Huion GT-220 v2 - A Viable Cintiq Alternative?

I spent years working on a Wacom Cintiq 24HD. Overall it was a great pen display, but it did have some issues. The thing was insanely heavy (I actually had to replace my old desk because it started to sag in the middle!) and it was also insanely expensive. Actually, all of Wacom's products are insanely expensive. It makes sens in a way, as Wacom products are absolutely the industry standard for pen-based input devices. However, it's about time other companies started trying to compete with Wacom - competition is a good thing for all of us! Enter the Huion line of pen display tablets. I recently purchased the Huion GT-220 v2, and I decided to record my initial impressions in a quick video. Here's the gist: This thing is great! As with any product, there are some pros and cons, but based on the performance, build quality and accuracy of this device, I feel like someone is finally starting to bring some competition to Wacom! Now let's get one thing straight - the Cintiq Pro tablets are still the absolute top-of-the-line "Bentley's" of the pen input market - but Huion's cost effective GT-220 is something that should definitely be considered if you're in the market. OK, video below. Check it out!

TOOLS: Duik 16 Crowdfunding Campaign!

If you've ever seriously looked into character animation in Adobe After Effects, you've no doubt already heard of Duik, a free toolset that was specifically designed to aid in the creation of character rigs and character animation. People that use Duik seem to swear by it, and I've recently begun to experiment with it myself (sorry Moho! You just need to stop crashing on me!). What you may not know is that there is currently a crowdfunding campaign underway with the goal of funding the development of a new version of Duik, which apparently is to include a redesigned interface, a new feature called "Animation Blender" which looks similar to non-linear animation (!), and a ton of other new features. Take a look at the crowdfunding campaign, and pitch in if it looks like a useful tool to you!

TOOLS: Tapered Stroke from Jake Bartlett

What's up! Today I wanted to share an After Effects preset that was created by Jake Bartlett for School of Motion. If you frequently work with shape layers and strokes in After Effects, you have undoubtedly at some point screamed at your computer monitor "WHY IS THERE NO OPTION TO TAPER THE STROKE ON THIS SHAPE LAYER!?!?" OK, maybe I'm projecting a bit - but the lack of a tapered stroke option in After Effects has been a sore spot for many motion designers for years.

Luckily, Jake Bartlett has come to the rescue with his new(ish) preset called, you guessed it, Tapered Stroke. This preset uses a clever work-around to overcome the lack of a built-in tapering option, and while it does require a little bit of set-up, it delivers great results. Check out Jake's tutorial video below, and head on over to School of Motion to download the preset!

TOOLS: Ray Dynamic Texture

Game changer. That's the best way I can describe Ray Dynamic Texture, the new script available from Sander van Dijk. If you've ever tried to overlay textures on your artwork in After Effects, such as shape layers or imported vectors, you've quickly realized how incredibly tedious it can be. Ray Dynamic Texture aims to greatly simplify that process, making texture overlays into a 1-click process. Don't just take my word for it, check out the video below, and then head on over to AE Scripts for a free trial.

TOOLS: Affinity Designer

As motion designers we are frequently required to create vector assets for our animations. There are a number of tools available for doing this, including shape layers from right within After Effects, or Adobe's own vector application: Illustrator. However, if you're anything like me, you may find that Illustrator seems a bit clunky and complex to work with. It all comes down to personal taste, but Illustrator's way of doing things was just never the right fit for me. Luckily, a few months ago I stumbled on Affinity Designer from Serif, and jeez-oh-man, I immediately felt at home with this simplified application. Again, it all comes down to personal taste, but if you ever felt a bit perplexed by Illustrator, I'd suggest giving Affinity Designer a shot - there's a free trial available on their site, so you've got nothing to lose!

Click here to check out Affinity Designer!

Click here to check out Affinity Designer!

TOOLS: 21 Scripts to Supercharge Your After Effects Workflow from Tuts+

Well hello there! Today I wanted to drop a quick post to share this article from Tuts+:
21 Scripts to Supercharge Your Adobe After Effects Workflow.

