Cartoon Animation using SketchBook

Thanks @Siim for sharing the knowledge πŸ™‚

Few months ago we ventured into Cartoon Animation. Quite an exciting field, gives lots of opportunities to be creative. And my main problem was – I didn’t know where to begin.
Siim helped, and gave me a jump start: SketchBook from Autodesk.

SketchBook is a great free tool that contains FlipBook – a tool for creating Cartoon Animation.
FlipBook itself is so simple to use and SketchBook is very powerful for drawing – togeather, they make quite a good pair. With FlipBook’s simplicity, I was able to create my first cartoon in few hours. And with power of SketchBook – cartoons could actually look very good.

Here is my overview and tips on how to begin. I am going to focus on creating animations with FlipBook – for SketchBook itself, there are quite a lot of tutorials already out there. And drawing is a skill, that like many other skills in life, can be only improved through practicing :). So, let’s begin 🎬

Install SketchBook

Head over to https://www.sketchbook.com/ and download it. FlipBook is included in SketchBook for Desktop.

Launch FlipBook

When you start SketchBook for the first time, you are welcomed with short Intro Popup. Make sure to watch all tutorial videos:

Animations are so short, and so informative. They will give you a good overview of what SketchBook can do.

After the intro – let’s start FlipBook:

Draw Frames

Now we can draw some frames.
We are going to make a Bouncy Ball Cartoon. For this, we need to draw a Bouncy Ball :).
Lets draw our first 2 frames:

See the Past to Control the Future

Main feature of FlipBook is that it allows you to see ghosting of previous and future frames:

This allows you to position objects on your current frame in exact spot you want.
With Ghosting on (set it to 7) – we can go and create next 5 frames:

Copy/Paste to Speed Up

We want to draw ground – on which the ball will bounce.
To do that, we draw ground on one frame, and then copy/paste it to the rest:

Run It

We can now run our creation for the first time πŸ™‚
Go to the first frame, and press play.
You can adjust which frames to play, and loop the playback:

Duplicate Frames

We have now animation of the ball falling down. So, instead of making similar effort for the ball to come back up, we can just duplicate our existing frames, just in opposite order.
To do that, we have “Duplicate Frame” button, or you can use Ctrl+Drag a frame to duplicate.
Let’s do it:

Duplicate Group of Frames

Now we have one bouncing sequence. If we want to let the ball bounce 4 or 5 times, we need to duplicate our frames 4 or 5 times. I haven’t found any UI in FlipBook to do this (if someone does know how to do it, let me know in the comments). But I have found a way how to workaround it – we can export images from current animation into set of pictures, and then import those images as new frames. Effectively, duplicating frames that we have.
Here is how it could be done:

We can repeat the import for as many times as we want the ball to bounce.

Move Characters Across the Scene

Let’s add another character to our story – a Cloud.
We can draw a cloud, and then move it across the scene / across the frames.

To do this, we will draw a cloud, and then copy, paste and move… 56 times…
So, on each frame we will paste a Cloud, and move it a bit (using ghosting images from previous frames). Then switch to new frame and repeat.

Layers

We come to a very important topic: Layers.
To manipulate scene more easily, we can use layers. FlipBook has built in:

  • Foreground
  • Midground
  • Background
  • Background Color

They are there to help you organize your characters around the scene. It will help you with selecting, moving, cutting and pasting stuff around.
Lets use layers to add another character: the Sun.
We will add the Sun, but we want the Sun to be behind the Cloud. So we will put the Sun to Midground layer.
Same as for the Cloud, we will draw the Sun, then copy, paste and move around the frames:

Final Result

And that’s it. This gives you an overview of FlipBook, and gives you enough context to create your first cartoon. Try it out and let me know what you think.

Action 🎬

Bouncy Ball

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