Current Animations

This turned into quite the experiment. I used CACANi 1.1 and After Effects. It was a lot of fun and a little frustrating when it came time to export.

Animating In Toon Boom Harmony 12: What It’s Been Like

Having used Toon Boom Studio (version 7) and Toon Boom Animate Pro 2 and 3 (although I used the educational version of Pro 2 and owned a copy of 3. It took me that long to save up for it), by the time I got to try out Harmony I was use to using Toon Boom software. Thus the learning curve wasn’t so steep.

When I first started animating I used Pencil which is still freeware but it crashed so frequently and corrupted my work it was just to upsetting. I discontinued using it. I tried PAP (plastic animation paper). It was great for learning the basics but I needed a way to go all digital. Something that was a whole package. Later years I moved on to animating in GIMP. That was very tedious and tiresome. Eventually I settled down with Photoshop for a while but if you’ve ever tried to animate more than 5 seconds long you will know the frustration I experienced. It took me a long time to save up for a copy of photoshop. With all the effort and frustration I gave up animation and moved onto webcomics.

I couldn’t animate traditionally because I simply couldn’t afford the tools, storage and all that paper. I really needed an all digital answer. Unfortunately I didn’t know about Toon Boom. My first all digital animation program was Anime Studio. At first I liked it. It was more the excitement of seeing my work come to life and move but the style didn’t suit me. It was all bone and vector animation only and I was more of a frame by frame animator. The learning curve to do what I wanted was steep but after all the effort I was unsatisfied and frustrated. I promptly quit not long after.

Fast forward a few years to Adobe Cloud CC Subscriptions. Through enthusiastic suggestion, I rented Flash CS6. I wish I never wasted my money and had of put it towards Toon Boom. But I still didn’t know about Toon Boom Studio at this point. Using flash for the type and style of animation I wanted to do was the most painful animating experience of my life. The lag, the crashing, the corrupted files, the file export issues, compatibility issues, lacking features and tools. The list goes on and on. I use to envy those animators that could do incredible things with Flash but it was not for me.

My first experience with Toon Boom Studio which I stumbled on after reading a blog about “alternatives to flash”. I ditched flash after using the trial for 3days. I then subscribed to the Toon Boom newsletter and waited for it to go on sale.

At first TB Studio was hard to use. My biggest problem was after using adobe products for so long, I had gotten use to expecting things to be harder. So once I settled down and watched a few youtube tutorials I came to appreciate how easy TB Studio was to use. A lot of the tools and features are very WYSIWYG. The hardest thing for me to wrap my head around was drawing in vector with no antialias. I was strictly a bitmap animator for a very long time. It was through TB Studio that I learned vector properly. In the past I had always found it a very technical and difficult art form. Now I love it and appreciate it. But I still prefer to animate in bitmap from time to time.

I think I used Toon Boom Studio 7 for at least years before deciding I had outgrown it and needed to move on to something more advanced. It was quite some time before I had enough money to cross-upgrade. Once again I waited for it to be on sale and with help from my family I did it.

The transition and learning curve to me felt steep because of the nodes. I found the network view and nodes to be very difficult. For the longest time I didn’t understand them but I flourished with the new set of tools and advanced features. I also really enjoyed the new texture brushes to animate with than what I had been using. I was very satisfied animating and learning to animate in Toon Boom Animate Pro 3.

Eventually I got good enough to make a few small animated gifts for close friends. Yes gifts not gifs. It was a wonderful feeling to see how happy they were seeing their characters come to life like that. But I feel, with all those years of struggling with buggy programs or freeware was wasted time I could have spent in Toon Boom. I remember at one point I had even tried TAB. It was not for me.

One of the biggest reasons I loved using Toon Boom Animate Pro was the choice of frame by frame animation, being able to use symbols, the library, 2.5D, 3D view, bones or cut out animation. I wasn’t restricted to just use the one way of animating like so many other programs seem to do. It seems you always have to use just the one method instead of being able to do it all. I know that Toon Boom Studio right up to Animate Pro even has the ability to produce good quality stop motion animation. Taking all of this into consideration, I highly recommend Toon Boom Products to anyone looking to get into 2D animation.

