Affinity Designer- My Thoughts


Above is a speed up recording. Often called a speedpaint or timelapse. This will reflect on my blog post with the things I am trying to say.

I can’t call this a review because I will clearly be very biased. I’m going to come out and say it right here right now. I hate Adobe Illustrator!

Why? You might ask. Well I’ll tell you why.

It’s tedious, difficult and often requires multiple steps to do something that should realistically be simple. After all of these years it’s still very difficult to use. Affinity designer provides the same power in vector art and the same quality.

Clipping or masking in Illustrator has always been the ultimate pain. It was easier just to cut and create a whole new shape. I frequently abandoned it for Inkscape but I also didn’t like Inkscape. I wasn’t comfortable with it or the user interface and it lagged.

Lag was another big issue. Affinity Designer is much faster. I also hated that I would often need Photoshop for textures or to create a base image. We are all familiar with Photoshop’s lag. Trying to run both together at the same time was a really bad idea. I did so by accident once. My PC crashed almost immediately. In Affinity Designer, they have a raster drawing program inside of it. It’s called Pixel Persona and it’s accessible in what looks like it’s own user interface within the program. It’s a matter of clicking an icon to go from raster to vector.

What I also like is their Pixel Perfect mode. For me, that is a major bonus. I also like that I could use it to create vexel art if I so choose. It seems as though now Illustrator has something either the same or similar. I didn’t look into it to thoroughly.

I also dislike that despite the thousands of requests, certain features never got added or changed with Illustrator while Affinity Designer is more than happy to listen to artists. I mean we are the ones using the software after all right?

Then there’s the stigma that comes with Illustrator. You know, when people say “It has to be hard to use or it’s not worth it.” or “The harder the program is to use, the better the results.”. That’s just ridiculous. You shouldn’t need to jump through 40 hoops to do one simple task. Simple art should be simple.

I love how much faster I can work within Affinity Designer because of it’s ease of use and I love it’s ability to create complex pressure sensitivity with it’s vector strokes in a simple manner. It’s how vector art should be. Straight forward, to the point, edit and move on.

I love that some of the tools do multiple things where as in Illustrator I felt like I was spending more time looking for tools and using hotkeys than I was doing art. It frustrated me to no end. It’s one of those programs where you either really love it or you really hate it and I really hated it in the end. Loved the results but hated using it.

The video above was an artwork created in 2 hours. It would have taken me far longer if I had to use both Photoshop and Illustrator. The changing of programs, the lag, the crashing. Affinity Designer didn’t crash once. It only stalled for a moment but I think that was because of some other app interfering.

So far I love Affinity Designer. I can do what I need to do and create complex art. I am looking forward to their updates and I can happily wait for them. I highly recommend it especially if you are like me and you use a lot of layer clipping or masking. Very simple, very powerful!

 

Advertisements

Krita Animation


Since the first Beta release I’ve tried and tested out Krita’s new animation features and tools. I must say not only am I blown away but I think I can finally stop aiming for TVPaint and happily stick with Krita for a long, long time.

Raster animation isn’t just my preference, it’s been a long time goal. Something I’ve been aspiring to and chasing for years. I was thrilled to see Toon Boom Harmony finally add raster layers but they still lack an awful lot of basic painting and blending tools. Unlike Krita which started out as drawing and painting software. I’m really excited to try it out when it’s officially released and start a new project.

I’ve always wanted to create a classic paint styled animation but doing that on paper and Cels is incredibly expensive and you run out of storage fast. That’s simply not the case with digital animation. Although storage can become a problem, it’s also an easily solvable one.

I’ve tried multiple freeware. And if it wasn’t vector only it was pixel only which frustrated me. I tried animating with GIMP but it was even more horrendous than animating in photoshop.

