of a scene are drawn, with objects or characters changing their position in each successive frame so that the sequence of frames, when displayed quickly enough, gives the illusion of motion. Each individual frame of the animation has the display time set infractions of a second. These frames are displayed in a sequence that can be looped (repeated) once, infinitely or a fixed number of times.

The basic process is simply to create the frames and then animate them using the GIMP graphics package (Click here). You can draw the images yourself, scan them or use photographs. Animating text is a simple way to start creating effective animations.

All the images you want to use to create your animation must be of exactly the same size. The best way to do this is to save your first image under as many different names/numbers as you will need frames, and then make changes to each of them individually. That way you can keep your images the same size and also make sure that static elements, such as background, stay still when the foreground is moving.


  •  Think about the purpose of your animation. Is it intended to tell a story, to draw attention to something or to reinforce your organisation's visual identity or 'brand'?
  •  What is the most important visual element of the desired animation - is it a certain message? Is it a specific object or character or text? Once you decide what that important element is, then you must decide how you want it to move: quickly? slowly? Do you want it to move from one part of the frame to another?
  •  Think about how long you want your animation to run for. Do you want it to run just once or be repeated a few times? Animations can become annoying if they run on an infinite loop.
  •  Think about whether you want your animation to be part of your website or whether it will be distributed as a stand-alone animation.
  •  Start with something simple - for example, try to make a dot move from one corner of the frame to another, or make an analogue clock move its hands. Start by using just a few frames, and when you get more confident you can add more frames to make your animation smooth, attractive and flowing. 
  •  Download some existing animations and look at them frame by frame to see how they work. 
  •  Make your GIF images as small as possible - remember that the browser will load one GIF after another and if the GIFs are very large files it will process them very slowly and your animation won't look as good as it could. 

Animation Resources