iNkFig - a stripped down version of synfig for inking and...

I was just discussing that at mypaint forum and a bunch of other artists agreed with me that linux just doesnt have a tool such as Paint tool Sai’s inking/vector layers. … ing-layer/

Let me explain.
I really miss a tool on linux where you basically ink with mouse clicks. Paint tool sai does that brilliantly: … re=related … re=related

The good thing about this tool on paint tool sai is that you can actually adjust the thickness of the lines dynamically. Like having a line be thick in the middle and very thin on the ends. That is achieved by storing line weight data inside the nodes (vertices) and adjusting it by click and dragging on them with a certain tool.

so not only are you inking with mouse clicks, but you are also making the lines look as if they’re hand drawn with mouse-dragging.


Here is the thing. Synfig already DOES HAVE such a tool. But synfig is focused on animation. Its a complex piece of software that has a learning curve and is also a pain in the neck to import a sketch into it, set the export resolution and export it as an image file that other software can read.

The proposal:
Make a fork of synfig, called “iNkFig” or something like that. Strip it down so its centered only on that inking tool, importing and exporting. Maybe keep the coloring options too. Synfig is pretty good at that too. So inkfig wont be able to animate at all and it would be only for inking or even sketching + inking still images. Not animation,only image files with high resolution.

and this paragraph is only to those who will go on and tell me about inkscape and paths in gimp:

paths in gimp are not the sames as ink. You can convert them to lines, but their thickness is the same. Also, once converted to a line, you cant move the nodes and again- change the thickness of the line by adjusting it in the node, so it looks like a hand drawn line with pressure sensitivity dynamics.
Krita is basically the same. It just has nothing to do with what we have in paint tool sai. A quick, easy way to ink your sketches and get a very clean inked result with lines that look as if drawn with a calligraphy pen- all done with mouse clicks. Try doing that with gimp’s paths, i dare you

Inkscape/xara/other vector software:
Vector technology does not support storing data about line weight inside the nodes. The lines with varied thickness are turned into fills and fills are hard to edit. Plus inking is something that you usually do in normal drawing software. Old school cartoonists need it almost as bad as the eraser, as they find it hard to get used to the tablet. But everyone who has used it will agree with me that linux drawing software needs this feature. It’s currently not available on any freeware app for that matter.

I’m sorry but I can’t see the point in stripping down Synfig. I see your need of such a program and I think Synfig does fill your need excellently. Just that you got a few more powerful options that you can ignore if you want to.

I’m quoting you from your other post here:

That is just plain wrong. Here’s a few very simple steps to do what you want.

  1. Set your work area size. - Caret menu (> in upper left corner of canvas) - Properties; set width and heigh. You can even set resolution if you want to.
  2. import your tracing image. - Caret menu>File>Import
  3. Resize tracing image to fit your canvas. - Select it and drag green dots.
  4. Trace.
  5. Paint.
  6. Hit render. (Through menu or circle with red dot at top of canvas window.) Set output format, png is a good one, name the image. Render.
  7. Done.

Also you can work in non animation mode and forget about animation altogether.

Why not explore this for yourself and then write a nice tutorial/howto for your fellow anime tracers?

before render, you need to set it up to render only one frame, set the resolution on that frame. Why cant it be :

  1. import sketch and it assumes the resolution of the sketch
    3.export it with same resolution without setting anything

and get rid of all the advanced features. Maybe even improve inking and coloring. You see, as it is, its intimidating and nobody will use it just for inking with all the steps that must be taken.

There are a couple of japanese apps like “Magic tracer”, but they work only on windows and wine doesnt support them well.
How hard can it be to make a stripped down fork? Or at least make it easier in main branch version to do this simple thing?

if you hit “render” by default it will render about 50 files. By giant monster, I mean it in a good way- it has many many features and it does have a learning curve.

synfig is a good 2d animation package, but can you really call it a specialized ink package?

I’m just proposing it as an idea and to be honest, for any artist, nothing can beat a simple streamlined tool that does one thing better than anyone else out there. What if that thing is inking for comics, what if you add to that package more advanced things that would never go in synfig. Such features can be:

  • support for screentones
  • tools to make speech bubbles, sound effects baloons- ability to save and organize a library of this stuff, a text tool…

all the software out there that fits that gap costs money and is not on linux. This is the real shame

The problem here is not having too many features. It is having a feature but being inconvenient to use it

For that small needed modifications (the straight way to just import/trace/render) I think it is not needed a fork of Synfig. Fork means not only modify the code but keep a repository, release binaries, documentation, support, etc. Why not just join us and make some user predefined settings for inking working? The rest of the infrastructure of a fork is not needed and maybe even those features are good for animation workflow too.

I’m not against start a fork of anything but in this case it looks like kill flies with cannons.
Just find someone who want to do the forking job and you got what you want. Alternatively, convince us to focus on that feature before anything else and Synfig will be your tool.

