Smith Micro Software's MotionArtist is designed with comic artists in mind, providing a way to add movement and sound to their creations. With this 2D animation software, you can import the characters and artwork you have created in other drawing programs and turn them into motion comics and movies. This software is relatively easy to use, but you will need to own additional drawing software like Clip Studio Paint EX to get the most out of it.
MotionArtist has three workspace views, each with a different purpose and toolset. The Director View is the most commonly used workspace in the application, and presents an overall view of your work. We were able to add panels in this view and arrange the layout of our page. We also set motion paths and added stop points for quick and easy animation. Stop points are an essential part of your motion paths, as they give your viewers a chance to read your word balloons and admire your art. If you’d prefer a program that comes with a large library of premade characters, backgrounds and effects, you might be interested in Muvizu Play+.
We were surprised to find that there are no drawing tools in this program. You are meant to create your characters in another software and then import them for animation into this one. The animation tools are very basic and involve shifting the camera or character but don’t include lip syncing of bone rigging of any kind. We were able to record audio, but you will need to use another program if you want to edit it.
Word balloons are easy to create and use in MotionArtist. You can choose from a variety of premade word balloons or create your own to your artistic style. When you are finished with your project, you can choose to export it as an AVI or QuickTime movie file. You can also export it as still frames in JPEG, PNG, BMP, Targa or PSD file formats. In addition, you can upload your animations directly to your Facebook or YouTube account to share with your friends.
While you have to create your graphics and drawings using other drawing programs, MotionArtist is compatible with most image, video and audio files. Flash SWF is one of the few file types the program doesn’t support, but it does support layered Photoshop files. With this type of file, you can edit and animate individual elements in your drawing. You can also scan in pages from an already published comic, split up the panels and add motion to them. This is a great feature for artists who already have work published but want to convert their creations to a digital format to post online.
The MotionArtist software includes a PDF manual, and the website has a series of video tutorials that walk you through the features and workspaces. If you have any questions or concerns with this 2D animation software, you can browse the knowledgebase found in the support section on the website, or you can contact Smith Micro Software by telephone or email if the available support resources don’t answer your questions.
MotionArtist is meant to be used alongside a drawing program. This makes it a great choice for artists currently using digital drawing software, but a poor choice for anyone who isn't. There are no drawing tools and audio tools are limited. The animation tools themselves are super basic offering motion paths but don't supply bone rigging or lip syncing.