How to make compelling GIFs, step by step by Miffy Chen

What is better than a fluffy rabbit? A moving fluffy rabbit. It’s hard to keep my composure while looking at the adorable GIFs of a dwarf Dutch rabbit called Mars. His owner, Miffy Chen, who also happens to be an animation student, has created a lovely animated series about him.

“I’m a Master student in Teesside University. 4 years ago, I started studying animation just because I really liked it. Rabbit and animation are the two things that I’m most passionate about. I collected lots of toys and costumes of rabbit. Then last year, my husband bought me a baby rabbit and we gave it the name Mars.”

The rabbit’s design is simple, yet it effectively conveys the character’s roundness and benign quality. The movements are clear and concise, especially those of the nose and legs. Miffy must have spent hours watching him lovingly.

“Mars gave us a lot of interesting memories after he became a family member of us. One day, my husband said:” Why don’t you make some short animation of Mars to share those funny moments with other people?” But I did not have too much time to do some short film animation at that time. Therefore the little GIFs came out.”

At this phase, Miffy has kindly shared with us her process of bringing life to Mars in Photoshop.

“I usually make GIFs in Adobe Photoshop. It has the Timeline function, which is very easy to get start with, I think. It can be found in the Window menu. The animations need to be drawn frame by frame. But sometimes copy and paste frames can be a shortcut to create some similar actions. Creating a draft of line drawing animation is the way that I’m used to beginning with. The rhythm of actions should be checked in this step, and never leave any problem to the following steps, because any change after this may take lots of time.” Q&A-1 “The rest of the work was finishing drawing every frame in the Timeline.” Q&A-2 “When the animation is finished, choose “Save for Web” in the Export (or File) menu, then the animation can be previewed and saved as a GIF.” Q&A-3

Now you know the ‘how’. But to start, you need the ‘why’. Miffy was so interested in Mars and that feeling is the magic that made the GIFs so enthralling.

“Any moment from your life could be interesting. As for the choice of software, I tried many different tools to create animation in the past, such as Adobe Flash, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After Effect and Maya, and I think it depends on the type of animation that you are going to do. For example, I like doing GIFs in Photoshop, while I am used to do some short animation films in Flash and After Effect. You can try them all and find your own way to work.”

For the future, Miffy has plenty on her plate. If you love Mars the dwarf Dutch rabbit, you should keep an eye out for these.

“I’m working on my Master project “Mythic City”. It is a concept art book of a Chinese fantasy story. The GIFs of Mars will be updated slowly as well. I also want to make some short film about him in the future.”

Scroll down to see the cutesy GIFs of Mars. Also follow and see more great work on Miffy’s website, Behance, Vimeo.

Good morning, Mars!

-Mars, let’s say hi to everybody!

“See? I’m such a gifted woodcraft artist!”

Happy Chinese new year!

Come on Mars, Let’s play!

“Having a snap after lunch must be the best thing in my life!


Where is my maid… I’m bored”

Aaaaand… Here is Mars in real life!

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