What you see here is work-in-progress. Every detail will be reworked again and again, so chances are that much will be different and more distilled in the final app. Anyway, take a peek at how the design of the interface looks at this point in time. May you find it interesting…
Tour of the GUI
Here’s the overview screenshot. A familiar Mac window, with a vertical divider that can be dragged left or right to hide or expand the left pane – the x-sheet. The large pane contains the drawing area, your current frame.
Work in a window or enter full screen mode. What ever you choose, you can always zoom the sheet in or out to work on a detail or see the bigger picture.
At the bottom of the window you have your timeline. It marks your current frame and shows the range of frames you are currently working on (in this case frame 260-408). The bar shows what your range is, compared to all your frames in the scene.
You also control your layers here. A layer is represented by a column of thumbnails, like a vertical filmstrip. The leftmost layer is the top one and so on – down to the bottom layer at the right. You change the order, by dragging left/right at the bottom of the columns.
In this example the layer you are currently drawing on is the leftmost. Your current frame is always highlighted in the middle (black rectangle). When you flip frames, the X-Sheet scrolls up/down.
Layers can be linked, so when you add or remove frames on one layer, the same happens on linked layers to keep your timing.
Your drawings are color coded to visually separate each layer. Setting the color at the little drop-down-tap above makes the entire layer that color. The active layer in this example is blue – which means you only draw blue lines here.
At the right side, you have your soundtrack and notes. Dragging the pane-divider further right reveals more space for notes. To write notes, you simply use your pen and write by hand.
You can have as many frames and layers as you want.
Speaking of “as many frames as you want” – it is of course limited to the amount of memory your computer holds. But an effective and realtime non-destructive compression of each frame means you can have a lot of frames in even a small amount of memory.
The top part of the Animation Paper window (the title/drag bar) can be configured to hold the tools you use the most.
But once you get used to using the keyboard to activate things with one hand and drawing with your pen in the other – you’ll be lightning fast. Maybe you prefer to drop the keyboard all together and only sit with your tablet? (you might even own a Wacom Cintiq) – then that’s no problem. You access some functions as normal by clicking the interface – and some functions you will want defined on the physical buttons on you Wacom tablet (or other brand tablet). Flipping a few frames back and fourth, while you are animating, can be mapped to the touch ring or -sliders on the tablet.
To the left of the above picture, you have two sliders controlling your line thickness and opacity. They are of course dependent on the pressure input of your pen too.
The rest I think is pretty self-explanatory. Only thing to mention about the above, is the small icon that says “2nd”. That is for displaying the complete frame if you have a second monitor attached. So no matter how you are zoomed in or rotated, to make drawing more fluent, you can always check your second monitor for the full view.
The green rings shown here is the zoom/move/rotate tool. Use this to quickly zoom in and turn the view around up side down – to draw a certain curve or detail just right.
So what’s in the menus? Again, it has to be stressed that these are not necessarily the final toolset and layout. But it gives a clue to what we’re thinking. Here’s a slideshow that runs through the menus.
Main Features Summary
The No.1 feature of Animation Paper is the limited number of features. :) Keeping it clean and simple.
Other than that, here’s the list of basic features:
- Super fast responsiveness – while drawing, while flipping, while everything
- Quality lines – built on high speed, high resolution input from your tablet (like a Wacom)
- Small to large format frames
- Realtime smooth rotation and zooming of the view
- Light table (onion skinning – fully customizable)
- X-Sheet – timing and layers
- Cutouts (easily reposition drawings)
- Import and export of video and frame-stacks
That’s basically it. Feel free to comment or ask questions below. Any good ideas and suggestions should be considered and discussed.
EDIT: Since this post more menu items and functionality have been added. Here’s the