Animation using Pencil
Pencil is a simple, easy to learn, 2D animation package. It is available for most Linux distros as well as Windows and Mac. It's beauty is it's ease of use, intuitive interface and the ability to build the animation from start to finish in a single package.
Pencil works by allowing you to draw each successive frame (-known as a key) then to play them back at a chosen rate to produce the animation. However, unlike more sophisticated packages, you do actually have to manually draw the image for each frame, which can be quite labour-intensive. In addition, the drawing tools available are, frankly, rather poor when compared to packages such as GIMP: it may be unfair to compare an animation package with a graphics package but the truth is, that you can generally produce animations with GIMP a lot easier than with Pencil.
If you are using Ubuntu or Mint, then Pencil can be downloaded and installed from the Software Centre. If you are running Fedora - or cannot find Pencil in your Software Centre - then you can download it from the Pencil Website.
When you first launch Pencil, you will be presented with the main window:
The image area takes up the majority of the screen - in the middle. The drawing tools are listed in the left hand pane; the timeline for the animation is shown in the bottom pane and colour options are shown in the right pane.
To begin, make sure the "Bitmap Layer" is selected then click one of the drawing tools and begin sketching (-for this example, we used the Pen tool). Once you have completed the first frame, make sure the "Onion Skin" icon is selected:
This will allow you to see a faint outline of the previous frame in the current frame - which is a great aid to accurate positioning:
Now you can create the next frame: to create a new blank frame, click on the "Add Frame" icon:
However, in most cases, you'll want to take a copy of the current frame and alter just the parts that need to move; in this case, click on the "Duplicate Frame" icon (-warning, the "Add Frame" and "Duplicate Frame" icons look very similar) to create a copy of the current image in the new frame:
Use the "Eraser Tool" to remove the part of the picture that you want to animate:
Re-draw the erased part in the new position using the "Pen Tool":
You can also use the "Select Tool" to place a bounding box around an area of the image:
You can then copy, cut or paste the selected part into any layer:
Continue using the process above to duplicate the layer, erase and redraw it in the new position. The result should be a number of frames (-shown as mauve-coloured rectangles) in the timeline (-note that the red bar indicates the currently selected frame is number 10):
You can use the standard remote control buttons to view the animation; use the "Rewind" button to go back to the the first frame, then click the "Play" icon to display the animation:
Once you are happy with the animation, you can create it as a standalone animation using:
File → Export: