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I know it sounds dumb to have onion skin on vector software but, some people including me, find vector graphics useful for animation because easy tweaking. So, I suggest you to add onion skin to Affinity Designer. 

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1 minute ago, Alfred said:

Can’t you use the opacity control on each layer for an onion-skinning effect? :/

I could use that but with how the layer works on AD and convenience I think onion skin wouldn't be that bad of a suggestion. 

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I didn’t say I thought it was a bad suggestion! I’m just not sure what you’d like to be able to do that you can’t already do quite easily with the existing controls.

 

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Just now, Alfred said:

I didn’t say I thought it was a bad suggestion! I’m just not sure what you’d like to be able to do that you can’t already do quite easily with the existing controls.

 

I know that I can di that but, I would be a lot more convenient if there is onion skin. 

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See through ability is useful in other uses too than animation. That is the basic template layer functionality. 

I guess existing transparency controls could be tweaked for onion skinning functionality or developer might invent some other onion skinning method.

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Im not sure if my suggestion helps, but when i want to create onion skin effect i just press a number on my keyboard as shortcut. For example If i click 8 it will get to 80% opacity, or 6 to make instant 60% opacity. 

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This is an old thread, but I wanted to add my suggestions to the onion skin request.  I do a lot of animating, and prefer AD for character drawing because it is much easier to use than the rather crude drawing tools in many animation packages.  Here is what I have to do in order to simulate onion skinning in AD.  Just using transparency (alpha) for this is NOT adequate, so if AD had a real onion skin feature, it would be a tremendous help to animators.

1.  Make copies of the previous and next cells.  This may involve copying many layers for each cell, each with its own gradients, colors, strokes, etc.  The next cell is only used when tweening between existing cells, otherwise you only need the previous cell.

2.  Reduce opacity for the previous and next cells.  Change the stroke colors, often in many different layers.  For example, blue stroke for previous cell, red stroke for next cell.

3.  Overlay the previous and next cells.  Alignment can be very tricky here, if the character is moving.  It would be very good if there was a way to define cell boundaries or alignment "pegs" so that the cells could be easily aligned with each other.

4.  Create a new copy of the original previous cell (before modifications).  Reduce its opacity but keep stroke color the same, as long as it is different from the colors used in step 2.  This cell will be the one that is modified to create a tween between the previous and next cells.

5.  Align copy from step 4 on top of the aligned previous and next cells.  Now you can modify this copy to tween it.

6.  When finished tweening, restore opacity (and possibly stroke color) to the new cell.  Add it to the animation sequence.

This process works, but is very slow.

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3 hours ago, Al K said:

This is an old thread, but I wanted to add my suggestions to the onion skin request.  I do a lot of animating, and prefer AD for character drawing because it is much easier to use than the rather crude drawing tools in many animation packages.

Just out of curiosity: have you ever tried ClipStudio EX? Brilliant drawing tools, both vector and bitmap, and dedicated tools to correct vector strokes (correct line width, redraw a stroke and its thickness, simplifying a stroke, etc).

The EX version has very good frame-by-frame animation, as well as onion skinning with options like monochrome, half-transparent, and full opaque. ClipStudio is used in production by many Japanese animation studios. It even has shot and scene options to keep track of these in your animation workflow. Then the shots can be exported directly to OpenToonz to finalize and combine all the scenes/shots and release.

It's an application targeted at digital artists, and has some of the best drawing "feel" of any drawing software in my opinion. It just works really, really well, and the vector drawing tools feel like bitmap drawing tools.

4 hours ago, Al K said:

This process works, but is very slow.

I can imagine! I animate as well, and I wouldn't even want to think about how much such an approach would slow me down (both time-wise and just being creative), and frame-by-frame animation is laborious enough as it is!

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Thanks for the great suggestion!  I actually have a copy of the non-EX version of this software (came free with my Wacom), but I quickly got discouraged with its complexity.  Then I learned OpenToonz, which was just as complex, but never made it back to ClipStudio for a retry.  I really like the drawing tools in AD, so it was easy to get stuck in a potential dead end.  Time to go back and retry ClipStudio!

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I went back to look at ClipStudio again, and suddenly remembered the main reason why I never used it - the basic edition is limited to 24 frames of animation, which is only 1 second.  The EX version costs $219, which is definitely painful.  I'd feel better if they had a free trial version of EX so that I could see if it was going to work for me before I spring for the money.  Your recommendation has definitely intrigued me, though.

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Do you own the Debut or Pro version? The Debut version doesn't include vector drawing and tools customization or story management. You are correct that the Debut and Pro versions are of limited use for animation: only 1 second of animation is possible, and only EX offers the animation export options.

They just had a Black Friday deal, so it is a bit unfortunate that you missed that. On the other hand, I purchased ClipStudio EX years ago, and so far all the updates have been free. With some luck they should have another sale on Boxing day or around Christmas, so it might pay off to wait a couple of weeks.

If you have the Pro version, I would suggest to create a small animation in that, and try out the various options to see if you like it or not. I agree that the animation timeline and the way animation layers / cells work takes a bit of time to get accustomed to. It is actually rather similar to OpenToonz in that regard, because of the separation of drawings and timeline frames.

But it is really powerful: for example, an animation frame can be built up from several layers in an animation layer and cell. So the sketch, initial lines, cleanup, fills and shading can be set up in layer groups in a cell in a animation layer. Each animation layer can be used to layer various animated elements in turn. And animation cells can be reused in the timeline, making it easy to create a repeating smaller sequence inside a larger sequence. Layering your art is not possible in OpenToonz without adding additional animation layers (Art layers in Toonboom Harmony come close to this workflow, but are not as versatile).

A tip: don't forget to right-mouse click layers and timeline frames. It exposes a lot of the functionality that way.

Good tutorial:

 

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