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Software alternatives for artists


Hello everyone, I have recently thinking on making a blog entry about the software I use and about the best alternatives to Adobe CS, more than anything because it became very expensive since last decade. So, in the pass of time I have been testing and discovering some programs and I decided to make a blog entry about the best alternatives to some of them, selecting the best cheaper and free ones. Also, I just want to say that's its just my personal opinion, but I hope this small list helps you in your artist journey.

Clip Studio Paint (One time payment)

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I will begin with one of my favorites, because is a program that makes drawing a similar way than when you draw in paper. Its a very powerful tool that has a lot of brushes, assets and also a great community, with a lot of contests and extra stuff. I used to paint with Paint Tool Sai when I wanted to draw as the way I do with pencils and paint, but it failed when you want to do something more complex, such as comics or add text and shapes, so I looked for an alternative not as expensive as Photoshop or complicate as GIMP. And that's when discovered Clip Studio Paint, it was easy to learn and a great upgrade at the time to draw, and also with lot of similarities with SAI. It also have an animator timeline tool for a Frame by Frame animation, tools for comics and some useful filters for amazing effects, so if you use Photoshop for drawing, moving to Clip Studio Paint will be your best option

This one isn't free but its price is so affordable that you will not regret the money you invest on it. You can download for a free trial at their website or also buy the PRO version for $50 USD and the EX version for $220 USD, the difference is that the EX version is more focused on animation version and export full comics. For just making single comic pages and digital illustration, or just a quick GIF animation (up to 24 frames), PRO version will be enough. Also you can take advantage of the Black Friday for buying it for the half his price, that's what I did at the time.

Affinity Designer and Photo (One time payment)

This has been a recent find and one of the best I had, I discover this software at the end of 2019, I tried the free month and I get in love with them. It has three amazing software's and extra tools, but for my work I fell in love with Affinity Designer (an alternative to Adobe Illustrator) and Affinity Photo (an alternative to Adobe Photoshop), they also have Affinity Publisher (an alternative to Adobe InDesign) that I know that it has to be great, but its not my industry.

As I said before Affinity Designer is like Adobe Illustrator, it has amazing vector tools for doing great works. With Illustrator I usually get lost and not comfortable when I need to draw, so when I switched to Affinity Designer I really got in love for the intuitive menus and his way of work, also I remember when I drew the first time in it with my drawing tablet that I felt this software a lot smoother and better visually.

Changing now to Affinity Photo, I have to say that is pretty the same as Adobe Photoshop. After 8 years using Photoshop, I thought that the learning curve would be difficult when I started using this software, but the truth has seemed even easier to learn and find all their tools. As Affinity Designer, has a great interface and I must admit that I did not miss anything from Adobe tools.

Also is a lot affordable than Adobe, for only $50 USD each one of their programs, you can have a great software not having to pay the highly monthly rates of Adobe. Also you can take advantage of the Black Friday for buying this tool for the half of their price.

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Blender (Open Source)

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Now we are entering to the free zone. And we going to start with one of the bests, Blender. It begun as just a 3D modeling tool, but\ since Blender 2.8 this software has begun playing with 2D animation. I have to admit that it's not the best alternative for 2D animation right now, it still lacks many tools to match other software such as Animate or After Effects, as drawing tools and symbols, but I think this will become the future for 2D and 3D animation, because it can combine both and also is an Open Source software, and has a lot of tools and its always growing. If you are interested in test this software, you can see my tutorial of how to animate a character in this program, so you can begin playing with it

Open Toonz (Open Source)

2D Animation software Winner on this list. This software became famous a few years ago because it is what Studio Ghibli uses, and in 2016 it was given away so that anyone could use it for free. I've gone through a lot of tutorials and reviews, and I see that it has a lot of similarities to Toon Boom, except for the price, because Open Toonz is totally free.

The learning curve is a little messy, but once you understand the main concept and its way of working, working with it begin to be more easy.

If I compare with Adobe Suite, I see that it has similar tools to Adobe Animate and After Effects, so its a good choice to leave for good this tools if you are just looking for a 2D animation software.

