Grease Pencil Status Update

The long overdue Grease Pencil merge in Blender 2.8 is now closer than ever.

The Blender 2.8 Code Quest turned out to be a great opportunity to gather a final round of feedback. Which, after much back-and-forth, led to fundamental changes to fully integrate it within the Blender 2.8 design.

Here is an overview of the updated changes internally and in the workflow.


Palettes → Materials

In the last versions of Blender 2.7x we introduced Palettes in order to manage Grease Pencil colors. This solution proved to work well and it was deeply used in the HERO open movie project.

However, Grease Pencil colors are far more complex than a simple color. So much that we ended up with Palette colors that had many more options than just RGB values.

After some discussions with Code Quest team, we decided to move Palettes to Materials. Now the colors work the same way as any other material in Blender, with additional settings exclusive to Grease Pencil.

Consequently, Palettes have been replaced by Material slots and each color replaced by an individual material.

Note: Grease Pencil materials cannot use nodes for the time being.

Grease Pencil Brushes → Blender Brushes

This change is more internal, but it replaces the Grease Pencil drawing brushes with “real” Blender brushes. This way we reuse the Brush structure already available in Blender.

This change makes it also possible to link brushes between files and to create brush libraries.

Drawing brushes with assigned Material

This is an important change in the workflow. Before this change, the brush used the color selected in the palette. Now the brush has always a material attached to it.

Note: The current user interface is temporary and it will be replaced with a new design.

The change could seem like a step back, but there are reasons to do this. As the Grease Pencil materials evolved, it was clear that a Brush was related to the material used, specially for textured materials. The way a brush draws is the result of Brush settings and Material settings, thus it was sensible to join them both.

With the new approach, we can define a Brush/Material that draws as expected, while also have a reliable way to create libraries of brushes that can be imported into other files.

Examples of textured strokes created by Matias Mendiola:

New Previews for Materials

A new preview design has been created especially to showcase Grease Pencil features.

This preview is also used to select the material assigned to the brush.

VFX Modifiers → Shaders FX

The new effects modifiers were added to get real time effects in the viewport for grease pencil objects, such as: Blur, Pixelate, Lighting, etc.

The implementation of these VFX was done reusing the modifier stack, but after review the design by code quest team, we all agreed that these VFX were not real modifiers. They couldn’t be applied, their order in the stack wasn’t followed all the time, among other issues..

The idea for VFX is something that could be used for other object types, not only grease pencil,. So we decided to redesign these VFX modifiers and replace by new Shaders FX.

Now, Shaders FX are located in a new tab in the properties panel and not in modifers tab.

During these weeks, I also created the new Colorize and Rim FXs.

On the other hand, this is the current list of (non-VFX) modifiers supported.

Annotations ≠ Grease Pencil

In the early days, Grease Pencil was used for making annotations and later became a full 2D animation tool. This animation features were far more than we needed for simple annotations, it was very complex to maintain and degraded the usability of Grease Pencil as a whole.

Now, annotation is a new tool on its own, separated from Grease Pencil and available in all editors just like before. The features for annotations have a limited scope, letting all the animation features to the new Grease Pencil object.

User Interface

For Grease Pencil to comply with the new user interface paradigms in Blender 2.8 is no small task. This could easily get on the way of the merge. Therefore we decided to merge it with minimal changes and a basic integration with the tools system. Leaving the little tweaks and design adjustments for after the merge.

Grease pencil options now blend nicely with the rest of Blender 2.8 settings, making use of the new concepts such as the Overlays system.

For more information about user interface, check out T54896.

More changes

A lot of internal changes have been done in multiples areas of the code, including:

  • Preliminary mode switching integration with the <Ctrl+Tab> pie-menu.
  • Internal redesign of Weight Paint data.
  • Conversion tools for legacy 2.7x files.
  • Adjust code to work with the new dependency graph.

Pending Issues

As result of new dependency graph implementation, the current Grease Pencil operators must be ported to new system. We have done a lot of work here, but we need a full code review to be sure it’s all working as expected.


There are only a few showstoppers for the merge to finally happen, but you can expect Grease Pencil to be part of Blender 2.8 Beta release in August. After that there will be a period of fixing and polishing to make Blender 2.8 the best 2D-3D Animation Workflow the world has ever seen!

33 comments 20,737 Views
  1. old palette system was useful for switching of daytime color, evening color and night color.

    for new material system, we should use dynamic override for this purpose. am I correct?

    • You are talking of the old system using the gp add-on. Now you can change the color with modifiers or Shader FXs. Maybe, we can create some tools to improve the workflow of these stituations in the future.

      The merge is not the end of development, we have a lot of ideas pending.

  2. Lovely, seems quite awesome, the only question I have is now that the grease pencil colors are materials and the like, the “palette” functionality has been lost?, and by that i ask about the posibility of having different sets of colors & styles that could be interchanged
    Thank you, it does look like its going to be amazing.

    • Luciano,

      The “fast” palette switching was lost wheadded the palette slots in 2.78. I take a note and add to my ToDo list a way to fast palette switching…. maybe a modifier.

  3. Wil ther be a modifid timeline for GP? Like that of toonboom? With note system for layers? And doing easy cut out puppet animations?

  4. I am taking notes on “The world has ever seen” because you guys (Blender Devs) have the upper hand bringing RT PBR materials + Rigging tools + 2D Animation into the table. Congratulations!

  5. I know i have mentioned this, the

    “Mirror modifier”

    for concept creation would be awesome. We are very excited at the studio about no longer using Toonboom and the massive speed increase that we will have.

    Thank you so sooooo much for your hard work guys. Really really really a very big thank you.

    Is there some kind of library system? Maybe it can be a modifier?

