Pencil2D Animation Software Review


Pencil2D Animation program users can produce 2D sketches of cartoons and animations. Pencil2D is an open-source animation program covered by the GNU (General Public license). It means you can use it for both personal and professional applications. It is rather simple to use Pencil2D, as you will see in the following sections of the post. Both expert users and beginning animators can make use of it.

Pencil2D Animation Software

You can store your animations in bitmap or vector drawings with Pencil2D, which also uses a raster/vector process to handle animations effectively. When using Pencil2D, some acceptable file types are PNG, JPEG, BMP, TIFF, etc. for photos and AVI, MP4, GIF, and other formats for movies. It works with Linux, Mac OS X, Windows, and FreeBSD as well.

Pencil2D user interface

Here is a brief review of the user interface and some useful tools and features. As before we get into the actual Pencil2D animation tutorial on how to make animations:

1:White Board

When you initially open Pencil2D, you will see a central whiteboard with controls, tools, and features around it. This is where you will construct the bulk of the animation.


The Tools feature, which can be found on the left, has all the tools you need to define and sketch out a cartoon or animation. That includes a brush, pencil, eraser, and bucket tool to add color.

3:Option Box

You can choose whether to display or hide the options window, which lets you specify the properties of the tools you’re using, below the tools box. When using a brush, for instance, you can change the brush’s thickness, the color’s brightness or darkness, and other properties.

4:Display Box

You can alter the sketch you’ve done on the whiteboard by flipping it right or left. Applying onion skin to earlier designs, and more in the Display box, which is located beneath the choices window.

5:Color palette

You can add any available colors to your drawings from this page.

6:Color Box

The color box, allows you to select particular color shades from the color wheel. The color palette is located directly beneath.

7:Timeline Panel

The bitmap layer, vector layer, and camera layer are the first layers you may add to your animation using Pencil2D, making it one of the most crucial features. Additionally, you can duplicate, delete, and add crucial frames to a video animation.

Pencil2D User interface

Let’s Animate

These buttons are located immediately above the timeline. Here, you can duplicate, remove, and add keyframes.

Make sure you are on frame 1 and the bitmap layer. Choose the pencil tool, then change the width to 4 or 5. In the middle of the field, trace a little circle.

Observe frame 2. select Add key-frame from the menu. To the right of the first circle, make a smaller one.

Observe frame 3. select Add key-frame from the menu. Just a little to the right of the second one, draw a tiny circle.

Rewind to frame 1. You have successfully created your first animation when you click the Play icon.

You don’t have to press Add key-frame each time you want a new key-frame if you don’t want to. Select Preferences from the menu. Hit the Timeline button. You select the first option, “Create a new key-frame,” though it reads “When drawing on an empty frame:”. Now, a new key-frame will be generated on each blank frame you select and begin painting on.

Let's animate.Pencil2D animation

Onion Skin

You can enable or disable onion skin to aid in the pencil2D animation process. Onion skin is the ability to observe the prior and/or following keyframes. We can customize the number of drawings to display and their transparency in the Preferences.

Onion skin, Pencil2D animation

We can see up to 60 keyframes as onion skin. But we advise that you just select one or two. Transparency is a personal preference. A reasonable range to choose from seems to be 15% to 50%.

Onion skin has an on/off button in the Display Options dock. Here, you may also choose to make the following drawings blue and the prior drawings red. This color coding is quite useful. Here is an example of a straightforward ball animation with red and blue onion skin.

If you click this button on the timeline, the onion skin will display the previous and following frames rather than keyframes. You can see that this is useless in the next example.


You frequently require the same things done when animating. To do that, you might switch back and forth between the Pencil and Eraser tools.

Pencil2D has shortcuts for the majority of its tasks.  Which you can view in the menu or the Preferences. Exploring the Preferences

Preferences.Pencil2D Animation

You can access this list by clicking the Shortcut symbol near the bottom.

shortcut.Pencil2D animation

Edit the Shortcuts

You can adjust each of these shortcuts to suit your needs.

The tool shortcuts are as follows:

Edit shortcuts>Pencil2D animation

If you want to change the shortcut for the Select tool, which is represented by the letter “V”. You can either do it directly by selecting ToolSelect in the shortcuts window and then moving the cursor to the shortcut text box and typing the new shortcut.  Or you can delete the existing shortcut by pressing “Clear” before entering the new one.

Here, we want to enter the new shortcut after clearing the one for ToolSelect. After putting the cursor there, we press “E.” Unfortunately, the Eraser tool has already claimed the letter “E,” thus you have the option of overwriting the shortcut or canceling.

FAQ about Pencil2D

1:Some.dll files are missing, which prevents the program from starting!

Depending on the file’s name, this error may happen for several different causes. For some of the most typical situations, please refer to the Troubleshooting Guide. Please let us know if your problem isn’t resolved there.

2:What are “Nightly Builds,” I’ve heard of them.

“Nightly Builds.” are the most recent, experimental versions that reflect the stage of the pencil2D application development. If you prefer to experiment with new things, nightly builds will provide you access to the most recent features and problem fixes. However, you must realize that the nightly builds are not the final ones and occasionally break more easily.

3:How can I alter the canvas size?

The camera is a bright rectangle in the center of Pencil2D’s limitless canvas. And a preview area when you export your animation to a video and image is there. Therefore, when you double-click on the camera layer, the camera, not the canvas, is scaled. On the infinite canvas, you can draw outside the camera’s frame, move the camera in any direction, and specify keyframes for the camera positions. Please refer to this tutorial for further information.

4:Is there a text tool in Pencil2D?

Unfortunately not at this time, however, the management is aware of the need and will try to integrate it as soon as other pressing problems have been resolved.

5:Are there any shape tools in Pencil2D?

Unfortunately not at this time, however, the management is aware of the need and will try to integrate it as soon as other pressing problems have been resolved.

6:Why can’t I import videos, exactly?

The software management is currently working to add this capability, which has not yet been done. Visit our Official Feature Request Tracker to learn more about upcoming features.

Pros and Cons of Pencil2D


  • Beginner-friendly – The user interface is straightforward to use. This tool is simple enough for even a novice to learn in a short time.
  • Free 2D animation program that is entirely open source. The use of this program is free of charge. Cross-Platform: This technology works with any device or operating system. 
  •  Supports vector and raster graphics.  We can animate both assets that are vector or raster. 
  • Free to use even for commercial purposes! It’s entirely free!
  • Comparatively functions well even on computers with a tight budget.
  •  A powerful computer is not required for this application to function properly. 
  • Yes, it performs admirably on conventional systems as well.


  •  The animation must be done frame by frame, which requires a lot of patience and time.
  •  No support for 3D. only able to produce 2D animations.
  •  Fewer options than those offered by competing animation programs.
  •   Professional studios don’t frequently employ them.

How to install Penci2D

Open a terminal and type the following command to update the package index on your local server:

sudo apt-get update -y

Run the following command in a terminal to install Pencil2D: 

pencil2d Sudo apt-get install -y


We can make traditional animations using the drawing program Pencil2D animation, which has a very user-friendly interface. It is open source, free, and distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License. This app has managed to establish itself as one of the most effective drawing software options for animating cartoons using both conventional methods and innovative tools for handling bitmap and vector drawings after more than ten years on the market.

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