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Kdenlive (Open Source)

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I have tested many versions of free software for leaving Adobe Premiere for good. And after been fighting with a lot of them I finally felt comfortable with KdenLive. It has the basics for making a good video composition, and also has a lot of extra features and plugins for advance video edition that you can download from their page. A good choice for start migrating from Adobe Premiere. Perhaps somewhat different distribution, but it's all a matter of watching a tutorial to adapt to their visual environment.

Handbrake (Open Source)

I don't have much to say for this tool , its just a powerful tool similar Media Encoder, works for almost the same. Convert files ready for production, with a lot of options and it really works for professional purposes. An easy tool for an easy task.

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Audacity (Open Source)

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Really no much difference between Audacity and Adobe Audition. Quite similar I would say... Well, different menus and keyboard shortcuts, so maybe you should have to look at the manual first, but just to get used to it, the software has very powerful tools and you just can change the interface so it doesn't look so outdated. No much to say, I really use it for some audio modifications, so for more complicate stuff I really can't comment so deeply.

Unity(Different plans, including free one)

I have played recently with videogames programming, as a illustrator and animator I have been looking for a game software that is more visual than coding, so that's when I discovered Unity. At first sight it was a very different software as the ones I had used before, but after watching some online tutorials, I really felt comfortable using it, maybe is complicate at the beginning, but after working with it some time, it starts to make sense and you discover that this software has great tools.

The 2D Animation tool is really amazing in this software, you can work with bones and loops, so maybe is a good tool to start migrating from Adobe Animate, but not as simple to use, because you have to combine timelines with animation and you suffer a lot at the beginning, I'm still not get fully use to it, but for videogames is great not having to use another software when making games, so I'm really happy with their animation tool. I'm really exited to know what new tools will bring Unity for 2D in the future .

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Animate your drawings in AfterEffects

Hello! A long time since my last tutorial. I have been very busy lately with much work and projects. Anyway, I wanted to write this tutorial a time ago, so here it is. I really enjoyed learningAdobe After Effects, and it took more time to get used to use it, specially when I came from Adobe Animate, but at the end it's nothing more that to get use to a new tool, and final result is a lot better.;

1. Preparing your drawing for animation

The first step for this is preparing your drawing/character/logo etc... for animation. In this case I will use this illustration so you can see the structure you need it, if you are using another drawing program instead of Adobe Photoshop, you have to export it to PSD, so After Effects can read all the layers. Also, if parts are in individual folders, is better to save as a new PSD version with all layers rasterized, there are many ways to import to After Effects, but I will show here the easier one for me.

Also, If you don´t want to use a PSD file, you can also export each part separately in PNG and arrange them manually, but its a little more tedious.

2. Importing our character to After Effects

Now you can close your character in PSD and open After Effects, and when its open, just create a new project. Then we go to File Import and select our PSD File. For this Tutorial we are gonna select Composition → Preserve layers size, also select Editable Layers.

When the file is imported correctly, you will see that After Effects created one folder with all layers and a new composition. If you double click on it you will see our composition open (don't pay attention at the fact that my software is in Spanish, tools are the same).

3. Preparing Layers for Animation

Now is time to link our body parts. At the right of the Spiral icon, we just select the body part where each layer will be attached to. So when you move or rotate, elements will move with it. If you have rigged a character in the past, this will see you very familiar, in this character we are gonna use the hip as main layer. You can also link layers with the spiral icon, just dragging the spiral to the attached body part, its your choice.

You can test if all links work well selecting the main layer (in this case the hip) and trying to move or rotate it. If it works well, all character will be moving with it, if this is ok, you can continue to fix pivot points and add puppets points.

4. Puppet points VS Pivot Point movements

Ok, now we are gonna fix our layers one by one so they will be ready for animation. This is the last step for rigging our character. For selecting each one of the layers we just have to double click on the layer name we want to modify.

For default we have a black background for our file, and in some cases (as the one in this tutorial) our characters contains a lot of black and we need another color for background. That's very easy to change, you just need to enter in Composition → Composition settings, and at the bottom you just select background color to one is better for you.

