In parallel to experimentation with physical materials, I developed technical skills in a range of digital software options that can simplify and automate the drawing process.
I started with experimenting with iPad software as a means of quick exploration, brainstorming and drafting. Procreate 5 and Adobe Fresco in particular have brushes and graphic capabilities that are very useful as part of a workflow with more professional animation software.
I later developed skills in software used by professional independent animators – particularly TVPaint – for my more experimental polished vignettes.
Software Overview and Feature Checklist
My list of key things to look for when choosing animation software:
- Drawing tools vector drawing tools for creating motion and scaling and/or pixel-based tools for more artistic effects. Including image import so that backgrounds and other features can be created from photographs, artwork or imported images from other drawing and painting aps.
- Symbols or re-usable elements, including import from other software.
- Puppets and rigs : ability to create characters with movable skeletons and bones that can then be manipulated for action as in 3D animation.
- Tweening or smoothing/interpolation of animation between drawn key-frames, including control of the number of before/after frames, colouring and opacity.
- Onion-skinning: viewing of previous and following drawn frames to facilitate accurate drawing of current frames
- Layers to be able to create scenes with background, foreground and multiple animated elements with different animation rhythms.
- Timeline features: control over frame speed and duration, easy addition and deletion of frames.
- Audio features to import music, narration and sound effects – preferably onto separate layers for multiple sound effects, music and/or voice over.
- Text features to add titles, captions, credits and additional text overlays.
I started by experimenting on the iPad with different software, to experiment with different styles and basics of short animation:
But I found the professional software on a pc with bigger screen and much better timeline automation features much more user and RSI-friendly for my work. I was already familiar with Adobe Animate, used for some of the diagram animations on this blog. But after looking through tutorials and reviews on You Tube, I decided on:
- TVPaint because of its drawing and painting features.
- Adobe Premiere for final compositing and sound effects
Other software to be further explored in future:
- Blender for 3D
- Adobe After Effects for compositing
- Adobe Animate for tweening and interactivity
- ToonBoom studio for easier smoother cartoon-style animation
!!Software comparison Excel chart to be done
iPad Software Review
by Jacob Kafka for hand drawn animation application runs on Android, iOS, Mac OS, and Windows.
- Well-designed timeline with unlimited layers, easily adjustable exposure length of individual drawings, for pose-to-pose or straight-ahead animating
- Onion skinning
- Preview playback and scrub along timeline
- One audio layer for importing audio and lip syncing
- Import video for rotoscoping animation
- Customisable brushes
- Export animation to Quicktime video, GIF, or image sequence
- Export projects for import to Adobe Flash/Animate, After Effects, and Toon Boom Harmony
- Limited brushes
- Only one audio layer
- Transformation features with numeric position, rotation and scale, but limited flexibility and without registration point
Developed by Visual Blasters LLC for both android and iOS. This is a much more robust animation software designed specifically for animation.
- very quick and easy drawing and frame by frame animation with anime style marker and brush, onion-skinning etc
- multiple layers for each frame to do complex moving backgrounds and camera effects
- easy selection and transform tools to move objects around in space with registration point
- easy timeline manipulation
- can import, add and remove video
- multiple track audio including import and recording of own audio as well as in-App sound libraries.
- has a video capture to export a record of the animation process
- export as MP4, GIF, IMAGE SEQ
- separation of timeline and layers makes animation quite time-consuming.
- limited brushes biased towards anime style
For short artistic cel animation and/or artistic redrawing of animations from more specialised animation software. Only available for iPad.
- Sophisticated drawing, painting and image creation tools including infinitely customisable brushes and smudge brushes, blend modes, masking, flexible selection and transformation tools, effects and ability to import photographs and video to timeline.
- Timeline with assignable foreground and background layers, and possibility of separate frame-lengths for each frame.
- Layers for each frame produced through grouping in a separate layers panel.
- Onion-skinning flexible options of number of frames, colouring and opacity
- Text tools
- Export of creative process videos.
