Some suggestions for the future

As @morr suggested, it would be great to define solid specs for the future of Pencil.

We should have a usable 5.5 version in the next few weeks. Based on that, I guess we will need to do screencasts, tutorials, as well as beautiful animations to show how powerful this software is. Based on that we should build up a community of users and see the request to develop more advanced features for Pencil.

Making solid specs is essential in my opinion. I suggest we all write down our wishes for pencil in one place and democraticly build our specs based on that. If we plan to do a croud funding campaign (as we should if we start to have a strong community requesting new features) some specs can be defined as part of the campaign, some others as extra if the campaign goes above the target.

What about setting up a collaborative work environment on the Pencil server? I was thinking about something like Owncloud.

Also, what about having a media platform with the Pencil website (to store animations, tutorials…) I was thinking about MediaGoblin for that. MediaGoblin is very interesting because it is a decentralized media publishing platform that intergrates interconnections with any others across the internet (federation feature). It is the future of social media in my opinion.

What do you guys think?

Lets make Pencil go to the next level! :slight_smile:

I like the media platform idea! I agree that we need more animation examples on the site to garner interest. Perhaps we could hold a monthly challenge like how Krita does? Well, they do more of a competition and there is ranking involved, but every month Krita holds a drawing challenge on their forum, with a specific theme. I wouldn’t want to make it a competition, but I think that a specific theme in mind might encourage everyone to make a little animation every month, whether it be a few frames or a bigger project. Thoughts?

I agree with you @happydonut ! The more users of Pencil, the more beautiful animations and the best Pencil will become.

I am an active supporter of the free software / copyleft philosophy and I am, with the guys from a french film company, in the middle of launching a non profit organization to help support copyleft based film productions :
The concept behind Ethic Cinema is not just to support the making of films released under a copyleft license, but also to support the creation of free software / free technologies that will be used to make those films.Of course, this organization will also support animated films and I wish to involve Pencil in this project.

When Pencil will reach a stable state, I will launch an “Ethic Cinema” animated project. Anyone who wants to be involved is very welcome! :slight_smile:

I got very much inspired from the Blender foundation with this.

Basic specs for a 2d animation software ?
In a nutshell:

  • acquire raster files from scanner or tablet in the most common extension (jpeg tiff png)
  • basic drawing and painting tools: pen, brush, eraser, fill bucket, eyedropper
  • features for animating the sceen: pan and zoom, perspective grids (just png files)
  • manage conversion raster to vector images
  • layers control and management
  • x-sheet features and fuctions
  • lip synch and timeline
  • in the future, include scripting (Python ?) and plug-ins to the core program

If the inner approach is a software for “traditional” 2d animation frame-by-frame, so you do not consider skeletal animation or morphing warping inbetweening at all.

I think it is better few basic features concerning the whole process pre-production, production and post-production, instead of a software rich of hundreds of sophisticated drawing, coloring and painting tools and effects but lack of real animation functionalities.
Do not forget that backgrounds can be made with other open source software …

I agree with you @tiber it is an 2D animation software so<i> </i>we should focus on that.

There are a couple of very cool features that would be easy to implement. One of them is the abimity to define composite mode to each layer. This would make Pencil able to handle basic compositing by defining masks or other compositing effects.

It would make Pencil perfect software to animate over any existing image sequence.

Having scenes and having the ability to combine and compose them together would be a good feature as well.

Scripting and plug-ins can also be very interesting if we develop some advance features in compositing like the ability to keyframe many options (translation, rotation, scale, opacity…) with curve based transitions between the keyframes.

This would make quite an advance tool for composoting your animations. The way Pencil is made, with a virtual unlimited painting area and the use of cameras makes all this possible without having to refactor everything.

I’ll add my 2 cents:

I believe that the core Pencil app should be kept as simple and efficient as possible (i.e. mostly the currently available tools), with additional features realized through a robust plugin/add-on interface. To me this looks like the most promising approach for an opensource project with a relatively small core team of devs because it gives people an opportunity to contribute at a lower level of commitment, making it easier to spread interest and, ultimately, gain new devs for the core app.

I think the current crop of drawing tools is sufficient, the only thing that’s still missing that I consider essential is basic transformations (move, scale, rotate) of selections statically, and dynamically between keyframes for layers so we can have easy moving backgrounds.

As for the timeline, beyond fixing the currently disabled editing functions it needs an option to select a range and (reverse) copy-paste, I think someone else already mentioned this.

For now that’s all the functionality I can think of I’d want to see in the core program.


I totally agree with you @MiSc.

I also think it is what Pencil 1.0 should be.

In a first step, we should focus in stability, efficiency and simplcity with the current set of tools.

Moving, rotating and scaling a selection is on its way. I have implemented it this week and you should have an overview on the next nightly build. There are still a couple of bugs with this features in the vector layer but they will be quickly fixed.

Motion tweening some elements like the background or the camera will come next. I don’t know If I will have the time to do that before Christmas but it is on my to-do list.

Export to .GIF files would be epic
that and the ability to select an area and then drag it over somewhere else… just like in MS paint. Btw loving this program, despite it’s very basic interface, it’s fps needs to be able to do at best 60 fps, instead of 50, imo too.

@philip_e_williams I agree, having Animated GIF export would be great. Also Having SVG and ORA (Open Raster Files Import & Export would deffinitely improve our communication methods with other Open-Source software.

Now actually Pencil2D does allow you to select a portion of the drawing and move it elsewhere, as you can see here on the FAQ thread:

The only thing that I think is overkill is the FPS issue, to be honest. Pencil2D is mostly geared traditional animation for WEB, TV & Film and most of the time you would be crazy using full animation for either.

If you’re mentioning the 60 fps limit for how the game engines render their assets then you don’t need to worry, game engine 60 “fps” rendering is different from sprite animation fps. You’ll always want to animate your sprites on 30 fps and double the frames on the engine or even 15 fps and quadruple them since that would be like using 30 fps animating with a double exposure (or two’s).

Most of the time the game engine speed (i.e how fast it moves) is tied to it’s rendering “speed” (i.e how fast it shows up) like when you use physic simulations. The game engine will not run any asset any slower unless you tell the engine to do so, hence the 60 “fps” is more like a “time-tick-check” for user input & event signals in most cases.

Ultimately, If you watch a game like skullgirls, they aimed for 30 fps from the get go (also because of being released first for a console) only while porting to PC they went for 60 fps and even so they didn’t animate 60 drawings per second. That would have been madness, even for LabZero.

Here’s a brief explanation of that in the words of one of LabZero Games guys showcasing one of Bahi JD’s animations for the game:

Still I’d love that Pencil2D fps box got “unlocked” like before so I could write the number instead of using the arrow sliders >_<

OpenRaster seems to be a very good idea for cross compatibility with other drawing programs. Having the ability to import/export projects without losing the layers/compositing structure is a must have.

I also wish to have MLT XML support. It would make Pencil2D projects compatible with some great editing software like kdenlive without losing the layers (tracks) structure. It is also a must have.

I dream of Pencil2D doing a successful crowd-funding campaign to implement this kind of great professional features some day! :slight_smile: I am sure that slowly but surely, we will make it!

About the 60fps, Matt has prepared the code to be able to handle a “preview mode” in order to be able to quickly render your work in the RAM to be played at full speed. At this point, Pencil2D should be able to handle 60fps easily. This feature should be made soon.