Pencil Users & Developers Raise Your Voice!

This is sort of an emergency council thread. First of all I’m not a dev. I’m a Pencil…enthusiast, not even a user. I would love to be a user, but I’ll be blunt. Pencil is still…rough. I’ve known Pencil since it was developed by Pascal Naidon a few years ago. It was promising in every scale. Then the project died.

When it was brought from the dead by Matt and Gordie, I felt relieved, but I wanted to have a more active role to help however I could. Sadly my knowledge of animation serves no real purpose right now because we need this program to work for real. I don’t mean to make silly gifs, or for those truly daring to make an epic short with your tooth and nails. I mean it to actually be efficient in animation production (which will work it’s way down to help make gifs either way).

I thought first I’d do a thread that would list all the active devs and users for Pencil, because we need to really begin to establish priorities for this. Only one or two devs no matter how much love and hard work they give us, it’s unfair to them just to think they can polish the app enough to attract more users (and devs).

We also need to discuss how to bring more actual developers. I’ve seen how Krita and Godot has grown so much over the past year. Even the new software called V-Paint which allows hand draw vector animation, is a bit more limited than Pencil in it’s animation side, but it’s stable enough to allow you to animate for hours. And I wonder why they have more devs than us, is it because that kind of software is needed?
<p style=“text-align: center;”>Pencil is vastly needed</p>
Then why noone else is giving a damn about Pencil? I mean, not enough to actually open the project and help develop. We need a roadmap and doable features, even if its just polishing the old ones. And we need to discuss it ASAP.

Everyone has a life, I know. But I don’t want this project to die, not again. Please comment on your thoughts about this.

If anyone is still “actively aware” of Pencil, visiting at least every month, please comment on the following if it’s applicable to you:

1) ¿How do you think we can improve this situation?

2) I would like people like @chchwy or @feeef to tell us:

¿What would a serious dev need to begin developing in Pencil and to continue to develop the program for a period of time no less than 3~6 months? (aside from money, which is also to be considered)

2.5) How do you think we can establish a roadmap that even novice programmers could help to work upon. Can we setup minor and major tasks? The Github request / bug fix is not ideal, even with the priority labels for people new to Pencil. So there should be a support “article” describing in laymen’s terms what needs to be done to get Pencil to the next level (or version).

3) From the users perspective: I would love to hear about everyone’s animation workflow, as well as from advanced users like @sfepa or @manu ¿How do you actually use pencil, and what do you use it for (pencil test, coloring, etc)? (This is important so we can gather common uses and pitfalls)

4) What would you like to improve in pencil as a user, what features do you think are missing?. What features that we already have that could be worked on to enhance the overall working experience?.

5) I want @admin Gordie to let us know how we can modify the wiki, or to at least open it for a few active people, so we can do what we can to help with tutorials or frequently asked questions like how to make sound work, since people who are new to the site never seem to read the damn forum threads, just in the last 3 months there’s been like 12 people asking the same thing and how the movie export is broken. We could address that in a FAQ. Instead of having the “pencil is dead” argument in the front page.

6) Aside from Github where is the other place everyone actually gathers to talk about pencil? I only get emails with info from github, so I don’t know. Do you guys even talk about pencil outside this community?

If anyone else has more suggestions as to what we should discuss, post it here. I don’t know how else to help but to rally all of us into actually wanting this to happen, sorry if it feels bothersome.

I think the main problem about Pencil right now is that it is not usable. It is why noone seem to really care. Also the nightly build is even more broken than the previous official release so this is not very encouraging for many. However, it has some features that no other animation software have and that many animators are waiting for in a single software. The ability to combine bitmap and vector layers is one of them.

Since last week, I am working hard on having a stable version with all the current features. I too believe that this software is very important and has no equivalence in the world of free software. With a first working version, it can help the community to quickly grow.

I am an animator with a software development background so I feel I can help this project to take of. I am also a free software / copyleft philosophy active supporter and I am switching my working environment from Adobe (I was doing all my animations with Flash) to an environment made 100% of free software. I am currently using Tupi for animations but it is missing too many features that Pencil has. Especially the ability to sketch an animation on a bitmap engine. Even Flash doesn’t have that. It is also missing a good bucket tool (which I am re-implementing on Pencil at the moment).

I am working hard on having a solid drawing engine right now (which is the most difficult) but I plan to have fixed most of the other bugs in 2 or 3 weeks from now.

I don’t have many projects at the moment and as I am in the middle of my software transition, I decided I would give some time to this tool that I want to be my main production tool.

I keep track of all my updates in this forum.

