Bezier Animation in Studio Artist

Eight steps to create moving art

by David Nagel
Executive Producer
[email protected]

Those of you who have been reading this site for a while now are well aware that I'm a big fan of Synthetik Studio Artist. It's a great rotoscoping program, as well as a painting application with a tool set that boggles the mind. But an animation tool? Well, let's put it this way. Studio Artist isn't geared toward animation. But, then again, animation packages don't have the tools that Studio Artist has. So I thought it would be helpful to give you a quick look at how to get your Studio Artist still creations moving with a little bit of help from Bezier paths and keyframes.

This simple animation is 30 frames in length, showing this
character moving his eyes around and opening his mouth.
Click image to see the final movie (740 KB).

I'm going to create a fairly simple piece of original art—just a few details of a face on a black background—and show you how you can add movement to such a creation while retaining all of your stroke information, including pressure and color. There are much more complicated ways to animate in Studio Artist, and we'll get into them later this year, but this is just an introduction using a single Paint Patch and 30 frames running at 10 frames per second. When I'm finished, I'll have a spooky face opening and closing its mouth, with each frame looking as if it had been hand-painted. (Incidentally, it helps to have a Wacom tablet, but it's not necessary.)

To start off, we'll launch the program and pick any arbitrary source image. It doesn't matter which. When the Composition Settings dialog appears, change your canvas size to suit your needs. I'm working at 640 x 480 so I can show you some detail in the final movie, which you can view by clicking here.

Pick your Paint Patch
Once you're in there, choose a versatile Paint Patch. Using this animation method and Studio Artist version 1.5, you'll only be able to work with one. (You can change the Patch later, if you'd like, but your entire image will look different.) For this exercise, I'm using "Bristle Wet Flow" from the "General" category of Presets.

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