As I progressed with Animate Pro, I really fell in love with the fact that they have kept an xsheet as a part of the animation process. In earlier years I had a one year sub for a program called RETAS Studio for a group project that fell through the cracks like so many indie animations before, and I had learned xsheets in the early stages of learning to animate traditionally, and at first, I really couldn’t animate without one. I had gotten so use to using them for timing. But enough time in Animate Pro and I rarely use them any more. I think now I only go back to make minor adjustments.

Taking all of this into consideration, with my past experiences with various animation programs, including TVPaint (Which I’ve only ever been able to use for learning and unfortunately could not afford a commercial license even though I would love to own it as well. I happen to think it pairs up well with toon boom.), I think knowing this might help you understand why I enjoy and like Harmony 12 so much. Also for anyone that’s used any of these products you might understand some of the points I will make or have briefly touched upon.

Using Toon Boom Harmony 12 has been a dream to work with. The little things that use to annoy me in Animate Pro are long gone. The main one was certain automatic blank frame inserts while you tried to work on keyframes in the timeline. It use to get frustrating but it was a quirk that was easy to put up with and deal with. I’m glad that’s been changed.

As strange as it sounds, there’s been less lag than Animate Pro 3. I genuinely thought since there’s more tools and it really is a much bigger program that it would run slower but it’s quite the opposite. It starts up faster and hardly lags at all for the type of animation I create. I was extremely thrilled and impressed by this.

I was also very impressed by the bone tools and the curve deformer. The only thing that surprised me was the Unity bone export. Making a 2D platformer has always been a priorty and dream of mine but one of the biggest set backs was lack of animation skill and tools. I didn’t have the right set of tools to practise with which is no longer the case. The fact that you can export your rigged animations to Unity is just incredible. I just hope one day I can also learn how to code and create a specific game idea I have had in my head for what feels like forever but that’s for another time.

After playing around in Harmony 12 I found the nodes easier to use. The main reason being the tiny little description you get when you hover your mouse over the node input and output. I use to put my nodes in the wrong way around frequently but this is no longer the issue.

Another thing I found priceless was a book by Adam Phillips:Animate to Harmony: The Independent Animator’s Guide to Toon Boom

This is by far the best book I have bought in years. It gets even more points for not being boring and written with personality. This book helped me in Animate Pro 3 and Harmony more than all of the youtube videos and both manuals combined. And believe me I’ve read and watched a lot. Combining this book with the online user manual, definitely made my experience a much more positive one.

After I wrapped my head around all of these new features and the benefits of the new brushes and choice of vector or bitmap layers I ended up falling head over heals in love with Harmony 12. So much so that I saved up for a cross-upgrade. It’s worth every dollar.

So far I’ve been doing frame by frame with and without antialias turned on while I work as I experiment with my workflow. I’ve been enjoying the increased speed and since Toon Boom Studio I’ve always appreciated how rarely these programs crash! When you’re working on large files, particularly in animation the last thing you need is for constant crashing which often leads to eventually corrupting your main save file. I haven’t had this happen and I’m running the minimum required specs. For the rare times it happened to me in Animate Pro I’ve always been grateful for the autosave that happens in the background which I am happy to say works even better and smoother in Harmony.

For me personally, because I draw fairly fast with a lot of swift movements, lag has always been an issue for me in any drawing program. I don’t have the money to keep a constant supply of inks, pens and paper so I rely heavily on doing my work digitally. The main reason being that digital is a one time payment and storage is far easier 😉 Lately while comparing, I have found that the only time Harmony really ever lags for me is if I am making or using particles. However I expect this to be less of an issue when I upgrade my system to run it more efficiently.

Another thing I have come to heavily appreciate is how much compositing you can do in Harmony. It really eliminates the need for other compositing and editing software such as After Effects. As it is now, I am experimenting with ways of achieving some of the effects I use to create in After Effects CC in Harmony. This is quite a bonus for me personally since AE is quite the resource hog and takes an awfully long time to render and export something as simple as a 30 second animation could take an hour to export in comparison to Harmony’s few minutes or less.

The only things I would like to see in harmony but could easily live without would be a smudge and blur tool. However in saying that you can use the mesh deformer to achieve smudge like effects and nodes for blur but there are times where you just want certain areas blurred slightly like you would with the blur tool in photoshop.