- No audio
- Complex to use unless you are very familiar with procreate drawing and painting tools.
- Animation features are a bit clunky because of the separation of timeline and layers panels.
Very simple easy to use programme for digital flipbooks. Its simplicity makes things quick and easy to produce minimalist animations that can be exported to Procreate and other programmes if needed. Very good for learning basics of animation.
- 4 basic brushes
- basic timeline without layers but can allocate a frame for background and import photos and movieclips to it for rotoscoping.
- inApp purchase of selection and transform tools.
But a bit basic for my purposes, though was good to learn on.
Animation desk by Kdan is another animation app that allows to create animations and cartoons on android or iOS device. It is free and easy to use app where you can
- good selection of 45 different brushes
- easy frame by frame animation with easy alteration to frame timing etc and storyboard labelling and export
- create animations on videos, images, PSD layers.
- on-line Kdan cloud community
- no audio
- not text
- no layer blending
Lego-style 3D animation developed by Google for android and iOS users.
This is a very simple App that is an entertaining introduction to 3D storytelling with narration and mood music. Movies are inherently amusing because they have the feel of children playing with lego figures:
- You have the option of different scene numbers but are guided to have a beginning, middle and end. But these can be swapped around and extra scenes added.
- Each scene is recorded live with a set length and stop watch while the director moves the characters around and does a voice-over narrative or adds live sounds.
- You can zoom in and out of scenes with a somewhat jerky movement. The inbuilt scenes are quite complex with different floors of buildings and moving parts. You can draw your own very simple coloured backdrops – one brush, eraser, paintbucket and large set palette of colours.
- There are an array of inbuilt characters that walk, talking mouths, can be scaled and moved around. Arms and feet can kick, hit and hug, but limited actions. Colours and certain parameters of each character can be changed. Only one character can be moved at a time – like children playing with lego.
- You can draw your own characters and objects that can be extruded to be 3D but with no moving parts.
- There is a choice of mood music – one per scene – with volume control. If you want your own music this would have to be input at the time of recording. There is no facility for importing your own sounds.
Stop Motion Studio
Stop motion studio is a popular animation apps for android and iOS users which allows make animation video on your device. It is an easiest app to get you into stop motion movie making for android and iOS users. It is also used as slow motion video app to make slow motion video with different video editor options. App has lots of attractive features, which makes it super easy to get into stop motion video. It has different modes as overlay mode, grid mode, integrated movie editor and others.
Stick Nodes is a tweened IK stick animation Apdeveloped by ForTheLoss Games, Inc for Android and iOS users. It is a powerful but also quite clunky and complicated stickman animator app with:
- options to construct fully animating kinematic stick figures and/or import ones ready made. These can be exported to a library for re-use.
- add one background image per project
- automatic frame-tweening with ease and stretch
- sound effects using sound effect apps
- text captions
- virtual camera to move and zoom.
It is a possible Ap to use if you do not have more professional Aps like Adobe Animate. But time for the steep learning curve is substantial to do more than a few Japanese kick box animations with text (see below). That time is better spent leaning Adobe Animate.
I include these tutorials here because some of the techniques can be applied to cel animation figures also.
PicsArt Animator is a GIF and video maker app which allows you to create animations & cartoons on your android or iOS device. You can easily click snap using your 3D camera apps and use them to create beautiful animation video on your smartphone. It allows you to draw frame by frame animations and see animation timeline with play mode option. There are some advance drawing and sketching tools listed in this app which can be used to make beautiful animation video for free. Along with these you can also use multi-layering for complex animations and also control animation length and speed.
Animates loop photos and cinemagraphs.
Movepic is a popular photo motion apps for android and iOS users which allows you to easily create live photo with animate effect. It is available with both free as well as app to purchase option with lots of features. It brings fabulous photos & gifs into your social life with various animated effects and beautiful filters. You can easily animate anything in loops photos simply by drawing a path , and make your still images into awesome loop photos & cinemagraphs. Along with these it also allows you to adjust the speed of the loops photo animation.