April 5, 2020 at 9:17 am #2077
It is interesting to see Animation Paper back in the 2d animation software game once more. My current animation tools consist of OpenToonz, ClipStudio EX, and Krita, and I am experimenting with Blender’s 2d animation tools as well. In the past I used Toonboom, as well as Flash.
This is going to be a bit of an unfair comparison, since the new Animation Paper is still in alpha, but still: it needs to be able to compete on its own terms.
I’ve been testing AP for two evenings now, and here some initial impressions:
– the drawing feel is nice. As nice as Krita, but ClipStudio is still nicer than either.
– the interface is very simple and easy to learn. Took me a couple of minutes.
– I like the traditional approach (X-Sheet, light table).
– the X-Sheet is nice to work with. Some well-thought out workflow approaches.
– AP feels great to quickly lay down frames and test an animation in.
Things that I feel ought to be improved:
– no right-mouse click to easily access tools and tool presets. I love this in Krita. In Krita I can also quickly rotate the canvas, and pick colours, zoom in/out, and so on. While I use the shortcuts as well, I really like just accessing stuff quickly with the right-mouse button (shoulder button Wacom pen).
This also allows me to work full-screen without distractions while drawing.
Yes, AP has two speed dials and the D key to display drawing tool controls, but it is frustrating to keep pressing the S or D key to display these. I don’t always want to use the keyboard while drawing. Shift-S for the second dial is a bad keyboard shortcut – why not a single key?
– the interface gets in the way on a multi-screen setup, and is extremely inflexible in AP. In Opentoonz I typically place the X-Sheet on a second screen which is pivoted in portrait mode. This gives me ample space to work with the X-Sheet in OT. Not possible in AP. As a matter of fact, the only option is to place it either left or right. It is not possible to tear off parts of the GUI and place it on a different screen.
– no vector inking support, or conversion from bitmap to vector. OpenToonz and ClipStudio (and Toonboom/Flash) allow the animator to ink with vector-based drawingtools, which is great for later fine adjustments. Both also feature a range of tools to adjust the strokes, including full control over stroke thickness. This is also great to keep things sharp at any resolution. In OpenToonz I can freely convert back and forth from bitmap to vector and vice versa.
I was watching part 3 of your AP tutorials (Animation), and when the animator started selecting parts of the chicken and then transform those parts, I thought that it is terribly primitive compared to the workflow in Blender 2d animation. While not quite vector, it is super-easy to adjust parts of your drawings quickly in that fashion, without breaking the lines. AP could really learn from that type of new approach, instead of relying on the traditional bitmap-only one. AP feels quite old-fashioned in this regard.
You are creating a new, modern traditionally-oriented 2d animation app, yet still stuck in old technology. A shame. Why not be more forward-thinking? Just check out Blender’s approach to 2d frame-by-frame animation. If you could add some of that in an easy GUI like AP’s – well, AP would become a very attractive proposition.
As it stands, AP is not breaking any new moulds here. Computers should simplify the life of the animator, in my opinion.
– the drawing tools are very, very basic (almost frugal) in AP. I understand the wish to keep things simple, but still. In CS, OT, and Krita I can go wild with digital brushes if I want to.
– performance: I work with 4K resolution. When I draw quick strokes, AP can’t keep up. At all. Even drawing with a thin stroke is problematic. It may take up to a second for AP to catch up after only dozen of quick strokes at times.
In comparison, I experience no such issues in any other drawing or animation software on my machine. [i7 firstname.lastname@example.org, GTX1080, 48GB, fast PCI SSD raid card)
Worse, aside from AP lagging behind my quick strokes, the strokes it lays down are all over the place, with end and start points connected with straight lines.
Then, after adding a few layers (four) and drawing away, AP slows down so much that even quite slowly drawn stokes start to lag. It can take seconds before AP catches up, losing strokes, and simply drawing short straight lines.
In the other animation apps this is no issue whatsoever. Very complex scenes in ClipStudio, and things run smoothly. Same in Krita. OpenToonz may slow down with complex scenes, but in AP even turning on one (1) extra layer will cause drawing performance to grind to a halt. It really is that bad – no longer usable to draw in.
