In this tutorial I explain some of the basic animation principles and techniques you can use to create your RMD animations. Knowing these basics will help you when go on to create more complicated animations.
1. Basic Principles of Animation with the RMD drawing tool
To make a shape look like it is moving or changing when the viewer plays your RMD drawing you need to:
Draw a line or shape on the canvas.
Draw over this shape with your background colour selected (the fill tool is usually best for this step).
Then repeat this process with your shape drawn in its new position.
Every time you click your mouse button, draw a line or shape on the canvas then release your mouse button again you are creating one frame of your animation. If you are animating a more complicated character you will want to use as few strokes as possible to create the shape of your character so the viewer will get the effect of the character being animated.
2. Starting with a flat background colour on your canvas
On the upper left side of the RMD drawing tool you can select one of the predefined canvas types. If you select the default white or black canvas you should be aware that these canvases are neither pure white or pure black. While it is not noticeable on the predefined black canvas it is obvious on the predefined white canvas.
This is important because when you use the fill tool to cover over the shape you are animating with pure white you will see the outline of the fill shape on the canvas and this could spoil the clean look of your animation.
To avoid this it is a good idea to create your own background colour to fill the canvas with one flat background colour. The following is one method you can use to fill the canvas with a flat background colour.
See my tutorial on using MouseKeys for a more precise way of doing this.
2.1: Go to the colour picker and select a colour Ė I will be using green for my background colour.
Select the fill tool and move your cursor onto the canvas so the cursor is just inside the very corner of the canvas.
2.2: Hold down your mouse button and move the cursor so that it is just outside the canvas area. Donít move the cursor too far outside the canvas area or the fill tool will close off your shape.
2.3: Now move the cursor around the outside of the rectangular canvas until the cursor returns to the corner where you started.
Release the mouse button to close off the fill shape.
3. Guide Layer
Using the Guide layer can be a useful way to plan the speed and direction your animated shapes will move across the canvas.
In this example we will create a guide for a shape we want to move along a curved path while speeding up then slowing down again.
3.1: With the guide layer active select the pencil tool and then change to a medium thickness.
3.2: Draw a curved line on the canvas. This will be the path for our shape to follow.
3.3: Now select a thin pencil tip and create short lines that intersect the curved path. Draw the lines so that they are closer together at the start of the path and become further apart towards the middle of the curved path. These intersecting lines are where we will draw our animated shape for each frame of the animation.
3.4: Select the Canvas layer and draw the shape you will be animating so that it lines up with the centre of the first intersecting line of the curved path.
Make sure you save the colour you are using to create your shape so that it can be easily selected again.
3.5: Select your background colour using the eyedropper tool or from your saved colours then using the fill tool draw a shape that completely covers your first drawing.
3.6: Pick the colour you are using for your animated shape from your saved colours and draw your shape so that it lines up with the second intersecting line you drew on the guide layer.
Continue the process of covering with the background colour then drawing your shape to line up with the next intersecting line until you reach the end of the path.
4. Motion Trail Effect
A motion trail effect is where you fade out previously drawn shapes in your animation by setting the transparency of your background fill colour to less than 100%. A motion trail can be used to create a cool motion blur effect, it has the bonus of letting you see previous frames so you can better judge where you should place your next drawing and it also lets the viewer see the drawing without it disappearing off the screen too fast.
Create a flat background on your canvas as described earlier.
Pick a colour you will use for your animated shape and save it.
Using the eyedropper tool select your background colour from the canvas. Set the Transparency of this colour to 80% then click save color.
5.1: Pick the colour for your animated shape from your saved colours and draw a shape on the canvas where you want to start your animation.
5.2: Select the fill tool and the 80% transparent background colour from your saved colours.
Draw around the outside of the animated shape so that it appears faded.
5.3: Pick your shape colour from the saved colours and draw the shape on the canvas so that it is overlapping the first shape you drew.
5.4: Pick the 80% transparent background colour again and this time cover both the first and second animated shapes with the one fill shape.
5.5: Continue to draw your animated shape in a new position then covering all visible shapes with the 80% transparent background colour.
You will have created a simple motion trail effect. By changing the transparency of the background fill colour you can create different fading and motion effects. How high you set the transparency also depends on how dark the shape you are animating is.
6. Hold a Drawing
Sometimes you will need to keep a drawing held on the screen so that when the animation is played back the viewer has time to take in what you have drawn before you jump to another part of the animation. I have also found that if you donít use a hold in some animations you will not see the last shape drawn in one frame when the animation moves on to the next frame. This is something you can see in my Jedi Training animation. [ LINK ] In some frames the inner glow of the light sabre does not show because it was the last thing that was drawn before I moved on to the next frame.
Another reason you may want to use a hold is if you have text on the screen and want the viewer to be able to read the text before you move on to the next part of your animation. You also might want to use a hold simply to effect the speed of a shape or character you are animating.
To create a hold all you are basically doing is drawing blank shapes on the canvas that the viewer will not see being drawn when the animation is played back.
While the drawing you want to hold is displayed on the canvas, pick your background colour and with the fill tool or pencil tool draw a quick line or shape on the canvas. Be sure you only draw over the background colour and not any of the shapes you are animating.
To hold the drawing longer just draw more blank shapes one after the other.
Played back at medium speed, 10 blank fills will hold a drawing for between half a second and a second.
Remember; using holds is going to use up ink so use them wisely.