@feeef as always thank you for your hard work!!! I’m going to begin creating a live document, according to everyone’s answers on this thread, just to group and enumerate common pitfalls and perceptions as well as features that Pencil has and need. I’ll edit the main post accordingly from time to time. I think that will serve as the basis to a developer / user roadmap that we can all agreed upon. Everyone is welcome to use the comment feature on gmail to suggest stuff.

For now ill post it here:

On a side note to help you with development: Have you seen this open-source software? It has a wacky (innovative) way of presenting the concept of animation (a time plane moves through 3D space to reveal drawings), but the drawing tools are vector and it’s a really good first step into the right direction on what is an acceptable tool for free-hand drawing. The main developer Boris seem to be very active. Could be worth to see if the source can give insights on how the drawing engine is constructed. Maybe talk to him for some pointers, he seems very approachable since I last registered in the forum.

Thank you @feeef and @morr. I just discovered Pencil2d. As a passionate 2d animator, this app looks exactly like what I am looking for. I haven’t found a 2d animation app that I’ve really enjoyed since DeluxePaint Animation in the 90’s. Since I’m not a programmer, I will have to wait for this project to come to fruition - but I wanted you to know that your work matters and I’m looking forward to it becoming usable.

A FAQ area would help BIG TIME. I was very lost and had to look through many posts to try and find answers as to what is going on with the current version of pencil.

I think a FAQ page would be very vital for new members.

That is a VERY GOOD idea to be implemented here.
I am really surprised to realize that none of us in this community got the same idea… so natural

I love pencil and I hate to see it die again. Feef is doing a great job in continuing to develop pencil but he needs support. I’m not sure if Matt is actively coding but I can see his name on github. What we should do know is actively look for a new developers to help develop pencil. I really want pencil to be stable and also to implement mypaint brushlib. I also think that pencil code needs refactoring in order for the developers to add new modules easily though it is easier said than done. I’m here to support you guys.

Good topic @morr !
I am trying to integrate frame animation in my projects (commercials at the moment, and i have my own ideas for short video, but it will be another topic after thesis that i am working on will be finished). This year and a half that i am using Pencil as my main animation tool showed that key feature that is missing is buffering (not sure how to call this) to make possible playing the animation in real time. It is not a problem for jumping ball, but i have scenes in HD with big objects, and i can’t see if i have correct timing etc.
I am using Blender to compose image sequences.
More then brushes and sound import i need a possibility to copy/merge/group layers but Buffering if first in my wish list.

Thanks for all your comments! I am sure that after releasing a first stable version of pencil, we will get some attention and the community will grow. It will be easier to find developers as well.

What do you mean by buffering @sfepa ? If you set the right fps in pencil, you should play your animation at the right speed.

@feeef , maybe i am using the wrong term for this, the playback is OK for simple scene, but when i have 5-6 layers and 300 frames it is slowing down.

1) improve situation?
Everybody be more active, if you’re only a user try to do animation shorts, upload them to youtube and link them here. I would like to watch 10 new animations each weeek :slight_smile:

2.5) Roadmap ?
I can’t answer much here, on my part I could make suggestions of features but it would be the programmers as a team themselves that has to decide on a roadmap.

3) Pencil Usage ?

I’ve been playing around a lot with pencil drawing just still images and short animations just to get the feel for it and to decide how to go about a longer animation. I’ve made my conclusion and this only using the old 2013 version, the conclusion is that when making still images and if you just do the line work, pencil is fantastic because it feels very fluent to draw with. Coloring doesn’t leave you many options so if you just want a basic coloring with basic shading Pencil can do that, no problem. But if you for example want a complex scene or background with lot’s of color tones and shades you will end up coloring it with another program.
So how I planned to use Pencil now for my longer animation is to do the character animation and coloring of them with Pencil. I will also sketch the background but in my case I think I will go over to Krita to color it. I plan to stage my animation in Pencil too if I can. I’m still halfway figuring out if I can do that or if I will end up using Blender, it depends a bit on how advanced I would want the staging to be, I suspect it will be fine when I have only one character on screen but with many Pencil might struggle. I think sfepa already thought through this and chose to do it in blender so that’s what I’m afraid I will end up doing too.

How I’m actually animating is just having lot’s of Bitmap layers, often I start off with really sketchy blocks to try to figure out movements and the keyframes. Then it will take me maybe a 2 or more layers to get the whole character finished, and then in the last bitmap layer I will draw the final outline. When that’s done I will do the in-between’s between keyframes, also there I go back to the “rough” layers or at least 1 step down to the more “sketchy” layer and when the in-between’s are ready I redraw them in the final outline layer. Then I add a coloring layer, I use a bitmap layer for that and color each cell. Then I export the Image sequence to Windows Movie Maker when I’m pleased. That’s it. I’m quite pleased as it is with Pencil for now, my biggest problem is to get better and faster at doing the animations and to learn how to go the right way instead of taking my animations to a lot of dead ends with leaves me with only one solution, to go back and try something else. Animation and movement can sometimes be so hard to get right. And I can’t blame Pencil for that. :slight_smile:

4) Improvement / Missing features ?.

