#33 Onion Skinning
Even the most experienced animators often need help in creating smooth motion. The help in this case is a technique called onion skinning, which lets you draw each new frame of animation directly on top of images of previous frames. (The images are dimmed—more so for the earlier ones—to make it possible to draw over them without getting confused about what's new and what's old.)
To use this feature:
- Move the playhead to the keyframe in which you want to make a new drawing.
- Click the Onion Skin icon to turn onion skinning on. The playhead is now bracketed by two markers—Start Onion Skin and End Onion Skin—with a dark gray area between them (Figure 33a).
Figure 33a The onion skinning controls are above and below the Timeline.
By default, the Start Onion Skin marker is two frames behind the playhead, and the End Onion Skin marker is two frames after the playhead. (If there are fewer than two frames available in either direction, the markers move in toward the playhead as necessary.) To see more or fewer frames, slide the markers.
The frames bracketed by the markers are visible on the Stage, with increasing degrees of dimness depending on their distance from the playhead (Figure 33b).
Figure 33b This is how the Stage looks when onion skinning is turned on. The black stroke in the center is what's in the current frame. The dimmer strokes indicate what's in the two frames before and the two frames after.
- Create or modify the drawing in the current keyframe, using the dimmed images for reference.
- Press F6 to insert a new keyframe, or move the playhead to another keyframe. The Start Onion Skin and End Onion Skin markers move with it, keeping the same distance from the playhead.
Repeat steps 3 and 4 as many times as necessary. When you're finished, click the Onion Skin marker again to turn off the feature.
Here are some variations:
- To see just the paths in the onion-skinned frames, without strokes and fills, click the Onion Skin Outlines icon.
- If you want the ability to edit all the frames between the markers—not just the one that the playhead is positioned on—click the Edit Multiple Frames icon.
- To change the behavior of the markers—for example, to keep them visible even when onion skinning is turned off—click the Modify Onion Markers icon and choose one of the listed options.