So, with Cartoon Animator 4.2 Pipeline on 50% sale until the end of June, I was asked… what drawing tools still output .SWF in 2020? A few, and one 3D software too.
Obviously the following is about outputting static 2D drawings of relative simplicity and toony-ness, for drag-and-drop into Cartoon Animator 4.2 Pipeline. Yes, I know Flash animation is obsolete etc etc.
* The old Flash drawing and authoring software itself, the best of which is reputed to be Adobe Flash CS6. Its successor is apparently Adobe Animate, with a horrible UI.
* PhotoLine. Been around for decades, constantly developed from Germany, never publicised or marketed. A reasonable price for a perfectly capable graphics/vector editor and extremely lightweight (take note, Photoshop). The only problem is that the interface elements are offputtingly microscopic when you start it up. Changing them is deeply buried in File | Options…
But once the icon size is increased, it can look pretty good…
Apparently you can edit the interface icons, if you want it looking exactly like Photoshop, hem hem.
It also has Actions, just like Photoshop. And can run Photoshop plugins. For $66. A nice find.
* Serif’s DrawPlus (later replaced by Affinity Designer, with the .SWF export said to be removed there). The old DrawPlus is perfectly capable and is available as an X3/X4 DVD (or higher, 2015’s X8 being the most recent) for pocket-money prices on eBay. It seems the ideal solution for those on a tight budget, re: balancing price/power.
* Also, Poser can render and save to the .SWF format. It’s not a drawing software, obviously, but good to know. See my older post on this blog, on wrangling a .SWF from Poser.
* Electric Rain’s old Swift 3D 6.0 (last updated summer 2009) could import 3D models and export .SWF. It was stand-alone Windows software, and mostly seems to have been used as “a spinning 3D logo maker”, though the RAViX engine was quite capable of doing sophisticated CAD-like line art with shading, and version 4.5 introduced a funkier little ‘pen’ setting for basic doodle-like renders.
* Creature House Expression 3.3. Free, nice tools, but appears to output the wrong type of .SWF for CTA.
Others, all relatively expensive and with learning curves:
* CorelDRAW. Probably a good choice for advanced artists, but bear in mind that Cartoon Animator requires relatively simple vectors.
* Smith Micro’s Anime Studio, now Moho. Poser import, and exports to MotionArtist, at least to Moho 13.0.x but probably not after.
* Toon Boom, the rival to Moho.
* Adobe Illustrator. Urgh.
‘Software say NO’:
* LibreOffice Draw. Claims to do .SWF, but the test output was empty.
* Inkscape. Doesn’t do the .SWF format, and an ancient plugin no longer works.
* Vector Magic. Nope.
* Flip Boom. A $40 Toon Boom for kids, very easy to use and with .SWF export. Sadly this is utterly unavailable now.
* Pencil 2D. Once said to have .SWF export, but that feature is now nowhere to be found when tested.
* Synfig, free open-source animation software with drawing tools. Once said to have .SWF output, but it didn’t when tested…
So the winner is… 2015’s DrawPlus X8.