Remember that in the opensource world, resources are limited. Better join efforts than split them. That’s what I think.

ganete> that is very well said and I agree with it fully. You’re right, fork means too much resources being scattered, instead of keeping them on synfig.

I wish I knew how to make such presets, as I’m not a developer :frowning:
My study is in flash (2d) and 3d animation (maya). Is there a document somewhere that explains it?

Unfortunately there is not much documentation about Synfig code. I’ve made some code documentation for the synfig-core (which is reflected by doxigenat the Synfig API) but there is lot of pending work.

Yeah, Blurrymind’s got one thing correct. Sai is probably the indisputable package when it comes to inking and ease of use. When it takes several hours to ink a drawing in Photoshop, Inkscape or GIMP, it takes only 15 minutes in Sai. Not only that, its smooth colors approach is probably why most artists are dragged into using it.

Synfig has the functionality but it’s a little different and more time-consuming to use it. Also note, if one’s looking to use it for digital painting then note that Synfig does not have raster-painting capabilities (yet).

On another point, it’d actually be awesome to Synfig’s Bline tool to have features similar to Sai’s vector tool, such as draw with mouse clicks, hold alt and drag for adjusting lines/segments, hold alt+shift and drag to adjust weights, etc. But this approach (for artists) would require ALL vectors and blines for inking to remain in a single layer than be scattered across several.

EDIT: Just to note, I would like the developers of Synfig to try out Paint Tool Sai. It might give some ideas on software improvements and speed workflow.

It does seem to run well under Wine. I haven’t tried and confirmed myself though.

the data at winehq is outdated. The current version of paint tool Sai that is available wont start at all. The old version (which is impossible to find for download) runs, but it has no pressure sensitivity and crashes randomly :frowning:

Sai can be used under linux, only if using an old version that is also pirated. The official trial has copy protection at startup that wine doesnt like and it cant be registered even if you buy sai. Currently its use under linux is grim. There is a bugreport at winehq there to address the issues but its been there for more than 2 years and nothing is fixed

XD Won’t start? Even if it DOES start Sai wouldn’t open or save anything in Wine! Yeah, I tried.

Yeah, that’s exactly what I though when I saw the videos.

Synfig feels really clumsy and slow when the user needs to create very many vectors (outlines or regions). It takes a lot of steps:

  • Select Bline tool
  • Create each blinepoint
  • Click on “Create Outline/Region” button
  • If further editing of the bline is needed:[list][*]Select Normal tool
  • Select the layer(s) that need editing
  • Edit the Blines

Unfortunately, it’s something that would take a lot of work to change, since Synfig was designed with the concept of “one object == one Layer”.

  • Select Bline tool = In Sai, select “Line Tool”
  • Create each blinepoint = In Sai, create each segment
  • Click on “Create Outline/Region” button = Sai doesn’t have outline/region option, and thus the process of coloring (minus the shading) is longer because after the outlining is done you need to select the region with Magic Wand, make sure no spaces are left untouched, go back to raster layer below and use the paint bucket tool. Synfig and Inkscape are faster in this regard.
  • If further editing of the bline is needed:[list][*]Select Normal tool = In Sai, you only need to hold CTRL button to edit. I may have forgotten, but Synfig also has that function. EDIT: Just checked. It doesn’t.
  • Select the layer(s) that need editing = Same goes for Sai. :laughing: Except in Synfig, you don’t “need” to select the layers, they’re automatically selected on clicking the object on screen.
  • Edit the Blines = Same with Sai here too.

In a way, Synfig is much more power than Sai in the way you’ve described, but you forgot some crucial differences. Sai was actually meant for Raster drawing than vector and its vectors could all be used on one layer. The vector layer was preserved for linearts ONLY and it didn’t need to “loop” so long as it “seemed” like it (i.e., intersection without looping) thus enabling the Magic Wand tool to be used. The process of lineart is thus faster in Sai than any other tool, but due to crucial differences it may be difficult to produce Inkfig unless we focus on Inking Only until “raster drawing” support comes into Synfig. But to be fair to the developers of Synfig, “one object = one layer” is what makes Synfig powerful and flexible in animation in the first place.

This fork could be promising but we really need a dedicated programmer to pull it off.

sai is not the only piece of software on windows that does that. Other japanese drawing apps have traditionally supported said feature more or less. You can see it present on n-paint (neko paint), illust studio and many others! What winds me up is the fact that none of them works ok in wine, there is not one for linux! And finally when the feature is present, the software is just not suited for illustration (synfig)

Well, there are quite a lot of linux artists who yearn for this feature, but not enough developers to have the time making them. If you have friends or relatives interested in developing a fork that’d be awesome, and at the same time we’d improve synfig with those codes. I have a friend who’d like to help but is currently busy with exams.