The Increment Editor is one of the most valuable tools in Dragonframe. It allows you to draw lines within the program's Live View panel and add increments to accurately guide how much to move an object per frame.
But what if you don't have Dragonframe but want to achieve precise movements when animating? Well, we got a simple solution for you...
Enter the Invisible Marker!
An invisible ink marker contains ink that only appears when you shine Ultraviolet light (a.k.a. blacklight).
You can use the invisible ink pen for all sorts of applications, from writing secret messages to creating glow-in-the-dark artwork.
But did you know you can also use it to add increment markers to your set when animating stop motion?
Here's How to Use an Invisible Marker to Add Increments for Animation!
Step 1: Draw a line you want on the surface of your set. You'll see the invisible ink briefly when you start drawing. But it will disappear once it dries.
For the most part, you can use invisible ink on any surface. But before committing, test the ink to see if it leaves a visible mark first.
Using it on porous materials such as seamless paper or cardboard will leave a subtle trace (but typically not enough to be visible on camera). But for other surfaces such as vinyl or concrete, you won't see the ink at all!
Step 2: Add the increments to the line. The concept you apply here is the same as if you're using an increment editor in Dragonframe.
Remember that the faster you want the object to appear, the wider the gaps should be between the increments. So if you want your thing to slow down and stop, you'll need the distances between the increments to be gradually closer.
Note: Guessing the distance between increments is a skill to learn, especially if you do it manually. So practice and learn to visualize the movements to achieve smooth results. You can read about about creating smooth stop motion animation in this article.
Step 3: Start animating using the invisible ink as the guide. Since the ink is invisible, you'll need to shine a UV light to see the increments. Once you see the notches, you can start moving the object you're animating.
Most invisible ink pens come with a UV light, and our kit includes a tiny keychain light. But you can also buy a larger UV flashlight if you want a more powerful light source.
Step 4: Repeat the process until you finish the animation.
All you have to do is keep shining the light until you can see the increments and keep moving the object between frames until you're done!
Even if you have Dragonframe, you'll still find the invisible ink technique quite helpful. After all, the Increment Editor only works when animating from left to right or up and down.
Since the Increment Editor's lines are only visible on a flat computer screen, you can't use its full potential when moving objects from near to far and vice versa.
An invisible ink pen solves that issue by letting you add increments in a 3-dimensional environment. So if you want to ensure smooth movement when moving an object towards or away from the camera, this method is the best option.