Skip to main content

Hand Drawn 2D Digital Animation - Get Started with These 3 Free Applications

Penguin Jump Pencil Roughs by TET.
Hand drawn 2D animation, more commonly described as 'traditional' animation, where each character movement is meticulously drawn frame by frame is still one of the most versatile forms of the art. Essentially, if you can draw it, then it can be animated. There's really no limits other than your own drawing and animation skills.

If you already have a digital drawing tablet or pen display monitor and want to get into hand drawn, 2D digital animation then these three applications are a great starting point and they're all completely free.


Pencil2D


Pencil 2D's User Interface is clean
and very easy to learn.
Pencil2D has been around for many years. In fact I first wrote about it here in 2009. It's an application that was a great idea but wasn't fully developed and could be buggy. After many years with no updates a new team appears to have taken on the task of developing the software further with a few upgrades.

I took some time to try the new version out and, whilst it has actually had some features removed (.swf export), or in the process of being reimplemented (vector drawing was way more functional than it currently is), the basic function of creating hand drawn (bitmap/raster) animation all works fine.

Pencil2D supports layers and has sound layers which is useful if you're trying to animate speech or just want to add a few basic sound effects.

Currently the vector layers and tools are barely functional so I wouldn't use this software to create finished vector line art but I've always enjoyed using it for drawing pencil roughs. From there you can export your frames for importing into another application that supports vectors if you want crisp outlines that don't pixelate.

If all you want to do is try your hand at traditional animation without any kind of steep application learning curve getting in your way Pencil 2D is a great starting point.


TupiTube (Desktop Version)


TupiTube's Desktop app is more complex
than the phone/tablet version.
TupiTube markets itself as a tool for children of all ages and by doing so does itself a disservice. Whilst the phone/tablet version of the software (available for Android and soon to be on iOS) is very kid friendly the Desktop version is very much more like a semi professional application. In fact the user interface is setup very much like a professional animators workspace complete with vertically aligned exposure sheet.

Although you can import rastor/bitmap images into TupiTube all of its drawing tools are vector based, which isn't ideal for drawing pencil roughs. However, because the vector drawing is quite good I would team this application with Pencil2D and import your finished pencil roughs from that software into TupiTube for tracing into vector lines/finished art.

TupiTube has a number of other advanced features including tweening and the ability to integrate with Papagayo (the free lip syncing app). Like Pencil2D the software is still a work in progress with new features on the way - including raster based drawing tools.

There are some very impressive animations within TupiTube's tutorials, not all of which are strictly hand drawn animations. The documentation for TupTube is not the best, making it a little difficult to get to grips with quickly. If pencil roughs is more your interest, TupiTube isn't there yet. If you want to take pencil roughs to a more finished level then TupiTube could be just the thing.


Krita


Krita's User Interface is daunting initially but
may be the best app in the long run.
Krita is primarily a free professional drawing and illustration application, well worth adding to your tools for that reason alone. In the last year or so animation features have been added making it, useful as a tool specifically for creating hand drawn animation.

Based on the current documentation at the time of writing this post, I thought Krita's animation features were going to be quite limited. However, after trying them out for myself, it's very clear that Krita's documentation is far behind where the animation features are currently at.

For example the documentation says you can only export your animations as a series of PNG frames, which you need other software to reconstruct into a video file. When I actually used the 'Render Animation' option (which doesn't exist in the documentation) there are several options including exporting your animation as an MP4, .gif, and as sequential images.

Although Krita has very good support for vector drawing it currently only supports raster/bitmap animation layers. Hopefully support will be added for this in the future.

Krita's user interface in contrast to Pencil 2D and TupiTube is initially quite daunting. If you're used to applications like Photoshop you may be able to find your way around Krita without too much looking through the user manual, but if you're coming from Pencil 2D to this, the learning curve is much steeper.

Either way, you'll definitely need to step through the online documentation to get a handle on how the animation features work. I do feel if you really take the time to learn Krita completely it could well be the only tool you'll need for hand drawn digital animation.

All three of the above free applications are available for Windows, iOS (TupiTube soon to be available), and Linux.


Try Them All


If you've noticed my little penguin jump sequence in the images with this article so far below, is the pencil rough animation as a GIF image. The initial drawings were done in Pencil 2D which I exported as an image sequence.

I then imported these into both TupiTube and Krita. I used Krita to export the sequence as a GIF animation.

Penguin Jump Pencil Rough by TET.

I did start to use TupiTube to create a vector animated version of the sequence but I wasn't entirely happy with the freehand pen tool's ability to draw my lines accurately, and I didn't have time to use the line and node edit tools to refine my work. (If you do have the time I'm certain TupiTube could produce great results).

With all these applications being free you may as well try them all. Personally I preferred Pencil 2D for creating Pencil roughs. Krita is a close second. It's user interface is fully customizable so I'm sure with a bit of decluttering you could streamline it so the essential tools are better organized.