In the past I use to really want or missed using an Airbrush when I used Animate Pro. There was no airbrush. If you wanted that look you had to use the nodes and Gaussian Blur. But it was quite an adventure to try and get that right and preview it in the render view mode. In Animate Pro 3, despite having 8GB ram and a great graphics card, it took forever to render. In Harmony 12 it seems to be lightening fast. I use to hate using nodes because of how much it would slow Animate Pro 3 down or how slow it would be to preview it. I’d preview, then adjust and then wait while it froze to re-render the preview. This is no longer an issue for me in Harmony. I am finding I can have a very complex node setup and adjust them while I leave the preview full render on and it almost never freezes. I say almost because it does freeze a bit if I am trying to preview selected frames with particles. But if I’m not working with particles which most of the time I’m not, it doesn’t freeze up. And I am certainly someone that heavily abuses the blur node.

That pretty much sums up my experience thus far. Harmony is very powerful yet it’s not a drag on my system. And compared to Flash, there is no comparison. It’s far superior in everyway. Thus far, it’s been a very smooth and fast paced creative experience. I no longer feel burdened by my lack of tools and options.

Would I recommend Harmony? Yes, absolutely. Would I still recommend Flash? No. No, no, no, no, no a thousand times no.

But I do encourage you to use whatever works best for you and what you’re most comfortable with. Personally I would love to one day own TVPaint and use it alongside Harmony and enjoy the best of both worlds but that is a long way away. And who knows what the future holds now that I have Harmony under my belt. As I grow with it I may end up changing my mind but I know my happiness will continue to grow as I slowly make personal goals and dreams come to life.

I really enjoyed the Toon Boom products I have used over the years. It’s been mostly a very pleasant experience and I expect the next several years to become even more amazing as my skills grow.

If you read all of this and might be thinking about getting Harmony, I highly recommend using the trial first. The main reason is to check the compatibility. Best not to go diving in head first and buying it if you can’t run it or don’t even like the software.

Although I must warn you to activate it when you have the time to actually use it because it’s likely that you will use up that 30days all while trying to cram in as many tutorials as possible. Depending on how familiar you are with digital art will really influence how steep the learning curve is for you with this particular software.

If at all you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask. I also apologise for the captcha but I have an incredibly bad spam problem this site.

Homeless

I’m going to keep this very short. There was a cyclone and a gum tree fell on my house. Everyone and our pets are fine. There was asbestos. We have nothing. I’m with family. Whenever I finally move I’ll likely be working hard to replace pretty much a lifetime of furniture. So this blog might go a little stale and not be updated but it will not be forgotten.

Cleaning and Home Tips

This will be bullet points of things I have learned or been taught.

  • Use epsom salts to clean your washing machine. Do  it once a month.I am allergic to a lot of products and I have found itching and irritation from using commercial cleaners whereas epsom salts are harmless and good to soak in when you’re in the tub, so it makes sense to use it as a cleaner (funnily enough I find it good to soak in epsom salts and my tub comes out a little cleaner each time and leaves my skin soft).

    First, empty your lint filter and clean it thoroughly. I set my machine to full and put in about 1 cup to 1 1/2 in a cool wash cycle on regular. Ideally you should do this on warm or hot but it kills our electricity bill. I don’t really notice much of a decline in cleaning quality when I use cold but if you haven’t done it in a long time you’ll want to use hot water to help get rid of the soap scum and build up in both your machine and it’s pipes and if you’ve NEVER done it, do it on hot and add a cup of bicarb baking soda powder.I only do this once ever 2 to 3 months because I feel that’s what works best for me and also because I use almost all liquid.

    If you use powder washing, then you should do it once a month. You can also use the left over water for your garden if you are only using epsom salts. I don’t recommend using it on your yard if you have added bicarb.If you need an extra kick to cleaning out your washing machine without buying commercial cleaners, adding a half to a full cup of bicarb baking soda can really do the trick or even a half  a cup of rock salt.

    It’s cheap and effective. If you are someone that really needs scents in your cleaner use a few small drops of peppermint oil (pure) or essential oils with disinfecting qualities. You could also use a bit of tea trea oil. This will also disinfect your machine as well as make it smell nice.

