Anime Studio 10
moving subject Can Manga Studio publisher Smith Micro’s animation software bring your drawings to life?
nsurprisingly, Anime Studio comes from the makers of Manga Studio, one of our favourite drawing programs. Animation is notoriously tricky, but Anime Studio covers all the basics of turning your static images into moving ones – and with a degree of simplicity. It’s already found its way into feature-length animations, and it’s often used for commercials and music videos.
‘Bones’ are key to the way it works. As their name suggests, they act a little like the metal skeletons inside claymation puppets. The idea is that you take a vector image, add bones and then the parts they’re connected to move around. You can add as many bones as you like, drilling down to fingers, and you can set father/child relationships, so moving a finger doesn’t end up waggling a whole hand.
It’s a simple concept and tutorials give you an understanding of how to use bones to create animations. It also supports Flash-style ‘tweening,’ for other objects, so a cloud can move across the sky and change shape at the same time, for example. Object movements are specified via the timeline, which makes it easy to see what’s moving where and when.
Where it gets quite clever is in its ability to turn Photoshop PSD files into
Uanimated characters and scenes. It imports all your layers across, and you can group layers together into a coherent whole. It works better with vectors than it does with more detailed images (support for Illustrator is builtin, too), but it can work with your more detailed creations. There are a few more things to bear in mind – you’ll have to consider angles and filling blank spaces behind moving parts – but it’ll work with a little elbow grease and lateral thinking.
There are a few minor issues with the software – our animations disappeared from the workspace on two separate computers, but they’d reappear with a little clicking. The learning curve is a little steep, too, but the end results make it worth persevering. Overall, though, it’s a great way to find out about animation and give your images a little movement.
Rudimentary physics are new to Anime Studio 10, so the beach balls in this slightly odd animation lose
momentum as they bounce.
This may look a bit awkward, but it’s surprising how fluid and realistic Anime Studio’s animations are.