Now we have to select the pan tool so when we moved our pivot points our character don't move from their original position. In this case, the wing come from the back so the point it stick the wing to the body is the perfect point for our pivot. This wing will not have puppet points because we just need to rotate them, so we just fix the pivot point in this layer.

We just need to adjust pivot points to layers we just need to rotate or move. In other hand, the puppet points will deform our drawing and in some cases they help to give more life and flexibility to our character. For example, in my case I will just add puppet points to the hair, mouth and antennae's. Sometimes we get exited with this new tool, but you will see you will not need this for every movement. Anyway, you can add more puppet points later if you want to give more movement in the future.

For adding puppets points you just need to select the puppet selection tool and start adding puppet points, yes, just like that. You can also test them in the layer preview, so you can see if the movement in correctly for this body part. Test and add as many puppet points as you need, but not too many, because animating can became a mess in our timeline. When this is done, we are ready to start animating.

5. Animating our character

If we want to make a loop animation, we just need to make one time loop. After I will tell you how to maintain the looping as long as you want. But for now, we are just gonna make our butterfly flapping her wings. So we are gonna set our time for this movement. Now we go back to timeline settings and decide the duration for this loop, in my case I want one second duration.

If you have animated before, you will just know that animation came first from outside movements and then we make inside movements. In my case, we are gonna animate the wings and body and then we will add all the details, such as head, hair, and legs.

For wings and body we are just gonna use Rotation and Position movements. Keyboard Shortcuts are P for position, and R for rotation. So now we select our main layer (hip layer) and just press P with the keyboard so we can change the position of our character.

In my case as it will be a loop we will need that the animation begin and end in same position, so before animating we settle first position and then select the keyframe and press Ctrl+C and go to the last frame position and paste your frame with Ctrl+V. Now we make the movements we want in the middle of them, in my case, I will just add one more keyframe in the middle.

Now for wings, we just need to press R in keyboard so we can just rotate them. Also select rotation tool in the tool panel. I will do the movement in the same keyframe so our boucle works fine with wings movement, but you can animate your loop as you wish. You can continue with all simple movements with this tools.

Now we are gonna detail our animation. You will see that your timeline will be a little messy in the next steps. But no worries, you can use the shy tool to clean up a little. When shy tool is activated all layers selected as shy layers will be hidden in our timeline, so its just switch on an off for having control in our timeline.

Now we are gonna animate the hair, so we need to animate all the puppet points we have. For this we will select the layer we want to modify and then we are gonna press U in keyboard, that will open all puppet layers. I recommend animate layer one by one, so it won't be too messy.

Now is time to set up all details for our loop animation. And when we finished we can make it longer as we need need and also add some effects.

6. Making loops and adding more details to our animation

Ok, now we are gonna make a new composition so we can manage our animation better. So just click on Composition New Composition. This new composition will have same configuration as last one, but now I want that the composition will be ready for YouTube, so I will select the HDV 1080 25 Preset and give it a duration of 10 seconds, but if you want another settings feel free to test them.

Now I will add a background to my animation. In this case I will use a solid background. So I right click in my timeline and select New Solid. That will add a solid color to our background. I want to be a gradient background so I add an effect for that. I will add it by selecting Effect Generate Ramp (Spanish will be GradaciĆ³n de Degradado), there we select our colors and can play with the effect options.

Ok, now the loop part is a little complicated, but once you have done it for the first time, next ones will be easier. For the animation became looping all the time we have to go to Layer → Time → Enable Time Remapping, that will create two keyframes at the beginning and at the end, now you just have to create a new keyframe before last one. Now on the last keyframe we are gonna change the time to zero.

Now we delete our last keyframe. Now we are gonna select the Time remapping layer and open in main menu Animation → Add Expression. You will see that can add expressions now. Click on the menu Expression language and open and select Property → LoopOut(Type="Cycle", numKeyframes = 0), and now it will be shown in the text box. Now is ready, you just have to make your layer longer, in this case, as long as the composition.

