Adobe Fireworks is an Adobe vector and bitmap product specially designed for making web graphics. Sadly, it looks like it will discontinue, but hopefully it's long term support lasts, because this is actually my favorite of all drawing programs, thanks to it's ability to segment an image into layers, create rollover effects, create symbols and a whole range of other fabulous features which are very different than Photoshop.
Convert a Bitmap into a Vector
- Select the magic wand tool.
- Click the area you want to convert to a vector (so it selects area).
- Right click > Modify Marquee >Convert to Path
Unfortunately this only converts one area at a time. Older versions of Fireworks could convert an entire bitmap (multiple colors) to vectors in one click... but now you need to turn to other programs for that. Adobe Flash and Adobe Illustrator both have methods for this where you can specify thresholds etc.
Create Animated GIF
For CS6, the process of making and animated GIF is explained in this video. Basic steps:
- Make a new canvas the correct size, transparent background.
- In the Optimize tab, select animated gif.
- A "Frames" tab (Window > Frames), add some frames.
- Add content to each frame.
- TIP: You can click the number beside the frame to change how long each frame lasts
- Click File > Export and it will save as a .gif as default.
I found the best way to create animation, is to start with frame 1, turn everything into symbols, then select all the pieces you want to copy the next layer > right click and "Copy to layers", then copy to all proceeding layers, move stuff, and then repeat.