O course I have wishes but, I don’t think I need to give them to feeef just yet. He’s already doing the renovating of what features Pencil has and only when he (and hopefully other helpers) feels that they’re done then I could start to suggest things. I only think we need to support them with testing now that his version has come out (feeef posted today about the fill tool). We can also do what we can to upload what we make with Pencil2D to youtube just to make more people aware.

Some suggestions, on my list are, Merging bitmap layers, A “Rub-throug” tool, Rotate/mirror tools, Better color wheel. But nothing is urgent for me at the moment. Most important is to have that 2013 version off the site and in with a live and bug tested 2015 - 2016 version to breathe some life into Pencil2D again.

5) We could address that in a FAQ. Instead of having the “pencil is dead” argument in the front page.

Agreed, and the "pencil is dead’ should be removed quickly IMHO, it just doesn’t look good to see that there.

6) Do you guys even talk about pencil outside this community?

I’m not very active on other drawing oriented forums, so I’m not advocating Pencil2D elswhere than on my own site and youtube.

@sfepa, OK, I see, we will need to implement a quick render mode (low resolution) or a pre-rendered preview mode. However, I may not work on optimisations until I complete the bug fixes unless speed is too much of an issue.

@manu , i think i’ll show my working files. it will be the best demonstration of my workflow.
@feeef , great! i think it will be very useful, later )) i adapt myself to work with what i have now.

Well done, @morr, I agree with you. You’ve got a strong feedback, as you can see. Personally, I think:

1 - the website needs an appealing restyling and updating A.S.A.P.
The home page spreads a message heavily negative: it tells about the ‘death’ of an aborted open source project.
It cannot be attractive such this presentation !!! Dead links must disappear.

2 - animators (professionals and/or amateurs) should create short clips, but of high quality. People must see result with high visual impact. the website should hosts a Gallery section, instead of uploading their works only in the ‘ocean’ of Youtube clips.

3 - developing is the critical issue. It seems to me that @feeef keeps on his (good) job by all himself.

I think that Pencil2D should ‘communicate’ with other open source software (Gimp, Blender and so on).
The approach “all-in-one” (graphics, animation, sound, compositing) is too much complex: the ‘core’ app is not yet stable.
Many fixes with every OS (MS Windows, Mac and the Linux ‘family’).
I think this is the priority. Plug-ins and original new features will come in a second step.

Today I will start translating from English to Spanish, next I will deal with the French version. France is still very active in the 2D animation industry.
My two cents


Everyone: I’m writing down your concerns and ideas over in a document I created, you can access it and suggest additional stuff and depending on how others respond to the discussion it will grow and ultimately become a guide for Pencil’s new roadmap, this will take time but you can watch it here:

Pencil2D Live Document

I’m also making a sister site to assist our current community, in order to have an alternate place to hangout in ase anything happens. It’s still largely unfinished because I did it the day before yesterday and I don’t have much time right now, but I’m publishing it so you guys know how it will begin to look.

Pencil2D Sister Site:

Pencil2D Sister Forum:

@zenxing It’s all thanks to Matt who initially resurrected the project, and François who is now very active developing it :slight_smile: Thank you for letting us know you’re here! Later on I’m planning on hosting tutorials for animation, just concepts, but it’s nice to know we have experienced people among us to oversee that!

@jackayfuyou Yes, definitely. I think a FAQ page has been long overdue, In fact I did propose this a few months back in a comment to another thread, but there was no response. I’m sure the webmaster must be busy, so I’m making a “sister site” to host all those details we’re kind of missing here (and to allow other members to contribute.

@oinkystudio Yes the implementation of mypaint brushlib would definitely be a game changer, but feeef has said in the past it’s harder than it sounds, that means it’s a lot of work so first hes stabilizing the application. Thank you for your support, because this is how this kind of software keeps afloat, and we do have to stick together for this to happen.

