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Doodly Review: Whiteboard Animation Expert's Verdict

review May 26, 2021
 

I believe I can give you a pretty accurate review of Doodly through the eyes of an expert. 

I’ve worked with online animation tools for more than 10 years now - first in my own animation agency and now as a course creator - and I’ve created hundreds of animation videos for clients, course students, and my YouTube channel.

I’ve bought Doodly Standard, and in this post, I’ll put Doodly to the test. We’ll touch upon functionality, price, interface, libraries, and workflow.

At the end of this blog post, you’ll know how good Doodly really is as an animation tool, how to use it in the best way, and if it’s worth your money.

Let’s dive in!


 

Doodly is a super popular animation maker -  focused around the Whiteboard format;

A format that looks like it’s hand-drawn, but really it’s just an animated hand with a programmed drawing path. 

Many tools can do this; VideoScribe, Vyond, Animaker.

But I believe that there are a couple of reasons why Doodly is becoming such a popular whiteboard animation tool. 

 

ADVANTAGES

1. Fair Price

Doodly is only $39 a month, which makes it more accessible than premium animation makers like Vyond at $89 for the no-watermark, HD export plan.

Price is a huge consideration when I read through different threads on “what whiteboard tool to choose”. Probably because a lot of its users are solo freelancers or upcoming content creators with a limited budget.

As with so many other things, you get what you pay for, and with Doodly, you don’t pay a premium price for a premium tool. You pay a fair price for a fair tool, and I think the relation between price and quality is pretty decent. 


2. Custom Drawing Path

I haven’t seen this in any other tool than Doodly; the option to import your own images and create a custom drawing path for it.

How it works is that you tell Doodly what path to follow by adding control points around the edges of whatever image you imported. 

After you’ve done this, it’ll look like your imported image comes from the Doodly universe because it looks like it’s being drawn - like all the other assets. 

Instead of the standard scraping effect that is your only solution with all other tools. 

On top of this very cool feature, the standard drawing paths look amazing too. Super precise and very captivating to watch.


3. Automatic Durations

Doodly automatically aligns the durations of your drawings to the length of your scene. If you drag it, Doodly assigns extra time to each element, so there’s always something to look at.

The tool also extends the length of a scene if you want to allocate extra time to one of your more detailed drawings. 

This is a huge help and timesaver if you aim to “keep the pen alive” as I talk about in my video on how to make better whiteboard videos


4. Work offline

If you have a slow connection, the option to work offline is going to be huge for you.

I know how important it is to have a fast internet connection to make online animation makers work smoothly. 

In Doodly, you need internet to save your projects, of course, but the Doodly interface works really well when I turn off my internet connection.

This means you can create an entire video in offline mode, then find an internet connection to save your project. Important to a lot of people living in rural areas.


There are a lot of positive things to say about Doodly - but it also has its shortcomings, of course. No tool is perfect, and these are some of the drawbacks, you should know before you choose your whiteboard tool.


DRAWBACKS

1. Limited Libraries

If you don't upgrade to the more expensive plan, you don’t buy extra addons from the Marketplace and you don’t buy Doodly Rainbow, you’re left with a limited number of assets to work with.

There is certainly enough to build your stories with if you’re a little creative with your choices. 

But I think the standard libraries lack contemporary assets when I try to search for them, and that’s a limitation I also encountered with Toonly, made by the same company. 

They want you to upgrade, and that is something they will prompt you to do constantly.


2. Animations First

When I make videos, my process is to start with a script, then record it as a voice-over and lastly make the animations. 

This workflow doesn’t work that well with Doodly, because it’s difficult to time your voice to your visuals accurately when the timing of the animations aren’t shown in the timeline. 

How do I then synchronize voice and visuals, so when I say something specific, the animations that fit with that word or sentence are shown?

In order to do that in Doodly, trial and error is the only way.

That’s why I’d recommend starting with the visuals if you want to use Doodly. 

Then record your voice-over on top afterward.

This breaks with the process I promote heavily in my course, Powerful Process, so I would have a difficult time adapting to this reverse process.

 

3. Made for Windows

It really does feel like Doodly is made for Windows users, and not for Mac users. 

The application for Mac works fine, that’s not it. 

What makes me think of my young days as a Windows user is the “double click” and the “double confirmation”. 

Want to add something to a scene? Double-click.
Want to delete something? Double-confirmation that that is actually what you intend to do.

In the long run, this becomes quite annoying - especially if you are used to working on a Mac or in premium animation makers. 

A small thing, but everything counts.


4. Rough Texts

The drawing paths that are programmed for even the most hand-friendly fonts are really rough. 

I just praised the precise drawing paths for Props and Characters, so it’s sad to see how little love the Texts have gotten. 

The pen is supposed to follow each letter’s lines, and it doesn’t do that very well when it comes to texts. A real shame.


Conclusion

So, how good is Doodly as an animation tool? Well, pretty good, if you only want to create whiteboard videos.

It’s not a full-fledged animation maker with lots of effects, actions, and big libraries, but for simple whiteboard videos, Doodly is a good choice at a reasonable price point.

You’ll get the most out of Doodly if you stick to designing scenes that consist of a couple of Props, a few texts, and maybe a few imported assets. 

I’d make use of the option to create custom paths for imported images because it’s unique for Doodly and is quite captivating to watch.

I do think Doodly is worth buying if the functionalities I’ve presented in this review are enough for what you want to create and you don’t have the funds for more premium tools. 

If you are going to create a lot of videos, either as a freelancer, an e-learning developer, or course creator, I’d invest the time and money in a tool like Vyond instead. 

But I know that there is a huge market for good-enough tools like Doodly, which gives you just enough to make decent whiteboard videos and nothing more. 

If you are ready to try out Doodly yourself, you’ll support me if you sign up for it using this link.

If you’re still in doubt about what tool to choose, check out my other comparisons and reviews of Doodly, Vyond, VideoScribe, Animaker, and more.

Thanks for reading along, remember to take care of yourself and those around you.

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