Photoshop tutorial: Create a Cinemagraph in Photoshop

Learn how to create, edit, tone and export your very own Cinemagraphs in minutes using the Timeline panel in Adobe Photoshop.

Intro


Animated GIFs have moved from being something ridiculous to a real creative form over the past few years. The latest big trend is for Cinemagraphs – also known as living photos – which are much loved by both the general public and by clients looking to keep up with what’s hot online.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

A Cinemagraph is a mostly still image with a hint of movement, giving you a glimpse into how that moment in time was experienced by those who were there when the image was taken. Hair and clothing blowing in the wind are common as Cinemagraph subject matter, as are waterfalls and nature.

Though known as ‘living photos’, it’s best to work from video rather than a series of stills captured in burst mode – and the video captured by your digital SLR will more than good enough for this. It will also give the shot the ‘photographic’ feel that viewers associate with Cinemagraphics.

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create, edit, tone and export your very own Cinemagraphs in minutes using the Timeline panel in Adobe Photoshop.

Step 1

STEP 1

The first thing you’ll need is a few seconds of video footage shot with a digital SLR, GoPro or similar – or a full-spec video camera if you have access to one.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Scenes with minimal movement work best – such as objects blowing in the wind, moving clouds, water or reflections. I’ve chosen to use a pocket watch.


Step 2

STEP 2

Once you’ve chosen your video footage, open Photoshop and go to File > Open. Select your chosen file and press OK to bring it in to Photoshop. Doing this should bring up the Timeline panel along the bottom of the screen.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

If the Timeline doesn’t appear, you can find it by going to Window > Timeline.

Advertisement. Article continues below

Step 3

STEP 3

In the Timeline panel, press the spacebar key to preview the footage or use the playhead (the blue arrow with red vertical line) to scrub through the footage.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

If you want to speed up your footage, click on the arrow in the top right corner of the footage in the Timeline and choose a speed.

Tip: We’ll be saving the cinemagraph as a GIF, which Photoshop only sup-ports up to 500 frames (around 20 seconds). As I filmed a minute of foot-age for the pocket watch to do one full rotation, I chose to speed mine up by 400%


Step 4

STEP 4

Using the playhead to mark the beginning of your chosen footage, click and drag the video footage from its left edge in towards the play head to crop out any unwanted video content that appears before this point.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

The crop should snap to the red line of the playhead.


Step 5

STEP 5

Next, use the playhead to mark the end of your chosen footage. This time, click and drag the video footage from the right edge in towards the play head and hit Delete to crop out any unwanted video content after the sec-tion you want.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Advertisement. Article continues below

Step 6

STEP 6

Now that we’ve cropped our chosen video content out of the rest of the footage, scrub through your chosen content with the play head and locate the frame you want to be your main frame that the static part of the video will be based on.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Press Cmd + Shift + Alt + E to create a Stamp Visible layer in your Layers panel.


Step 7

STEP 7

In the Layers panel, locate this new Stamp Visible layer and rename it Main Frame. Click and drag the layer up above the Video Group, which should simultaneously create a new channel for the Main Frame in the Timeline panel.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials


Step 8

STEP 8

Back in the Timeline panel, click and drag the frame until it sits at the be-ginning of the timeline. Click and drag on the right edge of the frame to snap it to the same length as your footage below.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Advertisement. Article continues below

Step 9

STEP 9

Once our Main Frame layer has been set up, we can now go ahead add create a layer mask over parts of the layer to expose the video content underneath.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

To set up a layer mask, click on the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel.


Step 10

STEP 10

Using a soft-edged black brush on the layer mask, paint over the areas of the Main Frame you want motion to show in - in this case the watch face.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

In the lower screenshot, you can see what my layer mask looks like.


Step 11

STEP 11

Apply toning to your entire Cinemagraph like you would a normal Photoshop image, by adding an adjustment mask from the Adjustments Panel.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

The adjustment gets its own layer in the Timeline, which means if affects all the content below, including both the video content and the Main Frame. I’ve added an Exposure adjustment of +1 and a Color Look Up adjustment.

Advertisement. Article continues below

Step 12

STEP 12

Once you’re happy with your Cinemagraph, let’s go ahead and save it. To do this, go to File > Save For Web.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials


Step 13

STEP 13

To play back the Cinemagraph as animated content, we’ll need to choose GIF. In the dialog box, enter the same settings as shown here.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials


Step 14

STEP 14

You also have the choice to set looping. Set this to ‘forever’ to allow your Cinemagraph to play in a constant looping cycle.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Advertisement. Article continues below