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Toon Boom Studio FAQ Pages -Drawing and Painting

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Object Drawing Model

One of the new features of Flash 8 is the Object Drawing Model. Prior versions of Flash only supported the Merge Drawing Model. But in Flash 8 you can toggle between these two approaches. Merge drawing is like it sounds, when one line/shape overlaps another line/shape they merge, or if you put a shape over another shape the shape on bottom appears to get eliminated. We all have used this and also lamented this sometimes. The work around was to group lines or shapes to protect them from these types of merges. This is not required with object drawing which separates line/shapes and does not merge the overlapping pieces.

TBS V3 also has this type of drawing feature. It isn't talked about as object drawing mode or merge drawing mode but the functionality is there. In TBS V3 you can select a menu choice called "Draw Top Layer" which is in fact the same thing as the Merge Drawing Model in Flash. Or if you toggle off "Draw Top Layer" you get the same results as the Flash Object Drawing Model. Different names same functionality.

Eraser, Scissors and Cutter

I thought you might enjoy these features of TBS V3 and a comparison to Flash for the same functionality. TBS V3 has three tools for making cuts in drawn objects. They are the cutter, (icon is a xacto knife) the scissor and the eraser. The eraser is basically just like the eraser in Flash. It is a bit more adjustable in setting the size of the erasing stroke because you can set it just like you can set a pencil or line tool but basically it is just an eraser. The Flash eraser has some options that I haven't yet discovered in TBS related to selectivity of only lines or only fills when you erase so that still needs some research on my part.

The scissor tool works like using either the lasso tool or the select tool in Flash to make a cut of an object or collection of objects. You can make a rectangular cut like you would get with the selection tool or you can make a free form shape cut like you get with the lasso. And just as in Flash, unless you move the cut out selection there is no actual cut made when you de-select it.

But the cutter tool in TBS is a new tool in V3 and it is very different and I think an improvement to the tools available in Flash. With the cutter tool you can make a stroke through an object and it is just like you cut it with a sharp xacto blade. You don't need to move anything, just make your cut and it exists. This is really useful for breaking up a character to create parts for cut out animation or for any task that requires being able to create a cut in a line or shape without moving it. In Flash this can sort of be done by using the pencil or line tool to cut the object in merge drawing mode but for those of us who are use to doing that it is a tedious multi- step process requiring cleaning up the extra lines after the cut. With the TBS cutter tool there are no extra lines created so not any clean up. Think about how many times you needed to cut a connected fill shape just so you could just select part of that shape. The cutter tool makes this super clean and easy.

I may be wrong and there may be another way to make one step clean cuts in objects in Flash but right now I can't think of as clean an approach as provided by the TBS V3 cutter tool.

Onion Skinning Colors

You can set the display color of the previous drawing and the next drawing for onion skinning. This is a helpful feature because it is easier to identify the order of the poses when doing your inbetweening. This is certainly not a must have feature, but definitely a nice customization to the workflow. I often find in onion skinning in Flash, when going back to put in the inbetweens, that I get confused about my pose order and have to flip back and forth between frames to refresh my understanding. This is less of a problem in TBS with different colors on display. You can do something similar in Flash by using the outline mode but it isn't as helpful.

Pen Definitions

Another great feature of TBS is the flexible way you can define pens with great control over the thick and thin sensitivity of your tablet. You can have many different pen settings with varying sensitivity ranges and different smoothing attributes. And assigned pen / brush colors too. I'm not sure if Flash 8 addresses this better than Flash 7 but this is certainly a nice feature. Again I am not trying to create a Flash VS TBS comparison except to point out features that TBS has that are interesting. Flash having an open architecture has more potential flexibility but that's plug in dependent.

Color Palettes

TBS comes with the capability to create character color palettes. You can create a pallet and name it for each character and call up these character palettes as needed when painting. You also can customize versions of these character palettes for different environmental reasons like a night time version that is shaded to look different from a bright sunlight version of the same character's color scheme. And it auto updates your existing work if you change an existing named pallet color swatch which is a real time saver.   ( helpful tip )

Paint All Feature

Another interesting feature of TBS 3.01 is the "paint all" feature. This is a shape recognition multi-frame painting feature. If you have a series of frames with a character on them TBS can automatically recognize common "paint fill zones" and when you fill these common zones on one frame TBS fills them on all the other frames at the same time. Now this works really well for speeding up the paint process for a common character where you would normally have to paint the same part of the character on each frame one frame at a time. With this feature you can reduce your work significantly. The design of the character is a factor but it is a nice feature.

Color Management System

One of the very positive strengths of TBS V3 is its paint and color management functionality. TBS provides for the creation of customizable color palettes. Each character or object can have its own color palette which is uniquely named and reusable. A color palette is a collection of swatches and each swatch is also uniquely named. So you can, when designing a character, break that character up into paint zones and by naming those zones and their corresponding color swatch you create a color model. Then you can change the colors of your character just by changing the properties of the associated color palette swatch. It is a global change for each scene where you used that color palette. A swatch can contain a solid color or a gradient color or a bit map texture. This is a very nice addition to your cartoon making tool set because you can now have very good control and consistency of your painting. But there is a lot more.

Not only does TBS have the ability to support customizable reusable color palettes and to perform global color replacements by swatch, but it also supports color styles which are variations on basic color palettes for individual effects in different situations. So two copies of the same color palette can have the same name but have different color style names. So you can have the basic color palette for a character and then have many color style variations based on things like lighting or environmental situations. You can copy or duplicate a color palette and give it a new style name while keeping the original palette name, then you can use really quick tools like tint offsets which let you adjust the colors of all the swatches in that color palette at the same time. For example you could adjust all swatches alpha setting in one step or you could apply a tint blend to blend a specified amount of a color to all the individual swatches in that color palette. So if you wanted to have your character in a situation where you wanted a particular cast lighting effect over their normal color model for example a twilight mood or a fire side mood you can do this with just a single tint blend offset for your color palette for that color style. Oh yes, and if you go back and add a new color swatch to any of the same named color palettes that swatch gets updated on all of the other palettes which share that palette name but have different color styles applied.

TBS provides all of the expected color editing and gradient editing and texture editing features you expect to have and it also provides this really powerful color management system.

Text Tool

One of the areas of deficiency in previous versions of TBS was the lack of a text tool or at least a proper text tool. This has been addressed in V3 and TBS now has a text tool that is functionally like that of Flash. You can add text and set all of the usual parameters. You can also select a text object and by using the break apart menu command the text is separated into individual text objects for each character. And just as in Flash, if you apply the break apart command twice to a text object it is converted into a filled shape.

Text objects can be transformed (moved, rotated, skewed, and scaled) and as expected when converted to being a filled shape they can also be deformed to your heart's content.

So by using the break apart command twice your text is no longer a text object for the purposes of being editable with the text tool but now that it is converted to a drawn shape which you can attach to a peg and contort it to produce all sorts of cartoon like activities.

Additionally, You might want to produce two initial drawings with your text. One where you leave it as a text object and a copy of that drawing where you break it apart into drawn shapes that way you have both forms to play with in your animation work. And if you really want to go crazy you can just keep copying the drawn version of the "text shape" and paste it into new drawings where you can do all sorts of character animation with the individual letter shapes

All in all, the text tool does what you want and need for a text tool to do.

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