Animation Paper Aims To Be Easy-to-Use Software for Drawn Animation

Danish animator and director Niels Krogh Mortensen is on a mission: to create “the world’s most responsive, intuitive and powerful software for doing one thing, and one thing only: hand-drawn animation.” The result is Animation Paper, a new animation software that will be released soon for Mac OS X, with plans to port to Windows and iPad.

This is not Krogh Mortensen’s first attempt at an animation software program. He was also one of the developers of Plastic Animation Paper (PAP), an earlier program for Windows and Linux. His goal for the new Animation Paper is to put the technology in the background, and make the program as simple and effortless to use for artists. Below is the main feature set of the software, which must be used with a tablet and pressure-sensitive stylus:

  • Super fast responsiveness – while drawing, while flipping, while everything
  • Quality lines – built on high speed, high resolution input from your tablet (like a Wacom)
  • Small to large format frames
  • Realtime smooth rotation and zooming of the view
  • Light table (onion skinning – fully customizable)
  • X-Sheet. Easy intuitive timing. Colored layers
  • Cutouts (efficient repositioning and manipulation of drawings)
  • Import and export of video and frame-stacks

“I want to invite animators to help shape our software,” Niels says. “I want to hear your requests, your good ideas on what makes the most awesome tool for your needs.”

Interested users can sign up at AnimationPaper.com to get first-access to the software release. Those who sign up by the end of March will be eligible for an early-bird discount.


  • http://www.animehell.org/ Danno Baker

    No Linux version?

  • cckrad

    this looks very interesting-anyone know what a ballpark price range for this might be?

  • Fbt

    It looks good ! I hope it’s easy since I never use softwares because they always look complicated to me.

    • Niels KM

      Hopefully you’ll find Animation Paper very easy. :)

  • UsaMiKo

    Seems pretty interesting. The only program out right now that supports realistic 2D animation drawing is Tvpaint. It’s good to have another option. We’ll just have to see how competive it is in price.

    • timmyelliot

      I’ve always preferred Retas.

    • Silly Smile

      Digicel Flipbook is cheap and easy to use and works perfectly. It is used by pros, most pro studios, and most colleges. I love it.

  • James Madison

    I wonder how the sofware is in comparison to Animate 3 by Toon Boom

  • TStevens

    I’ve fiddled with Harmony and it has a pretty nice feel to it. However, the price per station is a little steep for most people so it makes it hard to use freelance help for assisting.
    If this were affordable, and easy to learn, I would consider buying floating licenses so I could use assistants when going paperless. However, for now I’ll stick to Cartoon Colour’s Ingram 12 fld and pentel .5 mechanicals.

  • timmyelliot

    There’s been attempts, but nothing that I’d consider production ready, such as Pencil 2d or Synfig Studio.

    Probably because there’s not enough interest or support.

  • Anson J

    I worked in the PC games industry for 9 years when adventure games were the thing. If all you did was make DPaint Animator with more colors, higher resolution and make it run on a Mac/tablet, you’d have it. All hail the animbrush!

    • Niels KM

      Funny, because I used to work professionally with DPaint for many years back when… doing games. PAP was in many respects based on DPaint (had several shortcuts stolen from DPaint). Some may even drip through to Animation Paper… ;)

    • Rick Dolishny

      +1 dpaint on the Amiga

  • IJK

    “I’m not trying to knock artists who work hard…”

    But you are. Just by saying that doesn’t make it any less of an insult to the animators of stuff like Wander Over Yonder, Jimmy Two-Shoes, Foster’s Home, My Little Pony, Kid vs. Kat, Pucca, Randy Cumingham, Teen Titans Go!, Skunk Fu, and a dozen others.

    Even if Flash weren’t around, we would still have shows where the studios demand them to work on a cheap budget and the animation/art would reflect that.

    • Megan

      Fully agree – a new program isn’t going to suddenly change the amount of vector based shows that pop up. The reality is its cheaper and the companies will go for it . Yes, I am a horrible harmony animator and the fact of the matter is no one is ‘settling’ to moving parts around ,everyone is capable of so much more but we work around our constraints just like everyone else in the industry does. Its ok though , no one has to like it , but keep in mind we’re not a group of people who are looking to flush quality down the toilet here.
      With that being said I am damn excited for this new program , PAP4 has been my go-to program for playing around with hand drawn digital but I just cant get my head around the layout. This is exactly what I’ve been waiting for.