Now, to be fair the lagging mostly goes away when I work in a lower resolution (1920×1080). But I work in 4K in the other apps.
– onion skinning control is rather limited. I am spoiled by OpenToonz and Krita. Having to open a modal dialog to change the onion skin settings is a hassle compared as well.
– while I like the layer simplicity, it is also quite limiting. In Krita and ClipStudio grouping is possible, and it is easy to build up drawings in layers. In OpenToonz nested timelines are possible.
– In OpenToonz and ClipStudio drawings are separated from frames in the X-sheet. Re-using drawings in your animation is very simple, and effective. In AP frames can be cloned/copied to other frames, and the link is maintained (meaning edits are mirrored in the linked frames), but drawings are much harder to manage in the X-Sheet, because the drawings themselves are not accessible outside the X-Sheet. One can really tell that OpenToonz is used in major traditional animation by animators just wanting to get on with exposing the correct drawings in the X-Sheet.
– the cursor is hard to see.
– there doesn’t seem to be an option to change the short-cut keys (yet?)
Anyway, it starts to sound like I dislike Animation Paper – I certainly do not. I also understand AP will not be able to compete with the scope of production features of an application like OpenToonz or Toonboom, and I think that you (the developers) are not aiming to compete in that market. AP works well for blocking out animation, but the question is whether it will lure me away from my existing tool set. The answer at this point in time is: it will not. But it has potential.April 5, 2020 at 10:09 am #2085
Thank you very much for this – and for your time. Appreciated.
I read with great interest. I’ll make sure to check in on this list while we evolve Animation Paper.
However, I do think that some of your points reflect that you haven’t discovered how Animation Papers line engine really works. You see, it is in fact not “old fashioned bitmap”. It may feel as straight forward as bitmap, but try working in HD or even in very low resolution. Then before you export, you change your resolution to 4K. Everything is updated without blurring or degradation.
The same happens when picking up something with the lasso. Just scale it up and stamp it.
Anyway, many of your points are already planned and will come soon. More advanced features are planned for v6.0. But of course, basically, there will always be lots of differences when you compare creative software. Thankfully. At the end it is all down to the style of the software. What fits it and what does not. Features have to follow a line – be consistent and logical all the way through. I know you agree.
One really important issue for me is to keep Animation Paper simple. I mean uncluttered. This does not mean that it can’t be advanced. Animation Paper is designed for the professional and will have clever approaches and efficient solutions to his/her demands. At the same time, I want it so easy to work with, that nearly anybody can do it. This is how Animation Paper is going to be – and I think this alpha is a very good start. 🙂April 5, 2020 at 12:40 pm #2097
SO far I have spent two hours on it and went through the welcome tutorials.
I found the tutorials very helpful and enjoy them being displayed at startup.
I ususally disconnect from the internet for my main computer this helps productivity hahaha
Would you consider an offline activation?
Also make help videos offline?
after the tutorial vids I got stuck into a simple head turn. I have roughed out and timed the animation using most of what the tutorial teaches and have found the relatively small tool set uncluttered to use and fast to execute. Cut modes “C” and “X” are great. The flip option “Hold “Enter” is amazing (Possibally flip the other way as well “flip forward?”
I love the 3 eraser and the drawing tools.
The xsheet is a dream! and I look forward to annotations 😀
The back light is great, no probs there!
My experience with the new program is very positive and I look forward to the painting engines.
Keep up the great work!April 5, 2020 at 9:22 pm #2146
Wow, my bad and wrong assumptions due to what I thought was bitmap drawing – I just tested various strokes at varying stroke thickness at 1920×1080, and when I switched to 4K and 8K, those strokes actually reflected the details that weren’t apparent in the lower resolution.
What a nice surprise! Brilliant. I stand corrected.
That means you are keeping track of some sort of vector strokes – and that means perhaps even an option later to convert to editable strokes, perhaps?
