Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Inking In Harmony

I roughed this character's body on 2 layers
1) Body
2) arms (because I wanted to overlap the timing of his arm with his body

Then I made another layer above the 2 rough layers, just for my cleanups
You can turn off individual layers and just see the clean up. I go back and forth to check everything. One problem is that the layers underneath are just as dark as the layers above so it makes it hard to see what you are doing. But you can turn on "light table" to make the other layers less opaque. (if you can find it). I would rather be able to just set a & for other layers but that doesn't seem to be an option. If you know how to do this, let me know!
You can turn on onion skin to see the progress of your cleanups and make sure they are connecting smoothly
You can control the thickness of the lines by setting the numbers. My character starts in the scene big and then flies away and gets small.
For the bigger drawings, I set the width at 40, then as he gets smaller, I reset the width as I go until it becomes about 3.

This way the relative thickness of the lines stays as consistent as I want.

It takes practice to control the thick and thin lines, but the brush is pressure sensitive and after awhile I got the hang of it.

It is much easier to get good lines in Harmony than in Flash. I assume it's the same for Animate Pro. Now that I am used to it, I would never go back to Flash or even paper to animate.

You can also change the thickness of the lines by pressing the "O" button on the keyboard. It doesn't always work, but when it does, it's faster than setting the numbers in the menu.

The less menu items you have to drag around or find, the less you break the flow of your animating.

Unfortunately, too many essential commands are buried in multiple mystery menus and I am constantly having to stop being creative to find and reset things that should be more obvious, but I will make a list of some of those and suggest that Toonboom make them easier to use.

I will get Alex to upload this clip both in rough and clean form so you can see how they look moving.


Noel said...

"Now that I am used to it, I would never go back to Flash or even paper to animate".
You prefer this to paper????
I'm pleasantly surprised to hear this :))

Marcelo Marcati said...

I've been fooling around with TVPaint for a while, and like it very much. My first impression is that I like it better than ToonBoom because it feels less "vectory" and more "painterly". Have you ever used it?

Marcelo Marcati said...

I've been fooling around with TVPaint for a while, and like it very much. My first impression is that I like it better than ToonBoom because it feels less "vectory" and more "painterly". Have you ever used it?

Yoni Goodman said...

Try using the "onion skin" (bottom of the toolbar- red layers and eye icon)- much more useful than Lighttable in my opinion, and the you can just select the layers you want to see in the timeline window (the icon next to the lock icon)
By default, onion skins have a red for previous frame and blue for next frame, but you can change it to just a transperant version of the drawing by going to TOOLS-preferences-drawing and changing the onionskin renderer to "normal". on the left there's a wash value and opacity value to how much you want the previous layer to be visable. I use 0.2 for wash values and 0.2-0.6 to opacity.
The reason O doesn't always work was because every window has a different set of shortcuts that works only if your marker is on that window- so if you want "o" to work you have to be in the Stage area

BlakeJ said...

Great to see some more progress, and I'm also surprised that you would prefer this program to animating on paper!

I haven't used Flash or Harmony, but I have used several drafting programs (for engineering purposes), and these types of programs just take some getting used to, and they soon become second nature.

Damiano D said...

Wow, I'm surprised (and glad) that the animation software is getting better. It's making me very optimistic about the future.

Sandra Rivas said...

Great post! It's nice to know you found a better program than Flash!

JohnK said...

I'm also surprised that you would prefer this program to animating on paper!

well it doesn't feel better than paper and pencil, but you can play it back instantly

and you can get pretty clean lines fast

one problem it has is controlling the shapes

like other vector programs the brush doesn't always draw what you drew-it changes the shapes slightly

I don't know why no one can fix that

Steven M. said...

Great to see your getting the hang of the program. Hopefully they'll take your advice and fix it to perfection.

Thiago Levy said...

John, how efficient is this program? By that I mean, could you produce a cartoon show without having to send it over sees? Does it compromise quality in animation or in any other aspect? If you had harmony on Ren and Stimpy how would that be?

This stuff you are working on looks very fresh and original!

Steini said...

"like other vector programs the brush doesn't always draw what you drew-it changes the shapes slightly

I don't know why no one can fix that"

Turning 'smoothness' and 'contour optimization' all the way down to 0 helps with that.

Steini said...

"like other vector programs the brush doesn't always draw what you drew-it changes the shapes slightly

I don't know why no one can fix that"

Try turning 'smoothness' and 'contour optimization' down all the way to 0.

