The last time we reviewed Synfig Studio, we were deeply impressed by this powerful freeware animation suite but more than a little daunted by the installation and setup process (make that processes). Synfig Studio is still totally free, but now it’s also totally easy to install and easier than ever to use. Of course, creating digital animations is not exactly the same thing as applying the red-eye filter in your image editor; it’s still a detailed process that involves a lot of steps. But Synfig offers tons of help, tutorials, examples, and extras, making it as easy or easier to use than other Flash animation tools, and it’s fun to see your animations come to life.
Synfig supports a multitude of layers of various types; geometric, gradients, filters, distortions, transformations, fractal and a few others.
The draw tool can read the pressure sensitivity channel off your favorite tablets, for natural line weighting, and more to come.
While it may not be obvious in this early state, The software (and its proprietary predecessors) has been designed from the ground up with animation workflow in mind.
Unlike purely SVG-based vector software, and most consumer-level animation programs, the app has full support for gradient paths – gradients that follow along a drawn shape.
Full-featured bone system allows to create cutout animation using bitmap images or control your vector artwork. The Skeleton Distortion layer allows to apply complex deformations to bitmap artwork.
Most elements are vector-based, and all layers are parametrically generated, hence even when changing the target resolution of a project, the only pixelation will occur in imported raster images, not the built-in components.
Temporal resolution independence
Animation-keyframes are automatically interpolated by the computer, resulting in smooth motion
High Dynamic-Range Imaging (HDRI)
By using floating-point math in the image calculations, HDRI processing allows canvases to internally understand a far greater range of pixel luminance, resulting in better lighting effects, and improved color composition.
The tool have basic features for syncing your animation with soundtrack using Sound Layer. Linux users can get all benefits of full-featured audio editors through the JACK integration.
Synfig Studio’s user interface consists of three floating windows: the Toolbox, which serves as the main window and control panel; the Canvas, or working surface, which can be more than one instance; and Panels, which centralize access to a variety of project tools and information. Panels can be opened, closed, ragged around, and changed in various ways. The Toolbox looks like a cross between a calculator pad and a tool palette, with a variety of icons for accessing system features and tools. We started with the wiki-style Help file, though we could also view tutorials and a Reference page and access Web-based resources. The Canvas page opens with a default Root Canvas, “Synfig Animation 1,” but its toolbar suggested doing various things to ducks, so we quickly retreated to the comfort of the Help file and tutorials. We got our feet wet in the Help file by clicking the heading labeled “Diving In.” It turns out “ducks” aren’t waterfowl at all but instead are simple means of controlling a parameter, such as the radius or diameter of a circle.
Synfig’s layout would be familiar to people who have meddled with an animation tool before or have at least dealt with general graphics applications. The interface provides you access to the central panel and property panels, all the tools, keyframes and timeline. The canvas size can be chosen too. For a fairly powerful computer, a Full HD size rendering should be ideal.
There’s something to be said for the fact that Synfig Studio exists at all: you can download, for free, a full-featured animation creation studio that can create digital animations surpassing anything Hollywood could do not so long ago. Anyone who has used a video editor or similar tools should be able to learn the basics of this capable suite, with some time and effort, not to mention a little animation and some fun.
Synfig Studio is designed to increase the speed of your animation process. It uses digital tweening and sprites to get the job done, instead of adding onto the illustration workload. This makes the tool ideal for small animation teams and solo artists.