After some research I've discovered some 2D animation software that seems to be frequently recommended.
Flipbook seems to be a good, simple piece of software with some nice features that really help with efficiency and adding that extra level of polish. It apparently has been used on everything from Disney's Enchanted to The Simpsons Movie to the Wild Thornberries, and there are various videos of well-known animators - including Don Bluth - recommending it. After watching a couple of tutorials to get a general idea of how it works, I can see that it is potentially a good choice for me.
I have downloaded a trial from the official site. My general impression of it was quite positive, it has a nice and simple interface and there's no overload of extra unnecessary tools which is what I find annoying on other software. My only gripe was that for some reason despite it being pixel rather than vector based, I find it hard to draw as well on anything that isn't Photoshop - a possibility would be to draw the frames in PS then transfer them to FlipBook to sort out the timing and colouring. There's also a tool for scanning in paper-based drawings. I'm aware in a professional environment I'd be expected to adapt to new software, so I'm willing to practice getting used to it.
- Short leaning curve
- Pixel-based rather than vector-based so allows a more traditional look
- Allows you to draw with a tablet or scan/capture traditionally drawn frames
- Drawing allows pressure sensitivity, and you can choose between free drawing or 'smart' drawing which smooths out curves
- Includes vertical timing sheet, with each row being a frame and each column being a layer
- Allows the addition of sound tracks, which is especially useful for lipsyncing
- Extensive colour selection, and when you change a colour this change automatically applies to other frames
- Can easily organise and edit timing of frames
- When seeing examples of work produced in FlipBook, I noticed it tends to be very clean and flat, though I suppose that's more to do with artistic preference than the program. I would be able to add texture and other artistic effects in After Effects.
- Lack of brush choice
- Something that kept happening was a small moment of lag when I tried to draw, so at times it was very difficult to sketch roughly as it kept 'sticking'. Also, sometimes it wouldn't detect the pressure at all so I'd have to keep trying to draw the same area. I'm not sure what the cause of this would have been as it sometimes would work fine, but it definitely would be difficult to draw good sketches with this repeatedly occurring.
(ignore the terrible drawing)
There seem to be a lot of positive testimonies about projects produced in this program so I'll consider it an option, I'm mainly concerned about not being able to produce as good quality drawings as I maybe would on other programs or on paper.