As you probably know, animation is the rapid display of a sequence of images in order to create an illusion of movement. Traditionally 2D animation is created by drawing each displayed image individually. Those images are called “frames” and thus such method is called “frame-by-frame animation”. To create a good illusion of movement you need to draw many frames, that’s why this method requires a lot of time and resources.
A traditional frame-by-frame animation, taken from : http://flipily.com
Synfig Studio is an open-source 2D vector
animation software. It is designed to produce film-quality animation
with less people and resources.
Synfig Studio is built to eliminate the need to draw each frame individually. There are two techniques for that:
- Morphing animation
- Cutout animation
Morphing animation of a rose, by Rore
Morphing is a technique that takes two images and creates a smooth transition between them. In the process of morphing, one shape is deformed into another and this transformation is usually defined by control points.
Cutout animation in Synfig’s tutorials
Cutout animation is created by splitting objects into parts and applying some simple transformations to them (like translation, rotation or scale) at different moments of time.
Synthesis and other functionalities¶
In both cases the role of Synfig Studio is to fill the gaps between the drawn frames (also called “keyframes”) and produce smooth and fluid animations. This process is called “tweening”.
Although Synfig Studio is not directly intended to draw animation frame-by-frame, it can be used to bring your hand-drawn frame-by-frame animation to the film-quality level by converting bitmap data of each frame into vector format. This process is called “tracing” and usually done by hand by constructing vector shapes on top of bitmap images. In the process of construction you can apply a lot of fascinating effects built into Synfig Studio to achieve a professional look for your animations.
Whether you do frame-by frame animation or not, Synfig Studio gives you flexible control over the repeated data, such as colors, outline characteristics, textures, images and many more, even animation trajectories and their sets (actions). Reusing repeated data is achieved via linking. This is a power of Synfig Studio, which is especially important for big animation projects.
Among the plain linking pieces of artwork data you can also define relations between them using a set of functions. That allows to create automatic animation based on the defined laws and bring whole animation process to the next level.
Parabolic shot in Synfig’s tutorials
All those features of Synfig Studio are covered in detail in the chapters of this manual.