TupiTube may be something worth trying out if you like the benefits of using vector lines for your finished art. It will also introduce you to concepts of auto tweening that is really only possible with vector based art (which may be a kind of stepping stone to puppet rig character animation).

Comments

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Popular posts from this blog

Real Human AI Text to Speech Voice App by Replica Studios - AI voice actors for games + films

Replica Studios TTS App. Image: Replica Studios It really pays to attend Reallusion's free animation demonstration Webinars. At a recent webinar, host, Kai DeNeve, featured Replica Studio's A.I. Voice Actor system . Replica uses Artificial Intelligence to learn a real voice actor's speech patterns, tone, and inflection, which can then be used with their Text To Speech (TTS) system to produce the most realistic computer generated voices yet (or at least that I've come across). You can even fine tune how individual words are said and more. Their TTS system works through a downloadable desktop app for Mac and Windows. There are also bridging apps if you want to use their system for voices in UnReal and Unity Gaming systems. Sign up for a free account and get 30 minutes of free voice downloads (that's 30 minutes of recorded audio - not 30 minutes to download audio - that you can download a line at a time). After that you can purchase 4 hour blocks for just USD$24.00.

Animating Warwick Hays Skateboarder Ed Character for Cartoon Animator - Can Ed Kickflip?

Skateboarder Ed. Character by Warwick Hays. Warwick Hays has built quite a sizeable collection of characters, props, and backgrounds for Cartoon Animator that I've yet to really explore, however, being the tragic skateboarder that I am, it was surely fate that I would buy his Skateboarder Ed G3 character as my first purchase. Now I don't know a lot about Warwick but, based on the design of the skateboard prop that comes with Skateboarder Ed I'm fairly certain Warwick doesn't know much about skateboarding, and/or probably didn't use a good reference when designing his skateboard. Bart's skateboard has changed over the years, though curiously, even later versions, barely get closer to what an actual skateboard looks like. To be fair, Warwick's holding up a tradition of animators who clearly haven't seen a skateboard or noticed how skaters actually ride them. Just check out Bart Simpson's flat plank of wood with wheels from the opening int

My First Anthropomorphic Character with Reallusion's Character Creator 3 (Pipeline) & Reviving My TETAnimations YouTube Channel

Skateboarding Cage Monster - Heelflip. Reallusion's Character Creator 3  is a pretty incredible application for creating any kind of human digital 3D character quickly. Its power comes from the way it can totally deform a standard human base template character into a seemingly infinite number of body types and shapes. While I wouldn't recommended it as a your only 3D character sculpting tool, it is very powerful with just how much you can edit a character's form at the vertex/mesh level. I've experimented a little with CC3's Edit mesh functions, mostly using it to hide areas of an object I don't want seen. Bat Storm's cape is a good example where I used the ability to hide vertices to completely remove the assassin's hood from the neckline up. Just on a whim I wondered if I could create my Cage Monster character entirely in CC3 (with exception to his skin textures which I edited in Krita). The character is basically a stylised human body with a monster

Your First Look at Bat Storm Animated and Launching My Patreon

Bat Storm. 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! Visit my Patreon Page for more information. L

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

XP-Pen's Mascot, Fenix, in A Change of Art by TET. 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 Ideas Scenes from Skater - My First XP-Pen Competition Idea. This was not my first idea

Voice All Your Own Animated Characters with Voice Changer

Voice Changer by AVSoft is real time voice manipulation software that can be used for a wide range of purposes including (according to their website); Voice-over and voice dubbing for audio/video clips, presentations, narrations, voice messages, voice mails, E-greeting cards, broadcasting, etc.; mimic the voice of any person, create animal sounds, change/replace/remove voices in songs, videos,etc. I bought it for the specific purpose of changing my own voice, to extend my vocal range, for voicing characters in my own animations. I was fortunate enough to get this software at a significant discount that made it difficult to refuse, given that I'd never tried it, or even heard of it before. I'm not sure if I would have bought it at the full price given that much of what it can do (for my needs) can also be done with the freeware audio program, Audacity . AV Voice Changer Interface. Voice Changer is relatively easy to install and set up. Once installed simply

Stylish Stick Figures for Cartoon Animator 4.2 - New Characters by TET

Stylish Stick Figures by TET. Animating stick figures is almost a right of passage for any animator who has ever made an old fashioned flipbook or discovered the free stickman animator app, Pivot Animator . There's also the hugely popular viral stick figure animation, Animator Versus Animation  and its sequels by Alan Becker that continue to inspire variations more than 12 years later. Back when Vyond was GoAnimate they had a stick figure theme that was popular site wide despite having many other themes with much more refined Saturday morning cartoon style characters. I even had my own stick figure series, Harry Chalk , on GoAnimate. Long story short, I was looking through the Reallusion Cartoon Animator Marketplace and discovered there really weren't any well designed, traditional looking stick figure characters. That's not to say there weren't any at all but I wanted something similar to GoAnimate's stick figures which included full facial features and male and