JohnK said...

I've tried that too but it still changes the shapes...

Zoran Taylor said...

Are there any programs left that let you just scan in animation drawings, clean them up on another layer and delete the first layer? It seems elaborate and redundant, I know, but if I have a choice I would prefer to ANIMATE, if not produce animated films, on paper for as long and as often as I can. I feel the same way about BGs. I still think they should be done with actual paint. Are any of the backgrounds in the Lost Episodes done in goache or acrylic, etc?

Corey said...

you could probably attach a 'fade' module onto the individual elements if you want to control the opacity percentage. You'd do that in the network view.

Peggy said...

Yeah, you just kinda learn to live with your strokes not coming out quite like what you drew, after a while. When I'm drawing stuff in Illustrator and it refuses to get the exact fiddly line I want after a couple tries, I usually zoom in and/or use the pen tool.

Does Harmony do that thing Flash does where the effective size of your brushes changes when you zoom in, or does the on-screen size of a brush get bigger like it does in art programs written by sane people?

Seth Benson said...

I have not used Harmony, however most decent programs should allow you to set your own shortcuts with keyboard combos. You could manually set Ctrl Shift L if you wanted for Turning on LightTable function blah blah.

Totallllly worth looking into.

Jonathan Harris said...

This program does look pretty super. Toon Boom's site isn't totally clear, but it seems like Harmony is a suite of their other programs, so Animate Pro is basically included in Harmony along with a compositing interface and other pipeline and networking features? Or is it something different?

I'd love an excuse to try something better than Flash, but all the small studios I've worked at in London use it so there's almost no point even learning anything else right now. Maybe the bigger places use other things though.

Geneva said...

I really like that you were so gracious to show us screen shots! Looking forward to more.

K-T said...

Atta boy, Johnny! Can't wait to see this new animation, man! Hopefully we'll be seeing much more work from you, eh?


smackmonkey said...

Big John K sed:

"like other vector programs the brush doesn't always draw what you drew-it changes the shapes slightly

I don't know why no one can fix that"

I think it depends on how often the vector program drops a plot point onto the field and that the manufacturers don't want to bog down some poor art student's two year old laptop with too much input.

It seems most of the vector programs completely suck with Flash being among the worst for accurate drawing (well, there are some that are even worse but no one uses them). I still prefer to import a sketch from some other source, clean it up in Illy and then export to Flash. To each his own, I guess. You used to be pretty particular about how thick and thin line work was handled so I'm surprised you're happy with any vector program. I'm looking forward to more of your thoughts.

JohnK said...

It's very easy to do thick and thin in Harmony. That's its best feature

smackmonkey said...

Can you keep the line width consistent from drawing to drawing or do you get a lot of crawl? Could a beginning inbetweener have decent results or do you need the trained hand of a pro from start to finish?

JohnK said...

I guess it depends on the artist.

First you have to understand the logic of thick and thin and hierarchy of forms

second you have to have good hand control

but if you have those 2 things, then Harmony makes it fairly easy - with practice.

David Germain said...

Wow! If I were able to afford Harmony (or anything for that matter) I think it might be something that I'd like to try working in. I think I've learned the basic ropes of Flash (hell, I rendered my entire comic book in Flash) but I am sadly aware of its limitations. Harmony sounds great the way you descibe it.
I remember working as a clean up artist at an animation studio in Halifax. The show was animated almost entirely classically in Flash, very rough of course which we clean up artists were instructed to make it look good. The animators were instucted to NEVER EVER EVER draw the rough animation in black. Even a dark blue was frowned upon. If any of us on the cleam up crew saw any animation like that we were to report it immediately. Your problem with seeing the clean up lines over the rough brought this to mind.


SoleilSmile said...

Wow. You won't go back to paper? Wow. I must say it again; wow!

Noel said...

John K @ 1:46 you say ,roughly,: "i'm also surprised to hear ((you)) prefer this program to paper" ,so, you (John K) didn't write the post??? cause if YOU (John) prefer the program to paper that means a whoooole lot.

Seth Benson said...

@smackmoney learn by doing :)

TheLittleBlackCat said...

Something I've found useful:
I always rough with a "rough palette", red, blue, gray, etc., that I load into each scene, where I set the opacity. Gives me a feeling of building up the line when I find the right one.
It also allows selecting only that specific color within a drawing, and altering or deleting those strokes without affecting any of the others.
When I go to cleanup, I can dial down the opacity again if needed.
Gotta love the palette system!
Have you tried out the "Shift and Trace" feature?