  • Clean your washing machine once a month by using Epsom salts. I’ve found this far more effective than commercial cleaners and it’s also safer.
  • NEVER mix cloudy ammonia with bleach (this includes domestos). It’s toxic and if you plan to mix chemicals, it doesn’t hurt to do a quick google research about it.
  • Some of you might find this handy, others might say “well duuuuh”. This will be in bullet points. This is stuff my mother use to make me do and things I do because of allergies while some of it is just common sense.
  • Things you can do with Bicarb or Carpet freshener. Use either as a carpet freshener. Freshen and deodorize pet beds by sprinkling it on the area, allow to sit for a few minutes and then dust off or vacuum. Deodorize your car by sprinkling it on the upholstery and floors and letting it sit for 10-20 minutes and then vacuuming it off later.Add to the ashtray if you are a non smoker for a long lasting smell absorber.

    Leave it open and it will last a long time as an air freshener for your car. Also give it a stir or shake once in a while. Use either in the bin. Yes the bin. Sprinkle it on the bottom of your bin to deodorize all day and night long BEFORE you place in a new bag. It can also absorb bin moisture keeping it smell free longer and easier to clean. Can last for 2 to 3 days in the bottom of a bin, but I recommend cleaning your bin after each unbagging with with Earth or Pine O Clean wipes.Sprinkle either one on the bottom of cat tray litter before adding litter. Find a small container and put in some of it, leave the lid off and place strategically around the home as either an air freshener or smell absorber.

    Put bicarb only in a small container, say about 1/4 cup of bicarb baking soda powder and place in the bottom shelf or top shelf way up the back to absorb smells and keep your fridge smelling fresh or not smelling at all. I have found this to last anywhere up to 1-3 months. Give it a stir once in a while.

  • Use denture pills to clean stained coffee cups or coffee pots. Works wonders if you get the whitening one. Also works on pots and pans. I find this to work better than bicarb in some circumstances.
  • Boil then let simmer, bicarb in a pot or pan with food that is stuck or brown burnt to the bottom. Things like rice, semolina or polenta that are just messy and hard to clean sometimes. It will loosen it and make it easier to clean.
  • Use bicarb as a no smell, all natural abrasion free scrub. Mix into a paste and use with a sponge. Clean bench tops, sinks, toilet and bathroom, microwaves and ovens with this mix.
  • Clean bench tops daily to keep ants away. If  they still persist even if your kitchen is spotless, find where they are entering and get a cotton wool pad. Add a few drops of peppermint oil and wipe around and near the entry point. It will repell them. Do it daily and they will stop coming in.This is a no kill solution. I’ve also found that having a small container of compost outside is the best way to keep ants out of the home.

    In my house it can be spotless but when they persist in entering the home, they are foraging because there’s a large storm on the way and sure enough a few hours later or the next day there’s a lightening storm. These two things have been great at keeping them out of my house. I never could kill ants.

  •  Boil some water and pour down the sink as evenly as possible to melt any fats or oils in your drain. Pour around and in sink drain, 1 cup of bicarb soda and use white vinegar. Pour about a cup or more of vinegar until it foams up and out of the drain. This is an all natural and effective drain cleaner. Let sit for a few minutes and then rinse. It’s good to do this every 1-3 months. Keeps your drains smell free as well.

    Some people have written that this works well in the toilet but I find when vinegar is diluted with water, it doesn’t make the bicarb fizz and makes it less effective. You can try but you might waste a lot of vinegar getting it to work right.

  • Use polish with beeswax to best preserve and clean wooden furniture. My mother used it on vinyl lounges as well and their life I swear was extended. I have a table and chair set over 15 yrs old and it still looks new and fresh. The chairs are leather or vinyl and the table wood. If  you have none, Armor All can be a good substitute.
  • Nifty can be as powerful as using domestos but is not as harsh. When using it, to get the best results allow to soak/sit for 10-20 minutes. Does a good job on removing mould. Use in a well ventilated area and be aware that it can and will bleach clothes. Though not as strong it can still whiten things you don’t want white.
  • Using static wipes to dust can be excellent if you’re as allergic to dust as I am but try to never use it near the computer or laptops.
  • Pre spray your dusting cloth with furniture polish to help stop disturbing dust and making it fly into the air and aggravate your allergies. It will of course still disturb it but it will be far less and amount.
  • Open your windows and curtains daily! Various build up of toxins from household cleaners can make you sick and opening a window or two can really help keep your home fresh. Plus sunlight has a lot of benefits in the home. Unless  you’re totally all green and eco friendly (very hard to do), things like deodorant, toilet sprays, cleaners, all release various chemicals that can affect your health and even with air vents it can still linger in the home and make you sick.