  • Taco

    More Power to you Mr Mortensen! Make the best software you guys can! I still have PAP on my desktop at the moment. Maybe you can try to collaborate with the French folks at TVPaint like Fabrice, even if it’s just for consultation or beta testing purposes. The UK guys behind CelAction are good folks too. Yay for AnimationPaper.com! Sign me up!

    • Niels KM

      Thanks :)

  • Erik Butter

    Also the thing is that if programs like that become accesible for everybody there are also more likely to be more hobbyist using the program giving them self out as proffesionals… so there is a downside to that too. But i support their concept of having the tech on the background and not having it interfere the work flow.

    • Niels KM

      It is hopefully not a problem that software professionals use is becoming easy and intuitive. This helps the pro to do more and do it better.
      If hobbyists get a kick out of ‘playing’ with animation then thats fantastic. And they might learn some too.

      Thanks for your support of the concept. It sounds like you are in agreement. :) Pros are pros and shouldn’t be intimidated just because their software becomes less technical. Hopefully it is because of their artistic skills – and not their ability to push buttons – that they are pros.

    • Niels KM

      It is hopefully not a problem that software professionals use is becoming easy and intuitive. This helps the pro to do more and do it better.
      If hobbyists get a kick out of ‘playing’ with animation then thats fantastic. And they might learn some too.

      Thanks for your support of the concept. It sounds like you are in agreement. :) Pros are pros and shouldn’t be intimidated just because their software becomes less technical. Hopefully it is because of their artistic skills – and not their ability to push buttons – that they are pros.

  • CG Animator

    Does this software have some sort of Ink and Paint system? I don’t see it in the list of features.

    I think if it’s going to compete with software like TVPaint or Toon Boom (or hell, even Flash) it needs ink and paint functionality instead of just animation and clean up. Taking an extra step to import the drawings into Photoshop or a similar program to color them may be a turn off for some people.

    • TomEaton

      I’d also really like to see the ability to import via scanner. It’s such a great feature of Toon Boom.

      • CG Animator

        Totally. TVPaint has that feature too.

  • James VanDam

    Awesome, I’ve been waiting for a good program to use for hand drawn animation. Up till now I used Photoshop.

  • wgan

    tried the original PAP a while ago, while I can stand ‘abysmal’ interface, the lack of sound wave display put me off, I look forward to the new release, seems its gonna have a reasonable price.

  • Ben

    I would fucking kill for this on android, I can’t find decent animation software worth a damm for android.

    • Niels KM

      Noted. We should do Animation Paper for Android.

    • slowtiger

      TVPaint already works on Android. See their website for details.

      • Ben

        oh rad I’ll have to give it a shot, thanks.

  • Walt Dazeem

    There are already a lot of programs like this available Marbles: Tv Paint, Flipbook, Toonboom. You don’t have to slide the body parts if you’re willing to draw all the in-betweens. That’s also all this program is offering.

    • Niels KM

      Yeah, those programs can in many areas do more than Animation Paper. But I am aiming to let Animation Paper be the preferred software for the niche of drawing animators (and for all other animators wanting a fast and easy sketch tool for planning).

    • Niels KM

      Yeah, those programs can in many areas do more than Animation Paper. But I am aiming to let Animation Paper be the preferred software for the niche of drawing animators (and for all other animators wanting a fast and easy sketch tool for planning).

  • Silly Smile

    Thanks, Jack Rabbit. I’ve been animating with pencil & pen on paper for decades and scan the drawings into Digicel Flipbook into its excellent x-sheet, color with a beautiful palette, edit all I want, add sound, etc. It is the easiest to learn, the easiest to afford, all my work looks 100% professional. The “paper” issue is a non-issue, as you know. I’ve had many students ( I am a college teacher and pro animator) worry and state “we’re killing trees” and I laugh. Old-growth California Redwoods are never touched. Paper is made from modern, massive tree farms by the hundreds and the trees are always replanted immediately. I have tried to calculate how much paper I have used the past 30 years of animating almost daily: it certainly doesn’t add up to even one tree. If you are worried about “killing trees”, first, don’t worry, because you are not. Second, then change professions. Your total amount of paper is insignificant and doesn’t harm trees. Learning to animate on real paper with pencils is the quickest and best way to learn animation. I’ve seen students skip the drawing on paper step and go right to Maya: they end up in agony and often quit animating all together. That program is insanely difficult. Anyway, we agree. Thanks for your post!

    • Johnny Luu

      I think I would go right to Maya too, trying to hand-draw 3D CGI on paper with pencils would be very difficult!

