How to create a 2D animation cartoon using Toon Boom Studio

by MooiKasteel.Com

Today creating a cartoon is much easier than before the age of today's computers and software. Here is a way to start drawing animated cartoons right away.

To get started you need two things: Toon Boom Studio (an animation software program that is basically THE 2d animation software now), and a computer tablet and pen for drawing with.

Get Toon Boom studio here:

Order from U.S. based shop | Order from U.K. based shop

Get a pen and tablet for drawing with here:

Order here (shipped worldwide)

Once you have it all installed, here is a quick start guide to get you going:

Above: An overview of a simple Toon Boom Project.

Open Toon Boom Studio and select File -> New Project. You'll be presented with a menu for a project name, resolution and frame rate. Since everything is going High Definition now, type in 1920 x 1080 into the resolution boxes. Your frame rate is how fast pictures will show one after the other.

A faster frame rate makes movement look smoother. If you will be playing it back on television, your fastest frame rate in the U.S. and Japan (NTSC) will be 30 frames per second and in England and South Africa (PAL) 25. Not everything needs to be that smooth though; panning or scrolling backgrounds usually need to be at maximum frame rate for the motion to look smooth, but ordinarily you will get a way with having a frame rate of anything from half that to a third of that for your normal character movements, which cuts your drawing work in half or more.

Once the workspace is open, take note of the following windows and tabs:

• A panel with your tools for drawing and coloring etc.

• The Timeline with every element on a timeline

• usually tabbed together Color Palette, Pen, Exposure sheet (ToonBoom is completely customizable so these can be anywhere on the screen and moved to anywhere) .

These are what you will be using most.

Choose a color from the Color Palette Tab and select your pen thickness etc. from the Pen Tab.

Select the Brush from your tools panel:

Now you are ready to draw.

First, select Camera View by clicking the button circled in this picture:

Selecting the camera view means that what you see in the brown rectangle in the main work area is what your camera sees and what will be in your animation. So all you need do is draw and arrange inside this rectangle as you want things to be, and that is what you'll see in your exported video.

To zoom in and out, simply click any area to select it and press Z or X on your keyboard.

In the camera view rectangle, start by drawing a background that covers all of the rectangle. You will see that in your Exposure Sheet Tab there appeared the word "Drawing" and a number. The Exposure sheet is like a timeline that is listed vertically. Every following frame of an element is listed as a new drawing below the previous one.

RIGHT CLICK on this little "Drawing" block in the exposure sheet and you will see a menu to extend the exposure (you can also click on the little Drawing block's lower line to see if you can drag it down to create more exposure in the blocks below it). We're going to add a moving character on this background, and this background will have to stay on screen behind the character, hence the longer "exposure". For now just pick any number of frames; you can delete the unnecessary frames later.

We're going to add a moving character on this background now that walks from one end to the other. On your Exposure Sheet Tab, click the following button:

This will add a second element next to your background on the Exposure Sheet. Make sure it is selected, and then start drawing your first "Drawing" of your character. Select the next empty block in the Exposure Sheet, right below this "Drawing". This is your second frame for this character. Draw it in its second walking position (but still in the same spot on the screen so it would look like he's walking in one place - once we have the cycle we'll repeat it and move the entire character gradually over the screen).

The "Onion Skin" buttons at the top enable you to faintly see previous and/or next drawings to serve as your reference for the current drawing:

Continue until you have a walking cycle. Using holding Shift, select all the "Drawing" blocks of this character in the Exposure Sheet and right click and select from the menu to create a repeating cycle. Your character will now continue walking for the amount of frames you specified.

Press the play button to view the animation so far:

Your character should be walking in one position.

Have a look at the bottom of the screen where your Timeline is. Every element and its trail of activity is represented on this timeline, in relation to each other; where which one appears in relation to which one etc. You can also move each of them right or left to make them appear in the scene later or earlier.

With your walking actor selected, go to the top menu's and select Tools -> Sceneplanning Tools. You are now presented with many aspects of your walking actor that you can animate in addition to its animation so far, like Select (make sure you pick this one again after using one of the others), Transform, Rotate, Skew, Scale and Motion. Select Motion.

You will now be able to click on your character and move it all the way to one side of the Camera View rectangle. Press "i" on your keyboard to set a keyframe for its position.

Now use the red scrubber on your Timeline to move some frames down the line. Select your actor again and move it all the way to the other side of the Camera View. Press "i" again to lock in the keyframe.

Now when you play back your animation, your character should walk from the first keyframe to the last keyframe.

Color your background and character using the coloring tool:

and a color on the Color Palette Tab.

To make a video file out of your animation, select File -> Export Movie. You'll be presented with a menu to name your file and select which format to export as. Simply follow the menu and once your file is exported, you can watch it as you would a normal video file.

This video file can now be imported into your video editing program and you can add sound to it and edit it any way you want. Toon Boom Studio can actually be used to add sound and other elements, but you will find that it gets very heavy on your computer's resources. It may be best to make short animation sequences in Toon Boom Studio and then assemble them all and finish your project in a video editing application.

This should get you started with the very bare essentials of Toon Boom Studio. With practise and experience you will soon know your way around Toon Boom Studio and create funtastic cartoons!