Natron for 2d animation

Today, 2d animation industry standard compositing tool is After Effects + PSoft plugins.[^1]
But AE is slow, doesn’t have nodes, no floating point color support…

I experimented with Natron and I think it is great. Have better FX, nodes, linear workflow, color spaces…
It is 20~30% better, yet it lacks some features. I will explain this later.

In modern 2d animation(mostly in Asia), cleaned-up drawings are scanned into computer. But they are not ‘clean’ data. There are dots, noises,… but most of all lines have blurry edges so it makes it harder to paint them. So scanned datas are ‘aliased’ and painted like this:
Painting aliased drawing is very simple. It is like using fill tool in MSPaint.
And this painted data is imported and AAd in compositing SW. (mostly AE) FXs are added before AA or after AA.
We can do the same in Natron with more accuracy and possibility. But there are some problems:

  1. Simple Color separation /keying

In 2d animation compositing, lot of tricks are used with non-AAd image. Specific colors are separated or erased and composited afterwards. Compositor can separate (255, 123, 123) and add bloom effect to only that color, AA it and re-composite it to original image. And almost always full-white color(255, 255, 255) is erased.
The problems are workaround is needed to separate color, and keying (to erase) only certain color is very confusing in Natron. Keyer nodes change original color and erase more than one colors. We need more simple method. Only one color at a time, no un-understandable parameters like gain or tolerance are needed.

  1. Invert Alpha

This is very important too.

  1. Blur between color to fake gradient

This effect is frequently used in animation. But I don’t see this feature in Natron.

Anyway I am not here to tell bad news. I am positive about Natron’s possibility. That said I am just making suggestion. If devs are interested in this, they might make features for 2d animation. If not, I can make plugins myself (only If I have enough time)

Different opinions are welcome!

[^1]: (In Japan and Korea. I don’t know much about how things are outside Asia)

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I think feedback like this is valuable, thank you for sharing.

Free and open source software can thrive if industry embraces it and gives back. After Effects is fairly expensive, especially if you need a lot of licenses. If you can convince a studio to use Natron and pay a Natron developer what the after effects licenses would’ve cost, then the application can start to improve. When another studio joins and contributes code and/or money, then inertia increases. Soon you have a great application that you have full control over.

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  1. There are many options.
  • The easiest option option is IDKeyer from the community plugins I may make a standard plugin from this PyPlug one of these days.
  • Did you try HSVTool? set the src color to your desired color using the color picker, and then reduce the hue/saturation/value rolloff parameters. the output alpha should contain your mask.
  1. Use the Invert node , and check only the A checkbox. be careful with alpha premultiplication (see tutorials on handling alpha premultiplication)
  2. Can you please describe this more precisely (before/after image, documentation, tutorial video, etc.)
  1. and 2. : Thanks for the tip! :grinning: Maybe I can make ‘wrapper’ node with that.
    for 3, I will explain later.

Here’s a thing: when I use IDKeyer, it does not change preview.(viewer) HSVTool does not effect alpha channel, so I had to merge with ‘add’ blending mode later. So I think both should effect alpha channel.

And IDKeyer made an error. (I will explain this in Github Issue page)

I made this: Hand drawn + compositied in Natron.
But I was unable to re-open the project file because Natron raised many errors when a opened it.


I have made wrapper node for keying and seperating color.

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I experience a bit with Synfig + Natron

my tools for animation:

Anyway, still working on my addon.

I also found this:
Here’s a nice PyPlug project if someone wants to play with it: translate the CoveragePass and ColorPickerID Nuke gizmos (or at least some of the functionality in there) to Natron.

Fabrice Fernandez (fabiof17 on github) said that he may work on it. I don’t know if he’s following this forum (and I left FB for good).

This effect would like me in natron

maybe when GMIC 2.2.4 is released, but I’m not sure it will work nicely in Natron (remember that GMIC is mainly for still images)

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I have sequences of images of animation with transparent background.I think that could work.

That will be my first post here so i would like to say hello for everyone:)
Im beginner in natron software. I would like to do animation 2d where the car will move on the map.
I made first animations, but by using transform it take a lot of time to move the car excatly on road.
I saw that it is possible to use tracking option, but it is possible, to add an icon of car which will move throught track which i will add?

Thank you

Hello, it is not possible to transform path into keyframes in Natron, so I think you should track every point in tracker node and export match-move transform node.