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How to animate a still photo, or picture

Updated: Jun 23


How to animate a still photo, or picture


To add animation to a photo, the photo can be edited to create the illusion of movement in the photo. This is done by editing the single image to create multiple images from the original image.

To explain it in a very basic way, let’s use the example of a waterfall. Your first image will be the original photo. For your second image, you will edit it and drag and stretch sections of the falling water. You can do this on multiple versions of the image until you are happy with it.

Some photo editing apps also has built in features where, as an example, you can have stars flying off the main object in the photo.


The images that you created can then be displayed and looped in a rapid sequence of these photos to create the illusion of movement in the photo. The sequence of photos is similar to frames of a movie.


Generally, in Photo animation, only some sections of the photo will appear to be moving, while the rest of the photo will remain still. Photos that are animated in this way is then also referred to as Motion Stills.


To animate photos, you will need photo editing software, or a motion stills app, with the relevant animation functions.

Cyberlink is ideal for this. They also host competitions, and it is great to see the inspirational pieces on their website that were submitted by contestants. On their website, you will also find step by step training videos.


Why animate photos


For creative people, animating photos can be a great way to relax and bring out the artist in them. Once completed, an animated photo can bring about a feeling of great pride and accomplishment.


For the beginner, Photo animation can be done, just for fun and to impress one’s friends on social media.


Photo animation as well as photo editing and video editing can also be tuner into a part time, or full time business.



Photo animation can also be used as a source of revenue.


Studies have shown that video grabs more attention on social media adverts than photos. The human mind is hard wired to focus on movement. Because animated photos, are something in between, it can be a very effective attention grabber in adverts. It can also be used on websites, to give websites a more professional look.

Once you have perfected the art of animating photos, this skill can be monetized.


Also see our article on how to make money by editing photos


Although, in my opinion, the best-looking examples of motion stills are photographs, the skills learned can be utilized in a variety of ways. Under certain circumstances, a dancing stick figure may draw more attention that a moving photograph. It all depends on the context. Some clients may require something as simple as shapes moving around.


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