The Timeline Docker works in tandem with the Animation Docker at the heart of Krita’s animation tools. While the Animation Docker provides access to the fundamental controls for playing back and editing animations, the Timeline Docker contains the layered frames and specific timings that define your animation. In other words, the Timeline Docker is the digital equivalent to a traditional animator’s “dope sheet”.
A. Layer List – This area contains some subset of the layers of your current document. Similar to the Layers Docker, each layer has various properties that can also be toggled here (visibility, locking, onion skins, etc.). While the currently active layer is always shown here, layers can also be “pinned” to the timeline using the Pin to Timeline menu action or the Pin Existing Layer submenu so they will be visible even when inactive. Layers that are created via the Timeline are pinned automatically and by checking the Automatically pin new layers to timeline option in Settings –> Configure Krita… –> General –> Miscellaneous all new paint layers can be pinned automatically.
- Active Layer
A highlighted row in the table shows the current active layer. One can change which layer is active by clicking on the layer’s name within the left header. It is not possible to change the active layer by clicking inside the table in order to not disturb the user when scrubbing and editing frame positions on the timeline.
B. Frame Table – The Frame Table is a large grid of cells which can either hold a single frame or be empty. Each row of the Frame Table represents an animation layer and each column represents a frame timing. Just like the Layer List, the active layer is highlighted across the entire Frame Table. It’s important to understand that frame timings are not based on units of time like seconds, but are based on frames which can then be played back at any speed, depending on the Animation Docker’s frame rate and play speed settings.
Frames can be moved around the timeline by simply left-clicking and dragging from one frame to another slot, even across layers. Furthermore, holding the Ctrl key while moving creates a copy. Right-clicking anywhere in the Frame Table will bring up a helpful context menu for adding, removing, copying, and pasting frames or adjusting timing with holds.
- Current Selection:
Frames highlighted in orange represent a selection or multiple selections, which can be created by mouse or keyboard. While multiple frames are selected, right-clicking anywhere in the Frame Table will bring up a context menu that will allow for adding or removing frames or holds within the current selection. Finally, it is also possible to have multiple non-contiguous/separate selections if needed.
Painting always happens only in the active frame (represented by a small dot), which is not necessarily part of your current selection!
- Keys, Blanks, and Holds:
The Timeline Docker now shows us even more useful information about both what is there as well as what is not. Key frames which contain drawings are still displayed as filled blocks within a cell, while blank or empty key frames are shown as a hollow outline. In Krita, every drawn frame is automatically held until the next frame; these holds are now clearly shown with a colored line across all held frames. The color of frames can be set per-frame by the animator using the right-click menu, and is a matter of personal workflow.
C. Frame Timing Header – The Frame Timing Header is a ruler at the top of the Frame Table. This header is divided into small notched sections which are based on the current frame rate (set in the Animation Docker). Integer multiples of the frame rate have a subtle double-line mark, while smaller subdivisions have small single-line marks. Each major notch is marked with a helpful frame number.
- Cached Frames:
The Frame Timing Header also shows important information about which frames are currently cached. When something is said to be “cached”, that means that it is stored in your device’s working memory (RAM) for extra fast access. Cached frames are shown by the header with a small light-gray rectangle in each column. While this information isn’t always critical for us artists, it’s helpful to know that Krita is working behind the curtains to cache our animation frames for the smoothest possible experience when scrubbing through or playing back your animation.
D. Current Time Scrubber – A highlighted column in the Frame Table which controls the current frame time and, as such, what is currently displayed in the viewport.
- Active Frame:
A frame of the active layer at the current time position. The active frame is always marked with a small circle inside. All drawing, painting, and image editing operations happen on this frame only!
Don’t mix the active frame up with the current selection!
E. Layer Menu – A small menu for manipulating animation layers. You can create new layers, remove existing ones, as well as pin or unpin the active layer. (This menu also shows up when right-clicking on layer headers inside of the Layer List.)