@sfepa Of course! HD elements are overkill inside pencil. The feature you’re describing is basically a RAM Cache Preview, similar to what after effects did until it’s 2014 version. The images are indeed parsed into the RAM and then you can have a live preview of the overall frame range. TVPaint has something similar as well but they call it “Playback Preview”

@manu Thank you for your detailed response! I agree that the users need to become more active with their contributions so other artists and developers can see the worth in pencil, we need to work more! :slight_smile: Regarding the “roadmap” don’t worry, this is a way to describe the features that will come, although for now we have to focus on fixing what exists already, that doesn’t mean we can’t have ideas about what’s needed. Something important that i see is that we need to actually join other “community extensions” outside of this one, like the Google+ Page , Facebook Page and so on, not only to befriend new users, but to share new work with them.

@Tiber I agree on contacting other open-source sites, this was my initial plan, but I still need to finish the sister site i’m making to organize a good presentation for other projects to get interested in pencil, but i’m working on it! Also I want to help with the Spanish translation since I’ve researched for animation terms in Spanish ever since I began studying so I could be of assistance. I made a onedrive account to help with the current translation thing, but it was useless it didn’t work at all since we don’t have access so let me know how we can collaborate, the easiest way I can think is through a google drive document, but you’re the boss! :slight_smile:

A nice post after long time, I am not a programmer but would like to learn programming only for pencil and would love to work under some of you who can write codes. If anybody is interested for a willing intern please let me know. I am really frustrated of seeing such a nice concept for an animator like me, who cant afford big things and who does not believes in pirating big software. I have done some web programming in the past, javascript, html and css to present my candidature.

Suggestions (not the wishes are horses)

  1. Dedicated One day should be picked for development every week by all the programmer. (I do not know how feasible this will be.)

  2. We should look at some development fund arrangement, so that we have some programmer on hand who can work to develop pencil2d. (in near future)

  3. A kickstart campaign can help. (Synfig, PAP more other are doing so)

  4. At this maximum of us can dedicate their time to develop the help section or documentation of the help or tutorials.

  5. I am a no man to suggest about bugs to programmers but is it possible to put it in some programming forum where the bug can be solved.

  6. why we are on QT why it can not be change to something which is more stable and robust? (No idea again its just a layman’s’ pitch)

  7. Active forum where artist help animators, learn the tricks through examples.

  8. Active forum where code are submitted not as fork but the mother software.

Thanks to the insane bunch of people who still believe that pencil is not dead.

Miles to go before the last breath.

Hi guys,

And thank you @morr for this topic.
Although I haven’t read everything here, I share your thoughts…
I did try to contact @chchwy several times during the past months but got no answers. But as you said, everyone has a life and we can’t blame anybody.
I can see that Matt is online right now and I’ve seen is continuing to merge some commits on Github :
So, even if he took a step aside the project, we can see he’s still “watching” it.

I’m also an opensource enthusiast. Would love to see Pencil2D become a real tool as there is nothing like it. Only vector-based softwares…
And maybe Krita some day. They are working on animation features since a while, now.

This week, I will think about all this and try to be constructive.
I consider that my role here is to keep this website up, like a “home” for the project. Altough I have coding skills, I don’t know anything about C so I can’t help on the developement. I’m an animator, too (website here).

Even if i’m not as active than before here, I still am visting the forums time to time and I try to keep the website up-to-date (updating wordpress, plugins, renewing domain, etc - not the content though); so @morr, you don’t need to be afraid of the website shutting down.
If I have to shut it down one day or another, i’ll warn people here first and will share a backup of the content.
I think you should close the “sister” stuff as it may be even more confusing than things are already are…
But what I can do for now is to give you the “editor” role, so you’ll be able to edit the content of this website and to moderate forums. That means you’ll be able to edit the homepage text, create pages, etc.

If anyone wants its role to be upgraded too, please let me know.

Thank you all for your involvement and interest. I’ll take some time soon to refresh the website a little and will ask you for your wishes about it.


@admin Hey man, thank you for your support as well, I totally understand what you’re saying, I just didn’t wanted this project to be over so maybe I freaked out a bit, heh.

On the subject of the site, I haven’t advertised it in any other place or anything and although I published it so people who are actively reading this thread would take a peek at it, i’ll hide it from public view for now as I agree it can lead to confusion in the future, although I do plan to make a site that to promote a complementary activity for active Pencil2D users in order to foster awareness of the program as well as to deepen the trust users have on the program, what exactly is to be planned / announced.

Yesterday I was also browsing to the tumblr #pencil2D and #pencil 2d tags giving minor tech support to some user and promoting the forums, but the main complain i see is that the program crashes just a bit too much. Thank fully as you might have seen François is working hard to stabilize the software.

Again Gordie, thank you for being vigilant about the site and despite whatever people might appear to be thinking, implying, or saying (if they said anything at all), I want to state that you’ve done a fantastic job over the past year(s), and you deserve as much recognition as Matt from helping this project to be reborn and kept floating on the open-source sea :slight_smile:

To me you guys are like the parents who gave re-birth to this app, in the most elemental way.

