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Mikdog
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Post by Mikdog » Mon Jul 26, 2010 5:28 pm

That's the program slowtiger likes. I've never tried it but he says the drawing tools feel great, like Photoshop but faster.

Staying on thread, if AS could implement a bitmap drawing capability, I'd be happy. If not, I'll use another program. It would be GREAT if I could do both in one program.
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neeters_guy
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Post by neeters_guy » Mon Jul 26, 2010 5:51 pm

Bitmap and vector implementation are so diverse than even Adobe has two separate applications for it. This is a nontrivial task.

It's been noted that while you can do it all in ASP doesn't mean you should. The pros use the right tool for the right job, right?

That said, if Mikdog has something to say about ASP or TB, I think it's worth a listen. (I've only dabbled with TB myself, but I did find the freehand drawing tools nicer to use.)
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Mikdog
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Post by Mikdog » Mon Jul 26, 2010 11:07 pm

Well, in Photoshop you can draw in vectors I think. They get converted to rasters, but you're still editing curves.

AS handles rasters pretty well, .PNG images particularly it seems. While AS COULD be used as a video editor I don't. While it COULD be used to resize still images, I don't. I agree that the pros use the right tool for the job...but it seems so close that AS could be the right tool for the raster job and by extension the frame-by-frame job.

I can imagine it: set your project resolution, start drawing with a tablet into raster format. Hey, look, I can erase a section of this blob without affecting a fill shape! Woop! I can add another raster layer and draw some pupils over these eyes! Wahey! And now I can use AS' animation tools like I always have to animate them! And look, the project resolution is 800 x 600 so I'm drawing at 800 x 600 and my layer images are getting saved as .PNG files into my project directory. Awesome, woohoo.

Instead of...

I'm gonna draw all the layers in Photoshop. Meh. Ok, now I run a script to export them to an AS file. Myeh. Now I open AS. Open the file. Ok, now I realise I need another picture. Go back to Photoshop. Draw it. Save as .PNG file. Go back to AS. Import .PNG file. Animate. Oh wait, this background doesn't look right now that I've animated it. Guess I'll be getting rid of that chair in the background. Oh wait. I can't just erase the chair. I go back to Photoshop, erase the chair, save as .PNG, save over original background file, go back to AS, reopen file to see background with new changes...YEARGH!

Instead of: oh look I want to remove that chair from the background. Lucky for me its a raster file and I can just draw over it with my awesome raster tools in AS! WAHEY! DONE! Thanks AS!

Yes, my friends, that would be totally awesome.

After writing this all I think what I'm hankering after is just better drawing tools. Frame-by-frame could come later, I did this short drawing in Photoshop and animating in Anime Studio:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ONPPXnQ ... r_embedded

Oh how I'd like to be able to do it all in one package. Some of you may say fuggheddaboutditt, but I don't think its impossible. I'd really like to be able to get that divide between crossing packages out of the equation. Because then to go back and change something isn't a quick thing. Its like, a bit of a thing. The more that I could get that out of the equation, the more intuitive the process becomes, the more enjoyable, and less of an exercise in plotting and planning exactly how things may look once a scene is done and what's needed.
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heyvern
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Post by heyvern » Mon Jul 26, 2010 11:47 pm

Sorry for getting so stuffy about all of this Mikdog. I guess I am just a bit self righteous sometimes when it comes to my favorite animation program. ;)

Let's discuss from a "programming" perspective how this might be done in Anime Studio and why it isn't a simple task:

Currently image and video support in AS is handled through "links" and not stored internally. To incorporate raster drawing and "painting" in AS it would most likely require a new file format. It would probably require a binary format... but maybe not. The file format right now is ascii text which is very useful.

Right now when you import an image layer only the name of the external image is saved in the file. This works fine with how AS has been used since it was created. It was intended to be a proprietary vector animation program with limited support for image layers. Images are imported but not saved internally. Animated raster frames with editing support would have to be saved somewhere, inside the file in some sort of binary format or using external links.

