poll : do we need vector layers ?

I’m not sure Pencil2D should focus on Vector Layers.
Do we need them ? Does it fit the software philosophy ?

I think a lot of other softwares are already focusing on vector animation. Maybe this is not the point here; and there is a lot of developpement to do so maybe there is not much time to spend onto that…

The only advantage I see in it is that it can be used for basic masking.

Feel free to respond and to vote !

Share a video:

The software is called “Paint Tool Sai”,
It’s not a animation tool, but in this video he use it to draw 2d animation.

“Paint Tool Sai” has a very useful “Pen” tool, just like vector curve on bitmap canvas. The Pen tool is so powerful because you don’t have to draw a new frame from scratch, just adjust the curve node.

This video inspired me a lot.

Indeed, it seems to work quite well…

I never used the vector layers in Pencil because they weren’t easy enough for me to manipulate and make closed sections with. If it could somehow be improved I would say keep vector layers in, but it sounds like something that would be a challenge to implement.

Yeah, that’s my opinion too. Maybe we can keep it but rather focus on bitmap layers…

i think we do. Vector layers allow artists to upscale their work to any size and to polish it.

This is especially relevant to game graphics.

We need better vector layer tools. (current ones are severely limited- cant delete nodes, cant select more than one node)

We dont really need to animate vector layers at this point.

Why don’t we need to animate vector layers?

I’m asking cause I am debating on going vector or bitmap for my next animation. My problems with bitmap is that there is no smoothing option for the pen tool and I cant scale up and down (but that not much of a concern anymore since I was able to get the resolution to near HD 1243x700) And my problems with vector is that its rather hard to do very complex coloring and shapes on there.


Right I vote to keep in the vector tools. Why?

Pencil has some of the best cartoonist centric illustration tools.

It allows you to use the pencil tool too slice up cell tone areas and fill in gaps. It sounds like a small thing, but it greatly simplifies the process of cell shading coloring. This is where inkscape fails- it cannot slice up fills like that.

The bucket tool makes perfect fills with no annoying things to clean up at sharp corner areas- this is where inkscape fails miserably.The bucket tool there suffers from the same problems a bitmap based bucket tool would.

Also the fills are glued to the outlines, which means that changing the shape of a line affects the fill as well. This is where inkscape fails miserably again.

Pencil2d can automatically glue strokes you make to ones that are close to them. This is extremely handy when you have to bucket fill stuff afterwards. However pencil does not give the artist control over the glue threshold. Sometimes the stroke gluing is unwanted, forcing the artist to zoom in more to reduce the threshold.
Inkscape does not have a way to autosnap stroke’s start/end , creating a lot of mindless clean up work for the artist. So pencil2d wins here too.

Pencil2d currently hast vastly superior workflow approach for cartoonists to inkscape. But the tools need some polishing. And some of this polishing is really low hanging fruit work;

Here are the low hanging goals:

  • The pencil tool defaults - vector curve smoothing value is by default too high, giving strokes a rather unpredictable result. At first I didnt know that this value is in preferences, so I kept it default and raged on how much its smoothing my strokes. So reduce that value to about 25-30%. Its too high by defaylt.
  • the hidden stroke smoothing value - it’s currently hidden in the preferences window. In my opinion you should bring it to the left side panel- to be always visible and quick to change.

Higher hanging fruits:

  • Its difficult to clean up overshoots with the smudge tool. We need some sort of a way to slice a stroke and delete where it overshoots. At least delete stroke nodes.

  • There should be a way to control how much a stroke’s start/end autosnaps to previous strokes you made (GLUE) . This is very useful atm- its like a killer feature- but it needs more control!


If a developer is willing to put in the work, I am willing to fund this or create a funding campaign similar to the one that synfig is having.

Dont kill pencil2d’s vector tools. They are the only open source alternative to toonboom’s inking/coloring tools. Inkscape really really sucks at this atm.

Please keep the vector tool and I suggest to improve it. It is very useful in 2d game artworks. I use pencil to do the rough animation but then have to finished the work in inkscape.

I think if the development of vector layers steal much time to the bitmap animation must be paused.

Synfig has a, relative, good vector animation system, so… I think is more interesting spend time to get a better bitmap animation software. If someone use vector could enter Synfig in own animation process.

Fight with vectors when there is a software that do it now is a bit losttime. I prefer that the resources look at improve and fix bitmap animation stage.

