I am running a Debian GNU/Linux 'Etch' distribution with The Gimp 2.2.
I have Akkana Peck's book: Beginning GIMP From Novice To Professional.

My background is in Art. I have a small Art Bronze foundry, a small
woodworking studio, a sculpture studio, and an animation studio.
I also tinker with my digital camera, a new "used flatbed scanner",
and an old computer (built in 2002) that runs GNU/Linux.

What I am looking for is a tutorial for the Gimp Animation Package,
specifically, for using the 'Onionskin' feature. I don't need to make
an animated GIF, or any other type of movie format because I already
do that with other tools (ImageMagick, mpeg2encode, ffmpeg,
mencoder, bash shell scripts, and so forth).

I have a traditional animation desk where I can do 2D hand drawn
cartoon animation with a pencil and paper. Then I scan the individual
frames on a flatbed scanner. Sometimes, I need to adjust the drawing,
from one drawing to the next, and would like to use the 'Onionskin'
feature. Specifically, I need to be able to 'register' drawings with
each other so my scene won't be jumping all over the place when I
play it. I also need to be able to do 'in-betweens.'

Using the Onionskin feature seems like it would be very similar to how
I use my animation desk, which has an underlit animation disk with a
pegbar to register each drawing. I can make a drawing, turn on the
light under the disk, place a new sheet of drawing paper on the pegbar,
and see the first drawing through the new sheet of paper. I can also
place two 'key' frames on the pegbar, and add a new piece of paper
on top of those two, in order to do an 'in-between' drawing. In this
case, I can see the two bottom drawings through the top sheet.

Note: My Animation Desk and Animation Disk are not commercial products.
      I converted an old drafting table into an Animation Desk by
      cutting a 16-1/2 inch hole in it, in order to put the rotating
      Animation Disk in it. The Animation Disk is made from plywood
      and has a piece of Plexiglass inserted into it, with the wood
      beneath the Plexiglass cut away so a light can shine through it.
      The pegbar consists of three 1/4 inch dowels, placed 4 inches
      on-center, above the Plexiglass pane. I use 8-1/2 X 11 inch,
      20 pound copy paper, with holes punched in it by an office punch,
      for animation paper. Thus, this is a studio-built tool.

The 'Onionskin' feature is under the 'Videos' menu item in The Gimp.

Video > Onionskin > [Configuration..., Create or Replace, Delete, Toggle

The first item is Configuration...

That brings up a complicated looking dialog box with many things in it.
As I've mentioned above, I'd like to be able to do two things:

1. Place one drawing over another and see the bottom drawing through the
   top drawing so I can lasso stuff in the top drawing and 'register' it
   with the bottom drawing.
2. Place two 'key frame' drawings beneath the top drawing, and be able
   to do an 'in-between' drawing on the page on top, seeing both the
   bottom drawings through the top page.

Can you help me configure 'Onionskin' to do the above things?

Next, I need to know how to actually implement the Onionskin feature.
I currently have a 62-frame scene that I'd like to work with.
Each frame came off the scanner as a PNM image file. I've already
rotated and cropped all the images, using ImageMagick and the bash shell
scripting language.

So far, from what I've read, The GIMP can only do onionskinning with its
native file format, which is XCF. Is there any way of batch coverting
all the PNM files to XFC files without opening each one of them and
saving it to an XCF file? ImageMagick's 'convert' tool doesn't recognize
XCF image files.

I have a very basic familiarity with Python, if that would help?
Perhaps there is a simple Python script which would convert images
[101.pnm ... 162.pnm] to [0000.xcf ... 0161.xcf]?

My knowledge of The GIMP is also very basic. So far, I've read through
Chapter 3 in Peck's book, which means I have a rudimentary familiarity
with layers. I was not pleased with how my version of the GIF animation
exercise in Chapter 3 turned out.

I would prefer working with someone, one-on-one, off-list to get this
going. Once I get it going, I will happily detail everything I've
learned, and post it to the list as a Summary.  If a one-on-one isn't
possible, then any help at all will be appreciated, and if I'm able
to get it going, then I'll still post a Summary of what I've learned
to the list. I just feel it would be more productive to go one-on-one.

If I've missed a tutorial that already explains what I'm looking for,
a pointer to such a tutorial would be appreciated. Also, I may be
trying to translate something I do in the real world, directly to a
computer, and not realize that there may be another way to do the
exact same thing, but not know what it is called. 'Onionskin' is
what I think I'm looking for. I've also seen references to something
called Bluebox, which sounds like something I'd like to learn, but
that is not a part of THIS question.

Thanks in advance,
bhaaluu (means 'bear' in Hindi - think Kipling's Jungle Book)
b h a a l u u at g m a i l dot c o m
Kid on Bus: What are you gonna do today, Napoleon?
Napoleon Dynamite: Whatever I feel like I wanna do. Gosh!
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