Now its all settle here. You can now take a look to your loop and see if you want to add more compositions, details or effects to it. You can always enter to the other compositions and modify them, and all this changes will be shown in your final composition. You cad add as many sub compositions you want. In this case, we are just gonna add some effects and then export the animation.

7.Adding some effects

For adding extra effects we are just gonna right click on our composition and then select New Settings Layer. And now as easy to test and select the effect that work better in our animation. In my case I'm gonna select Noise and Grain → Add Grain, so animation has some texture on it.

8. Exporting your animation

Now that our animation is ready is time to export for our Social media. That's an easy step, just click on File → Export → Add to render queue. In this case everything is correct, but you can modify the extension and folder options in the Exit Mode.

And that all for this tutorial, hoping this help you to start animating your illustrations. If you want to support me for making more tutorials and stuff, you can became my Patreon.

Rigging 2D character in Blender 2.82

Hello! I have recently started working on Blender 2.82 and I have to admit that is a very powerful software that I think have a great future, starting with the fact that is an Opensource software and its innovation in what Animation 2D stuff. Important you to know

A few days ago I did this experiment via Blender, recollecting a lot of various different online tutorials, such of YouTube, Art-Station and Blog Entries around the internet. So I wanted to do a summary of all the knowledge I got from those tutorials and make a simpler one so its not so hard to start animating in Blender.

1. Interface

Well, lets begin with the basic, fortunately Blender have now the option of starting a new file directly for 2D Animation, so just the startup program give us this option easily.

2.Drawing our character

So, once our interface is running, is as easy than start drawing in our canvas. Also see that you have to know some basic stuff before drawing.

First of all, you can see that I had drawn my character in different layers such as head, arms, torso, etc.., so later we don't have problems with the bones assignation. And also in a base pose ready for animation. This time I didn't take the time on thinking on hair animation, but also is something I will want to deepen in the future. Also, some tools are explained in the image below.

About shadows, there are two ways of drawing them, manually as I do in here, or making a new layer with drawn shadows and just using an Overlay inBlend Mode.

*If you need to know shortcuts for any tool, you just need to hover over the tool and the shortcut will be revealed if there is any.

3. Create Bones/Rigging

Anyway, lets go further, now our character is ready for rigging. Or in this case, ready to create our Armature for the character. If you know how to make bones in Blender, you can skip this step.

For this part we need to go change to Object Mode in the Upper Left Menu, and then click on the Float Menu → Add → Armature. When you do this it will appear a new bone in our Scene Collections.

We also change the background color so we can see the bones names. You can also do this in the panel of World. Its important to rename bones properly so we don't have any issue with our mesh in the future. You can play with the bones options, such as change shapes, show names, etc.. For start adding bones, you should change to Edit Mode selecting our new Armature, so now is time to put our bones in the right place.

For extrude bones, you only need to click Shift+E to extrude a new one, and if you want to create an unrelated bone, just click Shift+Ato create a new bone limb. If you need to relate a bone limb with another, just click above in the Armature window and then click on Parent → Make.

4. Associate bones to Grease Pencil

Ok, now the magic comes. Here I had a lot of issues in get to the quicker way to do this without loosing my mind in the process. So, I will tell what feels more easy and quick for me.

So, now we have to return aObject Modein theUpper Left Menu. Then we select theArmatureandGrease Pencilobject at the same time, you can select two items by pressingShiftwhile selecting. And then go toFloating Menuto Object → Parent → With Automatic Weights.

And now our two collection items are joined and now it's time to assign the heights to theGrease Pencil.

Well, first of all we need to select our character Grease Pencil object and then enter inEdit Modeso we can start to addingVertex Groups. I advice you first to hide the Armature and other layers and also lock them to start selection. You have to make one vertex group per bone, and you also you need to assign a name just as the one we give our bone. If you don't do this properly this will not work.

I also recommend select parts and then adjust them via Weight Paint, or you can just go direct to Weight Paint selecting it in theUpper Left Menu Here you have a brush so you can start making the heights of the bones.

