Synfig for 2d game animation?

Hi guys,

I’m looking for a replacement for Flash to create 2d game animations. I need to be able to export the animation to a sprite sequence so I can assemble them into a sprite sheet. I’d want to draw the frames with my wacom tablet with pressure sensitivity.

Is Synfig a capable enough tool for this use?


Yes. but it can’t export to sprites directly. You need to use some other tool, like imagemagick to composite your frames into a spritesheet.
You can create a script that does this automatically for you.

Here’s another thread discussing it:

I can use Synfig to export a sequence of frames, then stitch them together using imagemagick :slight_smile: Thanks rylleman.

What about pressure sensitive tablets?

I would need to draw the frames using a wacom tablet with pressure sensitivity, is this possible?

Yes, it is.

Good luck, keep us updated on your adventures into Synfig and game creation.

Great! :smiley:

Thanks, I will do :wink:

Hi again,

I have installed Synfig and had a play around with it. I found the timeline rather unintuitive.

I found a pencil tool, but I can’t seem to find any kind of brush tool (varied lineweight, etc). I am approaching Synfig from a Flash perspective, so I am accustomed to the pressure sensitiviy of the brush tool.

Is the pencil tool the only freehand drawing tool available in Synfig?

The pencil tool is just a sketch tool, ubfortunately not animatable or renderable.

For drawing there is the Draw tool (looks like a little ink bottle). Also make sure your tablet is enabled in >File>Input Devices…

There is not frame by frame drawing in Synfig, animation is done by tweening shapes.

Obviously not everybody will have the same work flow, so this may be just how I approach things and your mileage may vary.

While I love and often use Synfig for animation, I don’t find Synfig to be the best tool for working out things like timing and posing. By the time I get to Synfig, I pretty much need to know what I’m doing with my character (or whatever). I use Pencil for those early stages of character animation because it’s so much easier and faster to just redraw a line in Pencil than it is to move a bunch of ducks in Synfig, especially when you know you’ll be changing things a lot as you work out the flow of your character’s movements.

I said all of that so I could say this: In your case I would work out my animations in Pencil, then bring those frames into Synfig (or possibly even Inkscape depending on how many frames I actually had to do and how eccentric the motions were) and make my sprites that way.


I see, it seems Synfig isn’t really suited to my needs after all. But thanks for your feedback guys! you’ve been very helpful :slight_smile:

@Matt, Pencil is much more like what I need, however, it doesn’t appear to have been updated for like 4 years. This does not fill me with confidence…

Thanks again guys!

Regarding Pencil: The downloads page doesn’t have the latest versions. About a year or more back, there was some serious movement toward a 0.5 version before the key developer leading that push apparently disappeared. Nonetheless, the versions available at this thread work well and I use them regularly on both Linux and Windows:

On Windows 7, I use the build known as davidefa’s build with no issues. On Ubuntu or related Linux flavors, I recommend the Zelgadis/Morevna version which also works for me without issues. [EDIT: Actually, if you’re wanting the Morevna version, I’d go straight to the source to get the latest: ]

If you do use Pencil, a few tips to keep things humming along:

  1. Work with short scenes, basically one camera shot per file. For game sprite animation, this might translate to one character per file with no more than about 200 - 300 or so total frames of animation. Really long scenes in Pencil have been know to lead to some file corruption, though these newer versions may have fixed or at least mitigated that problem. I play it conservative - perhaps out of habit - and have never had a problem.

  2. Don’t bother trying to use sound in Pencil; use some other approach. This may be less of an issue for game sprites anyway, since you often aren’t trying to sync sound per se.

  3. Pencil was originally designed - and still works best - as a line test or pencil test tool. It has some coloring functionality but I almost never use it. I always output my finished “pencil” animation as an image sequence, then ink and paint those in another program. If the sequence lends itself to auto-tweening, I bring it into Synfig as a guide layer. If it doesn’t lend itself to auto-tweening, I bring the frames one at a time into Inkscape. The resulting inked and painted frames in either Synfig or Inkscape can then be output to pretty much any size you’d want since both programs are vector based.

One last thought: If you’re on Windows and just don’t like Pencil for whatever reason, I believe you can still snag the last version of Plastic Animation Paper for Windows for free. It’s a nice pencil test/clean up tool though I never personally warmed up to its interface. It isn’t open source like Pencil, but it is free.

Hope that helps.