View Full Version : The best 2D animation (with drawing) package?

02 February 2003, 10:01 PM
I am getting ready to try my sketchy style of rendering as animation and was wondering what you guys think of these programs (or have any other software solutions)

Here's what I've been looking at:

Commotion 4.1

Aura [2.5]


Moho 4

Painter 6

I really don't want to do the "ink each file in Photoshop and import back into After Effects to composite. So far Commotion looks the best (but no 3D camera like Toonboom, Moho, or After Effects) but has pretty good drawing tools, and all of P-shops effects.

Aura looks pretty cool (it reminds me a lot of Digi-Paint on the Amiga)

It just doesn't seem like there is a really good "animated Photoshop" tool out there, most people do the P-shop, then AE, or Flash to AE/Director thing for 2D animation. 3D seems to have more integrated solutions, in my opinion...

- pjc

My Fault
02 February 2003, 10:08 PM
I love Aura! You can snag a demo of it here to see if you like it or not:

FYI, due to the fact that Aura 2.5b uses the new Windows Media libraries for many of its new features, it only works with Windows 2000/XP.

02 February 2003, 11:01 PM
Aura kicks BUTT! If you own Lightwave you can get it for $295 now.

I've never used Commotion or ProMotion but of the other 3 Aura is definately best.

Another one to check out is ToonBoom studio. Though I'd still go with Aura personally...

One thing to add - Aura needs to "grow" on you some. The interface is kind of wacky at 1st but once you "get it" it's very fast and easy. Throw George Script in the mix and it's pretty damn awesome.

02 February 2003, 02:25 AM
I've got some limited knowledge of Commotion and Painter7.
I bought Commotion recently, because it does most things After Effects does in areas like compositing, but in addition it has some solid Photoshop like painting tools for image retouching. It's rotosplines are a very useful and versatile.
But if you are going for that hand painted look then Painter would be a better bet. It can import clips and do onion-skinning like Commotion, but it's a tad slow and the individual frames that you paint on have a slight degraded preview quality about them which can leave you guessing as to it's eventual look.
I hear good things about Aura, but I don't think it has the range of paint tools that Painter has.
There was a good review of all the current video painting programs in Digit magazine, August last year. It might be on-line at their site.

-Stephen Millingen.

02 February 2003, 03:27 AM
Aura can't really compete with After Effects as a compositing package. It's got some great features but it's not on par with AE...yet.

It's painting tools are *almost* on par with Painter. Out of the box it has limited brushes set up - but the extent which you can edit brushes is pretty amazing. My experience with 2D animation is admitedly limited, but Aura seems much easier for 2D Animation than the little bit I have done in Painter.

There is a Demo you can check out - and I know one of the 3D mags had a scaled down version (Aura DV) for free a little while back. I can find out which issue and which magazine if you need it. Also, Proton over in the Lightwave forum is *extremely* helpful and I'm sure he would be more than happy (As well as honest, although, to eb fair, he does work for Newtek) to help you out in any way.

02 February 2003, 05:21 AM
I notice Promotion is up there. I actually use this tool daily for work. It has a very strong toolset for low level pixel work. It's perfect for things like animated gifs or video game sprites, but I would strongly advise using something else for T.V. or film quality work. Actually back at school we used Softimage: Toonz which was made specifically for coloring hand drawn animated frames quickly. It had a huge learning curve (for me anyway) but it was really good and really fast.

I just re-read your post and saw you wanted a program that allowed you to draw. I don't remember if Toonz had any drawing tools or if it has recieved any since I've used it last but it's worth a look anyway.

02 February 2003, 05:49 AM
Cool! Thanks for the insight everyone! It's interesting to note the history of some of these programs:

ProMotion rose from the ashes of Deluxe Paint (I love Dpaint IV and V on the Amiga!)

Aura's grandfather was Newteks DigiPaint on the Amiga (It was very cool!)

It seems we were on the right track almost 20 years ago!

I've been playing with Aura, and if I were creating everything from scratch, I'd really dig it!

Commotion looks real nice, cuz I want some compositing (as part of my inking technique I convert the frames to a high-contrast grayscale, combined with the raytraced original and the Toon render set to Multiply in photoshop)

Aura can combine these layers, but doesn't have a brightness/contrast/levels etc. that I've been able to find.

Moho is VERY cool! It's like AM for 2D! Bones, constraints, splines! Check out for more info.

I will check out more on Aura, I just wish there was a forum here for 2D animation packages....:(

- pjc

My Fault
02 February 2003, 05:53 AM
Check out the Aura section in Newteks forum.

02 February 2003, 06:21 AM
Brightness and Contrast are under the Color Adjust Filter in Aura. Levels are under the Color Correction Filter. (Filters->color->Color Correction or Filters->Color->Color Adjust)

Are you drawing frames from scratch on the PC - or scanning them in and then inking/animating them?

If the latter - check out Animation Stand also. ( they offer a free personal edition that is limited to fairly small resolution but is otherwise the complete package. Pro package is $595 if I recall right.

02 February 2003, 06:33 AM
Cool. I've found that it has most of the tools I need, they just aren't set up like an Adobe product. Is that bad, not really, just different.

Anybody have Aura DV? I hear it's free when you go to a Newtek seminar...

- pjc

02 February 2003, 10:49 AM
I'd avoid Animation Stand. On the face of it, it has every thing you would need to do cel animation on a computer, but there are just too many poorly implemented features to accomplish anything. Remind you of anything?:rolleyes:
When I used to do 2D animation, the studio ended up paying for 'Retas', very expensive japanese animation software, but it worked like a dream.

02 February 2003, 02:43 PM
have you looked at filmgimp?


My Fault
02 February 2003, 05:55 PM
Originally posted by PJC
Cool. I've found that it has most of the tools I need, they just aren't set up like an Adobe product. Is that bad, not really, just different.

Anybody have Aura DV? I hear it's free when you go to a Newtek seminar...

- pjc

I believe Aura DV is basically Aura 1.0. Still good but I definitely prefer the improved workflow in 2.5.

If your interested in buying I would do what Nonproductive mentioned and talk to Proton. He's a great guy and could probably help you out a bit.

02 February 2003, 08:08 PM
Since I can not remember where the heck I got it from to link it there - I put a PDF file that describes the difference between Aura 2.5 and Aura DV up on my host for those interested. (180k)

02 February 2003, 10:46 PM
I'm not sure how you're achieving your effects in Photoshop.... but you can always use photoshops recording function to record the steps taken on a single frame, then as long as the proceedure is the same on each frame you can have photoshop automatically open up(one at atime) each frame, do the work, save the file until all frames have been treated.
In the meantime, you are free to do whatever while photoshop does the work.
But if the technique is different from frame to frame, then it can't be automated.
Mike Fitz

02 February 2003, 11:53 PM
there's an applescript plug-in for Photoshop Mac, so just about anything can be automated. It could allow for intelligent branching of actions to perform, or anything else you need programmed.

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