Animating on any level can be a tedious and long process, whether you’re just drawing up storyboards or a full-on project. With so many frames to create and draw, it might take a good amount of time to make a one-minute animation depending on your level of skill and experience. First launched on iOS, Animation Desk ($9.99, Mac App Store) makes its way to Mac from Kdan Mobile Software.
The app intends to make it simple for anyone to animate with ease using plenty of tools and a clean interface for any user to pick up on. Unlike other 2D or 3D animation apps, Animation Desk isn’t as intimidating since it has a familiar interface and layout if you’re used to working in a traditional art environment with a canvas.
Animation Desk has a large variety of tools and brushes to choose from. Your pen, pencil, crayon, eraser, swatches, and brush are all on the right side. A few more brushes would be a welcoming addition. Since this a 2D app, you would like to have more variety in your sketches so all of your projects won’t look too similar. Also on the right side, you have the ability to change the opacity and size of your selected tool.
On the left side of the app, you can switch between foreground, middle ground, and background. It’s basically the same process as using layers in Photoshop, so you can sketch something in the middle ground and color in the foreground. If you tap the background button, a list of items will appear such as changing the background color, adding a new background, or importing a photo into the photo library.
Animation Desk offers a few different ways to duplicate layers or frames, which are pretty efficient. You can either do this from the menu bar, by tapping the top right icon in the app, or on the left side of the canvas. There are different tools you can use to control your frames. Under Project Management, you can preview any project by tapping the ‘play’ icon. You then have the option to delete, duplicate, or combine your project. You can also edit the description and title. Above the Project Manager is a window to view all of your frames in the order you created them. You have the option to change them in any order, delete a frame or delete one project.
Animation Desk also has an option to import audio, voice recording, and sound effects for your animation. The app offers a number of ways to share your projects. You can upload your videos to Facebook or Youtube and share your projects by email. You can also export your animations, which will save as a mov. I would have liked the option to save in a few other different formats such as mp4 or avi. Also featured with the app is a stamp tool. You can use this to copy, paste, and insert pictures. Other than that, you can use it to transfer patterns of a selected photo to the canvas.
Animation Desk is a really handy application for creating short animated videos. One issue I had with the app was some missing frames if I closed or quit it, and then reopened it. For some users, this may end up being a bigger bug if you’re creating more detailed frames. It seems like something that can be addressed in a future update. Nonetheless, it’s still one of the more user-friendly 2D animation apps on the App Store with plenty of tools and features.
Of course if you’re using the Mac version, creating a lot of frames might take a while if you’re using a mouse or track pad. I tried Animation Desk with a Wacom tablet and it reacts just as you would expect. You get a little more feedback if you’re using a stylus and a Bamboo or Wacom tablet. If you’re creating more of a short and simple project, the mouse or track pad would work just fine.
Price: $9.99, Mac App Store Link
- Good selection of tools
- Simple and familiar interface
- Easily import photos and audio
- Some of the frames don’t save if you close and restart the app
- Can only save animation in mov format
- Feedback from a mouse or trackpad might not be as accurate