Thinking about birds in flight

New to P2D. The project that brought me here is that I need to animate some birds. (woman wearing a bird scarf, birds come to life, fly away, etc.) Not a lot of birds, but a lot of repetitive flappings of wings. I can do a convincing wing flap using two layers. But is there an easy way to duplicate those frames dozens of times?

@dthompson55 Hi. Hmm that’s a challenging topic. As might infer Pencil2D is focused on simplicity and it tries to echo how traditional animation was done, by improving a few workflows with digital tools.

Back in the day, having many birds meant drawing many birds, grant each bird had it’s own particular motion, of course this notion has evolved over time to achieve a balance between artistry and efficiency.

Right now you can’t easily duplicate multiple frames (devs are working on it) and duplicating layers in Pencil2D right off the bat is simply not possible but here’s a few ideas:

To duplicate you can export only the animated layer as a PNG sequence with transparency (every other layer should be turned off) and then import it back into Pencil2D after the last frame.

Pencil2D 0.6.5, also has the PCLX Project import feature which allows you to import layers from other files. With this you could create a bird flap cycle on a single layer, and add it at any point in time in a different file meant to manage the animation (or master file)

That said another element would be missing which is moving the bird across space. For this unfortunately you’d have to do it frame by frame at first.

One idea is to use the camera layer to simulate the horizontal or vertical translation of the bird, however in this case using the PCLX import won’t help since you can only have one camera layer active (for now…) This means you would have to merge both flapping and camera motion together. To do this in a way you can use, you’d have to export as a sequence of images.

As such, the best method for you right now, if you want to use Pencil2D exclusively would be to:

  1. Create a master shot file. This is where all your characters backgrounds and props will be composed. It’s the file where you export the final video.
  2. Create a layout or picture plan indicating where the birds will appear and in which direction they will fly towards.
  3. Create a single file with the bird flap cycle
  4. Create one file per bird motion. That is, since they will move in different directions, create as many files as birds you will have. Import on each the same cycle and use the camera motion to simulate the movement from the initial position to the ending position. These files should be as long as the master shot file.
  5. For each bird file, export a sequence of PNG images with transparency enabled.
  6. Then on your master file (the one that holds all the characters, objects and background) import each of the birds on a different layer which are already moving in the different directions and have the length you require form beginning to end.

For an easier alternative you could only animate the cycles in Pencil2D, export them as PNG sequences, and then use an specialized software to move the layers. If you try Opentoonz or Syngif you can use “motion interpolation” which should automatically move the layer object between keyframes.

Of course any app has a learning curve so you could look in youtube for tutorials on either to have a preview on which app suits you better.

We hope that in the near future both layer duplication and (multiple) frame duplication are made possible, easier and more intuitive, but for now these are the workarounds I can provide.

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This is great advice. Once I have a flap sequence for a bird I can export that to a video editor, duplicate the flaps and push a bird around the screen, granted facing one direction, but then I can do separate animations in P2D for turn sequences.

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