Onion Skin Tools For Blender 2.8

by Joel's Blender Addons Store in Scripts and Addons

Object Onion Skinning For Blender 2.8

Your animation workflow is about to level up. 

What's This About "Onions?"

You may be familiar with the term onion skinning, a traditional animation technique that enables the animator to see previous drawings through the page while drawing a frame.  The effect is so essential to an efficient hand-drawn animation workflow that the majority of digital 2D and 2.5D animation packages include onion skinning features natively.

Which, you know, makes total sense. Having a visual reference for previous or later frames, the animator can make informed decisions while toiling away on the current frame.  As Jim Gaffigan says, "It's so simple."

3D animation applications are often the exception. 3D applications generally forgo robust onion skinning features and animators are expected by their applications to animate 'in the blind.'  

So What Does Onion Skin Tools Do?

Very simply, this:

Onion Skin Tools provides animators with object onion skinning in Blender’s viewport.  Visualize the action of your animation instantly without even moving the timeline cursor!  No more animating in the blind!

With Onion Skin Tools, you can

  • Generate onion skinning for any mesh-able objects, even entire multiple-object characters or creatures, on arbitrary frames or over a user-defined frame range.
  • Make informed posing decisions! Compare poses on previous and later frames side by side while you pose your character or creature rig on the current frame. 
  • Stop guessing! See at a glance the arcs of your action without even changing the current frame.

                          (Realtime screencast of Blender viewport courtesy of www.pintamonos.cl)

Whether you're animating characters, creatures, vehicles, text, motion graphics, or something else entirely - 

It’s time to take the guess work / incessant timeline scrubbing / pose memorizing out of your animation workflow.


Version 0.2.1 for Blender 2.8!

  • This version brings updates for the much-anticipated Blender 2.8. Currently, RC 2 of Blender 2.8 is required. Previous nightly builds are not compatible.
  • Compatibility with EEVEE and Cycles viewport rendering.
  • Bugfixes for transparency when switching between Transparent and solid shading.

Bugfix version 0.2.0 - 8/24/18:

  • Hotfix for issue with incorrect display of onion skinning of linked rig moved in the scene by group controller. For now, this assumes the linked rig isn't duplicated in the scene.
  • Addresses problem with onion skinning only current frame.
  • Fix for naming conflicts involving multiple character sets.
  • More robust and intuitive removal of onion skinning.
  • Compiled module is removed.

Bugfix version 0.1.6 - 9/25/17:

  • Fixes various error messages in console and some unpredictable behavior when removing onion skinning. These errors arose in the code overhaul when introducing character sets. Generating / removing onion skinning now should be more predictable and stable. 

New features 9/14/17:

  • Character Sets - The only new major feature in version 0.1.3, Character sets allow you to create sets of objects to be onion skinned, and control each set's onion skinning generation, removal, and viewport settings independently!

Changes since v0.1:

  • UI changes for Character Sets and drop down arrows for tidying up areas of the UI that aren't in use.


  • Fix for apparently erratic issue of using bpy.utils.previews, which varies between Blender builds. Custom icon loading code would fail and caused addon display to fail. Now, if icon loading failes, the UI will display but without icons.

New features 8/2/17:

  • Auto Updating - A primary feature of this release! When enabled, Auto Updating will watch for changes to an Updater object (e.g., a character rig armature) and automatically update the onion skinning according to the changes!
  • Transparency Range control - An optional range control has been added to display onion skinning only on frames within a specified range around the current frame as you move through the timeline.
  • Absolute Range mode - A new mode for setting the frame range has been added. Choose Relative (legacy, default) or Absolute. Absolute mode allows you to set specific start and end frames to generate onion skinning (e.g., frames 1 - 100).
  • X-Ray Originals - Quick access toggle for enabling X-Ray draw mode on original objects has been added, which will draw original objects over onion skinning.
  • Backend work - Onion Skin Tools now sports compiled Cython modules for slightly faster onion skinning (re)generation. Currently, compiled modules are only provided for 64-bit Windows / Linux. 32-bit and Mac systems are still supported with pure Python.


  • Compatibility fixes for Blender 2.77 where addon wouldn’t display correctly.
  • Pre-2.78 fix for broken onion skinning removal.

New features 7/21/17:

  • Support for linked libraries.
  • Optional frame number drawing over onion skinned frames.
  • UI overhaul to reduce visual clutter.