First Impressions of Krita Animation

My first use of Krita 2.9.9 Beta, I noticed a dramatic improvement in brush speed. That was always one thing that put me off when it came to drawing with Krita. I’ve been an on and off user for quite a few years now. I think the first time I used it was in 2010 but I’m not sure any more. I’ve picked it up more seriously in 2014 and I’ve been using it more regularly since.

I noticed a number of improvements to various tools but the animation features were what I was most interested in so I didn’t dig to deep into much else. For a first Beta it was very impressive and worked well. Only crashed once or twice during various animation tests.

Krita 2.9.10 Beta though some improvements were made, for me personally it was more buggy. For whatever reason I could not edit an animation file if closed and re-opened. It was as if the layer was locked though it wasn’t. But hey, it’s Beta, bugs are bound to happen. There were a lot of improvements but from the first to the second Beta’s I tried, there was an issue with playback. I noticed I wasn’t the only one. It would not playback in real time.

In Krita 3.0 Pre Alpha the brushes were a lot faster. Sometimes it lagged in the previous alpha’s but it’s working even better now during animation which makes me very eager to see the final release of Krita 3.0 and what else they’ve added and achieved.

The files were editable after saving, closing and re-opening. No crashes thus far and a drop frame rates button which solved the playback issue. There were a few jumping and skipping of frames but I expected as much since my PC was doing to much at once. After closing the excess programs I noticed a huge improvement.

The user interface is a LOT more spacious than before. This was something I liked a lot especially for animation. It was starting to feel very cramped. It’s a little bit buggy while arranging and docking items but that’s to be expected.

Frames move without issue and testing playback speeds is a lot more accurate now if you’re a windows user like myself. Onion skin seems to be functioning better in the latest release. Before it was a little buggy trying to turn certain frames on or off with onion skin. Turning the visibility on and off was a bit difficult but not anymore. It was also a bit buggy altering the onion skin tint before as well, but that seems to be resolved.

I love the onion skin feature in Krita. I wish more programs had their onion skin set this way. It’s easy to customise the onion skin visibility on specific frames and very easy to change the onion skin tint colour as well as turning it off. However I can’t comment on using it with full coloured animation as I haven’t gotten much further than clean up inks.

The main reason I haven’t gotten as far as coloured animation was the lack of editing after saving in previous Beta versions and some crashing occurred. But I plan to try coloured animation in the current release. It will be fun to see how I go and what happens.

So basically to sum it up, I really love the animation features added to Krita. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Speed Paintings and Timelapses


 

This is what I have currently been up to lately. I’ve been reviving a webcomic, catching up on old webcomics and still studying and practising 2D animation. Mostly I’m taking some time off learning to paint and do webcomics. Software used was Clip Paint Studio EX. In all 3 videos.

Where Have I Been? What Am I Up To?


This is getting asked a bit. Some may have noticed my disappearance on DA. Some are asking where am I posting art. Short answer, I’m not posting art. What I do post goes on Pixiv or tumblr. I will go back to DA eventually but I really need a break from there. Currently I’m in the process of writing two enormous tutorials and making 3D Assets for Clip Studio Paint. It’s going well so far. Here’s a few snapshots of my current works in progress.

The 3D pencil is a work in progress and very much needs to be textured on a flat material but all in all it went well. The table with cloth was more of an experiment. I’m glad it worked though because it’s opened up a lot more opportunities for me as far as background art and assets go in my drawings for things I still after all these years, can not draw in perspective.

Snap 2015-03-13 at 17.02.32 Snap 2015-03-17 at 20.24.29 Snap 2015-03-19 at 00.08.19 Snap 2015-03-19 at 00.09.27 Snap 2015-03-19 at 00.15.00 Snap 2015-03-19 at 00.15.40 Snap 2015-03-19 at 00.25.52 Snap 2015-03-19 at 00.28.34 Snap 2015-03-19 at 00.45.08 Snap 2015-03-19 at 01.20.28

Animation Recommendation


This is my personal recommendation. I just want to mention that this is my personal opinion from my own experiences.

