My First Character in Anime Studio

I am using Anime Studio Pro 6 for this exercise.  I am following Dale Hemenway’s Excellent Flea tutorial which can be found at the Smith Micro site the makers of Anime Studio

You can download it here

Below is the character I will attempt to make








Here my first try at the head.

Flea anime studio pro

Flea Head

I think it turned out pretty well.  Not bad for a person who had a hard time with stick men : )    This is very exciting.  This has given me loads of confidence to continue this project.

I wish all software makers would include a simple tutorial on their software.  I can not tell you how many times I have downloaded a software trial and I was just so overwhelmed by all the buttons and so very confused with how everything works that I just give up and uninstall the program.  You would think they would realize that it is so important for a new software user to get a success under their belt, even if it is a small success.  This gives you the confidence to continue with the program.


Commercial Animation Software

I have narrowed my search to two animation programs.  One is Toon Boom and the other is Anime Studio.

Toon Boom- has different packages for different levels.  From kid’s software up to professional.  I counted 14 different product levels on their website, which can be pretty overwhelming.   It seems that Toon Boom is more like traditional frame by frame animation.  Which is good if you know how to draw, but it may prove difficult for someone like me where drawing is not one of my strengths.  Toon boom is used in many TV cartoons, but I am not sure which product level was used.

Anime Studio- has two different product levels.  One is the Debut and one is the pro version.   The drawing tools are vector based, which I think may be more suited to my lack of drawing talent.  Amazon has Anime Studio Pro 6  for less than 30.00.   Version 6 is an older version of this software, as they have version 8 available now.  However I can get the full pro version 6 for less than the scaled back  Anime Studio Debut 8.   So for less than 30.00 I can give the software a whirl.  Now the Anime Studio Pro 8 does have a lot of newer features like simulated physics, patch layers, automatic image tracing and a character wizard, all features that Anime Studio Pro 6 does not have.  However, it will let me get a feel for the program without the greater expense.  I can always purchase the newer version later if needed.

Celtx Pre-Production Open Source Software

I wanted to use open source [free] software when ever possible.  I am really excited to find Celtx.   Celtx is an all around software to handle the pre-production of media projects.   They have project templates for Film, Audio-Visual, Theatre, Audio Play, Storyboard, Comic Book and Novel.

I will be using the Storyboard template as well as maybe the Film template to put this all together.  I will be able to write the script and storyboard the scenes, develop characters.

I really like the storboard template.  You can work out the camera directions and also play the storyboard back like a movie when you are done.

Below is a screenshot

They also have a sketch feature so you can work out your camera moves or stage direction.

This is going to be very helpful, and best of all it is free.   I really love open source programs, especially ones like this that have been developed to this extent.

You can find Celtx at


Animation Book

I recently purchased a book on Amazon From Disney animator, Preston Blair.
Cartoon Animation (The Collector’s Series)
Very useful information.  Seems to be sort of a bible of animation.  It has walk and run cycles for 2 leg and 4 leg creatures.  Shows how to animate all kinds of movements.  Even has a dancing hippo cycle and and an alligator ballet for fun.  It discusses character creation and animation basics.   Shows how to develop characters with simple starting shapes like a circle.   Seems to be a very good book for the starting animator like me, I highly recommend it.   It is 224 pages long and the book was much bigger than I expected, so I am pleasantly surprised.

Open Source [free] Software Impressions


Ktoon seems to be mainly for Linux.  I went to their website which seems to be mostly in Spanish you can click the English tab, however it seems several languages were mixed together, which made reading the website hard.   I went to the user video example gallery and there was 1 video posted.  Now if the software was easy to use, you would think there would be a large number of videos from users, since after all it is free.  I also searched youtube for examples and I did find a few, mostly stick men type animations.  I did not find very many tutorials either, so I will pass on this one.


Synfig looks promising, however doing research I notice that it does not handle sound.  Now for music and such that should not be a problem, however for lip-sync I would think it would raise a lot of problems.  How can you animate the lip-sync without being able to work with it in the animation program?  Synfig had much more examples, both on youtube and on the main website.

Below is a Synfig eye animation, I think it looks very good.  However, not having audio in the program makes me Leary.


Pencil seems to have a pretty good following.  However, pencil is a frame by frame animation software.  I was hoping to use the power of the computer to do the in between frames.  So I will keep looking.

The Software Search

Finding the right software seems to me is probably one of the most important aspects of this project.  After all it is a tool that will be used day in and day out to produce the cartoon.  Most likely there will be several types of software.  One for animation, maybe one for audio [if not included with the animation software]  Then there is video editing software, maybe special effects software.  Perhaps even some software to keep me organized, as you do not want to spend a week animating something only to realize at the end that you animated yourself into a corner and the week was wasted.

I like the idea of using open source or free software.  However, I worry that they may not have the features I need, or may be hard to learn with little documentation.

I am leaning toward 2d animation, as 3d seems like it would be harder to learn.   I understand the concept of 2d animation better as it is what I have watched most my life.   I still remember when I first saw Toy story, how I stood in awe of what I was seeing.   Being able to reproduce that  effect would be awesome, but I have also seen homemade  3d animation and the medium seems to be less forgiving than 2d.

Ktoon, synfig and pencil are 3 open source 2d programs.  I will check these out and give my impressions of them soon.