I've been repeatedly asked to turn this into a PSE question, so here goes.

Some people may have noticed that, when I answer a question, my answer often includes, as well as a step-by-step explanation of the deductions and a picture of the final solved grid, an animated GIF showing the deductions being entered into the grid one by one. (Here's a couple more examples in case my explanation isn't clear enough. Self-promotion alert, obviously.)

How are these gifs created? (Obviously I have an answer in mind, but I'm also open to other answers if anyone else has a better method than mine.)

I think this question is on-topic since it's about how to show the solution process of a puzzle, which is similar to what we often do in the tag. (I don't want to create a puzzle-solution tag as it'd probably be dreadfully misused.)

  • $\begingroup$ Do we need a [knowledge] tag as well? $\endgroup$
    – justhalf
    Jan 19 at 14:18
  • $\begingroup$ @justhalf I added the computer-puzzle tag; I suppose it does require some specific knowledge of a computer-related kind, though not much as I'm far from tech-savvy. $\endgroup$ Jan 19 at 14:21
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure if [explanation] fits, since it's supposed to be used when you already know the answer but just don't understand it $\endgroup$
    – bobble
    Jan 19 at 14:46
  • $\begingroup$ @bobble Yeah, I'm not sure too - this was a hard one to tag. I put explanation because the "answer" (a solution gif) is known and the question is how to get that gif, but I'm aware it's a stretch. $\endgroup$ Jan 19 at 20:21
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @ACB For your interest, now that someone has provided a working solution, I've also posted an answer to explain what I actually do. $\endgroup$ Feb 9 at 15:10

4 Answers 4


ScreenToGif could be an option. It's Open Source (on GitHub), however, apparently for Windows only.

It's pretty straightforward and has a lot of options. You can use either automatic screen capture with certain frames per second or manual capture.

Draw your puzzle e.g. in LibreOffice Calc, Inkscape or any other program and capture your images with ScreenToGif. You can easily edit the captures and frame delay times afterwards before you save it to the final GIF.

LibreOffice with ScreenToGif capture frame:

enter image description here


enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ This is the exact option I use when creating gifs for presentations at work - it's a very straightforward tool to use and I recommend it widely! $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Feb 8 at 10:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think editing afterward is a lot of work, since you must be on windows, you can solve the puzzle, then open the program and navigate the steps at the speed you want with ctrl+Z(backwards) or ctrl+Y (forward) $\endgroup$
    – Neil
    Feb 8 at 17:24
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    $\begingroup$ @Neil after reading your comment several times, I finally got what you meant. Yes, this probably the most convenient way. ScreenToGif also offers a capture mode "interactions", i.e. at each Ctrl+Z in LibreOffice, a screenshot will be taken. Furthermore, it has the option to remove duplicate frames and you can reverse the whole sequence. Un/desired feature of this procedure: the selected cell will get a frame. $\endgroup$
    – theozh
    Feb 8 at 19:19

theozh's answer is along similar lines to what I actually do, so I count this solution-creation "puzzle" as solved now. But, in the interests of having multiple possibilities available to anyone who reads this post looking for puzzling tools, let me explain how I create the gifs that I use in answers here.

I use a tool called LICEcap, which was recommended to me by someone on SFF.SE years ago as a way to capture scenes from my computer screen and create my own gifs. I've downloaded it to my computer and open it every time I need to make a gif.

LICEcap captures the movement, but how do I actually create the step-by-step movement on my computer screen to capture? Well, a lot of puzzles are presented in the form of an image file, so what I usually do is download the image file, open it in MS Paint, and edit it manually: e.g. by inserting numbers into a grid, or drawing a line piece by piece, or whatever may be necessary for different types of puzzles.

But this process may take hours, when the puzzle is hard, or it may involve some false starts and reversals of fortune. My gifs aren't hours long, so how do I create them? Well, I don't solve and record at the same time: after completing the solution process, I undo everything with Ctrl-Z, open up LICEcap, and then use Ctrl-Y to show each step of the process being done. That way, the whole puzzle is solved in a matter of seconds (the explanation for each step being included in the body of my answer) and the gif can be made in a reasonable way.

