How To Make A Cinemagraph for Photoshop Newbies

A cinemagraph is “more than a photo, but not quite a video.” Or at least that’s how Supermodel Coco Rocha summed them up.

How To Make A Cinemagraph for Photoshop Newbies

The beauty of a GIF is that you can share more than a photograph, so you’ll often see them used in memes. This is what’s great about cinemagraphs, too. Except unlike GIFs, this new art form is more sophisticated, subtle and often mysterious.


It’s like GIFs have grown up, moved out of their mom’s basement, and are even trying to be sexy. Often, it works, too, as you can see below. Adding a subtle animation can make a photograph come to life.

Graphics artist Kevin Burg and photographer Jamie Beck coined the term, cinemagraph, when they collaborated on a story for New York’s Fashion Week. Since then, this format has gotten pretty popular. There are even a number of apps and software to instantly create you’re own cinemagraph without any Photoshop skills (go ahead and cheat if you want!). ?? However, if you want a custom-made look, you are going to have to work for it.

Before we start, there are countless ways to make cinemagraphs, but this tutorial is designed for those using Photoshop with basic skills.


To start, you’ll need a:

  • Tripod
  • Video camera
  • Photoshop (CS5 Extended is used for this tutorial)
  • Quicktime Player

How to make your own cinemagraph:

1. Shoot Your Video

For my cinemagraph, I’ll use a clip from a trip I took with my girlfriend at the time. You can use a short video you already have or shoot a new clip, too.

How To Make A Cinemagraph for Photoshop Newbies

A. Select your subject:


Your goal is to keep most of the photograph still, while one or more subjects subtly move. To do this, choose subjects whose movements don’t cross paths with other moving objects. Simple examples are often swaying tree branches, the changing expression on a face, hair blowing, a dress billowing, a reflection or flickering candles.

For this example, I’m going to isolate the coffee cup on the road.

B. Isolate Your Subject:

Test your clip to be sure your subject doesn’t overlap with anything else in your shot. In my example, you’ll notice the cup comes very close to the sports car, but there is enough space to work with.


C. Shoot:

Use a tripod to keep the camera steady and only shoot a few seconds of footage. Each second of video has at least 24 frames, so, if your clip is too long, the file size will be huge.

How To Make A Cinemagraph for Photoshop Newbies

If you are using a longer clip, use a program to trim the footage before you open it in Photoshop. I used Quicktime Player 10.3 to trim by selecting Edit > Trim. Then I exported the footage at 1080p resolution by selecting File > Export > 1080p.








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