    Allow natural sunlight and fresh air into your home is a must. I also recommend having houseplants. Plants naturally absorb carbon dioxide and other dangerous chemicals and then the plants release fresh oxygen.  I also really highly recommend why and the benefits of having houseplants is a must.

  • Sunlight soap. Sunlight soap is your friend. Although it’s not the best smelling product it’s extremely gentle on the skin and does a lot around the home. Read the packet for suggestions. Does a great job at cleaning dishes, excellent in the garden. My nana use to mix it in a spray bottle of water and spray her roses with it to keep bugs at bay.I use to great it and make it into an all purpose spray.

    If you have stainless steel sinks, get a wet sponge, lather it up in sunlight soap and go crazy. It’s super foamy which is a good thing. Use the scrub side of a non abrasive scotch brite sponge. Rinse thoroughly and you will have shining sinks. It’s gentle and shines. Does a great job on clothing stains. I use to use it to get out grass stains.

  • Use bicarb as a fabric softener.
  • Use a mixture of bicarb and epsom salts in a tub of warm water to soak your feet in. Particularly good if you have an ingrown toenail or sore redness around the toes. Only add peppermint oil (pure) or pure eucalyptus oil, a few drops, if you want a nice smell. The reason I say this is because you only want something with antibacterial and antiseptic properties.
  • Homemade antibacterial fabric softener or garment freshener. Works both ways. Add 1/3 cup or fill the bottle about a quarter or 1/3 into a 1litre spray bottle. Fill with warm water and add a few drops of lemon essential oil or pure peppermint oil. I recomment anything from 3 to 10 drops. Give it a shake, make sure it’s well dissolved and use as a softener or freshener.
  • Use steam when ironing to kill dust mites.
  • Iron bedsheets and pillow cases to 1. Kill dustmites and germs 2. Save an incredible amount of space and better maintain your linen press.
  • Place a small open jar of used sun dried tea leaves in humid linen press to absorb moisture. This is a cheap solution to commercial packaged dehumidifier packets you buy in store.
  • Wash curtains and blinds! Horrified at how many people I know with asthma or allergies sick everyday and have not washed their curtains or dusted their blinds in years. If you keep it clean you can run a steam cleaner over them once a week for a quick top up clean.
  • Use white vinegar if you have no descaler for your percolator/coffee machine. Run through twice, rinse thoroughly and run through just water at least twice to rid the vinegar.
  • Using cream cleanser on your bathtub and bathroom sink at least once a week or once a fortnight will keep it clean and white longer. Usually it works better than the “no scrub” cleaners which are usually harsh on the lungs. To get the best results, put the pug in the tub to save what rolls down the tub walls.

    Squirt some cream cleanser around the tub and rub in with a sponge or scrubbing brush. Allow to sit for 20 minutes. Lightly wet and scrub on last time. It will lather up a lot. If you had a lot of soap scum and grime you can let it sit for another 10-20 minutes then rinse. I can get away with once a fortnight. Ajax cream cleanser works best.

  • Using bleach on porcelain tubs and toilets will erode the enamel and make it porous. A lot of “no scrubbing no wipe” cleaners can also do the same damage. Even though they say good for tubs, quite often they are not and are really meant for showers and tiles. Once it becomes porous it becomes harder to keep clean.
  • For an easy microwave clean you need a Pyrex jug or microwave safe container. Preferably something that can handle boiling water. Add 3-4 tablespoons of bicarb to one cup of water. Stirring is optional. I like to stir. Place it in the microwave. Turn on microwave for 2-3 minutes. Let sit for a few minutes to allow the steam to do it’s job. Use a damn cloth or sponge and wipe clean. Sponge works best. You can use the leftover mix to clean your bench tops when it’s cooled down.