  • Myst AnimatorX

    Toonboom Animate already does all this.

  • Riu Tinubu

    ‘Tablets like Cintique and Intuoso will go the way of Wacom.’

    ???

  • Niels KM

    Yeah, with Animation Paper I do not go for an automatic inbetweening functionality – since it will without a doubt get that “sliding body parts” look. Of course if you want that is a matter of style (and production budgets). But hopefully with Animation Paper your workflow will be fast and therefore enable many to go for the hand drawn inbetweens.

  • Niels KM

    Yeah, with Animation Paper I do not go for an automatic inbetweening functionality – since it will without a doubt get that “sliding body parts” look. Of course if you want that is a matter of style (and production budgets). But hopefully with Animation Paper your workflow will be fast and therefore enable many to go for the hand drawn inbetweens.

  • Niels KM

    As you can see from the article on my site it says “outdated as hell”. I am the first to admit that the old PAP today is, well, old. ;) Still a lot of people enjoy it never the less.

    I am going to listen. Let me know all your wishes for Animation Paper – and let us have a discussion on what makes the best software! I am listening…

  • Niels KM

    Yep.

    … Animation Paper should ideally be on all platforms. But of course it takes time and money to do each of the versions, so to be honest it depends on the success of the first ones. But seeing all this interest already – we should have no problems in that department. ;)

  • Niels KM

    Thank you for the nice words! We have supported Linux before and probably will again. We’ll have to wait and see what happens… First up – the Mac version!

  • Niels KM

    Thank you for the nice words! We have supported Linux before and probably will again. We’ll have to wait and see what happens… First up – the Mac version!

  • Niels KM

    Yeah, it could be as low as $50-$60. It has not been decided yet. It could be up to $100-$120 USD. Probably somewhere in between. What do people think is fair for Animation Paper? Be honest please!

    • Versh

      $70 or $80 might be the right range. Or you could go with the tiered software plan like so many other companies. A low price for the basic program & a higher cost for the premium edition– although I’m not sure how that would divide features for Animation Paper. Hell, it might be anathema to the whole idea of Animation Paper, the more artist friendly & fast program.

      I’ve used PAP4 for pencil tests, but I currently prefer other software like Flash & After Effects for the final layers.
      It would be cool if the next iteration had more color fill options.

      • Niels KM

        Agree. I am thinking of how to implement a simple kind of color fill since that is one thing that could be hard to miss. And it doesn’t have to ruin anything making it to complex. Thanks for your comment.

  • Niels KM

    Let me know what the frustrating parts were – I hope I have them covered already, but why not do a quick check. ;)

  • Niels KM

    Thank you. Yes, keep an eye on it. Hopefully it will live up to your and everybody’s expectations.

  • illusion of life paradigm

    Man, I loved PAP. It sure had its quirks and rough edges but the usability and the drawing tools were just great. (also good to hear that the ‘plastic’ gets dropped because i’m environmentally conscious ;) )

  • philnolan3d

    Kinda strange that it’s going to mac first.

    • tropt

      true, if this was 1999

  • Strong Enough

    You mean people still want to DO THAT?!!

  • Micah

    I’ll say I’m very excited by this. I’ve been wanting something easy to use for pencil testing just to enjoy the fun of animation I learned in school without huge stacks of paper. Most animation programs I’ve tried try to replicate too much functionality from other software packages (like trying to shoehorn in After Effects or Flash) and it makes things needlessly complex (and expensive), or they’re so basic they’re unusable.

    TVP has such strange shortcuts to a Photoshop user and frustrating documentation that it takes too long to learn (unless you’re a fulltime animator). Pencil has a lot of that but you can’t manipulate the keys or timing easily. Really all you need is something as simple to draw with as Sketchbook Pro with an x-sheet / timeline built like Flipbook. If you guys can filter your feedback, test with artists, and fulfill your core thesis I’ll be a big fan.

  • Stone

    Finally a proper animation software for the ipad.

  • Goatburger

    I use TVPaint and love it, its so versatile, fast and extremely friendly. heck ide go as far as to say its FUN to use. Indeed its been around for many years, dateing back to the Amiga days, which is why its so fun to use. I look at so many other 2d animation software and there always far less in overall features than TVP is on a whole. Its not to say TVP could use some improvements hear and there but so could most software. For my money ill stick with TVP.

  • Riu Tinubu

    Hoping this project sees the light of day, its currently on the crowd funding phase on Indiegogo — any chance Cartoon brew could show it some love?

    http://igg.me/at/animationpaper/x/8072501