Dev:Ref/Release Notes/2.73/Animation

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Animation improvements include: A major upgrade of the Grease Pencil tool, which now includes editing and animating strokes, more advanced draw styles and an UI overhaul. There were also some usability improvements for the Graph Editor and more ...

Grease Pencil

In the first major upgrade of the Grease Pencil functionality since it was first introduced in 2008, this release brings a number of improvements aimed at making it easier to use Grease Pencil for hand-drawn storyboarding in 3D. Of course though, many of these improvements are useful for other workflows too - including for motion graphics, for correctly wayward bloopers while drawing, or just in general everyday usage.


<vimeo width="600" height="340">113610809</vimeo>
"ForYou" two different versions and Blender 3D scene overview and .blend by Daniel M. Lara (pepeland). CC BY-NC-SA

Stroke Editing

  • It is now possible to edit Grease Pencil strokes
    • Use D⇆ Tab, or toggle the "Enable Editing" toggles in the Toolbar/Properties regions to enter "Stroke Edit Mode". In this mode, many common editing tools will operate on Grease Pencil stroke points instead.
    • Tools implemented include Select, Select All/Border/Circle/Lasso,Linked/More/Less, Grab, Rotate, Scale, Bend, Shear, To Sphere, Mirror, Duplicate, Delete.
    • Proportional Editing works when using the transform tools
    • NOTE: It is not recommended to transform "View"-aligned strokes in the 3D View.
  • Grease Pencil stroke settings can now be animated
    Note: Currently drivers don't work on these properties

Improved Draw Styles

  • Strokes can be drawn with "filled" interiors, using a separate set of colour/opacity settings to the ones used for the lines themselves
    This makes use of OpenGL filled polys, which has the limitation of only being able to fill convex shapes. Some artifacts may be visible on concave shapes (e.g. pacman's mouth will be overdrawn).
  • "Volumetric Strokes" - An alternative drawing technique for stroke drawing has been added which draws strokes as a series of screen-aligned discs.
    While this was originally a partial experimental technique at getting better quality 3D lines, the effects possible using this technique were interesting enough to warrant making this a dedicated feature. Best results when partial opacity and large stroke widths are used.
  • Improved Onion Skinning Support
    • Different colours can be selected for the before/after ghosts. To do so, enable the "colour wheel" toggle beside the Onion Skinning toggle, and set the colours accordingly.
    • Different numbers of ghosts can be shown before/after the current frame
  • Grease Pencil datablocks are now attached to the scene by default instead of the active object.
    • For a long time, the object-attachment has proved to be quite problematic for users to keep track of. Now that this is done at scene level, it is easier for most users to use.
    • An exception for old files (and for any addons which may benefit from object attachment instead), is that if the active object has a Grease Pencil datablock, that will be used instead.
    • It is not currently possible to choose object-attachment from the UI, but it is simple to do this from the console instead, by doing:
      context.active_object.grease_pencil =["blah"]

UI Changes

  • The layers UI has been cleaned up to use a list instead of the nested-panels design. Apart from saving space, this is also much nicer to look at now.
  • The UI code is now all defined in Python. To support this, it has been necessary to add some new context properties to make it easier to access these settings.
    • "gpencil_data" for the datablock
    • "active_gpencil_layer" and "active_gpencil_frame" for active data
    • "editable_gpencil_strokes" for the strokes that can be edited
  • The "stroke placement/alignment" settings (previously "Drawing Settings" at the bottom of the Grease Pencil panel in the Properties Region) is now located in the toolbar. These were more tool settings than properties for how Grease Pencil got drawn.
  • "Use Sketching Sessions" has been renamed "Continuous Drawing", as per a suggestion for an earlier discussion on
  • By default, the painting operator will wait for a mouse button to be pressed before it starts creating the stroke. This is to make it easier to include this operator in various toolbars/menus/etc. To get it immediately starting (as when you hold down D to draw), set "wait_for_input" to False.
  • The "Convert to Geometry" operator is now included in the toolbar, making it easier for modellers who are hand-drawing curves.
  • Layers can be rearranged in the "Grease Pencil" mode of the Action Editor, and color swatches are displayed beside the name of each item to make it easier to keep track of which is which
  • Toolbar panels have been added to all the other editors which support these.
  • Undo support works again when "Continuous Drawing" is enabled. This has been broken since at least 2.69, due to a fix for not accidentally adding drivers in the node editor while drawing.

Pie Menus for Quick-Access to Tools

A set of experimental pie menus has been included for quick access to many tools and settings. It is not necessary to use these to get things done, but they have been designed to help make certain common tasks easier.

  • DQ = The main pie menu. Reveals tools in a context sensitive and spatially stable manner.
  • DW = "Quick Settings" pie. This allows quick access to the active layer's settings. Notably, colours, thickness, and turning onion skinning on/off.

Graph Editor

  • Revised the set of operators for showing/hiding curves from the keyframes area. We now have the following operators:
    • H = Hide selected curves
    • ⇧ ShiftH = Show only the selected curve (and hide everything else)
    • AltH = Show all previous hidden curves
  • Added circle selection for the graph editor.

Small Improvements

  • Rendered Anim Playback: Optionally draw flipped (F and ⇧ ShiftF) (5f948fb77fa24)
  • Animation spaces which allow timeline access along the lower area of the space, now display this area so you can easily know when your actions go to the timeline or action/graph editor (useful when editing markers) (36da579d122fe4)
  • Limits for volume preservation in stretch-to constraints (f9cbb908a3fbd7)