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I'm currently developing a simple 2D game using LibGDX. The core game logic is in place, but the assets are simply taking forever to create.

My current method to create each animation frame is to hand-draw it on paper, then scan it in to Photoshop. There, I color each image in and sharpen it up. Currently, to create a single animation with 5-10 frames it takes many many hours.

Is there a better way to go about creating animation sprites without drawing each one from scratch? Are there any better tools for asset creation than Photoshop?

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    Can you show us an example of a few frames of an animation? – JohnB Mar 4 '15 at 22:31
  • Are your animations so complex that you must "throw away" everything for each frame? I'd draw and scan a few key frames only, and do the tweens on the computer. – usr2564301 Mar 5 '15 at 0:15
  • Tweens? Recommend any programs for doing that? That sounds like exactly what I'm looking for – mongy910 Mar 5 '15 at 0:48
  • Um. I meant that I'd load, say, image #1 and image #5 into Photoshop and then use that to draw the tweens, duplicating parts that are useful. Using layers effectively ought to help there. – usr2564301 Mar 5 '15 at 1:55
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There are quite many animation apps that might help you. It's just that hand animation is tedious nonetheless. I would personally use either

  • TV paint
  • Sketchbook pro, because it's cheap

possibly some 3d app for mockups as well. Since you do hand drawing you would still need software for cleanup; I would use Photoshop. I would consider inking entirely in digital, then you would need a stylus.

As jongware points in his commnent you may want to do tweens in digital. Doing tweens may be automated somewhat but don't count on it.* Or in hand animation, usually one hires a junior animator to do this as it's just placing lines in between the keyframes you have drawn. This is quite traditional animation know-how from before computers.

It may be a bit late in the game to completely rethink your workflow however as getting it up to speed may take a while.

* you can use any number of morphing tools to do this.

PS a sustained 3-5 frames per hour sounds reasonable if it's a complex animation with all other overhead.

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Are there any better tools for asset creation than Photoshop?

If you're creating pixel art animations, you might try Aseprite (free, probably a good one to try first), GraphicsGale (free, although a version with additional export options is not), or Pickle (7-day trial, $30 USD). I'm a fan of Aseprite, although its low-resolution interface design takes a bit of getting used to.

If you're not creating pixel art, you could try Toon Boom Studio. It's powerful but more expensive ($250 USD, with discounts for students).

EDIT

My mistake: it turns out that Aseprite now costs $10, although older versions are still available for free.

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