J C Roberts said...

I've got no choice other than Flash for now, but I do agree the brush is very aggravating. The thing that bugs me is the program can display a decent line as you're drawing it, but as soon as you complete the stroke it snaps into a mutant version. I easily spend more time fixing each line than drawing them. You can get the right results but the extra time it takes is probably unacceptable for most projects.

If Harmony's lines are truer to each brushstroke that would be a big timesaver. The clean vector lines are a must for me but I don't enjoy the struggle to get them. Of course, there's no point in my looking into Harmony (or whichever version) unless they start offering a discount version priced at, well, let's say "5 bucks!" I'm sure I could learn it fairly quick, though.

Alex said...

my alternative to onion skinning is that I do my sketching in one specific color, doesnt matter which one at first, then when I need to work over my old lines I start a new layer with a new color.

BUT, then you double click on the color swatch of the sketching color, you can endlessly mess with it, I like to turn the opacity down to around 100 so you can easily see through them and they don't distract at all.

hope that helps

JohnK said...

How do you turn down the opacity? I ask every day about that!


Yoni Goodman said...

In the edit menu, go to Properties, and then to the "drawing" tab.
on your left you'll find "minimum wash" and "maximum wash" for onion skin and for light table (and also opacity for onion skin)
1 is the highest 0 is none. you have to play with it
I found that 0.6 for maximum and 0.2 for minimum works best

J C Roberts said...

Are you referring to the opacity of fill brush colors (not lines), and being able to draw with a semi-transparent color?

If so, looking at a user guide I see the color picker is different between PC & Mac. I believe I saw a Mac desktop beneath a recent Harmony screen shot you posted. If so, the color picker they show in the guide doesn't show where the "alpha" control is, but the PC version does.

It's one of those little color picker windows that usually defaults to a big multi-colored circle, and has 4 other modes along the top of the window. Maybe the opacity is in one of those. What I found was a PDF manual for Toon Boom Studio 4, so if it's too different from Harmony it may not apply.

It's difficult to troubleshoot a program I don't have, where they don't show all the settings windows available in the manual.
I don't want to provide a lot of confusing details and then turn out to be pointing to the wrong issue.

smackmonkey said...

My interest is in the ability for a small independent studio to hire and train local talent without the prerequisite of a college degree in animation. That's how I learned!

@ Seth Bensen - Buy me Harmony and I will ;)

TheLittleBlackCat said...

Yoni - that's a good tip. Thanks!

To change color opacity, in the "Colour" tab double-click a palette color and adjust the 'Alpha' slider on the editor that pops up.
You can also use that with gradient colors to do fade and blush efx.

Alex said...

in the colors tab, you just double click on the rectangle swatch of color next to it's name and it'll bring up a contextual menu for that color specifically, letting you change tones and up contrast and just about alter it any way you can imagine, there is a slider that says ALPHA, turn that down to about half and do your finished line work in another color.

when it's all done you can go back to your sketching color swatch and delete it, or turn the opacity down all the way making your sketch lines invisible. this can help if you did both rough and finished lines on the same layer. or hell, change the color to a gradient going from white to black so you can have a highlight and shade built in, and you still have the option of lowering the opacity of the gradient too.


this guy makes hands down the best toon boom tutorials, I thought I knew this program until I saw how he used it. watch his introduction series, or his streaming account, which i cannot find the link to at the moment. his name is Adam Phillips, he broadcasts his enitre animation process, super informative

zmerrill said...

"I don't know why no one can fix that"

Vector drawing is a computing algorithm, used to approximate the calculated lines to the drawing. Lines from non-proportioned drawings usually consist of irrational numbers, and the algorithm attempts to round that number to the nearest thousandth or hundredth. It is simply a minor limitation of mathematics, and not much can be done about that.

kurtwil said...

JK, moving to Toon Boom is probably the best thing that could have happened to your animation process.
Key Disney animators have said the same: that they were never going back to paper once they learned Toon Boom!

Unlike Flash (or anything from Adobe), Toon Boom started as software specifically for animation production (Disney Australia was one of its first users), and US Animation/Toon Boom Technology has hewed to the animation market for many years.

These Toon Boom topics are great - please keep them going! If you (JK) haven't, be sure Toon Boom hears of your comments and suggestions! They do listen!

kurtwil said...

Jonathan, Toon Boom Animate Pro is essentially a single seat (artist + workstation) of Harmony.