The article lists 21 workflow enhancing scripts available on VideoHive.net. Layer Manager 3 looks particularly interesting!

Anyway, all of you AE users should check it out!

PS - In case you missed it, I recorded a video detailing my Top 5 After Effects Scripts. Check it out below!

TOOLS: MotionSound.io

One often overlooked, yet incredibly important aspect of motion design is the use of sound. A lot of times it's tempting to drop a quick stock music track behind a piece and call it a day, but as motion designers we should try to be aware of the role that sound plays in the viewers' interpretation of an animation. We should also try to focus on the interplay between visuals and audio, as the combination of fantastic visuals seamlessly interwoven with great sound design can be far more impactful than either element on its own.

I plan on diving into this subject much deeper down the road as I continue to learn, but for now I want to share a resource for sound effects specifically geared toward motion designers: motionsound.io. I've purchased all that Motion Sound has to offer and can absolutely attest to the quality of their libraries. Take a look if you are interested in expanding your toolkit!

Until next time!

 

TOOLS: Krita

One aspect of motion design that seems to be having a resurgence lately is the use of traditional hand drawn frame-by-frame or "cel" animation (I know, it's all digital now but plenty of people still refer to it as cel animation). I personally really need to up my drawing game before I get too serious about hand drawn animation, but if you'd like to give it a shot, try downloading the FREE open source drawing/painting program, Krita. They have integrated animation features as of version 3.0, so check it out!

https://krita.org

By the way, here's the link to the animation section of their documentation to help get you started.

TOOLS: My Top 5 After Effects Scripts

I work in After Effects almost every day. I LOVE After Effects. However, as with any piece of software there is definitely room for improvement. I plan to write a post at some point about my top 5 feature requests for AE, but until then take a look at my top 5 scripts that have already solved many little annoyances or improved my workflow significantly. These scripts are invaluable and allow me to get work out the door faster, which means I have room for more projects, and ultimately I make more money! Now, on to the list!

1. TurboLayers - This is such a simple little script, but it really does save me time. It's a tiny panel that you can dock in your interface that has little buttons for each kind of new layer you can create. I dock it right above my timeline. When you click a button, it automatically inserts a layer into the selected comp. If you have a layer selected, it automatically inserts the new layer right above it, and trims it to the length of the selected layer. A real time saver.

2. Rubber Hose - If you are at all interested in character animation in AE, you have no doubt already heard of Rubber Hose. It is a script created by BattleAx (also the creators of the excellent ButtCapper script) that allows you to instantly set up quick IK limbs using shape layers. I'll post a tutorial on using this script at some point, but it really is a must-have for anyone interested in character animation in AE.

3. Tidy Up! - I'm a pretty messy worker, I admit it. After starting a new project, my project panel quickly turns into a mess of unnamed comps and random folders with no organization to speak of. That's where Tidy Up comes in. This little script (also available as part of the Corner Cutters pack) automatically sorts your footage and comps based on type, and puts them into appropriate folders which you can name. There's also a bunch of options for only organizing certain folders, naming your own folders, etc. I won't get into all that here, but it's a great little script that really does help keep projects more organized!

4. Snap! - This is a great little free script created by the makers of AE Sweets. Basically it allows you to instantly snap a still frame PNG of your composition and save it to a directory. I tend to create my storyboard frames in After Effects so that I have a leg up when it comes time to start animation. This script has saved me a ton of time: move the timeline indicator to where you want a still frame, click the snap button, move to a different point on the timeline, click the snap button... you can get a bunch of still frames exported in seconds!

5. Motion - This may be my all-time favorite script. It was created by Matt Jylkka over at mtmograph.com. This amazing script has a ton of features integrated into it, and you should really check out Matt's Youtube video to get a full explanation, but the main aspect of the script is that it allows you to use sliders to adjust the intensity of easing on keyframes, or even switch between keyframe types. If you'd rather avoid messing with the speed graph in AE, this is the next best thing, and it is so incredibly quick and easy to use. If I could only keep one script for the rest of my life, this would probably be it.