Now is time to assign our modifier, you can do this before or after the assigning, if you want to preview bones, I recommend to do before. For previewing bone heights you need to go to Pose Mode after assigning the modifier. So, here we are gonna select in the Modifier panel, Add Grease pencil Modifier → Armature. Now we assign as an object our Armature and Bind it to Vertex Groups.

Now we return toObject mode and selecting our Armature we go to Pose Mode, there the bone and Grease Pencil now have to be linked.

Now we can begin to animate our character, hoping this quick tutorial help to start drawing and animating. If you have any question or my tutorial isn't clear enough, just tell me.

Also, if you want to support me for making more tutorials and stuff, you can became my Patreon.

Art as a mean

I have to admit that I have worked as an illustrator for almost eleven years. That sounds a lot of time! But in the mean time I have discover something about my relationship with art. I have discover recently haven't done anything just for the pleasure of drawing, well, I love sketching and painting, but I have discover that I'm always thinking on a purpose for my drawings.

Since I was a child, I remember doing comic strips at the back of my notebook, and also I really enjoyed doing covers for my books, but it was more than anything, for the pleasure of watching my notebooks personalized. Later, when I was a teenager I look back on that I had to be at my bedroom a lot of time, with no TV or cellphone (well, they was the 90's, hehe) I only had my tape deck and my school supplies. So I spent a lot of time writing stories and enjoying making them real.

My first big project it was a comic, its name was "A tale without name" , the story was about some superheroes and their life at school, merging a lot of styles and genres. I also complemented with a notebook full of character sheets of all the citizens of my fictional city, besides a map of the hole town. I know it sounds like something obsessive, but it really was my idea of thinking on making my own world, that was my teenager obsession that I have to confess. I also planned spinoff stories too. I had to admit that my imagination was on fire on that time.

Years latter I made another comic book in my free time at school, it was called "A fairy tale" (yes, titles and names aren't my strength).But I was also making it as a spinoff of my old comic. I loved to make connection's and feel they were living in the same universe, I don't know why, but it was really exiting.

Finally it was time to start college and decide to study animation and illustration as a career, and I remember that that career didn't exist in that moment. So I decided to moved to Spain to study those specialties. My real purpose was to make those worlds with a better quality, better characters, better environments, and also give them life with animation.

So I begun studying animation. Also, I have to avow, It wasn't the passion of animating characters perse, I was really more focused in really start to make again my own universe, my own stories. I recall at my animation school making small flash games involving my classmates, it was really funny to make them. I never was the best artist in my classroom, but I really was enjoying what I was creating.

But something was missing in my search, my drawing were still not very good, that when I started an illustration course. And despite I didn't improve the way I wanted it was a big step for me.

Finally, my time for work begun, so I started working in a company at Madrid. After so much time I was now a professional illustrator and animator, and the thing that I enjoyed most, was to make the storyboards and designing the environments and again, a new world for my characters. But also I started to have a lot of free time, because (maybe this can a defect or a virtue) I work fast. I initiate to dedicate my free time in fanarts, and trying to find more work, I wanted more, more challenges.

At the end I decided to return to Mexico, but now as my own boss. I didn't want to follow someone else rules, I really hate been trapped in an office when I have already finished my work, and also having to hide my projects, so they didn't see that I was working on something different that the projects that sent me (which were already finished).

I needed more freedom. So that's where Kori Studio was born, and, with the help of my beloved husband, we open up creating new projects, new comics, new animations. In the process we wrote about a lot of things, anime parodies, irreverent cartoons and other stuff. But we didn't succeed.

And now I'm here, having working for clients for so many years and getting now the point of why I love it so much my work. Is not just the pleasure of drawing, its never was really my goal. I really want to create without needing more people. So I decided again to get to my old self, and that's why I'm writing again, both in this blog and rewriting scripts for comics I love to write stories, learning new things, and also working with my clients creating new environments and styles, specially I love the challenges, and that's why I think I enjoy making children's books the most. And hopefully, I can publish my own book soon, I had some issues with my editor, but hopefully that will be solved soon.

Contact me


If you want to get an estimate or talk about your project, you can write me to my email or contact me in any of my social networks.

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