Tips for Using Anime Studio

Heyo. I’m back at Triggerfish in Cape Town. Look:


Above is me sitting at a table pretending to work.

I wrote a post (edited by Kayla Cytron-Thaler) with some tips for using Anime Studio:

Smith-Micro also posted an Anime Studio work of mine on Twitter every day this last week. That’s nice.

Post below:

Smith Micro is launching a series of weekly Featured Artists to promote skilled digital artists who use our software; Anime Studio, Poser, and Manga Studio aka Clip Studio Paint. These featured artists are also promoted on our Twitter page and a piece of their work will be shared on Twitter every day of their featured week. Thanks for reading. Enjoy!

Mike Scott is an independent animator from South Africa, living in a sleepy coastal town called Plettenberg Bay where the beaches are awesome and the surfing’s great. Scott has a vast range of impressive animations in his portfolio, which includes animating the Goldfish music videos and creating a pilot for a show for Nickelodeon. He is also a part-time music noodler and drummer. He started using Anime Studio aka. Moho back in 2006 and has been enjoying and using it in his workflow for many projects since.

Useful tips for using Anime Studio Pro

I made a lot of my Goldfish music videos using a combination of Photoshop and Anime Studio. I create the images in Photoshop and then animate them in Anime Studio. Anyway, here is a list of some tips for using Anime Studio.


*Sometimes* it helps to have a game-plan when animating. Sure, it’s fun to go straight in and tinker without a road map because the end result is going to be a surprise to you. However, sometimes it helps to have a storyboarded scene to help you focus on what is vital to the scene, like what size the character should be, where the characters should be positioned, and making sure this scene links up logically with the previous and next scenes for continuity. This strategy helps create a fairly stress-free animation process.

Prep in Photoshop for Anime Studio.

I use Photoshop and Anime Studio together quite a bit. I create the assets in Photoshop by drawing them with a Wacom tablet and then animate the assets in Anime Studio. I don’t really use Anime Studio’s native drawing tools – they’re vector based and they’re *pretty* good for creating certain looks, but I’m a lot faster with Photoshop’s raster drawing tools and a Wacom tablet. I generally find that the clean vector look loses a lot of charm which an imperfect raster drawing retains.

In Photoshop, before I run a script to export all the layers to PNG files to be imported into Anime Studio, I rename them all (eg, LEG_L, LEG_R, BODY etc…). Next, I make sure that layers that should be merged are merged, clean up the organization if there are groups involved. I also do “housekeeping” in Photoshop because it avoids hassles down the line in Anime Studio.

Groups (Probably the most important tip).

This is quite an important tip. Anime Studio doesn’t have independent controls for Horizontal and Vertical timelines, so I put my characters into a couple groups. A main group, for example, ‘MAN’ that’ll hold everything, then a parent group of that called ‘Rotate’, Next I put the character into a parent group called ‘V’ for vertical and also in a parent group called ‘H’ for Horizontal. That way, I get a lot more control when I animate a character walking: I do the up-and-down looping action first on the V-group and then add two linear key frames on the H-group for the horizontal movement to get him to walk across the screen. Try it – you may find it a lot less headache-y than dozens of key frames cluttering a single timeline.

If you can, read the full manual and watch the included tutorials.

Alright, reading manuals can be a little painful. When Anime Studio was still called Moho I read the whole manual from start to finish making sure I understood everything. Now, the updated manual covers a lot more so I’m not sure how practical it is to read the whole thing. It is important to get acquainted with the program. You may be surprised at the numerous ways of approaching an animation. There’s also a great forum called ‘The LostMarble forum‘ comprised of (mostly) helpful and encouraging people. Don’t be afraid to ask a question or share your work.

Don’t bone everything – not everything needs to move.

One of the first temptations when finding out about bones is trying to move everything, but in reality this is not necessary. If anything it can be distracting. Boning *everything* from a character’s toes to ear-wiggles will result in a very versatile, but overly-complicated rig. Most of the time ‘more is less’. A well-designed character with less bones may be better than a character with 1000 bones. You want to direct the viewer’s eye to whatever’s important in the scene.

3D stuff is cool, but can be an unnecessary time-sink.

Anime Studio allows for some cool faux-3D effects like fancy face rigs with 360 degrees of rotation, but that is not necessary. Sometimes it looks better to have a limited number of head poses and make sure they work as individual poses. When things get TOO smooth like a pupil moving from one side of an eye to the other with too many in-between frames it can look floaty. It’s a neat technical feat, but in practical use a frame-to-frame swap works just as well (if not better).

Don’t worry about bone constraints and bone physics.

Bone constraints and bone physics – they’re fun to play around with, but in operation can be more meddlesome than helpful. When you’re animating a scene you’re likely to be placing bone positions manually and want to have control of each bone, which tends to throw constraints and physics out the window. There are *some* instances where constraints are helpful, like when there’s a long daisy-chain of bones (like a rope) and tweaking the bone on the end results in the first bone turning too much. The physics of a bone wiggling around can be distracting and looks floaty anyway.

The Floaty Look.

There’s a particular Anime Studio ‘floaty’ look, which is caused by the default ‘smooth’ interpolation between key frames. Beginners get this look and wonder how to counter it. This is where a good understanding of animation principles is in order, which leads me on to my next point:

Read ‘The Animator’s Survival Kit’ by Richard Williams.

It’s a great book and presents a lot of the basic concepts of animation in an understandable way. Reading through it will not only allow you to get much more out of Anime Studio, but you’ll also be able to apply the knowledge to other animation software. No matter how far software automation progresses, there’s still no replacement for a solid understanding of manual animation.

I hope this has been useful.