If there is to be a way to draw or paint in AS some way of storing or saving those images (a TON of images potentially) has to be developed. I don't know how well the current method of external links would work in that situation.

A possible option would be to save out the image frames as an external "uncompressed movie" type file that stays in the folder with the AS file. This file might even be some sort of proprietary AS only type file. Maybe it uses QT or not. It would be an animation file but would need to be external to the AS file format if we want to keep the file format the way it is and not make it a binary "unreadable" file format.

The next stage of development would be to create painting tools. A whole new set of tools; what types of brushes? Soft edge? Hard edge? Shapes? Color selection? Basically this seemingly "simple" concept would be comparable to creating an entirely new application from scratch. It wouldn't be just adding painting tools to the current image layer support, it would be creating an entirely new component of the application. There is ZERO raster editing in AS. None at all. There is nothing to "add" on to. There is no painting or editing of raster information in AS. So besides the internal or external storage of raster data in the file format needing a solution you also need to write a completely separate application "module" with AS for painting and drawing raster images.

Anyway, this is not something easy. I can understand why AS doesn't have paint tools, because so many other applications do a much better job. The workflow in AS was never intended to support "frame by frame" raster or vector animation. Now that some people want or need this it will probably take some major R&D to find a solution for it. Personally it doesn't make sense to me and is an even BIGGER diversion from what AS is than the 3D aspect.

-vern
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Mikdog
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Post by Mikdog » Tue Jul 27, 2010 11:23 am

Hmm...I've read your post a few times and I disagree outright that its an even bigger diversion than the 3D aspect. From the sounds of it, it wouldn't be an easy task. Walt Disney might say "I don't care if its impossible, find a way to do it!" but I'm not Walt Disney.

All your concerns are valid, regarding file structure, engine support, encoding raster files into a new file format, and I do see the hurdles.

Perhaps then, the solution is not raster drawing tools, but much better vector drawing tools. At the moment drawing with a tablet in AS feels like trying to do calligraphy with a mop. Its not that accurate, and changing one thing tends to change a whole bunch of things. When constructing curves by clicking with a mouse, dragging points, sub-diving lines with more points, its incredibly accurate. But when it comes to more expressive drawing with a tablet, it has its own charms in the look, and I will admit that it works better than when I last used the freehand tool. But the issue arises when it comes time to paint the shapes with a floodfill. Willy-nilly drawing isn't going to create closed shapes, and thus they cannot be filled. And then the reminder that ohh...AS works with closed shapes. Even if the lines intersect, that doesn't mean they define a closed shape.

Another option would be to have a Photoshop plug-in within AS. This would be awesome but I have no idea about what programming is involved.

To summarize: perhaps raster drawing isn't the option. A different module for drawing tools that still uses AS vectors would be great, one that allows for flood fills even when vector shapes aren't 'closed' in the traditional sense. Also a module that treats lines and fills with less of a knock-on effect when erasing parts of a line or a fill. More accurate lines when drawing with a pen (sometimes AS likes to 'bow-curve' lines when they were drawn straighter)

I did a quick sketch. For large broad strokes AS seems to work ok. When the lines get small, in the characters eyes and legs, things go a bit pear:

Image
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heyvern
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Post by heyvern » Tue Jul 27, 2010 8:28 pm

The problem in my opinion, is not the drawing tools but how the curves in AS are designed.

The curves in AS are very different from any other vector based drawing application. Because of that major difference some of the drawing tools taken for granted in other applications are very difficult to achieve in AS. That difference is what makes AS great.

AS doesn't have the same bezier type curve controls of Flash or AI etc. The reason for this type of curve has major benefits when animating. Anime Studio takes the headaches out of point movement and control that you can't get in Flash. This is the REAL power of AS. The behavior of the curves during animation, the reduced point count needed for defining shapes along with other benefits, gives Anime Studio a particular advantage over other tools that have MORE control.

As for the "flood fill" or issues with closed shapes and fills... I just can't get my head around that as some big problem. AS works the way it works. I just create the shapes I need and fill them appropriately. Lately I have been using the freehand draw tool more. I still go in and tweak though just as I would with any application.