    I was surprised at how effective this was. I HATE cleaning the microwave. No one (including myself) uses microwave lids or protectors so it gets EVERYWHERE and you all know how hard that food much can stick the the walls of your microwave. I kid you not I tried this and it was a very easy wipe and clean. The only part that needed a bit of elbow grease was the roof part with a few stubborn parts.

    I just re-cooked it for 1-2 minutes and let sit. It was easier to remove the second time around.I also changed over to the non abrasive scrubbing side of my scotch brite sponge. It took me maybe 10 minutes to clean. Usually it takes longer because I tend to put off cleaning the microwave because of how difficult it can be. I also love this method for safety reasons.

    I don’t like to use chemicals on things I cook with. I always worry I haven’t rinsed it off enough and I might make us all sick or poisoned.On the back of the box it gives similar instructions to do this with the oven. I haven’t tried this on my oven but I plan to. If it worked this good in the microwave with the burned chunks and grease, I have high hopes for my oven.

  • Use baking paper instead of greasing pans can not only be healthier but make cleaning up a lot less messy and easier.
  • Mixing about a tablespoon of cloudy ammonia in a foaming bottle with 3 tablespoons of cheap dish washing liquid (I recommend homebrand lemon) a few drops of eucalyptus solution (not oil, it makes it go funny) or peppermint oil with tea tree oil or solution, makes for a great carpet cleaner and good for cleaning drains.

    Also works well on cleaning white goods. I use this often to clean my washing machine lid and sides. My cats love to sit on it and make it dirty so it’s a daily item for me. I find it can smell nice if you use a little less ammonia. The oils or solutions are to deter bugs such as fleas and also for smell. The dish liquid just isn’t enough when ammonia is added.This mix is also super effective on hard stains on the floor. Eg hardened dropped food that might have been left by family members. Squirt some foam on the area, allow to sit for 5minutes then wipe. If that didn’t work, reapply and let sit for longer. Keep pets and children away until it’s cleaned.

  • Buying a sizable tub, big enough to soak 2-4 queen bed sheets is often a very cost effective investment when it comes to hand washing and soaking larger items. It often ends up being a much gentler option when you need to use hot water but at the same time you are trying to save electricity.Our hot water system is a joke and we’ve had it replaced 3 maybe 4 times in one year. I’m glad I bought such a tub.

    I can soak a decent amount of clothes for however long in stove boiled water without making my bills higher and still getting a good clean. After it’s cooled I tend to handwash all I can and then put it through a cool rinse cycle.Things like curtains I like to soak in boiled water. It takes 200 degrees celsius to kill dust mites and I am hyper sensitive to those. I soak it in an anti dustmite solution by Bostistos or Sard soaker. I’m paranoid when it comes to dust because I’m so allergic it. I like to add pure eucalyptus oil to my sard soaking items to make sure to kill dust mites and other germs as well as use it for the wonderful smell. It makes my whole house smell lovely.

  • Eucalyptus oil or methylated spirits can remove left over sticky tape glue from tables and walls.
  • Methylated spirits, besides cleaning glass streak free can also remove permanent marker from walls and tables.
  • Stings from stinging nettle can be removed and relieved by rubbing methylated spirits to the area.
  • If you’re feeling lazy with any item you don’t want to wash after cooking, even though you know it will go hard, fill to the top with water and leave it. That way when you wake it will be moist and an easy wipe off. Adding a squirt of dish liquid doesn’t hurt either 😉 Save yourself the pain of scrubbing and just fill it to the top until you’re ready to tackle it in the morning.Highly recommend doing this after using the rice cooker or slow cooker. It really saves on a burdensome clean later.

Surprisingly this is all I can think of for now. I’m sure I will add to this list another time. One last note, I have come to find pinterest an amazing source for homemade cleaning tips and remedies. Some of their recipes are great while others… not so great or safe. If you plan to make homemade cleaners, PLEASE remember to research what you’re mixing and if it’s safe to do so!

 

Speed Paintings

This is what I’ve been up to and working on lately. I managed to record my work on my current webcomic Jade Mirror. All work was done in Clip Studio Paint EX

Speed Painting

I’ve gone back to making regular speed paintings on youtube. This time I used Clip Studio Paint. Nothing fancy though it sort of looks like it is. Lately I’ve been experimenting with ways of painting hair. I’m trying to go for something soft and painterly.