Harmony is an entire network of animation seats monitored by a supervisor seat: in effect, Harmony is an entire digital animation studio.

Toon Boom is primary designed to work in vector format (it also offers some Bit Map and 3D import/animation capabilities).

BTW, do any of the artists here using TB have comments about ways to nicely shade characters? Most TB animation is flat or with simple hand drawn shadow/light mattes - rather dull. It would be __so__ nice to be able to get dimensional (not harsh CGI) lighting working on Toon Boom characters.

JohnK said...

I think they told me animatepro is not compatible with Harmony, which seems crazy to me.

Just an obstacle in the way of spreading the product among the animation world.

Jeeeem said...

You can go from Harmony and export it out to Animate Pro but not as easy to got the other way. Thanks for the posting. I look forward to hearing more about your toonboom adventures.

Joshua Kahan said...

Hi John,

I have had a similar problem with onion skinning in flash. I'm certain that this can be done in harmony. I do all my rough drawings in a blue or red and take the alpha to about 30% on a separate layer.

This way I can see the rough drawings underneath clearly enough to draw over them.

To do this in toon boom/harmony is quicker than flash all you do is select the entire layer or drawings you want to change, go to the colour picker and drag the alpha to a level you are happy with.

Hope that helps.

david gemmill said...

in flash, when i would "clean up" ruff animation i would select the layer it's on and just change(recolor) the lines to a grayed out color (almost the same asdropping the opacity). I don't know how easy it is to change the color of your ruff line drawings, but that might be a solution for clean up, or the alternative to dropping the opacity. This program seems really cool!

thanks for posting. Glad to see you are animating. It must feel empowering. Too bad other veterans aren't following your example. their loss.

J C Roberts said...

I knew someone else would have a clearer answer, even though it's largely the same as I thought after looking through their user guide.

I've got to admit after looking through it though, it gave me the same feeling I had back in '02 when I tried a trial version. The sample artwork they show is poor to awful, and it actually had an impact on my impression of the software. In the section on drawing with the brush, the sample drawing is horribly pixelated, like a 36 dpi bitmap. If it's a vector program, why use a lousy sketch with jagged edges to demonstrate it?

So in addition to making some feature improvement suggestions, someone should offer to provide better artwork examples for future manuals. Mr Chunky Pixels rides a bike and goes skiing aren't a great way to show off what the program can do. Maybe the documentation for Harmony is better?

Steini said...

"I've tried that too but it still changes the shapes..."

Not as much though.

I think it's a commn problem with vectors. It's just a lot more guesswork and interpretation that the computer has to do with vectors rather than raster. Not only does it have to record the movement and pressure like with raster, it also has to turn them into vector control points and handles. It can only do this after the line has been completed (you've lifted the pen off the tablet). What you're seeing as you're drawing the line, I think, is just a raster approximation of the final vector line.

Williaint said...

I've had Animate Pro 2 for about 7 months now, but have barely looked at it. Several of these months I was working on 'Studio'; Harmony looks a lot like Animate Pro 2.

Also, I've used TVP and can honestly tell you that drawing with the bitmaps (Or painterly) style is not complimentary to animation. If you want painted Backgrounds, use Photoshop.

MistahB said...

Was that Private Snafu that you worked on in the last post on Harmony? If so, then will you show that to us? Unless if it isn't that good to show then I understand.

Jason Bierut said...

@ Kurtwil,

To shade your characters, you need to be familiar with the network view.

You need an "Apply Peg Transformation" node, a second peg on that node and a shadow or highlight node. Attach these three things to your character group. (if you are not familiar with the network view, I'm afraid you will be stuck).

An apply peg transformation node duplicates your character without creating new layers. The peg offsets the duplication using the actual character as the mask.

Read about how to apply highlights and shadows in the Toonboom help guide.

adrian said...

Not sure if Harmony is the same as Animate Pro (which I have) but there's a cool feature to draw on OVER and UNDER layers of a drawing. (Each drawing layer actually consists of 4 layers: line, color, over and under)...

I use the under layer to draw my roughs and that way when I do my clean-ups on the drawing layer the timing is perfect and I don't have to create any new drawing frames....

Just thought I'd share that!


JohnK said...

Thanks Adrian!

I will check that out.

Unknown said...

Hello I have an issue with toonboom harmony colors. Black is alright obviously but for the others I can only see the colors until I export the movie. I can't see the colors when I'm drawing . is there any way to fix this issue? I tried updating the new version but it didn't help either. Thanks.