Synfig Studio is an open-source, 2D vector animation software. It is designed to produce film-quality animation with fewer people and resources.
As you probably know, animation is the rapid display of a sequence of images creating the illusion of movement. Traditionally 2D animation is created by drawing each image individually. These images are called "frames". This method is called "frame-by-frame animation". The illusion of movement requires many such frames. This method is slow, requiring a lot of time and resources.
Synfig Studio uses two techniques to draw these frames:
- Morphing animation
- Cutout animation
Morphing takes two images and creates a smooth transition between them. This is done by changing one shape into another, often assisted by the use of control points. Synfig Studio morphs vector shapes automatically. Animation is done simply by supplying drawings in key positions at relatively wide time intervals. The artist supplies as many frames as needed to create the basic sense of motion for a scene. Synfig Studio takes care of creating the in-between frames.
Cutout animation is created by splitting objects into parts and applying some simple transformations to them (like translation, rotation or scale) at different points in time. Synfig Studio uses those values to interpolate the motion for in-between frames. Cutout animation can be produced from bitmap images or vector graphics.
In either case Synfig Studio's role is to fill the gaps between frames (also called "keyframes") to produce smooth, fluid animation. This process is called "tweening". But tweening is not the only advantage of Synfig Studio.
Although Synfig Studio is not directly intended to draw animation frame-by-frame, it can be used to bring your hand-drawn frame-by-frame animation to film-quality level. The artist converts each frame's bitmap data into vector format. This process, called "tracing", is usually done by hand by constructing vector shapes on top of bitmap images. Some fun and fascinating effects can be applied during the creation process to achieve a professional animation look.
Synfig Studio gives you flexible control over repeated data, such as colors, outline characteristics, textures, images and many more - even animation trajectories and their actions (sets). Re-using repeated data is done by linking. And for serious animation projects, Synfig Studio has the power to deliver to your satisfaction.
Among the plain linking pieces of artwork data you can also define relations between them using a set of functions. That allows to create automatic animation based on the defined laws and bring whole animation process to the new level.
Synfig Studio's features are covered in detail within this manual.