Pencil

Create animated digital comics

I've always been fascinated with animation and these days there are loads of professional software tools around that allow you to become a cartoonist yourself. View full description

PROS

  • Clear, customizable drawing interface
  • Neatly-organized timeline
  • Open source

CONS

  • You'll need a graphics tablet to get anything impressive out of it

Good
7

I've always been fascinated with animation and these days there are loads of professional software tools around that allow you to become a cartoonist yourself.

Pencil tool is a little different from the likes of Flash or Director in two ways: a) it is based around traditional hand-drawn animation techniques, and b) it's free. At the center of the application is a timeline, which allows you to add four types of layers: bitmap image, vector image, sound, and camera. The animation basically works by setting keyframes one each layer and arranging the different layers on top of each other.

You start by sketching out your characters in bitmap format using the pencil tool, before adding a vector layer and inking it out with the pen tool and fill tool. The principle is very simple and the interface is much clearer than that of Flash or a similar high-end animation tool. What I liked about Pencil is that all the tools and options are on display from the start and nothing is hidden, plus you can detach or remove palettes to make things easier on yourself.

The problem with Pencil is that it's very difficult to produce good quality drawings unless you have a graphics tablet - most mouses simply aren't conducive to precise sketching. What's more, there aren't any predefined shapes, objects or templates included that might help you get started. So, while this might be a good way to learn the basic principles of cartoon animation, it's difficult to create anything truly impressive unless you've lots of patience.

Pencil is an animation/drawing software that lets you create traditional hand-drawn animation (cartoon) using both bitmap and vector graphics.

Pencil is free and open source. Pencil is not intended to mimick web-oriented vector-based animation software such as Flash. Its main purpose is to make traditional animation.

Neither does it try to rival commercial software targetting the professional animation sector. Pencil is intended to be a simple program enabling anyone to make 2D animation.

Pencil

Download

Pencil 0.4.4b

User reviews about Pencil

  • The Emerald1202646894

    by The Emerald1202646894

    "the onion skinning and animation is terrible do not download"

    there was a lot of hype I saw on the internet and now that I've downloaded it I am very disappointed in the program. an... More.

    reviewed on July 18, 2017

  • jasp555

    by jasp555

    "great mac animation program"

    Works with mouse and bamboo pad. Easy cut-and-paste progression from old to next cell. Great results for me & my ... More.

    reviewed on January 16, 2010

  • I love Macs most

    by I love Macs most

    "Pencil is Fabulous & Free!"

    Pencil is a very well rounded and complete application. Don't be fooled by the fact that it is free! With regard to Penc... More.

    reviewed on December 8, 2009