Becouse bitmap animation is a void field in opensource. And that is a good point to Pencil2D. Now only Plastic Animation Paper (that is free-software) could compete with Pencil2D in free software. PAP wins in most of stages, but I think Pencil2D could take some ideas from PAP and overcome PAP. Why not? : )

synfig sucks at playback - its so slow. I think that it is also too technical for any traditional animator to even touch it with a stick. Even when they include mypaint’s brushlib. We are way ahead in terms of sketching. That doesn’t mean we should stay an app for pencil tests.

pencil2d currently has better cell shading tools than synfig. I think that it would be a shame not to improve them. It will let our community create better looking polished work than any other open source 2d animation community.

Synfig has a looooong way to go until it’s usable for animation- at least for me.

PAP is an example of what happens to a wonderful app when the developers leave it proprietary and then abandon it. Have you seen the state of their forum? It’s locked and abandoned. They have stopped supporting it. It does not run on linux or mac for years. The only usable free version is on windows- and thats not even win7. It’s windows xp time version.
PAP has a weird interface, the tablet support often does not work as well. it’s a mess and will stay a mess until they dont pull their pants up or release the source code. It’s like you are comparing pencil2d to abandonware. :smiley:

“Abandonware” I lolled at that!

I almost went with Vectorian Giotto, however I was VERY disturbed by its forced auto smoothing.

Is it not true? Their latest version is from 2010.

they killed all links to the forum.
The website is still online, hidden and outdated. the old portions of the website with trials for mac and linux versions are offline.

The official forum was locked for years and it is now completely offline

And finally because it is not open source, nobody can pick up where they left it.
Mac and linux versions are dead. It used to have native ports and now no more.

I aint touching it because of what the developers did to it’s community. Essentially flipping us the bird for years by locking our ability to ask them questions or write at the forum. They didnt explain why they abandoned it - at least that.

To answer LovainMaster’s initial “why do we need vector layers” question:

Animation software out there is either purely bitmap (PAP) or purely vector (flash). Now some animation software has both- or tries to fake one of the two pretty well. In truth -in an ideal world we should have the best of both.

For frame by frame animation
Bitmap layers are needed to do a good pencil sketch of your animation and when animating- good playback.
Vector layers give artists a number of great advantages over bitmap when it gets to the next steps of the pipeline- inking and coloring an animation pencil test that you feel happy with.

With vectors it is easier to ink and manipulate line thickness non destructively- after you have made it.
You can close gaps and create cell shading with the vector pencil tool’s invincible strokes. This would take much more effort and will be messier and harder to tweak if you use bitmap layers.
A vector based bucket tool does not suffer from the shortcomings of a bitmap bucket tool.

On the other hand vector layers are terrible for pencil tests- sketching. Because they have no pressure sensitivity to opacity.

This is why I think pencil2d’s original design document goals are so brilliant. It strives to take from both worlds.

Bitmap for sketching. Vectors for inking and coloring. What you get in the end of that pipeline is resolution independent- vectors can be exported to anything.

I just like very much PAP. I did not find any issue while using PAP with my tablet. The only BUT I got from this software is that it has a really unpleasant bug (as it was mentioned at their forum), the UNDO function is not stable.

If a good workflow happens to use different software for delivering different tasks, I mean one for Sketching, one for Inking and one for Painting, than right now I would choose PAP for sketching, and ArtRage for Ink and Painting (bitmap).

PAP is a lot more advanced than Pencil2D, and has a beautiful timeline, two different colours for rough and good lines, and so on

BUT, I never liked to use different software for doing things. I would try to get only one, if possible. And that is when Pencil2D came in. It can do sketch, ink and paint, and all for animation too :slight_smile:

Just fabulous.
And we are all glad to have Matt @chchwy, Jose @jose, Moreno @morr and the rest of the developers on our side :slight_smile:

About the main idea of this post, do we need vector layers ?

I vote No, it should focus on bitmap!

Animation of vector layers is a very powerful tool. Unlike bitmaps they can be resized without corruption.

You can reduce a bitmap image in size, but increasing the size causes distortions. This is referred to as pixcelation.

This is driven by the mathematics that lay behind the bitmaps. You can average out a number of pixcel colours easily, but taking two pixcel shades and deriving an intermediate shade is much more difficult.

Vector images can be used to construct animation puppets. Thus you don’t have to redraw each frame of the Animation.