A new iPad animation app makes doodling flipbook-style moving pictures super easy.
Most people will end up doodling an animation in the margins of their schoolbooks at some point. There's something rather relaxing about it: lining it up perfectly, making sure the movements of your little stick dudes or creatures aren't too fast or too slow. There's a knack to it, but it's accessible, so anyone with a pen and a book can give it a shot.
A new app for the iPad has successfully managed to transfer that accessibility into the digital realm, with a few tweaks and features that make it a great little learning tool for basic animation skills.
Loop is like a sketchbook that lets you scribble line-drawing sequences panel by panel. When you open it up, it looks pretty much like any other sketchbook app; a little pared down, perhaps. It has a palette of only three hues, red, blue and black (ballpoint pens, anyone?), and line thickness depends on how fast you move your drawing tool (finger or stylus). Move faster, and the line gets thicker, but a more measured pace produces a thin, pen-like line. You can also draw dots by tapping the screen; holding for longer produces larger dots.
There's an eraser for mistakes — no "undo" tool — and trash bins for either a single page or the entire sequence. Tapping on the arrow buttons on the top left of the tool tray advances you back and forward one page of the sequence, so when you're finished with your first panel and ready to move to the next, tapping the right arrow will get you to a new, clean page.
It's the tools on the right side of the tray that are really interesting. There's a duplicate tool, of course, so you can duplicate the previous panel to make incremental adjustments. The "onion" tool lets you see a fainter layer of your previous panel, so that you have a guide to work with — much like being able to see the previous image of your flipbook through the paper on which you're currently working.
And then there's the Guide Movie import tool. It allows you to import a section of footage captured on your iPad's camera and use it as a guide, tracing over the outlines to produce a more lifelike animation, like so:
If you want to export your Loop (which is the only way to save it), you do have to upload it to the Loop website, but you can also share them on Tumblr. The Loops are exported as animated GIFs, which means there's no Facebook or Twitter support, and it's a shame you can't send from the app them via email; but if you post to Tumblr, you can save them to your computer from there.
That said, it's a crazy fun little tool. We found ourselves engrossed pretty much straight away. If you like doodling, it's 99 cents you will not regret spending.
Loop for iPad (AU$0.99)