Graphic Tools for Indie Authors — Part 9

Before we get started, play me!

A simple Doodly example

Hello and welcome to Graphic Tools for Indie Authors , Part 9 of my series dealing with graphics tools which can be used to promote novels, blogs, social media campaigns, and more. Today we turn our attention to Doodly for indie authors. Doodly is a paid whiteboard animation creation tool.

As always, we’ll be covering the following topics:

  • What is Doodly?
  • Website Overview
  • Using Doodly
  • DoodlyApplications
  • More Resources

What is Doodly?

In the past the applications we reviewed have been mostly web-based. Doodly is a bit different, in that it is a program which resides on your local computer, while using the Doodly site for asset storage.

Doodly allows you to create whiteboard animations. Whiteboard animations are those where you see a hand holding a felt pen (or piece of chalk) writing and drawing on a “whiteboard”.

With Doodly you can create videos where a hand will write text and/or draw illustrations in “real time”. The result is an engaging creation that is fun to watch.

You can upload your own “assets” so that they may be drawn in any video you create (though this does require a bit of set up within Doodly). These include your own fonts, illustrations, or even photos.

Doodly allows the addition of narration and a music track for your video as well. The application comes with a selection of royalty-fee music from which to choose, or you can upload your own.

All Doodly creations are in black and white unless:

  • You upload your own colour assets which can be “drawn” and/or
  • You purchase their “rainbow” pack, which allows for colourized drawings

Doodly comes with a limited number of free assets which can be sketched when you create videos, and you can purchase additional theme-oriented “asset” packs if you want.

In addition, Doodly provides a number of “pre-made” templates you can use instead of starting from scratch. Example include webinar invites, training invites, 60 second teasers, three reasons to …, and more. These are all free with your purchase but you can buy additional templates if you desire.

Doodly allows you to create your animations on the “classic” whiteboard, a blackboard, green chalkboard, or glass board. Custom colours for the “background” board are available. You can choose between “drawing” with chalk or a felt marker. Video dimensions can be specified as desired.

Doodly does NOT have a free trial. It does have a money back guarantee if you are not satisfied. They honor all refund requests made within 30 days of creating a Doodly account.

Doodly is running a promotion (truth in advertising — they seem to have been running it forever) where you can buy the basic application for $67US. This is a one-time fee, not a subscription. However, I say “basic” because the number of pre-drawn assets included with the basic application is limited. After you have made the purchase, the web page tries to up-sell you on additional content. Whether you find the additional assets worth the cost depends upon the use to which you will put Doodly, and how often.

Application Overview

Unlike many of the graphic tools reviewed here, Doodly work takes place in the application you download and install. Your account, including assets included with your purchase, additional assets you may have purchased and assets you have uploaded remain on the Doodly website. Indeed, to use the Doodly application you must log into the website. The two work together to produce your whiteboard videos.

When you start Doody you’ll see a screen like this:

Doodly opening screen, Brant Forseng, @brantforseng
Opening Screen of Doodly

This screen allows you access to your account settings (upper right hand corner), provides access to folders (which you can create) and templates, and shows your projects across the top. You can see that I have one project created — Beta Readers.

You create a new video using the large white rectangle in the upper left hand corner. If you wish to resume work on an existing project you click its thumbnail.

One thing that I really like about Doodly is that every time your launch the application it will check for updates and prompt you to install them. Updates include both bug fixes and additional features at no charge.

Using Doodly

When you create a new video, you’ll first set the video parameters on a pop-up screen:

Doodly Create Video screen, Brant Forseng, @brantforseng
Create New Video, and set Parameters

Here you choose the background colour and the resolution, width, and height of your video. You also title your video here. That done, you confirm your choices, leading to the main application work area.

Doodly Main Work Area, Brant Forseng, @brantforseng
Doodly — Main Work Area

This screen will look familiar to any who have used video editing software in the past. The canvas is in the centre. Below is the timeline where you can add scenes, music tracks, and voice overs. On the left is where you find all of the pre-made assets (and any you have uploaded) for your project. These include props, characters, fonts, music tracks, and even entire pre-built scenes.

On the right are controls that allow you to edit scene settings, control the order that assets appear in the current scene, as well as preview, save, and exports options.

Using Doodly

After you have set up an account, purchased the software, downloaded and installed it, you are ready to go

Workflow is pretty straight forward.

You’ll begin by deciding the background colour, title, and video dimensions.

You select assets from the left to add to the current scene, adjust their size and position. decide how long they take to “draw” and the order in which they appear. Preview the scene to make sure everything is the way you want, then either add a new scene or export if you are finished. Music tracks and voice over can be added if you wish.

Doodly allows you to upload your own fonts and graphics as well. The later can be traced using “default” hand motions, or you can create a custom draw path so that your uploaded graphic looks as if it is being hand-drawn.

You can change your scene background and a few other settings “on the fly” if you need to. Doodly saves your work periodically or you can manually save when you want.

The export choice is limited to MP4, but this is just fine for most people.

Doodly Applications

Doodly lends itself to the uses I have detailed in other articles in this series, with some caveats.

Book trailers — Doodly can certainly produce a unique looking book trailer, but it’s very uniqueness can be limiting. The videos produced have a hand-drawn cartoonish style which could limit the genres it could be used for. Children’s books, comedies, some romance novels, certainly. Drama, mystery, fantasy, science fiction, perhaps not so much. This is just my opinion. Your mileage may vary,

Author promotion — Doodly is likely less limiting in this regard because the author is not the work — but branding considerations will still be relevent. Doodly excels at light-heated whimsical productions which may clash with an author’s brand.

Site/content promotion — Again, Doodly will be a great method of promoting certain types of sites and content, as long as its style is compatible with the tone and branding of the content and site.

Shout outs to others — Doodly can be put to good use here. Shout outs to others — promoting their books, websites, or blog articles are not as “brand sensitive” to the cartoony nature of Doodly videos. Even the most serious books or articles can receive a hat-tip from a Doodly video without “compromising” their theme or tone. Within reason of course, you want to be enthusiastic and respectful in your Doodly based endorsement.

More Resources

There are a lot of resources available on Doodly — most of which are videos, which makes sense. Here are a few I have found useful:

Doodly Review and Tutorial 2020 — this video by Jenn Jager is an in-depth look at Doodly, along with a tutorial on its basic features. Twenty-four minutes long, and worth the time.

The Doodly Tutorials — developed by the creators of Doodly, they’re great for a greater introduction to the product and teaching you the basics.

Doodly Tutorials: Common Beginner User Mistakes [2020] — gives you precisely what the the title says.

Final Thoughts

I like Doodly, but if I had only a limited budget (and who doesn’t?) I am not convinced this would be the best “bang for my buck”. Doodly does one thing — whiteboard applications — and does it well, but it might not meet all an indie author’s needs. Powtoon might be a better bet as it more versatile, albeit more expensive and subscription based.

Doodly has a low price point for entry, but you could spend a lot of money purchasing additional asset packs. For indie authors, this may not be the way to go.

So, what do you think? Have you used Doodly? If so, for what purpose? Let me know in the comments.

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