I keep bumping into the same issue over and over when discussing this topic. Many of you feel AS should change how it works to meet the needs of a specific animation or drawing style that isn't one of Anime Studio's strengths.

I can draw anything just as fast in AS or Photoshop or Illustrator etc etc. I find there is no slow down in my work flow, just a different mind set for each application. Each of those programs requires a totally different way of thinking. Anime Studio doesn't do frame by frame animation. The curves are very different so the free hand draw tool doesn't work the same as other applications. Adobe Illustrator CS5 which I have been using now since it came out, is totally different from AS. I find I have to think differently to use it. It doesn't mean Adobe should change thier format to match AS it just means I have to think differently when using it.

What you seem to be looking for is a "paint" application similar to Flash that you can quickly draw and fill shapes. That is one way to work but AS was never designed to work that way and the curves in AS aren't suited to working in that way. Because of the way the curves are defined a "vector painting" tool isn't going to work the way it would in Flash or Illustrator.

If you create a new type of bezier curve in AS just for the vector painting/drawing/merging tool you will end up with all of the other issues programs like flash have trying to animate vectors. You would lose all of the benefits of AS's specialized curve movement. You would also need an entirely new and different vector layer type so you have backwards compatibility with the current vector layer curve type. At the end you would end up with a "copy" of Flash. No better no worse.

What you are asking for is probably possible, but the end result wouldn't be Anime Studio anymore. You wouldn't have the benefits of what it can do now (with a bit of extra effort). Yes you get your cool drawing and painting of vectors like Flash but you would not be able to animate those layers or vectors in the same way as the current vectors. Try moving a point around in Flash... the handles don't adjust to reshape the curve. You end up having to move or create many more points to create the same simple motion you can do much more easily in Anime Studio, or you do frame by frame animation in Flash with each frame a copy of the previous frame.

--------------------

The curves in AS are specifically designed to ANIMATE smoothly and intuitively based on point position and motion. The problem I see is you can't have your cake and eat it too. To get the paint and draw tools that are in photoshop or illustrator or Flash you would have to sacrifice what makes AS so awesome for animating.

-vern
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uddhava
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Post by uddhava » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:30 pm

Living Cels had the option to use strokes in an eraser blending mode. It was a vector based program from Creature House. Also if you drew with the freehand tool you could get a fill even if the object wasn't closed. It also had nice tools for creating your own brush strokes. These would all be nice features in ASP.

The animation tools in ASP are superior to Living Cels however.

udd
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tonym
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Post by tonym » Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:59 pm

I'd love to have bitmap drawing tools in ASP. I would use those tools to make animatics - then, when everything was just right, I would animate the vector art above the animatic.

That would rock. 8)

Alas, for some reason, I don't feel comfortable sketching with vectors. I need bitmap tools.

Heck, I don't even need fancy brushes or pressure sensitivity or even FILL. I just need to sketch and erase in bitmap.

And while I'm dreaming...(sigh)...a shortcut key that toggles between brush and eraser would be wicked awesome.
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heyvern
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Post by heyvern » Wed Jul 28, 2010 4:34 pm

The scripting features in AS allow for creation of external files. I believe some sort of "paint" tool might be possible using scripting. It would require cursor tracking and some way to capture mouse position and creation of "simple" bit-mapped file formats.

The scripting features can track the mouse position. The steps after that are a bit fuzzy... uh... so... you track the mouse position... then a miracle occurs.... then you write an image file to the hard drive. ;)

Then it would be a matter of loading each image into a separate layer. Maybe it might be possible to "change" the image source for one layer using scripting... that's a real long shot though. I would need to confirm that the source of the image layer is accessible through the script interface (I think it is).

For example you have an image layer and a numbered image sequence in a folder. A layer script would then change the image source based on the frame number and the root name of the images. I don't know how fast this could switch images though. It might not be a "renderable" process but it's worth trying with pre-done image sequences. At least that kind of script could still be useful.

The idea is intriguing to me though.