Interesting note – I was reading an article about Tom Moore, the director of the Oscar-nominated ‘Song of the Sea’ animated film. It turns out he used Anime Studio for vehicles and effects. Not bad for a little piece of software. I’ve been using Anime Studio since 2006, when it was a 10MB piece of software called ‘Moho’.


Bubblegum Butt

Hey guys. So, what’s been happenin’? Good, good. Oh wow, that’s fantastic. Good, good. Good chat.

Some recent shenanigans. I’ve been focusing for months on a project but I’m not really allowed to show anything, so I can at least post some other little bits and pieces that I do around them project.

Ok first things, I thought this was hilarious. I saw a pic of a girl cosplaying (‘costume playing’) SuperGirl on my Facebook feed. Someone commented ‘Enji Night did it better’ and provided a link. Curious I clicked on the link and saw Enji’s cosplay. It was super good. Then I saw this animated GIF that I thought was incredible cute and endearing. So I followed her FB page and noticed she had an email address. I was about to go to bed but thought ‘why not’ and quickly doodled some guys on her pic and emailed it to her. The she posted it on her Facebook page and it got like, 2,000+ likes and loads of comments. Reading the comments, I really laughed out loud. The whole thing actually made me laugh. I still think it’s kiff and funny:


So, my MooseBox short is on the Nickelodeon App. NIIICE. You can download the app from the App Store. I think it may be geolocked to US viewers but hey.


My buddy Divina took some of my canvasses to Origin – a trance party near Cape Town. There’s a gallery there and guess what? She sold two and got some orders for my Triple Infinity design! I’m really stoked that it’s selling. I sold a biiig 1.25m x 1.25m one recently:




I found this cool web-based 3D sculpting app by Stéphane Genier. Here’s my attempt at a 3D sculpt. I call him ‘nipple-eyes':


A recent Medical Chronicle illustration:


Here are some GIFs I probably won’t use again. They were going to be for a project I’m busy with but I think I’m changing direction:





Here’s my buddy flying his drone-thing on a Plett beach. Quite kiff. Seagulls don’t dig it though, they fly up close to it and hustle it:


Some Instagram embeds, why not?

Took some slow-mo footage of a match burning. We have power cuts here in South Africa because our electricity supplier Eskom is running out of budget. The management keep giving themselves massive bonuses. That may be contributing to the problem. In fact, that kind of thinking is a worldwide issue – people at the top not taking responsibility and somehow making spam bucks while things deteriorate. And it wasn’t always like that – apparently in Greek / Roman times a person became a pillar of society by doing something useful like building a school / library and really had to uplift the community and work hard to get creds. I don’t think corruption was so rife. But really, maybe it’s always been like that. Whatever your view, there’ll be someone telling you you’re wrong. As soon as you’re able to articulate one problem, there are another 20 new problems. In the end, if you’re not careful, it can take the gumption out of a person. Of course I’m talking about myself here. There’s mad stuff going on in the world and it’s hard to not let it all get to me. But, hey. I try focus on the nice things, like health, family, nature. Even when the power goes is really nice because the town goes quiet, it’s nice to light a couple candles and read a book and not have artificial light keeping me up at ridiculous times. And the electrical hummm of the grid falls away and then I can properly chill. Anyways. Look, a match:

Ever looked closely at a candle flame? Super cool.

A video posted by mikdog (@mikdog) on

And this is me partying (better with the music on):

A video posted by mikdog (@mikdog) on

I wrote this post on pain killers because I had a tooth implant two days ago. So. It may explain rambling.




Well look at that – ‘Animation Insider’ ran an interview with me. That’s nice.


Jokes jokes jokes, simmer down, there’s still tomorrow to think about, let’s look at what’s been happening.

Firstly, I took a photo of myself working at my studio. Because I don’t really have many pictures of me working, and sometimes I spend quite a bit of time doing stuff so I thought I’d tidy the place up a bit and here:


There you go. Working. So that at least when I’m not working, this picture’s working for me.

I also found this pixel profile pic I was doing. Lol:


Then guys, oh guys wow wow wow, I’ve been spending ages working on this one thing, and it’s all under wraps for now. Here’s some random little animated GIFs I made. I was using a demo of TVPaint but MAN it’s expensive to buy and you know how we feel about pirating software, so instead I’ve been using this Photoshop panel plugin called ‘AnimDessin2′ that does a similar thing, and is free if you own Photoshop, so that’s nice:




I also finished off this song that’s been a collab with a lot of different peeps doing bits, and then I stuck it together. Anything sucky about the song is as a result of my noodling ha:

Guys, let’s do some real talk – I’ve been reading articles and such that say the world isn’t in such a good place, at least for humans and some animals that is. We’re using too many resources, not cleaning up after ourselves, disillusioned ourselves that we can do little things to fix the planet, but apparently the scale has tipped and it’s not coming back, so we’re sliding into the pit in slow-motion. Guys. What do we do about this? I mean, seriously. Just keep on doing what we’re doing? I guess we just, keep on doing what we’re doing.

If you like some good-energy chill electro, my bro has another musical outlet called DJ Holidave (his name is Dave so when you combine ‘holiday’ and ‘Dave’ that’s the thing) and you can download both of his hour-or-so-long mixes here:

Also, if you’re a South African animation creator / writer / director / producer or ALL of them, maybe check out this special opportunity for South Africans to pitch at MIFA at The Annecy International Animation Festival later this year in France – sounds good.

Plett’s been nice. Been enjoying surfing:

Some of the best surfs I've had the last few days. Summer, u da bes.

A photo posted by mikdog (@mikdog) on

Also suggested a story to that they posted. I saw someone on Twitter post this Adventure Time-y Chinese show. Apparently made by 5 friends as a passion project. I think it’s great and inspiring. It’s called ‘The Legend of Lucky Pie':