How to Make a Cinemagraph from a Still Photo

In terms of visual content, viewers have become more demanding. So, capturing attention and engaging your audience gets harder and harder each year. But there’s a surefire way that can work almost for any kind of viewer – animating still images. In this post, you’ll find a beginner’s guide to creating a cinemagraph, so you’ll be able to design it even if you have little experience in this sphere. But before we show you how to create a cinemagraph step by step, we’ll also discuss this kind of content and its benefits. Now let’s begin. 

What is a Cinemagraph? 

Cinemagraph is a digital form that joins together 2 common types of visual content: videography and photography. Basically, a cinemagraph is a still image with moving elements with the rest of the picture remaining static. The loop movements are typically used to imitate flowing water, moving branches, floating hair, and other small details. 

You should try using a cinemagraph, as it puts the focus on the product, gets more attention and more clicks on social media, and is generally more engaging and eye-catching than a simple video or picture. 

So how to make a cinemagraph? Let’s figure it out below. 

4 Steps to Create a Cinemagraph with Ease

To turn a static photo into an animated Harry Potter-styled picture, you need a special program – be sure the chosen software allows you to create a cinemagraph from a still image with the help of custom keyframes, layers, and masks. 

We’re going to guide you through the process using SmartSHOW 3D, one of the best slideshow makers that you can use for making a cinemagraph. This software is incredibly easy to use, and it offers lots of handy tools for making movie-like videos: 700+ pre-designed templates and effects, 200+ free music tracks, a built-in photo editor, and more.

Below, you’ll find 4 simple steps you need to follow to create a cinemagraph like a pro. So, let’s install a cinemagraph-making program on the computer and get down to work. 

1. Remove the Background 

To create a cinemagraph, you need to pick a photo and choose the details you’d like to animate. Upload the image to the photo editor you like and make the background transparent, keeping the area where you want to add motion. In some programs, like Photoshop, it might be a bit challenging to do, so it’s better to use an AI-powered tool to save some time.

To maintain transparency, you also need to make sure you export the edited photo in the PNG file format.

2. Join the Images 

The next step is to merge the original photo with the edited image. For this job, you need to launch SmartSHOW 3D and import the original image. Now, add the other file, and be sure to carefully put it on top of the main picture. It’s important to blend in the layer seamlessly – this way, you will manage to avoid any kind of glitch in the final result. If the border between the images is still edgy, we recommend you to select the second one and apply a mask, such as gradient masks, to the picture. 

By the way, the software also lets you get rid of unwanted black bars. All you need to do is stretch the picture by clicking on the corresponding button. 

3. Animate the Photo

Here comes the juicy part – breathing life into the static image. You need to add a new layer to create a keyframe. To create the motion effect, you need to adjust the position and scale settings by hitting the arrow buttons. You can preview the animated photo by using the play button. 

4. Save the Cinemagraph

After you make a cinemagraph from a still photo, it is essential to export the project in the right format. Otherwise, it might be saved as a static picture, and all the hard work would be in vain. For example, you can save the cinemagraph as GIF or MP4. SmartSHOW 3D also lets you prepare the file for uploading it to the Internet: for Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Vimeo, and so on. There are also ready-to-use options for mobile devices, so you don’t need to google the formats your smartphone supports. 


Now you know the easiest way to create Harry Potter-styled pictures with animation. In this article, we’ve discussed some basics, but for more details, use this link to see how to make cinemagraphs from photos. So, let’s sum up what we have talked about today. Cinemagraphs are an outstanding type of content that you can use for various occasions, from personal use to promoting products or brands. 

To create cinemagraphs, it’s important to use a beginner-friendly program that is rich in animating features. We’ve shown you the editing process in such software – SmartSHOW 3D. As long as you follow the steps we’ve shown you, you’ll be able to create stunning content to wow your audience. 

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Lee Clarke
Lee Clarke
Business And Features Writer


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