Group Project on Pencil?

Hey, new here!

To get to the point, I have been looking for a free or very cheap animation program because me and a group of friends of mine want to create an animated short, somewhere around 2 to 3 mins in length. It is going to be frame by frame, fully colored piece and we are aiming to produce a short in a similar quality seen by Gobelins( this is a huge stretch as we have all animated before, but are very much still beginners, but I’m using them as an example of what we are aiming for).

Now I’m in college at the moment and I know most of my friends do not have the budget to buy animation programs like Flash or TV Paint. I’m curious if it is possible for us all to animate in Pencil and be able to put together somehow in Pencil or another software. Or would Pencil be too faulty and crash?

One of the things I’m planning to do is create my backgrounds in photoshop and import them into Pencil. Can Pencil deal with multiple backgrounds and layers, or is this program only good for pencil test?

Welcome @kai99,

Pencil2D is currently in active development and new users as well as their feedbacks are very welcome.

You have 2 options :

  • Get the “stable” release v0.5.4 which should be the most stable version.

  • Get the nightly build which is a preview of the latest developments but is not supposed to be as stable. However this version has a much better timeline and a much better drawing engine. If you are awre of the limitation, I think this version could be much better than the other version.

I can get you a list of the current limitations and help you get a workflow for your animations based on only free software.

Also, if you give us your feedback as a user, you can help us make this software better. I personaly wish to make it a great tool to make professionnal anumations.

Feeef, thank you for your response, it is very helpful. I am very interested in the nightly build due to the better timeline and drawing engine, even if it isn’t the most stable. A list of the limitations would be great!

I may forget some limitations and some of them wont be limitations in the next nightly build :

  • You cannot use audio. The audio layer and audio import won’t work.

  • You cannot re-frame or create a movement with the camera layer. Your images will always be exported at the default camera position.

  • You cannot import images.

  • You can only export image sequences.

  • If you have a lot of layers, playback may become slow and not respect the specified frame rate. We plan to build a RAM preview feature (kind of the way it is in After Effects)

  • You cannot duplicate several frames at a time. Only the current visible frame is duplicated.

  • When you close Pencil there is no alert to let you know that you didn’t save your work. I worked so much on the actual features that I forgot to fix this one! So please, save your work quite often!

If, during your work, you feel that something is blocking you, feel free to let us know! The best place for that is on github.

I am not at my computer right now (only on my phone) but as soon as I get to it, I will send you a screencast I have done where I show the features of the vector engine. That you can use to clean up your animations.

One workflow I suggest is doing your storyboard, animations and clean up in Pencil2D for each shots. Then, you do your backgrounds separately with the software of your choice (Gimp, Krita… or even Pencil) and you do your compositing and editing using Blender. Blender has such advanced features for compositing. It is the perfect tool for that matter.

You can do your audio in Audacity or Ardour and go back to Blender for your final edit.

I suggest you always work with images sequence using transpatency (png) until you have completed your final edit and are ready to export to a movie format.

Blender sequence editor handles image sequences perfectly.

Here is the link to the video showing how to colour with the vector engine. (features & limitations)

I see. Does the stable release have these features as far as having the ability to use a lot of layers or importing? The reason I’m asking is that the characters might have to interact with the background and it would be easiest having the background in so I wont accidentally clash with the background. Or how about having a more loose copy of the background made in Pencil so I know how the character(s) would interact, or would that be too many layers?

When I say too many layers, it depends on your computer speed as well. Also, i am more talking about vector layers that are re-calculted on each frame.

Having a backround layer to match your animation is not a problem at all. Especially as you can make it invisible at wish so it won’t be shown / loaded in the playback nor exported.

Unless you really need to import an existing background image, you shouldn’t have any prblem.

You can move things around by duplicating your frames and use the selection tool to select the area you want to move, then the move tool (the “arrow”) to move things around. (You can use arrow keys on your keynoard to move pixel by pixel).

You can then create camera movements on Blender… Or maybe in Pencil2D if by the time you do your compositing, I have fixed the bitmap import feature and the camera. Hopefully, it will be some time in January.

Let me know how it goes!

@feeef it’s great to hear you are working to fix the import feature in Pencil. It is really needed when you need to paint your bg in another app.