Tuesday, July 5th, 2016 Posted by Jim Thacker

Download Grease Pencil V2 for Windows

Blender developers Antonio Vazquez and Joshua Leung, along with animator Daniel Martinez Lara, have released Grease Pencil V2, a revamped version of Blender’s 2D animation toolset.

The release, which is a Windows-only beta, is a custom build of Blender 2.77 with the new toolset installed.

A complete open-source toolset for 2D animation?
Although other 3D applications – notably Maya – have grease pencil tools for annotating or planning animation frames, Blender’s implementation made waves when it was released in Blender 2.73 last year.

As Martinez Lara himself was quick to spot, it can act as a complete open-source toolset for 2D animation, producing what looks like conventional cel or Flash animation in a 3D environment.

And although Krita 3.0 has since added its own animation tools, while formerly commercial 2D animation software Toonz has also been open-sourced, it remains a strong option.

Better handling of layers and colours, more sophisticated brush settings
Changes in Grease Pencil V2 include the decoupling of stroke width and colour from layers, meaning it is no longer necessary to create a separate layer for every colour used in a character or background.

Instead, layers now get opacity settings and stroke thickness and tint modifiers; and can be parented to any object or bone in a bone-based animation rig.

Colours can now be grouped in palettes, making it possible to swap palettes in a scene with a few clicks; and get their own opacity and fill opacity settings.

The drawing brushes also get a wider set of properties, including pressure sensitivity when using a graphics tablet, and stroke randomisation settings. Presets mimic the look of pen, marker, ink and crayon.

Working towards a tool for animation production as well as animatics
The developers aim to get Grease Pencil to work in a similar way to commercial 2D animation software: work is “focused on a TVPaint style” workflow, although the demo at the top of the story shows more Flash-like work.

While Martinez Lara characterises the original release as fine for storyboarding and animatics, but not fully fledged production work, he describes the updated toolset as “so close to the first production version”.

A compiled beta version of Grease Pencil 2 for 64-bit Windows is available to download for free at goo.gl/7OEvi8. Being part of Blender, it’s open-source.

Read a full list of new features planned in Grease Pencil V2 on the Blender development wiki

Hat tip to BlenderNation for spotting that the Windows binary was available.