How To Create Animations With Pencil2D Animation Software

Pencil2D is an open source animation software that lets users create 2D animations and sketches. This article is about how to create animation with Pencil2D.

When it comes to learning to new software to create animations and illustrations, we have created a bunch of tutorials and guides that can help you master new software and learn animations. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced user, our past posts can help you find the right animation application for you. Let’s cover following topics to learn how to create animations with Pencil2D animation software.

What is Pencil2D?

Pencil2D is a traditional animation application that allows users to create 2D sketches of cartoons and animations for different projects. You can use Pencil2D both for personal projects as well as commercial endeavors, as it is an open source animation software licensed under the GNU General Public license. Using Pencil2D is pretty straightforward, as you will see further in the post. It can be used by both beginner animators as well as professional users as well.

With Pencil2D your animations are stored in bitmap or vector drawings and utilizes a raster/vector workflow for effective management of animations. Some of the acceptable file formats while using Pencil2D are PNG, JPEG, BMP, TIFF etc for images and AVI, MP4, GIF and more, for videos. It is compatible with Windows, Mac OS, Linux and FreeBSD as well.

How to Install Pencil2D?

Open terminal and update your local server’s package index by typing following command:

sudo apt-get update -y

Run following command in terminal to install Pencil2D:

sudo apt-get install -y pencil2d

Overview of the Application Interface

Before we start with the actual Pencil2D tutorial on how to create animations with Pencil2D here is a bit of overview of the user interface, and some good to know tools and features:

  • White Board: When you launch Pencil2D for the first time, you will see a main white board in the middle, surrounded by controls panels, tools and features where you will create the main portion of the animation
  • Tools: on the left side you will find the Tools feature that includes brush tool, pencil, eraser, bucket tool to add color, and all features that will allow you to sketch out a cartoon or animation and define it.
  • Options Box: below the tools box you have the ability to include or remove the options window where you get the option to define the attributes of the tools you’re using. For instance, if you’re using a brush you can toggle between thickness of the brush, how light or dark the color will appear and similar features.
  • Display Box: below the options window is the Display box where you can manipulate the sketch you’ve drawn on the white board, such as flipping it right or left, applying onion skin to previous sketches and more.
  • Color Palette: here you’ll find all the available colors that can be added to your drawings.
  • Color Box: right below the color palette is the color box that allows you to choose specific color shades from the color wheel.
  • Timeline Panel: this is one of the most important part of the Pencil2D which allows you to apply layers to your animation starting with the bitmap layer, vector layer, and camera layer. You can also add key frames to create a video animation, delete and duplicate frames, and more.

Once you’ve mastered and understood these tools, you can start creating animations and sketches immediately, or try and learn as you go.

How to Create Animations with Pencil2D?

Now, we can move onto creating a basic animation with Pencil2D.

Now you can embed the animation in a website, play it in on a browser or your desktop and more.


As you can see from the above tutorial, creating animations with Pencil2D is fairly easy to understand and execute. The animation software has been created in a way to be beginner friendly as well as quick to adopt by professionals as well. There are many options available in Pencil2D when it comes to creating 2D sketches or animations, and any illustrator can truly create a strong portfolio with the application.

Pencil2D is compatible with many operating systems as we have mentioned earlier, so you can simply plug and play with the animation software in the environment of your choosing. If you are looking for more tutorials regarding Pencil2D you can simply go and check out their website. We have also created many tutorials and guides to use other animation software programs that you can find on our website, so check them out for more clarity.


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