Pencil is a free drawing and animation application that supports Mac OS X, Windows and Linux. Pencil is still only in beta but it’s worth installing and playing around with if you want to get into animation but you can’t afford applications such as Flash or ToonBoom.
The tools that Pencil currently has within the application are:
- Pencil Tool
- Paint Brush
- Pen Tool
- Clear Button
- Paint Bucket
- Color Picker
- Select Tool
- Move Tool
- Move/Zoom Canvas
- Modify Curve
Under the Options tab you can change the color of the paint brush, paint bucket and pencil. You can control the size of the brush, the feather and there is also an option called “size with pressure” which defines the brush stroke with the amount of pressure applied. You can also Preserve Alpha and Stop at contours.
3. Time Line
Under the Time Line tab it is possible to add layers such as a Bitmap Layer, Vector Layer, Sound Layer and Camera Layer. As it’s an animation application you can also add and remove KeyFrames. On the Time Line you can also choose to use onion skinning to see the previous frame and the next frame so that you can trace what you drew to animate it. The default FPS is 12 but on the Time Line you can choose up to 50 FPS. When playing your animation you can also decide to loop it so that you don’t have to keep pressing play over and over again.
4. Colors Tab
There are quite a nice range of default colors already on the colors tab, but if there’s a color that you use a lot and it’s not there then you can click the ‘+’ sign and add it. You can also choose to remove colors from the color tab by hitting the ‘-’ sign. From the colors tab you can also select the alpha.
5. Extra Features
A really nice touch to Pencil is that the whole layout is customizable so if you don’t like the way it is laid out then you can change the tabs around so that the application suits you. The tabs can also be detached. Sound and image can also be imported into Pencil, so if you create a sound in an audio application like Fruity Loops and want to use it in your animation you can, and if you have created an image in Photoshop then you can also import it into Pencil.
When you’ve finished your animation, you can export it in either an Image Sequence, X-Sheet, Quicktime Movie or a Flash Movie (.swf). You can also import and export your Color Palette.
Overall I think that Pencil is a really amazing piece of software considering that its absolutely free. It’s also open source so you can download the source code and take a look at how it’s built. Pencil is still only in beta but when its first full version is released it’s going be a really hot application.
Download Pencil @ les-stooges.org/pascal/pencil
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