Still, when drawing I’d like to see those details, of course, rather than upscaling to a higher rez later. The performance at 4K on my machine is still worrying. But I am sure that you will figure out ways to optimize the performance. At 8K it is unworkable, while I work with higher resolutions than that in Krita and Clip Studio.
Are you already using a multi-threaded drawing engine?
And an important question: is AP meant for the initial blocking out phase only? Or will it be possible to do the full animation, including advanced colouring and clean-up for final delivery as well? As I see it now, I would have to import the frames in OpenToonz, clean-up/vector conversion of inks (or even do the inks in OpenToonz), colour, and composite the sequences and scenes for release.
Is AP’s goal to be a companion app, or a full end-to-end delivery animation app? As it stands, it feels more like the first (which is not necessarily a bad thing if it becomes REALLY good, btw).
Other things I would like to see:
– single key undo
– settings to control the responsiveness for zooming and panning. It feels too slow to me. I’d like to be able to zoom in and out in one motion, and that is not possible in AP.
– it would be great if the mouse scroll wheel could be used to zoom in and out. And the middle mouse button to pan the view. Might be strange workflow, but I often keep the mouse in my left hand to quickly control the viewport, and draw with my right hand on the Wacom. It’s more efficient and faster than holding down keys on the keyboard.
– while a simple interface is great to have, I do hope at least AP will be multi-screen compatible. That X-Sheet is just screaming to be placed on my portrait pivoted screen.
Thanks! Looking forward to all the improvements.April 5, 2020 at 11:41 pm #2153
Hey Herbert! Can you show a picture of your work space? I would love to see your wacom and second monitor setup!April 6, 2020 at 2:51 am #2158
Are you sure? It’s actually a 3-screen setup. I’ll see if I can take a photo of my actual desk later, but here is a screenshot of my OpenToonz setup. Not my own work, I am afraid – can’t show it here, sorry. Just an old demo file.
But it demonstrates the usefulness of a screen pivoted in portrait mode for the X-Sheet. The Wacom is focused on the center screen, and I use the mouse with my left hand to control the rest. OpenToonz also features a horizontal timeline which I snapped at the bottom, but it is hidden by a double-click of the title bar in OpenToonz. Handy, since often a horizontal timeline is easier to work with, and I can do so with my Wacom for quick blocking and sketching instead of having to work with the X-Sheet.
So I always like my animation and drawing software to support multiple screens. Animation Paper’s current rigid GUI won’t let me use my screen space efficiently. I have noticed a lot of applications nowadays adopting a GUI like that, which is a shame: many creatives work on multiple screen setups. Makes no sense to me to limit the GUI in that regard.
I am planning on purchasing a new 32″ retina screen, because of 4K work, and then pivot one of the 27″ Samsungs instead. Even more screen estate! 🙂April 6, 2020 at 3:09 am #2160
The link just says I am not authorised to download file.April 6, 2020 at 5:11 am #2165April 6, 2020 at 10:35 am #2189
ooooo I see now! Thankyou for your response. I myself do see the need for tear away windows and hope also that Animation Paper will eventually include options to have floating windows 😀
Peace and thankyou for showing me a snippet of your layout. I myself run a dual screen. A 16 inch cintiq on an arm with a 24 inch directly above.
Looking forward to seeing any animation you do with AP in the show and tell forum.April 6, 2020 at 12:46 pm #2191
Hi Herbert – glad you had a nice surprise there! 😉
Our plan is to have some control over your lines for the next large upgrade (6.0). I am not thinking like spline nodes and tangents, that would not be fitting for Animation Papers sort of “analogue” style. But some kind of nudging would be great I believe. So you can fix less precise lines or do close in-betweens and such by just pushing/adjusting existing lines a little. (again without any degradation of the line).
The requests you listed at the end is all planned for. Especially when we get to do Preferences, there will be room for much of it. And the ability to tear off the X-sheet for another display – you convinced me of that already! 🙂
We are using multithreaded a couple of places, but more important places are possible and will come. In general we have room for optimisations all over the place. So you should hopefully feel the improvements in speed as we get them done.
Thanks very much again!
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