  6. Really exciting work guys.
    I love 3D and 2D animation and to now have that in one software will be awesome!
    You guys rock.

  7. Thanks for your great work, in the last compilation I have not seen the possibility of customizing brushes.

    On the other hand I think that an evolution of creation of strokes would be the use of splines: it would reduce the number of vertices and facility to animate,

    Good examples of simple and powerful tools are the old software Flash, where we began many years ago to animate in 2Dl, like the painted additive/subtractive of shapes, use of splines, generation of parallel lines, manipulation of the lines with the cursor (as in the current masks of Blender composition) …..


  8. Other examples of tools (anime studio / Moho Pro 12)


  9. Why are grease pencil strokes still “poly” splines, rather than “bezier” splines? This makes it difficult to do really clean, precise linework.

  10. will the grease pencil objects be able to be rigged specifically with (bendy bones)?.Especially when we have the option to weight paint it.

  11. Thank you so very much for all of the hard work you’ve put into improving GP. Now that annotations are separate and GP has received such significant changes, maybe it deserves a new name as well.

    I have 2 things on my wish-list for the future: Curve Modifier and a tweak to the Simplify Modifier (was hoping it’d turn the Circle shape into an even-sided triangle by iteration 4).

  12. Amazing work, very excited to use the new GP! Thanks you!

  13. When will it be available. We are working on a project and we are in real need of grease pencil build. Right now I am using one from, but its very unstable

  14. Does it have something like markers in opentoonz or something similar?
    As when you color, the marker lines disappear/blend in the colored shape.
    This is what i mean

  15. within the shaders FX is it possible to implement a normal map for the laye?, early 2005 “lumo ” software and also disney had this cranking. It allowed further lighting. Here is what I mean

  16. Any chance to get Mirror modifier? Would be amazingly useful!

  17. Please do something about the FBX exporter, it is a complete nightmare to use it. It switches the animations between objects so objects that are supposed to change location rotate and vice versa. It is frustrating and makes you lose tones of hours of work. Please, please, pleas, do something about the FBX exporter, it is horrible.

  18. Hi ! I already posted in the blender artists forum, but this might interest some developers.
    First of all, a big thanks to the developers and artists for this awesome work !!! i’m subscribing now to the blender cloud to help contribute in the further development of this.
    I only have one suggestion for now. It’s about adding a loop and time delay in GP copy/instances. Why this ?
    You see, in a very long animation, sometimes you want to loop an animation, or just a part of one character. For now, to do this in GP, i have to click one by one with Shift + right click on the frames that i want to loop, and i have to copy them X times to fill the whole animation. And if unfortunately i want to adjust the drawing in on frame, i have to recopy everything again… First thing would be to allow users to shift + select the keyframes with clicking just the first and the last one (and bonus feature would be to allow shift copy between multiple layers).
    And to go further more, why not make instaces of frames (like in Clip Studio Paint Ex). I know GP has an instance modifier, but the current instances don’t have a time delay option. It’s really a copy of content and frames synchronisation, so you can’t try to use it to fake a loop… Maybe just a time effector in the instances would make the job for now.
    That feature would be sooooo useful also for lipsync and other complex thing in short animation films. imagine you have to animate lips and complex face expressions for a dialog. With frame instances, you would just need to draw a library at the beginning of your scene, and then place the instances where they are needed :s)

  19. I’m excited can’t wait to have a look at it. It makes more sense than having to use two softwares one for 2d and the other for 3d. Im nt sure what will happen to the game engine.

  20. We have many great reasons to love Blender! It is an amazing free tool. And now this fantastic update. I don’t know how to start thanking all of the developers. They have been doing a great job! Grease Pencil is the future of 2d and 3d Animation! Now, I am creating my own tutorials! YAY! Thanks! Savvy

  21. Considering the possibilities with the upcoming Nodes for Everything, and a free flowing flexible pipeline, I agree with some above asking for Spline / Bezeirs as well as a way to render to or convert an object to a Grease Pencil object. There are SOOO many .svg and 3d model assets that could benefit from being converted into the Grease Pencil object and animation pipeline. I want this feature so much, including the mesh modifiers for use on Grease Pencil objects. Possibly even rethinking the mesh object, splines, nurbs, and grease pencil objects into one object type that can be node modified with artist tools OR engineer / coding scripting tool nodes to both artistically and procedurally / parametrically arrive at a design in a non-destructive pipeline for flexible revision, lightweight files, and precision. Would be huge for both artists and engineers and machine learning tools to generate and create objects. In the meantime, something I think it would be amazing is if Grease Pencil Objects could be generated from a mesh object OR a special bake to Grease Pencil render (kind of like Freestyle SVG render) but it converts your current camera view of a mesh / scene into a Grease Pencil Object.

  22. I’m testing out Blender 2.8 Beta right now. Despite having Onion already turned on by default in the new 2d animation template, onion skin doesn’t seem to be showing. Is it a bug or am I missing something?

  23. First, congrats on making such an amazing tool!

    I just want to know: is there is an option to change which tool to use with SHIFT while in Grease Pencil Sculpt mode? I prefer to use the Smooth tool, but in Blender 2.8 beta it uses the Grab brush when I press SHIFT. I don’t know if this a default in this beta version, but I find it very weird, because the main tool I use while in GP Sculpt mode is the Grab tool, so it would make more sense to use the smooth on the shift hotkey.

    Thanks in advance!

  24. Wish list:
    There should be an auto close shape Tick box option.
    There should be a close shape post drawing.
    There should be an indicator that a fill is selected and not just the stokes that get highlighted.
    Filling a shape even without a stoke should allow a shape to take on a new material using the paint bucket tool.

    I can’t get shapes to close, Ctrl+J when I select the last end points.
    Affect only selected points has gone missing I hope it comes back:

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