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Three Image Overlay Apps. Do More with Your Reference Images While You Work

One thing Cartoon Animator 4 still does not have in stage mode is the ability to onion skin previous and next frames. 
For those complete animation newbies among you, onion skinning is the ability to see through the current frame to your previous and/or next keyframes so you can see the progression of your character or object's movement as you create and adjust each keyframe. Usually the previous and next frames appear lighter so your current frame remains the key focus.
This prompted me to look for a tool that could overlay an image over my work to use as a reference while still allowing me to work on the app underneath the overlay. I had seen, and even used such apps in the past but it had been some time so I decided to see what was out there, preferably free and/or open source, with versions for Mac and Windows.
Overlay 2There are actually a number of apps that do nothing more than overlay an image but the only one I could find that has both Windows and Mac versions is Overlay 2.
Y…

#XPPenanimationchallenge - How I Created My Entry for XP-Pen's First Animation Competition

XP-Pen, the makers of a range of pretty sweet pen display monitors, and Reallusion, the makers of some pretty sweet animation apps, teamed up for XP-Pen's very first Animation Challenge with the theme of 'Change'.
Any form of animation was acceptable with entries needing to be a minimum of ten seconds in length.
Entries closed on June 16th, 2020 (sorry, this blog isn't really a breaking news site, I probably should've mentioned it back in March when entries submissions opened) so it's too late to enter, but I wanted to tell you the tale of how I ended up creating my entry in a really late evening, the day before the deadline.
Watch my entry below. Remember the theme is 'Change' and XP-Pen suggested in the rules that including their mascot, Fenix, somewhere in the animation would be looked upon favorably.
The IdeasThis was not my first idea for the competition. That may not be a big surprise but what you don't know is I completed up to a full, finished s…

How To Engage An Audience Who Don’t Want To Be Engaged

A journey into making young folk pay attentionToday's guest post is by teacher, musician, creator and father/husband, Barrie McDermid, who is the creative force behind, and host of The Punctuation Show.
Don’t we all want to be noticed more?  Aren’t we all looking for an extra ‘like’ on social media? Don’t we all just want to be loved?  
Maybe a bit dramatic…
As a typical business owner, no doubt you want to find an audience and engage them.  Think about the typical classroom teacher: they have a captive audience, who often don’t want to be engaged.  As someone who loves a challenge (or maybe as a bit of an idiot), I started a business that has both of those challenges.
After a few years in various sales jobs, I retrained as an English teacher and absolutely loved the job.  Working with young people is a privilege, because young people have so much energy and honesty.  The honesty does not always go in your favour.
For a number of reasons, after a moderately successful career in teachin…

Bat Storm Teaser Trailer 02 - Batman Parody about Cosplay Superheroes who fight crime.

Bat Storm and his Daughter, Bat Flash, cosplay for children's parties and other events by day and moonlight as crime fighters by night... well, not all night, obviously... they still try to get their six hours of sleep.
The all new, 3D, iClone animated, reboot of my popular GoAnimate series is coming. Below is my second teaser trailer after my Robert Pattinson Suit Test parody trailer.
This second trailer is a scene for scene remake of the original first trailer created for GoAnimate more than ten years ago.

If you like what you see here and want to help me develop Bat Storm into an ongoing animated web series check out my Patreon which helps to cover the cost of voice actors and other production costs.
Huge thanks to Barrie McDermid for voicing all the characters on this one. Check out his website for his voice work and other creative services at:
Ask Barrie  https://www.askbarrie.co.uk/
Behind the ScenesUsually I would give a detailed rundown of any points of interest in the creation o…

Animation Paper V5.0 Alpha 2 Pre-release

Animation Paper strives to be the best tool for digital hand drawn animation by not only recreating the traditional animator's table in a modern user interface, but also automating many of the more tedious processes so you can focus almost entirely on drawing.
At the time of writing Animation Paper V5.0 is only available as an Alpha 2 Pre-release, and still does not have all of its features implemented, such as the ability to add audio (due to be part of the Alpha 3 release scheduled for the end of May 2020).
Animation Paper has been completely redesigned and updated from th hand drawn animation app that was formerly known as Plastic Animation Paper (PAP) which, at the time, was easily one of the best apps for the sole purpose of creating hand drawn digital animation roughs.
You can still download PAP completely free from the Animation Paper website. If you look past the extremely dated 90's interface it's still a great tool. I wrote about PAP here and I wrote about the devel…

Featured Animator: Bud Luckey, That's About the Size (Infinity Song)

Sesame Street was one of my staples as a young child but I haven't watch it in years. The other day, for no reason at all, I had the chorus from the Sesame Street animated short song That's About the Size (also known as Infinity) running around my head.

That's about the size,
Where you put your eyes.
That's about the size of it.

It was frustrating me because I knew the song had more words but I couldn't for the life of me think what they were so... YouTube.



