Grease Pencil at the Blender Conference

This year, Grease Pencil, the blender module to make 2D animations, was part of many talks at the 2022 Blender Conference. From shorts to feature films, the Grease Pencil is trending. In this article we’ll share some notes on this topic and on the promising future of Grease Pencil.

Before going through the conference, here is the Grease Pencil demo reel 2022, as edited by Daniel Martinez Lara and now part of the Blender official youtube Channel

The Bender Grease Pencil official demo 2022
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The blender conference was celebrating the 20 years of Blender as a libre and open source software. 700 people from all around the world gathered over three days, following more than 90 talks and meetings. And Grease Pencil was everywhere

Let’s start with pointing out some of the dedicated talks we recommend you to watch of course 🙂

There were so many amazing talks this year, that we focused the list on Grease Pencil. But you can see them all from the 2022 Blender Conference Schedule page!

Grease Pencil, is a game changer for Blender

Back from last June’s Annecy animation film festival, the Blender team was saying that most of the discussion happening at the Blender booth were about the Grease Pencil. For animators, the quality of the tool, within a great 3D space, mixing assets types, allows amazing new workflows and possibilities.

And as Daniel Martinez Lara mentioned in his keynote about the future of Grease Pencil, we know at least 3 to 5 feature films in production in Europe  with Grease Pencil. The numbers are impressive even if they look small. Also many pilots presented at Cartoon Movie and Cartoon Forum pitching conferences have been made with Grease Pencil. And only few graphists are used or trained to use this tool, and yet important studios are embracing it. SPA, Andarta, 3.0 Studio, Autour de Minuit/ADV, Mikros (for storyboard on their features for now), to name a few. 

It’s finally clear for most people now: the tool is a game changer in the 2D/2.5D animation world. There is nothing close to that available in the market: It’s either pure 2D, or with a clumsy 3D way of doing things. Not both.

This is why we are pushing to get it more attention for the future.

Organizing a Grease Pencil module group for the future

Ongoing discussions with the Grease Pencil core team, and studios, like SPA and Les Fées Spéciales in the last months lead to a great meeting during the blender conference.

It was decided to start module meetings every two weeks, to work on the future, on Grease Pencil 3.0

To make a long story short, Grease Pencil module started on its own corner of Blender. And it’s working well, but it’s disconnected from many cool and core features of blender such as Geometry Nodes, animation actions, etc. The idea for the future is to leave its own data structure to put it closer to the core of Blender, so Grease Pencil has access to everything else Blender provides. Removing also tedious needs to create bridges for every news feature, like the ongoing EEVEE Next with Grease Pencil.

We won’t lie, there is a lot of work to achieve that, and some disruption on how things work today.

For now, the grease pencil module is going to work on an official document design and proposal.  Probably analyzing practices from studios and artists to see how they organize their scenes for example. It will then ideally be discussed in a workshop, and maybe, if everything is going fine, a code quest later next year.

There are good willing people working on this, the Blender Institute is interested in helping out, so fingers crossed !

You can follow their work on the official Blender chat, channel Grease-pencil-module, or look for the Grease Pencil modules posts on the official developer forum of Blender.

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