Saturday, May 03, 2008
"Pencil"--Open Source 2D Animation Software
Lately I've been sketching with the tablet and trying some quick pencil tests, using the free version of Plastic Animation Paper, and Flipbook. But last week I saw a post on Channel Frederator's blog about an open source program called Pencil. While PAP and Flipbook give much more functionality in their Pro versions, I've found the free versions difficult to perform simple tasks, such as holding a single drawing for more than one frame, and adding multiple layers of animation. (PAP: free makes you duplicate a drawing for the number of frames you want to hold it, meaning if you want to change that drawing later you have to change the first, delete all the duplicates, and then re-duplicate the new drawing.)
Pencil doesn't have the bells and whistles of the other programs, but for simple pencil tests I find it's much easier and intuitive to use, if you're already used to using programs with keyframes and timelines, like Maya, After Effects, etc. Its timeline lets you hold a single drawing, move around keyframes, and add extra layers (using either bitmap or vector lines). The onion skin effect isn't as powerful as PAP, as it only lets you see the drawings before and after your current drawing, but I'll take the timeline functionality instead. I've only tried it out for a little bit yesterday, but I plan on using it to plan out my 3D stuff. Did I mention it also lets you import sound? Something that I think PAP: free doesn't let you do.
I haven't fully tested the software, since it's free and open source there could be some bugs, but I just wanted to let people know it's out there, and it's worth taking a look.