There are 4 types of images we can import into FlipBook. There are backgrounds,cels, overlays and movies.
Backgrounds are typically painted in full color on paper. They are always opaque and they always go in the back or on the bottom if you think of stacking up the images.
Cels are the line drawings that the animators draw to create the characters and objects that move to create the illusion of life. Traditionally they were always painted in solid colors but computer programs now make it possible for cels to be painted in full color too.
Overlays are also painted in full color but they are painted on transparent material to allow the background and other things to show through. These should be 32-bit images – with an alpha channel – to determine which part(s) of the image should be transparent.
Movies are like backgrounds but instead of one image holding through the entire scene, every frame can be different. They are usually full color and they go into the last or bottom level.
Each type of image needs to be imported differently to make sure you get the results you want. So there are four different videos on how to import images.
Background images can be full color, 24-bit images but they can also be gray scale if that’s what you want. Each image in the xsheet is automatically held until it is replaced by another image or stopped by inserting a blank image so you do not have to copy and paste the background image into every frame.
To import an image into the background highlight the square in the xsheet that is frame one in the background level. Then click on File> Import > Stills.
Since backgrounds can be bigger than the frame to allow you to pan and zoom on them, you have an option during the import process to scale the image to fit the frame. If you don’t turn that option on, then the size of the background is determined entirely by its resolution. It could be bigger or even smaller than the frame you’re putting it into.
Traditionally, the animator’s drawings are copied onto transparent material, called cels, and then the lines are traced over in ink so they show up well. Then the painters paint on the back of the cels so the lines are always in front and so the painters never actually touch the lines.
FlipBook duplicates this process by storing the ink and paint in separate files and editing them with separate tools. When you import pencil drawings into FlipBook, be sure to select “Import as Line Drawings” and FlipBook will automatically turn your drawings into cels.
Note: The default line color is black and on a computer the transparent part of the images shows up as white so your images will be black and white or gray scale. If you don’t want gray scale images in the foreground then you should import them as Color Overlays.
If you want to import color images into the foreground they should be 32-bit images with an alpha channel. The alpha channel determines which part of the image will be transparent to let the background and other stuff behind the image show through.
Select Import as Color Overlay. If your images don’t have an alpha channel, FlipBook can create one for you. Turn on the Keying option and set the keying value to determine which shades of white you want to become transparent. A value of 255 means it only “pure” white will become transparent. A value of 240 will also make things that are not quite “pure” white become invisible.
This is a quick and easy way to be able to see through your overlays. It is not the best way to do this. There are very expensive programs that do nothing but create alpha channels But this will do if you’re in a hurry and not too picky.
Note: If your image doesn’t have an alpha channel and you don’t let FlipBook make one for you then the image will be treated like a cel and will be converted to cel and you will only see shades of gray.
FlipBook lets you import movies into your scenes. All of the most common file formats are supported and the main thing to know about importing movies is that they should almost always be imported into the background level. In virtually every case a movie file is opaque. You can’t see “through” it. So if you don’t put it in the background it’s going to hide anything that is behind it.
Importing movies is great for lots of reasons.
You may want to import a movie so you can animate over the top of it.
You may want to import a movie so you can trace over a character to learn how to animate it on your own. Or you may want to use it as reference where it’s the foundation of what you want your character to do but then you add your own creative ideas to it.
When FlipBook imports a movie that has a soundtrack it splits off the soundtrack and creates a sound file for it since that’s how FlipBook is used to dealing with sound.
Movies are usually Windows AVI files or OS X MOV files and they are almost always opaque so they should be imported into the background.
If you import a color movie and it turns into black and white, then you probably imported it into the foreground and since it doesn’t have an alpha channel to make it an overlay FlipBook is treating it like a cel.