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Smith Micro Releases MotionArtist With Comics In Mind

With creators like those contributing to Mark Waid’s Thrillbent site, the indie Trip Fantastic and elsewhere working to add meaningful features to comics built for the web, it was only a matter of time before a company released a specialized program catering to online comic presentation. Following months of press, Smith Micro Software Inc, the makers of Manga Studio, have released the full version of MotionArtist, a new program designed to get comics moving.The program is meant to appeal to everyone “from graphic novelists and comic creators to web developers and photographers”, although most comic fans are likely to be focused on how it will be used in digital comics. According to the website, main features include “endless panel tools to slice-and-dice your comics,” HTML5 interactivity, “Motion Assist” functionality that lets users drag and drop objects for on-the-fly animating, and an easy to use “Presentation Mode.”

Smith Micro also showcases the following features specifically aimed at the comics crowd:

-Panel Shapes: Select from rectangle, oval, or polygonal, then simply click and drag to create.

-Panel-cutting (Slice): Simply click and drag across a panel to split it at any angle. Adjust the cut with too!

-Balloons & Text: Dynamic word ballons, thought bubbles, and text can be added and re-edited at anytime. Just be careful, words can hurt.

-Camera Targets: Camera Targets are used to layout imported scans of printed comic pages. You simply trace the area of the existing hand drawn comic panels and the camera moves and sizes to that location.

-Layering and Masking: Panels can be moved and layered in any order. Panel contents can also be layered in any order and are automatically masked so that they are not visible outside the bounds of the panel.

-Panel Frames: Apply brushes to panel edges to create unique and hand drawn styles. Create your own brushes and share them with your friends.

While Marvel and DC have both experimented with major motion comic releases, they’ve almost entirely been adaptations of pre-existing works, which haven’t exactly thrilled some reviewers. Building a comic around an entirely digital medium seems like it could be a better bet than just adding motion to traditional comics. You can check out Smith Micro’s official promo video to get an idea of what creators might be able to accomplish with the software. Those who’ve used Adobe Flash before will probably note some familiar capabilities, albeit potentially more targeted to comics.

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