The animated clip first debuted on Sesame Street in 1971, with music and animation by Bud Lukey, lyrics by his friend and writing partner Don Hadley. The song was sung by Bud, instrumentals by Jazz legend Turk Murphy and his band, with Bud on the banjo.

All of which I didn't know until I decided to look up the written lyrics because watching the song over and over wasn't helping me memorize the words. I'd gone from being frustrated about not knowing the rest of the song to not being able to retain the w…

Behind the Scenes: Bat Storm Suit Camera Test Animation - How It Was Made.

I'm very much a novice when it comes to 3D animation in iClone 7. However I can find my way around the application because the user interface and workflow shares a lot of similarities with Cartoon Animator 4 (also made by Reallusion).

For that reason alone, if you're proficient with Cartoon Animator 4 (formerly known as CrazyTalk Animator 3) and want to try 3D character animation, iClone 7 will not seem too unfamiliar. You may even be able to pick up the basics in under an hour.

With that in mind I thought I'd do a break down of how my Bat Storm Suit Camera Test, animated short was made. Not a step by step guide but just a look at the features I used, to highlight just how easy iClone 7 is to get started with.

You're already part way there if you have a firm grasp of the X, Y, and Z planes for positioning characters and props in CA4.

Bat Storm Character Rig I'm not going to claim this part was easy in the sense I've spent years trying to find just the right lo…

Your First Look at Bat Storm Animated and Launching My Patreon

Traditionally my Bat Storm character has always been a parody of whichever movie Batman is in the limelight. Back in the GoAnimate days that was Christian Bale, but now we have a new, upcoming Batman with Robert Pattinson. What better way to greet the new guy than with Bat Storm's own 'camera test' teaser just like Robert Pattinson's suit camera test.



This is actually the very first public release of my new Bat Storm character model animated. Prior to this it's only been 'leaked' still images (does it count as leaking when it's the show creator deliberately posting images publically?).

Anyhow Bat Storm pays homage to two Batmen ahead of their time (Val Kilmer and George Clooney) who had the balls to wear nipples on the Batsuit. Clearly a diversionary measure designed to disarm unsuspecting bad guys with laughter.  If no one is taking you seriously that's clearly an advantage!

Launching my Bat Storm (and Other Comedy Shorts) Patreon As a solo, Indep…

Review: Renderforest Realistic Book Promotion Video Template - Fast Cloud Video Creation

Promoting physical books using video is becoming increasingly popular. Despite ebooks and digital copies of physical books gaining ground, people still like the simplicity of a physical book in their hands.

As such DIY Video creation site Renderforest can help you make a promotional video featuring a mock up of your book that looks very convincing as a real book with their Realistic Book Promotion Video Template.

I've reviewed other video templates by Renderforest including their 3D Animated Explainer Toolkit, and their Whiteboard Animation Toolkit because I really like what Renderforest offers as a DIY cloud video creation service (#notsponsored but this article does contain my affiliate links). Their template editor is really easy to use, and I've yet to find a template that wouldn't lift any amateur video production to a more professional level.

The Realistic Book Promotion Template, while not actually showing your specific book, could be a great way to give people a q…

Review: Headshot Plugin for Reallusion's Character Creator 3

Creating a realistic 3D human avatar is a whole lot easier with Reallusion's new Headshot Plugin for Character Creator 3. The plugin is an AI powered extension that can generate 3D digital humans from one photo. Which sounds like an amazing proposition but, in practice, if you're trying to achieve a specific likeness to an actual person, Headshot will give you an excellent base to work from.



Headshot has two modes, Auto and Pro.

Auto Mode Auto is well worth a try if you have an ideal photo of a front facing person that is properly lit and posed to Headshot's optimum requirements. It's also the only mode that will take a crack at generating a hair model.

I grabbed an image of Harrison Ford, dragged it into Headshot without changing any of the default settings (other than specifying 'male' and selecting an 'old male' setting) and this is what I got on auto mode:

As you can see the face texture and shape is not too bad. I'm not sure I'd recognize …

TET Animation Project Update for 2020

It's the start of a new year which means it's a great time to run down my own personal animation project plans for this year.
Patreon Before the end of January I hope to be launching my Patreon Membership Account. I've been largely reluctant to go the Patreon route for funding my animated projects but it appears to be the best way to fund projects that only the smallest of audiences have any interest in.

While the majority of the work on my animated projects will still be done by me, the main goal of the Patreon is to raise funds to pay for voice artists. I don't have the vocal range to voice all of my characters. Voice changers and Text to Speech Apps aren't at a quality that sounds professional, and I want my productions to be elevated in a way that only real voice actors can.

As much as I have friends who would gladly volunteer time to voice characters, that's not a reliable system, as people get busy, and the quality of recording can vary a lot depending o…
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