  • Pro tip: if the scale/zoom on your computer isn't set to 100%, then LICEcap won't capture properly the region that you fix it around. This problem bit me a few times, the gif capturing the wrong area of the screen, before I realised it's because my default scale setting is 125%. Before using LICEcap, make sure your screen's scale setting is at 100%. This is the only difficulty I remember having with using LICEcap.
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The Ctrl-Y part is the one I was interested in when I asked you last time. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – justhalf
    Feb 9 at 15:42

I personally do a lot of my puzzle solving on my phone, in the evenings either while holding the baby having finally gotten a break in the restroom or in bed. So my phone has to do most of what I may do while not in the office.

I make gifs on my phone!

I haven't had the occasion to make a gif for a puzzle yet, but here is the app I use on my Android:

VIDEO & GIF MEMES by ZomboDroid

Video & GIF Memes

I currently use the free version and it works great!

I work from screenshots:

  1. I may take several screenshots through the process,
  2. draw on points of interest with my screenshot editor (or I also use my OneDrive app or Facebook Messenger to draw on images and then just save them rather than send it).
  3. Open in VIDEO & GIF MEMES app,
  4. add images and set durations
  5. add text,
  6. and output with quality options configured to try to get it under 2MB (the image size limit here on Puzzling.)

(Note: that last part was tricky for my uncropped screenshots.)

This process may involve several retakes and redraws, but the end result is satisfying.

I'm sure Rand al'Thor's and theozh's answers are more applicable for the average Puzzler, and I can't help with iPhone, but I thought I'd share what I've used.

Below are some gifs I made on making gifs in the app.

Warning: gifs about making gifs get a little loopy.

gif Steps 1 and 2

gif Steps 3 and 4

gif steps 5 and 6

gif steps 7 and 8

gif steps 9 and 10

gif steps 11 and 12

(I'm not going to divulge how long I spent on that last gif)

There are are a couple other things you can do that I originally intended to include in the gifs (for instance, step 11 should have been where you can add formattable text for difference segments), but I think it's already overkill. =D

Features include:

  1. Choosing your aspect ratio.
  2. Setting image duration for individual images or all at once.
  3. Changing the background and boarders colors
  4. Choosing output format as gif or video.
  5. Adding formatted text at durational segments of the gif (I forgot to include that as step 11 above).
  6. And choosing size, quality, and frame rate options.
  7. You can also make gifs from videos.

Tip: You can use "standard" quality for detailed images and avoid using "low" quality by tweaking image duration, frame rate.

Making GIFs From Videos

I used my bilt in screen record function then opened it up in this app and chose to create a gif from a video rather than multiple pictures. You also have the HD quality option when working from a video. Here's the end result, tweaked to be under 2MB:

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ I've being using the 'create gif' option in my phone's gallery app. Can you list down the extra features this app offers? $\endgroup$
    – ACB
    Feb 10 at 3:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @ACB Sure! I added to the post. =) $\endgroup$
    – Hawkeye
    Feb 10 at 4:12
  • $\begingroup$ @ACB I added even more info as I tried other things and I made better gifs. The 2MP size limit made it tricky for what I was trying to show and... I may have gone a little overkill... I guess I took it as a personal challenge to show the gif making process in spite of the 2MB size limit. Let me know if I should simplify it. Lol $\endgroup$
    – Hawkeye
    Feb 10 at 20:10
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the info :) $\endgroup$
    – ACB
    Feb 11 at 2:34

I have a pretty barebones site called drawclip.net, where you can sketch something, export it, save your progress into your browser's local storage, and rewind the sketch. It doesn't have the fill or paste function yet, and creates a translucent grey filter over the whole area (it wasn't meant for the specific purpose the OP had in mind), but should do the job well enough.

  1. Work on the puzzle there, draw whatever you want.

  2. When you're finished, set up the built-in XBox Game Bar (enable it if you haven't already from Settings -> Gaming, and enable recording from Gaming -> Captures), and open it. I recommend creating shortcuts to open the Bar and start/stop recording so that you don't have to click and activate Windows Explorer (it led to the recording feature not working on my browser in my experience).

  3. Start recording, then click the rewind button on the page. When the animation ends, stop recording.

  4. Find your video from Users/[Username]/Videos/Captures and convert it to GIF from somewhere like this.

PS. re: 4, ezgif.com offers much more control over the end product, but shrinks the video too much while creating GIFs, and the APNGs (animated PNG) it creates don't work on this site (they animate just fine anywhere else) unless you edit (crop, resize, mute etc.) the video first and then optimize the APNG:

enter image description here


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