As one of the internet’s most meme-friendly file formats, there’s an endless number of tools and websites that can turn short video clips into animated GIFs. When it comes to animating your own doodles and drawings, Arteater makes it as easy as printing a template, expressing yourself creatively, and then uploading a digital photo of your animation frames.
Although most of the online GIF-making tools are completely free to use, you’ll often find yourself dodging copious amounts of banner ads, pop-ups, and more often than not, being delivered a watermarked GIF bearing the branding of the tool you chose. You get what you pay for. At the other end of the scale are tools like Photoshop that offer complete control over your animations, and extensive options when it comes to compression and balancing the quality of your GIF versus its file size. And while we’ve created a handy-dandy guide for using Photoshop to make GIFs, it’s not the fastest process, and Photoshop is far from free.
The hardest part of using Arteater is deciding which template to print—the options include everything from simple three-frame loops, to 15 frame animations, to even more complex grids that let users draw custom backgrounds and foregrounds for their GIFs as well—and then hoping your home printer has enough cyan left to get the job done.
Users are able to use any medium they want to create their animated artwork; colored pencils, markers, paints, even food, and once the template is filled, they can either snap a quick digital photo, or slap it on a scanner to capture their work in more detail. Once uploaded, the Arteater website handles the rest, returning a link where the GIF can be downloaded.
So why is Arteater free and its website devoid of ads? It’s not entirely free. Some of its more advanced templates are locked and require a code to download, which are presumably provided when users opt for the animation sketchbooks Arteater also sells through its site. If you’re a casual doodler, the free options are probably more than enough to satisfy you, but if you’re in the habit of ruining novels and textbooks with flip-book animations in the corner of every page, this might be a less destructive outlet for your obsession.