Customized MyPaint gains animation for a new open movie project

Customized MyPaint gains animation for a new open movie project

One of the reasons we like open movies is because they are real world tests for free software. Blender Institute's movies push Blender up the production curve, so does Morevna project re Synfig Studio. And just like big studios develop in-house solutions for their big animation projects, open movies lead to interesting developments as well. This time it's about MyPaint which is getting a traditional animation tool.

Without much fuzz here comes a demo uploaded yesterday by Manuel Quiсones, developer of this feature:

First and foremost this isn't an official work by MyPaint team. It's a customization that is likely to stay a standalone project or become a plug-in when MyPaint's architecture allows that. The source code currently lives in Gitorious, so you can freely clone and build it.

Okay, but what about its relation to an open animation project? Yes, the work was done to meet the needs of artists from Argentina working on a new open animation project, "Viaje a la tierra del Quebracho".

As you might suspect, we couldn't stand aside and asked several questions to Manuel who is both director of the film and developer of the new MyPaint feature.

So what is the animation movie about?

Well, here is the synopsis.

A boy starts an adventure following the railroad tracks, guided by a dream, and his curious and playful spirit. In his particular ordeal he will discover historical events that relate to the hard life of the forest loggers, an impetuous, exploitative company, and the displacement of the aboriginal inhabitants, in a story that brings alive the identity of different villages that are one. What is the past? Becoming aware of it, can change the history? Can we feel affection and belonging to that which we do not live but, strangely, we identify?

One of the early sketches

"Travel to the land of Quebracho" is a short film animation produced in Santa Fe, Argentina, that recovers the reality of so-called forest villages, and legends that emerged there, giving life to those silent witnesses that well refer us to a recent and significant past recreated in fantastic key.

You can watch a short from early August:

What's your toolbox and workflow in the project?

The principal technique is 2D, traditional, hand-drawn animation. There are also some elements in 3D. For the former we use our add-on of MyPaint. For the latter we use Blender which is also involved in the final composition, where we join characters and backgrounds.

Compositing in process

Animation is made in the traditional way, we are five people drawing: some do keyframing, others do the inbetweens. After that they are shaded, and after that they are painted in a layer behind the line and shade.

Compositing output

Backgrounds are hand-painted in acrylic over cardboard. Some are as small as an A4 sheet, some are really large, when they need detail and the camera pans in the sequence. They are scanned, and the scans joined in Hugin panorama stitcher.

A work in progress capture

How large is your team and what's the status of the project?

We are a team of 15 people. The group behind this project is called TEMBE, and the team who does 3D/Blender work is Licuadora Studios (the studio that did the rain sequence in Sintel). Here is how far we've gone:

  • 1/5 of animations left to do
  • 1/4 of backgrounds left to do
  • 4/5 of the composition left to do
  • 4/5 of the sound work to do
  • original music almost complete (will be CC too)

The team during a location shooting trip

Part of the group did a travel to the villages they are trying to picture in the film.

What about your MyPaint customization?

I started working on it in March and temporarily stopped in July, because animation itself began taking most of my time. I don't have the time to coordinate development right now, not until the project is finished, which is in a month or so. But any changes are welcome! And it's free software. The first step will be to update the code to match MyPaint from current Git. After that, there is a list of things that I'd like to implement (, )currently listed in the README.animation file).

Does your project need any kind of assistance?

We are looking for sponsorship, because we are running out of money. We are partially backed by our local government on this project, yet it's more than five months of work, and we have less than US$ 10.000. We are planning to release all source materials under one of Creative Common licenses for people to study how we did the movie. Maybe some organization interested in high quality CC content and free software would be willing to help? You can contact us at

Edit: the team now has a PayPal account and accepts donations. Please check their blog.

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6 Responses. Comments closed for this entry.

  1. Wow! I love it!
    Now we have several “almost there” traditionally drawn animation packages for linux:
    This one which seems very interesting. Using Mypaints brushes gives a solid toolbox.
    Krita; there’s an animation extension developed for it as well. Seems similar to this Mypaint one.
    Pencil, great for quick sketches and animatics, got lots of bugs though and not as great painting tools, like brushes and materials.
    Tupi, up and running 2D package. Needs more development before it can be used in production.

  2. Very cool :-) hope it can become a plugin, otherwise I’m guessing it’ll be hard to sustain.

    They could do a Kickstarter perhaps? And add some flattr buttons, though I’m not sure how much those help …

  3. @d_rylander And would you believe I’ve never heard of an animation plug-in for Krita before? :) As for Tupi, personally I always treated it more like 2D vector animation tool.

    @unhammer IIRC, both Kickstarter and Flattr rely on PayPal. If this really is the case, I guess it needs checking how well PayPal operates in Argentina. Sadly, they don’t treat all countries equally.

  4. @d_rylander, @unhammer thank you very much for your comments.  I have translated a post in the project’s site, there you can read more about the development of the add-on:

    And I have added a PayPal button at the top of the site.

  5. (btw, this blog thing really should notify on new comments on posts you’ve already commented on …)

  6. @unhammer New CMS will do that :)