Again I can’t thank all of you enough for supporting this project, I’ll try my best to help as well. Don’t worry I’ll dust-off the Pencil2D shelves as much as I can :wink: Hopefully we can continue to support the community while Pencil2D evolves.

My next idea is to create an intro video for Pencil2D, in such a way that we can have a reel for the project to lure users and devs in. Right now I’m finishing a very difficult job so i’ll be free starting December 6th.

My other idea is to propose Pencil (for now) as a middle-man software to assist other Qt based projects like Krita or Synfig and even Blender (despite being python-based) to complement their current animation capabilites in order to create strong bonds between these communities and to make possible an efficient open-source animation pipeline.

p.s. Your animation & illustration stuff is AWESOME! much respect :slight_smile:

you are absolutely right about @Gordie/@admin and @Matt!.. and now @feeef is giving us so much petrol for this “stagnated” car

Congratulations to all of you!

So I post this in the thread because I don’t see any point in keeping my list for myself any longer. The past months I have while working with Pencil2D I have written down things I consider would help Pencil2D be a better animators tool. Of course this is not a demand list :slight_smile: But it would be fun if some of them found a way to pencil some day. Feel free to add what you want to your list @Jose.

<span style=“text-decoration: underline;”>My Pencil Wanted List :</span>

1 Select tool

Cycle between, Square, lasso, polygon,-select. and maybe “magic wand”
When scaling selection , CTRL makes proportional scale.

2 Zoom Tool

When Zooming zoom focus is heading to the spot where your mouse pointer (pen) is.
Makes Zooming more convenient and you don’t need the Pan tool as much.

3 Colors

It would be nice to be able to pick “no color”(transparent). Sometimes if you flood fill an area
the only way to repair your mistakes (if Undo is gone) is to erase the area with the eraser. If you could pick “no color” and flood fill (as in erase) it would be nice. There might be better solutions to this so here’s another suggestion:

Another option would be to add a Magic Wand selection tool that has a sensitivity scale that you can adjust, 0 only selects the exact color and the higher the value the more colors that are “alike” gets selected. (Check Paint.Net magic wand behaviour) When the color is selected you can press DELETE button or CUT (Ctrl+X) to get rid of it,

4 Select Tool

The select tool needs to get a shortcut key (e.g. CTRL or SHIFT) so while you hold the shortcut key and resize the aspect will be locked so that you don’t accidentally skew the image.

5 Rotate Tool

Pencil need a tool for rotating, maybe it could also be made in combination with the Select Tool so that when a control key is pressed the selected area can be rotated freely. What would be nice to have too is rotation steps 45, 90 …etc. degrees, and also mirror.

6 Play forward/backward loop

Sometimes it would be useful to play a loop from frame 1 to 10 and back to 1 again in a loop. That would save time when testing out if a sequence of frames. Imagine you animate a pendel swining from left to right and it takes 15 frames to get from left to right and you then want the same frames go back to frame 1. Today you would have to reverse copy all those frames to get back to frame 1, of course that’s doable but it would save time when you are experimenting in the early sketching phase. And programming wise I don’t think it would be that hard to implement.

7 Duplicate Layer

When experimenting in animation it would be great to have the possibility to copy the whole layer to a new one, instead of experimenting on the layer you are satisfied with so far.

8 Merge layers

This would be needed when adding something to an animation layer. You could then freely experiment on a second layer and when satisfied you could merge down the result to the layer down below. Today you would be forced to export all the frames visible and import them again to get them merged. A huge time saver.

9 Position Layer/Cell

I would like to be able to move the whole layer around without the need to go selecting each frame and with the move tool move every each frame. An idea to implement this would be to keep using the select + move tool (no need for a new tool) but select + move looks at how many frames are selected if you have selected only a few of the frames then the move only affects those.

10 Moving

Sometimes moving with cursor keys are faster, it would be great to allow SHIFT and/or CTRL to make the image move in bigger steps when holding down a control key.

11 Rub Through Tool

Animating small movements like an arm moving up down would be faster if we could have a Rub Trough tool, that simply copies the area from the previous frame where you “rub” the tool. Today I need to copy the previous frame, use the rubber to wipe out the arms previous position, draw the arm in the new position. Rub through tool would be faster, I’d just make a new frame draw the arm in a slightly different position and use the rub trough tool for the rest of the character. Option to make the tool copy from next frame should also be possible.

12 Better Color Wheel

I find the color wheel is a little basic, at least the RGB slider could be something like Inkscape’s.