There are any number of programs that allow children (and adults — sometimes with memes it’s hard to tell the difference…) to manipulate photos, drawings and images. My 13-year old twins are currently using the well-known Sony Vegas Movie Studio programs and have been known to download the free trials. And, of course, there are the various Photoshop programs of all different stripes.
But Smith Micro Software‘s trio of Manga Studio, Anime Studio Pro 9, and Motion Artist are three programs that I would highly recommend for kids as well. My twins have been using the first two consistently for several years and pronounced the third one, still in beta testing, very cool.
The programs are designed for adults, not children, but they are intuitive and thus easy to use, thus their popularity in my household. I’ve written about them before but Smith Micro has recently released Anime Studio Pro version 9 and it has some updated features worth mentioning.
- Editable motion graphs. The animation channels of the current layer are displayed graphically, rather than just as points along a line. This is, according to SM, one of the most requested features.
- A Smart Bones feature. It’s exactly what it sounds like, a way to reduce distortion around a character’s joints so the animation is clearer.
- Export multiple layers individually with one click. Saves time and tedium over doing them all separately.
- Improved onion skins, allowing for smoother motion.
- More scripting access and control, meaning more room to go off the reservation.
- An upgrade to 64 bit application to improve speed and memory.
It offers a fun way for kids make their own comics. The art, in a manga style, is an upgrade in version 9 as well. The prices range from reasonable to free. Manga Studio has a beginner’s version for $49.99 and while the Pro Version of Anime Studio that I received to review is priced at $199.99, the debut version is cheaper and functions pretty much just as well. And there are free trial downloads at the Smith Micro Software site as well to test them out before having to purchase.
Motion Artist is still in beta testing, so it’s completely free but only until January 15th!