Animation Recommendation

This is my personal recommendation. I just want to mention that this is my personal opinion from my own experiences as well as me answering questions I get.

As a hobbyist animator I have tried almost every single animation program out there. I’ve always wanted to do classic frame by frame animation but doing it traditionally can be very expensive and I switched to digital animation. Besides being eco friendly you only have to pay for your tools once. I love the advantages of digital animation.

The only program I haven’t tried was CelAction simply because it didn’t have anything I needed and it was far too expensive for a hobbyist like myself.

If you are into classic animation like me and do frame by frame animation I highly recommend theses 6 programs. I will however be giving honorable mentions of other programs that you can animate with or use to prepare to create great animations. (I only use the first 4, specifically I only own ToonBoom Animate Pro and studio. I can’t afford TVPaint but I hope to one day.)

  1. Sketchbook Pro 7
  2. ToonBoom Studio, Animate, Animate Pro, Harmony (any of these suites are great for animation but I highly recommend Animate or higher)
  3. CACANi
  4. Adobe After Effects
  5. TVPaint
  6. Celtx

Reasons:

Sketchbook Pro has always been an excellent program for doing concept work but with the added feature of flipbook, it can make creating keyframes very enjoyable. It loads and runs fast and has very basic animation. One of the more notable features is the perspective rulers, this is particularly useful when creating background art for animation since most animation programs do not offer perspective rulers and you have to draw them manually. Taking advantage of these rulers can really help you excel in creating high quality animation and various graphics. This is excellent if you’re new and can help ease you into 2D frame by frame animation. You can then export and import into ToonBoom to take it further and create amazing things. Sketchbook Pro is also excellent for doing storyboarding and various concept work as well making it a very important tool during the early stages of design and creating model references.

ToonBoom has a wide range of software specifically for animation but each suite is aimed at specific types of animation but it can do it all. I recommend any of the Toon Boom products from Studio to Harmony. They are all capable of symbol animation, morph/tween, cut out, bone/puppet animation, stop motion and frame by frame. I also like the onion skin options and settings. I’ve found it to be very efficient. However I do recommend that you check the specs and use a trial before committing. There are still some compatibility issues. The only other con I can think of is the learning curve. Some say it is intuitive to learn while others don’t. I did not find it very intuitive but I did find it fairly easy to navigate through the tools. It was difficult at first to remember where everything was but fortunately ToonBoom allows you to fully customize your workspace. I would also like to add that unless you have Harmony you can only create vector art. If you want bitmap or raster based painted backgrounds or assets you have to import them. Fortunately ToonBoom offers an excellent library that you can customize and save your items for reuse later.

CACANi is excellent for a lot of reasons. The main one being that it can automate inbetweens and it’s stroke steadying settings. If you have shaky hands or an over sensitive tablet you will find this extremely useful. It’s not flawless with auto inbetweening and you still have to inbetween complex animation but it can be a great time saver and still produces quality animation. It basically does advanced vector morphing. It’s also all vector based. Some that are use to raster animation may not enjoy it and find it a disadvantage, but it is worth learning and using. Once you get use to vector animation you can really take full advantage of it and create some incredible things. Particularly if you’re a professional with limited time to get things finished. You can draw in it frame by frame by hand as well and you may find you only need Cacani and Sketchbook Pro for most of your work. CACANi is especially good for a more classic cel animation with cel shading. Anyone that has used ToonBoom or flash and tried to animate cel shading will know the difficulties it can involve. With it’s unique colour line separation pen and quickflip preview ,it makes the flow of animating cel animation much easier smoother and get it done in a much shorter amount of time.

Adobe After effects is a compositing program. I recommend it for filters and basic particles. It’s extremely useful to use the particles to make snow or falling feathers, leaves blowing in the wind or anything else you can think of. It’s especially good for glowing and various lighting or shading effects. I recommend it mostly because subscribing is cheaper than trying to buy Harmony. If you have ToonBoom Harmony, it’s unlikely that you would need After Effects. After Effects is also capable of puppet animation and does a really good job of it. In short it’s like photoshop for animation. I highly recommend it for it’s filters to edit your animations and push them further in design, effects and quality.

