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Grrreat GIF Tools For Transparencies & Animations!
GIF files are one of the two image formats supported by most Web browsers (the other ones are JPGs). One of the basic rules of web design drummed into every webmaster is: "Use JPGs for photographs and GIFs for everything else" - and if you want the smallest file sizes possible on your site, it really is pretty good advice.

The GIF format is so incredibly versatile you can chain multiple GIFs together to create an animation, or set a particular color to be transparent so that your image appears to "float" on your web page. The great GIF tools on this page will let you do either (or both) of these things with ease.

3 GREAT GIF TOOLS

Avoiding GIF "Jaggies"

If you're resizing a GIF, convert it to an RGB format like JPG before you resize (you can do this easily in most paint programs). Then convert it back to a GIF when you're finished.

This will help you avoid the "jagged" look that usually occurs when you manipulate a GIF's dimensions.

You'll probably need to reduce the colours and do a bit of painting touch-up after you reconvert to a GIF - converting to RGB will introduce a degree of colour dithering.

But you'll wind up with a smooth end result which will make the slight extra work worthwhile.

GIF Construction Set
Alchemy Mindworks' GIF Construction Set is one of the earliest and most respected GIF animation tools. Updated almost continuously since 1996, the latest version offers a slew of great features including an Animation Wizard to make the sometimes difficult process of constructing animations amazingly easy, and a Supercompressor to squeeze finished animations down to the smallest possible file size. It also has facilities to create eyecatching banners and animated transitions; text shadows; adding transparency to existing graphics and quite a lot more. GIF Construction Set is also extremely easy to use and the concise help file includes one of the most authoritative GIF89a tutorials we've ever found. The latest release is available for 32-bit Windows, but an older version for Windows 3.x is also still available. Shareware (registration is a mere $US20)

Ulead's GIF Tools
ULead Systems produce a wide variety of multimedia tools, and they've gained a very strong following for them over the last few years. Most web authors find their top-end GIF tools (including GIF Animator and Web Razor Pro) particularly useful. But if you dabble in multimedia or video, several others (like Media Studio Pro or Ulead Video Studio) are also very worthwhile. ULead now make all their products available as 15-day trialware, and also offer some useful freeware on their site as well. All products run on 32-bit Windows. We found that GIF Animator was one of the easiest programs we've run across for generating banner ads or correcting transparency issues in animations quickly and simply. You might too.

GifX
GifX first debuted in late 1996 and introduced the concept of simple, semi-automated animation to a willing market fed up with the often tedious process of building multiple images, then chaining them together. GifX (which runs on both Win95/98/NT and PowerMacs) allows you to create up to 33 exciting animation effects in a quick, easy-to-use interface. Regrettably, the evaluation version of the product is distributed as crippleware (ie you can see what it will do but not save your files). But after obtaining a full copy ourselves, we do have to say that this $US38 product is worth its very modest investment. It generates some animation effects that are completely unique and others that would take a long, long time to do in any other tool. You can see 5 example animations we produced with a few clicks in GifX here.

Search for more GIF tools in our Resources directory!
 

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