Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Pencil: Hand-drawn Animation

Hand-drawn animation: the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear that is probably not 'relaxing,' but 'time-consuming' and possibly even 'frustrating.' My first experience in animation was hand-drawn animation, as you can see in this video. Inspite of the fact that this little short took me a whole day to create, it was not only fun, but relaxing to create. There's much that I love more than drawing a character, then bringing him to life.

Because I do like animating so much, and because it was taking so long to draw out each individual frame, scan it into my computer, edit with Apple Works, then make a movie out of it with iMovie, my dad recommended the animation program 'Pencil.' Not only is Pencil easy to figure and use, but it's very responsive. I didn't have to worry about drawing rough, jagged lines when I was trying to draw a smooth curve.

Another problem that I'd run across when I had used Apple Works to create this second short was that I couldn't see what the last frame had been. Pencil has an onion skin option so that you can see either what the layer behind is, what the next layer is, or what both layers are. This makes it significantly easier for me to draw the next frame, or in-between frames.

Another nice feature of Pencil is that it doesn't just create a series of isolated images. After the animation file is created, you can export it to one of several file formats, including QuickTime. This saves me the half an hour or longer that it takes me to scan each individual frame.

Overall, Pencil is a wonderful program. It leaves the fun in hand-drawn animation and it takes out the hassle from the traditional way to make hand-drawn animations. Because it is so nice to use, I'm hoping to use it to make an title sequence for a series of story ideas I have. With any luck, you'll see the video on YouTube before the month is out.

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