As a hobbyist animator I have tried almost every single animation program out there. I’ve always wanted to do classic frame by frame animation but doing it traditionally can be very expensive and I switched to digital animation. Besides being eco friendly you only have to pay for your tools once. I love the advantages of digital animation.

The only program I haven’t tried was CelAction simply because it didn’t have anything I needed and it was far too expensive for a hobbyist like myself.

If you are into classic animation like me and do frame by frame animation I highly recommend theses 6 programs. I will however be giving honorable mentions of other programs that you can animate with or use to prepare to create great animations. (I only use the first 4, specifically I only own ToonBoom Animate Pro and studio. I can’t afford TVPaint but I hope to one day.)

  1. Sketchbook Pro 7
  2. ToonBoom Studio, Animate, Animate Pro, Harmony (any of these suites are great for animation but I highly recommend Animate or higher)
  3. CACANi
  4. Adobe After Effects
  5. TVPaint
  6. Celtx

Reasons:

Sketchbook Pro has always been an excellent program for doing concept work but with the added feature of flipbook, it can make creating keyframes very enjoyable. It loads and runs fast and has very basic animation. One of the more notable features is the perspective rulers, this is particularly useful when creating background art for animation since most animation programs do not offer perspective rulers and you have to draw them manually. Taking advantage of these rulers can really help you excel in creating high quality animation and various graphics. This is excellent if you’re new and can help ease you into 2D frame by frame animation. You can then export and import into ToonBoom to take it further and create amazing things. Sketchbook Pro is also excellent for doing storyboarding and various concept work as well making it a very important tool during the early stages of design and creating model references.

ToonBoom has a wide range of software specifically for animation but each suite is aimed at specific types of animation but it can do it all. I recommend any of the Toon Boom products from Studio to Harmony. They are all capable of symbol animation, morph/tween, cut out, bone/puppet animation, stop motion and frame by frame. I also like the onion skin options and settings. I’ve found it to be very efficient. However I do recommend that you check the specs and use a trial before committing. There are still some compatibility issues. The only other con I can think of is the learning curve. Some say it is intuitive to learn while others don’t. I did not find it very intuitive but I did find it fairly easy to navigate through the tools. It was difficult at first to remember where everything was but fortunately ToonBoom allows you to fully customize your workspace. I would also like to add that unless you have Harmony you can only create vector art. If you want bitmap or raster based painted backgrounds or assets you have to import them. Fortunately ToonBoom offers an excellent library that you can customize and save your items for reuse later.

CACANi is excellent for a lot of reasons. The main one being that it can automate inbetweens and it’s stroke steadying settings. If you have shaky hands or an over sensitive tablet you will find this extremely useful. It’s not flawless with auto inbetweening and you still have to inbetween complex animation but it can be a great time saver and still produces quality animation. It basically does advanced vector morphing. It’s also all vector based. Some that are use to raster animation may not enjoy it and find it a disadvantage, but it is worth learning and using. Once you get use to vector animation you can really take full advantage of it and create some incredible things. Particularly if you’re a professional with limited time to get things finished. You can draw in it frame by frame by hand as well and you may find you only need Cacani and Sketchbook Pro for most of your work. CACANi is especially good for a more classic cel animation with cel shading. Anyone that has used ToonBoom or flash and tried to animate cel shading will know the difficulties it can involve. With it’s unique colour line separation pen and quickflip preview ,it makes the flow of animating cel animation much easier smoother and get it done in a much shorter amount of time.

Adobe After effects is a compositing program. I recommend it for filters and basic particles. It’s extremely useful to use the particles to make snow or falling feathers, leaves blowing in the wind or anything else you can think of. It’s especially good for glowing and various lighting or shading effects. I recommend it mostly because subscribing is cheaper than trying to buy Harmony. If you have ToonBoom Harmony, it’s unlikely that you would need After Effects. After Effects is also capable of puppet animation and does a really good job of it. In short it’s like photoshop for animation. I highly recommend it for it’s filters to edit your animations and push them further in design, effects and quality.

