Blue Pencil

Sketchpad for Maya

Blue Pencil is a plugin for Maya that brings advanced 2D drawing to the 3D viewport. With support for layers, transformations, auto-keying and more, Blue Pencil is a multi-purpose tool that is useful for, but not limited to:

  • Grease Pencil - planning, annotation and illustration
  • Animation - thumbnails, rough blocking and arc tracking
  • Model layout and topology planning
  • Shot review tool
  • Tutorials and screencasting

Images

Media

Visit the Blue Pencil channel on Vimeo to see more of the features available with Blue Pencil. Better yet, download the demo and try it today.

Overview

Draw, sketch, paint and animate. Create thumbnails, block shots, track motion curves and review scenes. With Blue Pencil, the creative possibilites are endless.

Plan and communicate ideas quickly. Make notes directly on a work in progress instead of having to do it in a separate place. Sharing is simple since all Blue Pencil data is stored directly in the Maya scene file.

Drawing

Designed to be easy and intuitive, Blue Pencil provides a familiar toolset with many of the features found in popular paint programs. Drawing tools include the pencil, brush, eraser and eyedropper. Configurable options include color, line thickness, opacity and hardness.

Animation

Block out shots with responsive drawing and real-time playback, Blue Pencil removes the need for playblasting. Quickly create new frames with the included auto-key feature, display neighboring frames with the lightbox (onion-skinning) and quickly navigate keyframes with Maya's timeline hotkeys

Blue Pencil makes it easy to adjust the timing of drawings. The keyframes are visible in the timeline/graph editor and can be retimed using the same methods as regular keys. For advanced retiming operations Blue Pencil includes a custom retiming tool.

Layers

Blue Pencil layers add an extra level of control to drawing. Animation layers are keyable for drawings that change over time, draw layers are static and display the same drawing on every frame and fill layers display a solid color or imported image.

Layers are flexible and can be added to any camera. They can be hidden, repositioned, above or below, other layers, and easily moved to different cameras.

Technical

As a native C++ plugin, Blue Pencil is fast, clean and integrates seamlessly into Maya's dependency graph. It does not require any 3rd party libraries, supporting scripts, hacks, or complex setup steps.

The Blue Pencil node is non-renderable. Drawings are displayed in playblasts if they are visible in the viewport but are not included in rendered images.

Additionally, Blue Pencil provides a robust set of MEL commands allowing for the creation of custom tools and utility scripts or for integration into a production pipeline.

Feature Comparison

General Blue Pencil Maya Grease Pencil
Supported versions Maya 2011 and above Maya 2014
Familiar 2d tools
Independent image resolution
Undo/redo
Layers
Layer types (draw, animate and image)
Transform Tool
Retiming Tool
Right-click context menu
Drawing data stored in Maya scene file
Drawing
Toolbox
Multiple drawing tools
Eraser
Eyedropper tool
Adjustable color and line thickness
Wacom support
Layer manager
Independent layer opacity
Move layers between cameras
Translate, rotate and scale selected area
Cut, copy and paste selected area
Straight line between points
Animation
Add/remove keys
Duplicate previous key
Auto-key
Lightbox (Onion skinning)
Lightbox color override
Cut/copy/paste keys (current camera)
Cut/copy/paste keys (between cameras)
Cut/copy/paste keys (between layers)
Retime in timeline or graph editor Timeline only
Advanced retiming tool