The Dimples Team has been lucky enough over the past few weeks to get our grimy hands on a few animation tools and we hope to review them for you on this blog. Itâ€™s been our experience that reviews written on the more professional sites by more professional folks neglect to reflect on the issues that are important to amateurs like us who hope to create a home studio environment for learning and fun. Weâ€™re not professionals and we donâ€™t have unlimited budgets. We have limited short term goals that are met by equipment less sophisticated than those used by the professional animator.
For the past two weeks weâ€™ve been using an inexpensive lightbox available from Lightfoot LTD. The model weâ€™ve tested is the 12F personal lightbox. This box is only $99.95, has two peg bar options and is not equipped with an animation disk. Itâ€™s your basic bargain basement special. First, we compared the cost of this box to the cost of building a similar box the Home Depot way. Buying this lightbox from Lightfoot is cheaper than building a similar box yourself. Donâ€™t waste your time trying. What about the lack of an animation disk. Itâ€™s much better to have a disk but, because this lightbox is small and almost weightless, you can turn and maneuver it with ease. A disk would be much better but for most things you can get by with this. Also, in the digital age, chances are that youâ€™re going to do at least half of your work in a digital environment. Thatâ€™s how we evaluated this lightbox. We used it to draw our key frames and did the tweens on our computer. If we were making a feature film, weâ€™d want the fancy disk for big bucks, but weâ€™re grimy fingered amateurs trying to make a few minutes of fun and this lightbox satisfies our needs and allows us to spend more money elsewhere.
If you purchase this box or another one from Lightfoot LTD or another vendor, the Dimples Team suggests that you also buy a spare pegbar at the same time. Youâ€™ll need this for transferring your images to the computer. At the present time, weâ€™re using our scanner to transfer images and we glued our spare pegbar to our scanner to attach our drawings and ensure everything lines up properly. Itâ€™s only a few bucks to get a second pegbar. Also, we went with the Acme bar but, in hindsight, weâ€™d choose the round pegbar.
The bottom line is that this is a highly workable and inexpensive lightbox for the student and amateur hobbyist. If you outgrow it, you can always sell it on Ebay but you’ll probably want to keep it as a back-up or a place to develop ideas and design characters.
[tags]animation, lightbox, lightfoot ltd, 2D animation, hand-drawn animation[/tags]
Our favorite 2D animation software, Plastic Animation Paper, has just released version 4. This is a full featured piece of software that allows you to create your wildest dreams and the best part is that it is totally free. Dimples has been playing with this software for a couple of months now. It’s great. You can do almost anything with it.
Learning to animate with this software is like going to an animation school without the tuition. It’s an education in itself. Dimples doesn’t mean to imply that the software is difficult. It’s nearly pain-free. You can begin creating simple animations immediately. When you progress to more sophisticated projects, Plastic Animation Paper will be able to move with you. Frankly, it’s all you need to create a great demo reel.
Have you been thinking about animation school? Look no further than the tutorials at Plastic Animation Paper’s website. Here are the lessons that are currently available:
- Lesson 1 – Quick introduction to the screen layout and basic drawing tools.
- Lesson 2 – Your first simple PAP animation. Animating rough blue and planning red.
- Lesson 3 – How to do a walk cycle. Timing with clones, light table, working in passes.
- Lesson 4 – Optimize your workflow using Setup and marking menus.
- Lesson 5 – Using Cutouts – basics. Introducing the Range. Your cycle from Lesson 3 is going for a little walk.
- Lesson 6 – More Cutout tricks. And animating a scene! – starting with your cycle and adding on from there.
- Lesson 7 – Layers. Get the details on all the brand new layer functions of PAP version 3.2.
They say they’re going to post more tutorials and I’m assuming these will be upgraded to reflect the changes in the upgraded version of the software. Try Plastic Animation Paper. It’s free. Just think about whose head you want to explode and draw it. (Who doesn’t like a good animated exploding head, after all?) Create your Quicktime movie from your masterpiece and post it on Youtube. It’s stunningly simple with PAP.
Don’t trust Dimples? Read this test drive of Plastic Animation Paper at The 10 Second Club.
Dimples came across Chris Georgenes brilliant Flash Animation tutorial on the old Macromedia site last year. Even if you never intend to use Flash as your animation tool, his lessons will help you. In simple clear language, he teaches attention to detail and flare that make every character special. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that the original video tutorial is still available on the new Adobe site but a text tutorial is availble here. Chris has an unreal portfolio site that can be viewed here.
Dimples defies anyone to look at these animations and not grin ear to ear. Although very simple, his animated condom is full of personality.
This is a peek at Mr. Condom used in a simple ad but you need to see the animation to fully appreciate the character Chris puts in his work. We can’t help but notice the resemblance between Chris and Mr. Condom. Self portrait? Dimples wishes there was more that we could show here but everything is on his two websites linked above. Take a look at the work of a really funny and a really smart animator, Chris Georgenes.
[tags]Chris Georgenes, Flash animation, animator, cartoon, 2D animation, 3D animation[/tags]
The Dimples’ crew is all about vintage animation but we’re also all about the latest digital means to achieve that look. Above and beyond that, we’re really cheap. That’s why we’re excited about a new beta version of Plastic Animation Paper available for free download here. At this time, we do not know what limitations may have been placed on this free copy but we gather from information posted with the download link that this is a fully functional copy of what they normally sell as shareware. There is a short tutorial following the download link. We’ve heard great things about this software and suggest you give it a try. After all, it’s free.