I'm a big fan of the Inkscape vector graphics program, which is a no-cost equivalent of Adobe Illustrator and runs on all major computer platforms (Linux, Macintosh, and Windows). Back in 2007, I created a short promotional video showing the range of graphics that people can make using Inkscape.
Inkscape, when paired with Animatron (a freemium HTML5 online animation tool), can be used for creating narrated, animated children's stories. These tools might also be used to create multimedia motion graphics stories for libraries, nonprofits, foundations, government agencies, and more.
Building Skills with Free Multimedia Tools
Consider this thought experiment: Suppose an unemployed person receives a donated computer and decides to install Inkscape for free. After doing that, the person could learn to use Inkscape from the countless blog tutorials and screencasts on the web. (For example, some of the best Inkscape tutorial screencasts in the world can be found on this website. I'm also fond of this blog.)
Suppose further that this unemployed person took a free training about Animatron at the local public library. So the computer would be free, the operating system would be free (Linux), Inkscape would be free, the Inkscape online trainings would be free, and then the Animatron.com training would also be free.
A person could work his or way up to having some digital skills that could boost her or his chance at employability. And if people in a community had a regular "show and tell" event for Inkscape and Animatron, that would also propel this self-training forward.
I wrote more about this idea in the post, Can Inkscape Reduce the Number of Incarcerated People?
Animatron + Inkscape = Bringing Stories to Life
I enjoy writing children's stories as a hobby and didn't think too much about it until one day, in the year 2000, when I was sitting at my desk in the Arlington Public Schools in Virginia, I received the following one-sentence email: "Our school in India loves your children's stories and we've printed them all out in braille."
A few months after receiving that email, I received an email from Kim Rice, a talented technology educator in Oklahoma City. Kim said, "Here is a narrated animation I created from one of your children's stories — The Great Ping Pong Ball Experiment. I created this to show the teachers in my school district one possible use of Adobe Flash."
When I saw how pretty and engaging this animation was, I couldn't help but wonder if someday there might be free software tools that anyone could use to animate and narrate any children's story.
Well, today we're very close to having all those tools assembled for that kind of creative work to happen. When I recently found out about the Animatron website, I quickly saw how well it would work for creating animated, narrated children's stories using graphics created in Inkscape. I tracked down a professional animator in Wisconsin, Taylor Jansen, and asked her if I could hire her to
- Illustrate one of my children's stories using Inkscape.
- Animate and narrate the story using Animatron.com.
- Create a short screencast explaining some of the process she used to import and animate Inkscape's graphics format (also called SVG – scalable vector graphics) in Animatron.com.
Other Articles and Videos by Phil About Inkscape
- An Easy Way to Introduce Inkscape Drawing Program to Youth and Adults
- Students in Los Altos Delight in Using Inkscape Drawing Program
- Playful Inkscape on a 2560 x 1440 Monitor (Monoprice)
Phil Shapiro works as the Public Geek at a small public library in Maryland, not far from Washington, DC. In Oct, 2015, Phil received this recognition from Opensource.com for his longtime open source advocacy.