Animated Instagram stories tutorial and free template


In this tutorial I'll go through the different steps I take to make simple animations in Photoshop for Instagram stories and posts, from setting up your photoshop file to exporting and uploading to Instagram. I'll cover three basic animations: transform, opacity and layer mask position. Although Photoshop's animation tools are limited, once you know the basics, there's still endless options to create quick animated Instagram stories and posts. You can either follow the tutorial with your own design from scratch or download my template at the end of the page and start from the animation section. You can find three sample animated instagram templates to download at the end of the page here

Complete set of templates are available to buy here

1. Set up the PSD

Open up Photoshop and create a custom sized document, you'll want the resolution as 72ppi and the color mode as RGB. For Instagram Stories you want to create a document 1080px(width) x 1920px (height). For a square post the size should be 1080px x 1080px.

Instagram stories template size and post size
1. Design & animation prep

I'm going to use a simple sale design with a background photo, heading, subheading and button. For reference you can find the complete file named '2_Sale_across_store.psd' in the sample file at the bottom of the page.

Step 1: Organise your Layers.
To make it easy to update and animate, I organise my layers into the following folders: Background, Photos, Shapes and text.

Step 2: Add your background image
Make sure you your images folder selected and Go to File > Place Embedded to import your image. Then right click your image layer and convert to smart object. If you're adding a mask to your image, I find it easier to add this first, and then convert the layer to a smart object. This way the smart object contains the mask and will make it easier if you want to update the file with different images.

Place embedded image

Step 3: Add your text
I've gone for a heading of '20% OFF SALE' over two lines and a subheading of 'selected items across the store'. For the heading I've used 'Space Mono' and 'EB Garamond' for the subheading. Make sure you add each line of text as a seperate layer so that they're easier to animate later on.

Step 4: Add Heading underlines
To make the title pop I've added some underlines to the title. Hit 'U' to draw rectangles at the bottom of your text.

Headings instagram stories

Step 5: Bring up the animation timeline window
We're almost ready to start animating! Go to 'Window > Timeline', then hit 'Create Video Timeline'. If your screen looks something like the screenshot below, we're ready to get started.

2. Animation

It helps to have a rough plan of the different stages of your animation and the types of animation you wish to use at each stage, I usually sketch this out on paper first. The order I have decided to go with is: 1) The background image slides in from the right. 2)The text appears line by line- revealed by a mask from the bottom of the text. 3) The button fades in

Step 1: Animating the background image
Locate your Photo layer in the timeline window and locate the transform layer. Making sure your image is in the centre of screen, move the blue arrow so that your timeline is on the 20th frame. Now hit the stopwatch to the left of the layer to make your first keyframe. Now drag the blue arrow back to the first frame, and hit the diamond icon next to the stopwatch to create your second keyframe. On the same frame, Hit V and holding shift, drag your image horizontally right so that it is off screen. Now when you move the timeline from 0 to 20 you should see the image moving from the right into the middle of your design.

To finish off the image animation we're going to add an opacity animation. Locate the Opacity layer in the timeline window and go to frame 20. Like before, hit the stopwatch to make your first opacity keyframe. Now go back to the first keyframe and hit the diamond icon to the left of the stopwatch and change the layer opacity (top right of your layer panel) down to 25%. Now hit spacebar and you should see your image slide and fade into view.

Step 2: Animating the text and underlines

1. Show the underlines.
I'm going to make the text underlines appear slightly before the text, so locate the the top rectangle layer in your timeline window. Now scroll the timeline window to frame 01:00 and hit the stopwatch on the opacity layer. Then simply move to the frame before (29) and hit the diamond to create a keyframe and reduce the opacity to 0%. This will just make the line appear. Repeat this for the second rectangle, putting the keyframes at 1:20 (100% opacity) and 1:19 (0% opacity)

2. Reveal the heading with a layer mask animation
Locate and select the top text layer '20%', hit M to draw a marque around the layer. Then click the 'Add Layer mask' icon (circle in a square) at the bottom of the layer menu to mask the text.

adding a mask to the text
Add text Mask

In the animation timeline window you should now see a layer called 'Layer mask position'. Let's animate the text mask just after the first underline appears. Go to frame 1:19 and hit the stopwatch. Then hit the diamond for the next keyframe at frame 1:09. Now we need to move the mask so that it moves upwards to reveal the text. Still on frame 01:09, select the the mask (click the black rectangle on the text layer), hit v and then drag the mask directly below the text. The mask should now be animated. Repeat this step for the second line of text 'OFF SALE', running from frame 1:29 to 2:09.

Select Layer mask
Text Mask position
Move Layer mask

To finish the text animation we want to add an opacity transition similar to what we did with the background image. With the text layer '20%' selected, go to frame 1:20 and hit the stopwatch on the opacity layer. Then move to frame 1:09 and set the layer opacity to 0%. Now repeat this for the 'OFF SALE' layer, with the layer opacity 100% at frame 2:09 and 0% at frame 1:29. Finally, we need to do this for the subheading layer, with the layer opacity 100% at frame 2:24 and 0% at frame 2:19.

Animate the button
To finish off the animation, I'm going to add a simple fade in on the button. This time we need to select the whole group 'BUTTON' rather than a single layer. In the timeline window hit the arrow to the left of the group to bring down the animation properties. Go to frame 3:14 and hit the stopwatch on the opacity layer, then set the next keyframe at 3:04 and change the layer opacity to 0%.

Button opacity
3. Previewing and Exporting

You can now preview your animation by hitting Spacebar. At this stage you want to be looking at the overall flow of the animation and how they fit together. You may want to experiment with the timings by adjusting the key frame positions.

Video Length
For Instagram stories the maximum length is 15 secs (can be split and combined for longer) and for posts it is 60 secs. If you need to extend your current timeline in Photoshop you will need to extend each layer to the desired length. To do this, hover over the right edge of the layer in the timeline until the cursor changes to a symbol with two arrows. Click and drag until you reach your desired length, unfortunately there is no way in photoshop to do multiple layers at once!

extending timeline photoshop instagram stories
Exporting your video

Now that you're happy with you're animation, it's time to export! On the top right of the timeline window you'll see a hamburger menu, click it and find render video.
You'll now see the render video screen. Choose a suitable folder to export your files into.In the range, make sure work area is selected so that your whole video is rendered. I generally use the adobe media encoder on H.264 and high quality but you can see all of the settings in the screenshot below. That's it! You're animated Instagram stories should be ready to upload! Be sure to check out the free sample templates below and happy insta-animating!

Render video
Video export settings for instagram in Photoshop

Free Sample Instagram Templates

This download contains two animated photoshop template for Instagram stories and one template for a square post.

Free animated instagram stories templates for Photoshop

Custom Instagram Templates

In my last few freelance jobs, I’ve noticed that there has been increase in the demand for staff to create engaging animated Instagram content daily. Often companies don’t have the time to make animations or the photoshop knowhow to make their Instagram stories look professional and standout. I’ve created a series of animated Instagram Stories templates for a range of different posts that are simple to customise and help companies make creative stories quickly. These come as a pack of 20 templates and are available over on Creative Market.

I also create custom templates to order for animated Instagram stories, Instagram ads and creative posts. These can be created in Photoshop for easy updates or in After Effects for more advanced animations and effects.

Animated Instagram stories template 2
Animated Instagram stories template 2
Animated Instagram stories template 2
Animated Instagram stories template 2
Animated Instagram stories template 1
Animated Instagram stories template 1
Animated Instagram stories template 1
Animated Instagram posts
Animated Instagram posts