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fact file3.8 Seven labour-saving stopframe tips

1 Cloning

clone frameCloning is often the most effective way to create a new frame. It has the advantage over making a blank frame because you do not have to start from scratch: you can simply modify the frame's contents. The Clone Frame command on the Animation Toolbar is designed for that purpose. At its simplest you could move an element from right to left across the frame, cloning successive frames and making a small adjustment each time.

2 Onion skinning

onion skinSelecting the Onion Skinning command makes the previous frame visible below the active one. This enables you to position and reposition elements accurately. Toggle the button off to check your new layout, as it is easy to get confused when different frames are visible.

The illustration below shows five frames that demonstrate the trajectory of the bird's flight. Successive frames were cloned and edited. Onion skinning acted as a motion guide, although you can also drag horizontal and vertical guides out from the rulers. (If they are not already visible select View> Layout Tools > Rulers).

crows

3 Cutting, copying, pasting and My Designs

cut copy pasteAs with most graphics and word processing programs, any selected element in an animation can be copied and pasted elsewhere. But DrawPlus has an additional feature that is even more useful than its Cut, Copy and Paste buttons. It is the My Designs folder on the Gallery tab.

The Gallery contains folders with a wide selection of graphics and clipart for you to use. In addition, you can also drag any selected element you have created yourself into the My Designs window. Name your graphic in the dialog box that appears and it will be stored for future use. You can then drag an instance of your stored graphic onto a new frame and edit it at any time, leaving the original intact.

My Designs

4 Tweening

tweening

As you discovered in Section 2, tweening describes the process of producing intermediate frames "in between" the key frames of an animation to give the impression of continuous movement. In DrawPlus Stopframe mode, tweening is achieved using the Blend tool, which lets you merge two objects in a series of steps.

The intermediate steps "morph" one object's shape, colour, and other attributes into those of the other, creating a new group object. Not only does this save time and effort, but the process often creates new visually dynamic abstract shapes that add impact to your interpretation.

The example shows the middle stage in a five-step blend between the crow and the flash.crow stars

5 Group and separate features

grouped shapesSimplify body parts and draw them separately, using freeform drawing tools. Save them to the My Designs folder in the Gallery. Limbs and other features like eyes can be readily grouped and ungrouped, moved into different positions and edited independently, which saves having to draw many different poses for each character.

The Crowfield animation, for example, utilises relatively few drawings, although it has 72 frames and a running time of 18 seconds. The crow has a single body shape comprising a combined head and body, one tail, one wing (copied, inverted and resized where two are in view), one eye, one leg and an upper and lower beak. You can edit these in many ways including changing the line and fill colours - the crow has a black fill with a white outline for the body, wings and tail. The golden rule is to be economic with your drawing by editing and re-using components.

In DrawPlus shapes no longer have to be closed because a new feature on the Context toolbar called Fill-on-Create allows unclosed vector shapes to be filled too.

6 Import, ungroup and edit existing clip art

Clip art and other found sources can be imported into DrawPlus where you can ungroup the elements of the graphic and use them as the basis of a character, prop or other feature of your animation. You can also adapt some of the many pre-built design objects and elements that are stored in the DrawPlus Gallery of themed clipart folders.

The Junk junk! animation adapts a clipart dog and a bag of fish and chips.

Dog

7 Overlay and Background frames

As an alternative to cloning, one of the most economical tricks for a fixed background scene is to draw it
on a separate frame and designate the Frame Properties as Background in DrawPlus. You can apply
this to the whole duration of the animation, or just to a particular sequence. Where you want to add more
and more elements to a frame, as with the flock of crows and the painting on the next page, you can
select the Overlay option.

Frame Background

Pushpin How to clone, tween and save time in stop-frame animation – tutorial

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