-vern
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funksmaname
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Post by funksmaname » Thu Jul 29, 2010 12:10 am

tonym, you might find this thread useful:
viewtopic.php?t=17025
:)
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slowtiger
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Post by slowtiger » Thu Jul 29, 2010 8:44 am

First: this thread legally belongs into the "Other software" thread ...

Mikdog, I really recommend you TVP - you should give it a serious try. It is very much like Photoshop plus timeline. Frame-by-frame is its biggest talent, and it all can look as smooth or rugged as you like it, thanks to its bitmap brushes.

I like AS as it is right now: a somewhat restricted set of abilities, but slim and very, very fast. I wouldn't want it to be blown up with a completely different concept like bitmap editing (drawing tools), nor would I want to get bigger files, or in an obscure non-readable format.

AS is in serious danger to suffer from "featuritis": from version to version new gadgets are added, without any improvement of the GUI and the old tools. I'm not going to buy v7 right now because of that.
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Post by Gnaws » Thu Jul 29, 2010 6:58 pm

heyvern wrote:... just use freaking Toonboom for goodness sake and post on their forum about it. I am sick of reading about Toonboom on this forum.
hahahahaa! WOW!!! I haven't really considered giving TB much consideration, but if Vern feels this strongly there must be something to it.
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Post by crsP » Tue Aug 03, 2010 1:24 pm

Don't you think you're being a baby by giving your 'strong' critique, just because it's not made in Anime Studio? So AS users don't deserve an honest appraisal? Ridiculous. And Mikdog wants to do his animations in AS, so he is asking for those features for that purpose. What is wrong with that, and why do you need to justify your rant by implying you are the only one who likes to use AS?

What is really up with all the people who want to rubbish an idea which they've shown quite blatantly no consideration on? Putting either better vector drawing or adding bitmap drawing is NOT going to change the way you use AS. I am sure [and he can speak for himself] that Mikdog is not suggesting that the make curves tool and others be replaced with bezier and Artrage styled tools.

Hey Vern, besides your knowledge in scripting, and as far as I know, you are not privy to the underlying code which makes up AS, so why can't bitmaps be implemented. No point in generalising with statements such as it's no trivial task, because what part of AS programming would be considered trivial? Possibly Facebook 'integration'...

Bitmaps are already in AS. And in response to the person who asked why Adobe would have separate apps for vectors and bitmaps, try looking at the prices of Photoshop and Illustrator. Why would they miss out on that revenue? Take a look at Xara's products to see that they've done just that - bitmaps and vectors. It's not new. Photoshop has vector layers, Illustrator has bitmap layers. So what is stopping AS from having bitmap layers you can draw on, with bitmap tools. And why can't we have a bezier curve tool which works on bezier vector layers [if it's too difficult to implement bezier styled handles to AS vector curves]? Again, these things do not need to replace what is there already. In fact it would be useful to have both.

I just can't understand why people are so against a request for DRAWING tools in a 2d animation program. What would you prefer, bebo integration? Upload to Twitter? Render to Match.com?

Sheesh.
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Post by Manu » Tue Aug 03, 2010 3:36 pm

I always felt that, at the very least, ASP should have something like a sketch layer. A very, very simple bitmap based layer that sits on top of all other layer and that allows you to sketch your animations roughly without too much fuss.

Quickly sketching out your animation first gives much better, spontaneous looking results than working in the clean version straight away IMO.
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Mikdog
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Post by Mikdog » Tue Aug 03, 2010 3:45 pm

Nnnghrrgghhrr...

I want to constrain myself from saying this at the risk of letting the cat out of the bag too soon, but before things get any more confusing in this thread, I received a PM from Vern pretty recently with news that he's been working on a raster drawing tool and that its working pretty well. So, from the sounds of things it totally is possible. Much to my delight. My eyes were like; ZINGGG awesome when I read that.

I can contain information when needed but I thought this may be of interest to the people in this thread who may be thinking 'maaan, I'm sure something like that's possible...'

If Vern pulls through with this I'd be happy to test it out loads and give feedback, because as the karate terrapins say, it'd be totally bodacioawesomexcellentotallyrad.
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