What is SlimAnimation?

Slim Animation is a great way to creatively express your ideas, promote your interests and share your thoughts and perspectives with others through animations. Animations are created using a frame by frame technique, where each frame has incremental movements in objects so that when the frames are displayed sequentially the objects appear to move. An animation can be as short or long as you like, by consisting of only one frame or multiple frames.

Creating an account

Creating an account is free, and it provides a dedicated area to create and publish projects on the slimanimation.com website. Click on the Sign In button at the top right of any slimanimation.com page and follow the links to create an account.

Creating an animation

Start making an animation by clicking the Create button at the top of any slimanimation.com page. This will open the SlimAnimation app with a single frame. Add objects to this frame as described below and then click the Append button to copy the contents of the current frame to a new frame. The new frame is represented by a thumbnail image added to bottom of the frame roll on the right side of the application. The Insert button can be used to copy the current content to a new frame just below the currently active frame. Manipulate the objects in the new frame or add objects to it. Repeat this process to add more frames to your project.

Selecting a frame or frames

To select an existing frame for editing, click on the corresponding thumbnail in the frame roll. When a frame is selected, its contents are displayed on the canvas in the center of the application. A range of frames can be selected for deletion or copy/paste operations by holding down the shift key while clicking a second frame. When a range of frames is selected, only the root frame in the selection range is displayed on the canvas.

Changing the display time for a frame
Change the time (in milliseconds) that a frame is displayed, by clicking on the the display time in the bottom right hand corner of the frame's thumbnail in the frame roll. The default display time is 200 milliseconds (one-fifth of a second). For frames containing text objects, the display time should be increased to a minimum of 1000 ms (1 second) or more depending on the amount of text to be read. Otherwise, the text object should be repeated across multiple frames to give the viewer enough time to read the text.

Previewing an animation

To preview your animation while developing it, click the play button on top of the frame roll.

Adding an object to a frame

A list of available objects, which can be added to a selected frame, is shown in the palette on the left side of the application. The palette includes the following objects:

  • Stick figure (aka Slim)
  • Circle
  • Line Segment
  • Rectangle
  • Text
  • Drawing
  • Image
Select an object in the palette by clicking it, and then click on the canvas to add the object to the frame.

For simple objects such as stick figures and shapes, the objects will be directly added to the frame. When text and image objects are added, the user is prompted to specify the content of the object first. For text objects, the text content can be typed or pasted into an input box. For image objects, the user can upload an image from their computer, search Open Clip Art for images or select an image that has already been used in the project. Once an image is specified, the user has the option to pan, zoom or crop the image before inserting it into the frame.

When a drawing object is added, a toolbar is attached below the canvas. The tools available include a pen, eraser and undo/redo buttons. With the pen selected, click and drag on the canvas to add a stroke. With the eraser selected, click and drag on the canvas to clear the corresponding content of the drawing. The actions of stroking and erasing can be "undone" and "redone" using the undo and redo buttons in the toolbar. Click the Stop Drawing button to finish the drawing process and add the content to the frame.

Selecting an object or objects within a frame

To make changes to an object or to copy/paste an object, it must be selected. When an object is first added to the canvas it is automatically selected. An object can be selected afterwards by simply clicking it. Every object also has a gray anchor that is always visible in the application. Clicking on the anchor will select the object and bring it to the forefront of the frame.

Multiple objects can be selected by holding down the shift key while clicking objects. In addition, the Edit menu has a Select All option which can be used to select all objects in a frame. When multiple objects are selected, changes will affect all selected objects as will operations such as deletion or copy/paste.

The way in which one or more selected objects is rendered on a frame can be changed using the Arrange menu. The Bring Forward option brings the selected objects one step forward in the rendering sequence. The Bring to Front option brings the selected object(s) to the foreground of the frame in front of all other objects. The Send Backward option moves the selected objects one step backward in the rendering sequence. The Send to Back option sends the selected objects to the background of the frame behind all other objects. In addition to these options, the Make all Visible option moves all objects to a visible position within the frame. This option is most useful when an object is dragged off the canvas and is no longer visible.

Manipulating objects

An individual object or a sequence of selected objects can be moved by simply clicking and dragging the object(s). Arrow keys can also be used to shift selected objects vertically and horizontally. A selected object will be displayed with red nodes that allow for other types of manipulation. Dragging a red node will rotate the corresponding element. Holding down the Ctrl/Cmd key while dragging a red node will rotate and resize the element.

Double click text, drawing or image objects to modify their contents. The interface for modifying the content of these types of objects is the same as that for adding them to a frame described above.

The color properties of selected objects can be modified using the color selectors labeled as Line, Fill and Text above the canvas. In addition, the font and font size of text objects can be modified using controls adjacent to the color selectors.

Hold down the Alt key while clicking a red node and then drag to add a connected line segment to the node. Add the Shift key to add a circle to the node. This feature is currently only available with simple objects such as stick figures, segments, circles and rectangles.

Edit operations

The Edit menu provides a number of standard operations such as undo, redo, cut, copy, paste and delete. These operations also have shortcut buttons located above the canvas. Cut, copy, paste and delete operations will apply to selected objects within the currently selected frame if there are any. Otherwise, these operations will apply to the range of selected frames. The Clear option will remove all objects from the currently selected frame.

Saving an animation project

The File menu offers a Save to Projects option that can be used to save work to the user's Projects listing at slimanimation.com. There is also a shortcut button (labeled with icon) for this purpose located above the canvas. A saved project can be accessed for further editing under the Projects listing linked under the user name in the upper right corner of all slimanimation.com pages.

In addition to this functionality, the File menu also offers the Save as ... to Projects option that allows for saving your current work as a new project under the Projects listing. This option is most useful when creating a copy of an existing project or in cases where you modify a project, and you want to store it without overwriting your original project.

Publishing an animation

An animation can be shared with others by publishing it using the Publish to Gallery option under the File menu. A shortcut button for this purpose labeled with the icon is also available above the canvas. A published animation will appear within the user's Gallery lsiting, and it will be added to the user-contributed gallery at slimanimation.com so that it is visible to the general public. Pages containing published animations can be viewed without a slimanimation.com account. These pages also contain links for sharing via social media, text message, etc. A preview image consisting of the first frame of the animation will typically be shown as part of the link. Viewers will be brought back to slimanimation.com to view the animation.

Downloading an animation as a GIF or video

Users with premium access can also download animation projects as GIF or video files that easily embed and play directly in web sites, social media posts, text messages, etc. Viewers can consume this content without being linked back to slimanimation.com. The Download GIF/Video option under the File menu and the shortcut button labeled with the icon can both be used for this purpose.