F. Audio Menu: Another small menu for animating along with audio sources. This is where you can open or close audio sources and control output volume/muting.
G. Zoom Handle: This allows you to zoom in and out on the Frame Table, centered around the current frame time. Click-dragging starting on the zoom handle controls the zoom level.
How to use the Timeline Docker is not immediately obvious because Krita doesn’t automatically create a key frame out of your initial drawing. In fact, until you make a key frame on a layer, Krita assumes that there’s no animation going on at all on that layer and it will keep the image static over the whole animation.
So, to make our first animated layer, we need to make a key frame!
any square on the timeline docker and select Create Blank Frame. A blank frame (one that you haven’t yet drawn anything in) appears as a hollow outline instead of a solid box, making that frame active and drawing on the canvas will make it appear as a solid, colored rectangle. To move a frame around, you can drag and drop it into another empty frame slot.
While animating you may find that you want to keep a layer “pinned”, making it visible in the Timeline Docker regardless of which layer is selected. There are a few ways to do this in Krita. By clicking on any layer in the Layers Docker, you can pin it by activating the Pin to Timeline menu item. This allows you to decide which layers are important to see in your timeline (i.e. those which contain keyframe drawings) and which layers are not (i.e. a static layout drawing or background painting). Alternatively, you can open the Timeline Docker’s Layer Menu and select a layer from the Pin Existing Layer submenu. Finally, you can enable the Automatically pin new layers to timeline option from the Settings –> Configure Krita… –> General –> Miscellaneous dialog.
To add a new frame, either right-click on an empty frame slot and select Create Blank Frame to create a fresh blank frame, or select Create Duplicate Frame to create a new copy of the previous frame. It’s also possible to add multiple key frames by right-clicking inside the Frame Table and selecting . With this option you can specify a number of frames to add with the option of built in timing for quickly creating a series of 1s, 2s, 3s, etc. These settings are saved between uses.
You can also change the color of frames so that you can easily identify important frames or distinguish between different sections of your animation. The current color selection is remembered for new frames so that you can easily make a set of colored frames and then switch to another color.
Clicking with within the Frame Timing Header instead of the Frame Table gives you access to a few more options which allow you to add or remove entire columns of frames or holds at a time. For example, selectingwill add new frames to each layer that’s currently visible in the Timeline Docker.
Krita only tracks key frame changes. This is unlike Flash where you have to manually indicate how long a key frame will hold. Instead, Krita just assumes that the space between key frame 1 and key frame 2 is supposed to be filled with key frame 1. Frames that are held in this way (a.k.a. “holds”) are displayed as a continuous line in the Frame Table.
To delete frames, the frame and press Remove Keyframe. This will delete all selected frames. Similarly, selecting Remove Frame and Pull will delete the selected frames and pull or shift all subsequent frames back/left as much as possible.
To manually play your animation back and forward using your mouse, an important technique that’s known as scrubbing, click-drag within the Frame Timing Header.
: Select active layer.
: Layers Menu (add/remove/show layers, etc.).
Frame Timing Header
: Move to time and select frame of the active layer.
+ drag : Scrub through time and select frame of the active layer.
: Frame Columns Menu (insert/remove/copy/paste columns and hold columns).
Frames Table: all
: Selects a single frame or slot and switches time, but does not switch active layer.
Space + : Pan.
Space + : Zoom.
Frames Table (On Empty Slot).
: Frames menu (insert/copy/paste frames and insert/remove holds).
+ drag : Select multiple frames and switch time to the last selected, but does not switch active layer.
Shift + : Select all frames between the active and the clicked frame.
Ctrl + : Select individual frames together. click + drag them into place.
Frames Table (On Existing Frame)
: Frames menu (remove/copy/paste frames and insert/remove holds).
+ drag : Move a frame or multiple frames.
Ctrl + + drag : Copy a frame or multiple frames.
Alt + drag : Move selected frame(s) and all the frames to the right of it. (This is useful for when you need to clear up some space in your animation, but don’t want to select all the frames to the right of a particular frame!)