TVPaint has a lot of tools. If you have it, it’s unlikely that you will need any other program. It is mostly raster based. Recently it was upgraded with a lot of amazing new tools. If you are into puppet or bone animation I don’t recommend TVPaint. It’s mostly a frame by frame animation program. It has advanced and customizable lightbox options that make inbetweening and onion skin easy to use. With TVPaint you can do storyboarding as well which is a big pro including adding audio to your storyboards. The only Con is unless you have a Cintiq or dual monitors, it can get very cramped very quickly. It is professional grade software and has a fairly steep learning curve. However if you have some experience in animation with other programs you might find it fairly intuitive. I highly recommend trying the demo. Unlike other programs there is no time limit to test the software. You can’t save and it uses a watermark. Unlike ToonBoom animate family where you have to import raster images from photoshop for backgrounds, you can paint within TVPaint lessening the need for any other program.

Celtx is not animation software but it is a necessary program to have and use. It’s replaced word and OneNote for me. Celtx has online cloud storage and offers a range of writing formats from script writing to storyboards for film and comics. It’s most unique feature is the character database. You can create and story a database for all of your characters with indepth information plot ties and image reference. It’s freeware and well worth downloading and using. If you decide to get into serious animation I highly recommend using it and taking advantage of the character database to use alongside your script and storyboards. I personally use to use this for my comics in combination with Sketchbook Pro and it certainly has been a great help in the past.

Honorable Mentions:

[List has been updated 17/03/2015]

Other programs that can be either used for animation or are extremely helpful during the animation process and concepting stages are listed below:

  • OneNote (Organising, scripting, concepts, storyboarding, mindmaps (very  important), ability to share with team members)
  • Plastic Animation Paper also known as PAP
  • Clip Studio Paint Pro and EX (Perspective rulers, paint, raster drawing, background, concept, storyboards and assets with transparency)
  • GIMP (animation and concept)
  • Photoshop (animation and concept, transparent image assets)
  • MyPaint (unlimited canvas, fast loading, variety of natural feeling brushes)
  • ArtRage (Beautiful backgrounds, program imitates natural media very well. Personally I think it does it better than Corel)
  • Corel Painter (animation and concept, natural media feel)
  • Paint Tool Sai (for raster images, backgrounds, concepts, storyboards and ease of use)
  • OpenCanvas (perspective rulers, painting, concept, storyboarding)
  • Audacity (for audio recording)
  • FL Studio (Unless you’re a composer I only recommend basic FL for creating your own sound effects and music. It is professional grade software and has a very steep learning curve. However it is well worth learning.)
  • Pencil (Free frame by frame animation. Still buggy and has been known to crash. Save frequently)
  • Blender (now has frame by frame animation. Done with grease pencil)
  • Tab (various suits, mostly all vector and I think cut out animation)
  • Digicel Flipbook (a lot of people still use and recommend this program. I personally did not take to it)
  • Anime Studio (vector bone morph animation)
  • Retas Studio (I don’t think it’s sold outside of Japan in english any more but I have seen some artists purchase it so I’m not totally sure.)
  • GraphicsGale (gif animation)
  • Synfig (free, mostly vector. Very steep learning curve, lots of issues for windows. Best used on Linux)
  • Tupi
  • Toufee
  • Toonz (same company that makes Tab, but to my understanding this one is more advanced)
  • CelAction
  • Flash (animation, symbols, tweening, frame by frame)

If you feel I have forgotten any 2D programs you think should be mentioned please leave a comment. This was very quickly written.

Work In Progress Animation Status Update

Right click and loop for better viewing.

I will likey upload this to Vimeo and youtube as well but this is what I have currently been working on lately. It’s one of many short clipped scenes. I plan to put them all together in After Effects but I have a few more things to learn first before I do.

A while ago I was having program issues but the bugs have since been fixed. This was made using CACANi and edited in After Effects. The raster image in the background was made in Clip Paint Studio.

I’ve been working on my 2.5D animation techniques and I think I have the hang of it now. My next set is to attempt to add lighting and shadows efficiently. As you can see I’ve already start to play with it but I need to work on it some more. I haven’t figured out how to animate flickering lights and room shadows in AE yet but I plan to. I just have to get use to how it sets keyframes and handles things.

That’s pretty much it though. Just wanted to give an update on what I’ve been doing and where I’ve been.