TVPaint has a lot of tools. If you have it, it’s unlikely that you will need any other program. It is mostly raster based. Recently it was upgraded with a lot of amazing new tools. If you are into puppet or bone animation I don’t recommend TVPaint. It’s mostly a frame by frame animation program. It has advanced and customizable lightbox options that make inbetweening and onion skin easy to use. With TVPaint you can do storyboarding as well which is a big pro including adding audio to your storyboards. The only Con is unless you have a Cintiq or dual monitors, it can get very cramped very quickly. It is professional grade software and has a fairly steep learning curve. However if you have some experience in animation with other programs you might find it fairly intuitive. I highly recommend trying the demo. Unlike other programs there is no time limit to test the software. You can’t save and it uses a watermark. Unlike ToonBoom animate family where you have to import raster images from photoshop for backgrounds, you can paint within TVPaint lessening the need for any other program.

Celtx is not animation software but it is a necessary program to have and use. It’s replaced word and OneNote for me. Celtx has online cloud storage and offers a range of writing formats from script writing to storyboards for film and comics. It’s most unique feature is the character database. You can create and story a database for all of your characters with indepth information plot ties and image reference. It’s freeware and well worth downloading and using. If you decide to get into serious animation I highly recommend using it and taking advantage of the character database to use alongside your script and storyboards. I personally use to use this for my comics in combination with Sketchbook Pro and it certainly has been a great help in the past.

Honorable Mentions:

Other programs that can be either used for animation or are extremely helpful during the animation process and concepting stages are listed below:

  • OneNote (Organising, scripting, concepts, storyboarding, mindmaps (very  important), ability to share with team members)
  • Clip Studio Paint Pro and EX (Perspective rulers, paint, raster drawing, background, concept, storyboards and assets with transparency)
  • GIMP (animation and concept)
  • Photoshop (animation and concept, transparent image assets)
  • MyPaint (unlimited canvas, fast loading, variety of natural feeling brushes)
  • ArtRage (Beautiful backgrounds, program imitates natural media very well. Personally I think it does it better than Corel)
  • Corel Painter (animation and concept, natural media feel)
  • Paint Tool Sai (for raster images, backgrounds, concepts, storyboards and ease of use)
  • OpenCanvas (perspective rulers, painting, concept, storyboarding)
  • Audacity (for audio recording)
  • FL Studio (Unless you’re a composer I only recommend basic FL for creating your own sound effects and music. It is professional grade software and has a very steep learning curve. However it is well worth learning.)
  • Pencil (Free frame by frame animation. Still buggy and has been known to crash. Save frequently)
  • Blender (now has frame by frame animation. Done with grease pencil)
  • Tab (various suits, mostly all vector and I think cut out animation)
  • Digicel Flipbook (a lot of people still use and recommend this program. I personally did not take to it)
  • Anime Studio (vector bone morph animation)
  • Retas Studio (I don’t think it’s sold outside of Japan in english any more but I have seen some artists purchase it so I’m not totally sure.)
  • GraphicsGale (gif animation)
  • Synfig (free, mostly vector. Very steep learning curve, lots of issues for windows. Best used on Linux)
  • Tupi
  • Toufee
  • Toonz (same company that makes Tab, but to my understanding this one is more advanced)
  • CelAction
  • Flash (animation, symbols, tweening, frame by frame)

If you feel I have forgotten any 2D programs you think should be mentioned please leave a comment. This was very quickly written.

Zbrush Daily Sculpt Challenge: Can I do It?


I probably can’t but I’m about to try! First up, Darius. I’m going to post how far I got in zbrush and then what I painted over in photoshop. Incase you’re wondering he’s a Vampire from one of my stories.

So below will take you to the full image of the painted over version plus the WIP renders of how far I’ve gotten. I do apologise if it’s too dark for some.

http://draconianrain.deviantart.com/art/Darius-511256803