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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2016 8:41 pm
by herbert123
Greg: a Toonz paperless workflow guide, which includes high-quality (broadcast quality) tutorial materials is available here:

It describes in detail how to setup puppet character and animate them. Although I would probably organize the puppets in a different way myself, it still is very useful.

Compared to Anime Studio it does feel clunkier in places, and AS offers much, much more in terms of this type of puppet animation.

What I DO find great in OT compared to AS:
  • the imported SVG outlines remain identical looking in OT. In AS this is just not an option - if I want quality drawings, I am forced to draw in Anime Studio. And I just do not like drawing in AS that much - I dislike the "feel". The trouble is that I cannot use other vector drawing tools to do my drawings since AS uses a different type of curve math/type which is rather incompatible with what the rest of the market uses - and this causes the conversions to be abysmal. Fixing those drawings in AS is not an option either - takes too long, and redrawing/tracing takes less time.
  • the project management tools. Wow. Love those. I believe the next version of AS will improve things in this regard, however.
  • the schematic view (nodes) both for the scene structure as well as the built-in compositor. How I would love those in AS. It just makes things SO much easier to work with in complex projects.
  • the convert to vector option. In AS the equivalent trace option is just terrible - in OT a clean centerline option generates a clean single path, and the relative thickness is parametric. In AS the trace function creates outlines - ugh. Unusable. Aside from that, OT offers very nice cleaning options too in case you want to import a paper drawing as the basis for a character.
  • the Xsheet. It is a joy to work with. Toonboom also supports an Xsheet, but it falls short of the one in OT. I know, the horizontal timeline has its advantages, and I would love to have both options. A vertical timeline also makes more sense in terms of screen space (screens are much wider than they are high nowadays)

However, the main thing keeping me from doing a lot of work in AS are the drawing tools. The developers ought to have a look at ClipStudio (Manga Studio) - those drawing tools are incredibly well thought-out, powerful, flexible, yet really simple and quick to use - and vector based.

I always struggle in AS in this regard. And the trouble is that importing and/or tracing is not an option either. If only the drawing tools and (more importantly) import of vector formats would be improved in AS. AS kinda resembles an independent island nation - the interoperability with other software should REALLY be improved in my opinion. :(


PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2016 10:04 pm
by Psmith

Unfortunately, (or fortunately), my tablet drawing skills are pretty terrible. I can draw on paper just fine, but tablets make me nervous - and the lines suffer for it. Takes up more desk space, too.

So, I've learned to "model" my characters using those most excellent (and non-standard) curve tools found in Anime Studio. I absolute do, and have hated bezier curves and their related tools since they were introduced into software. This is the big downside of OpenToonz, for me.

On a Vector level, the good old "A" shortcut in Anime Studio makes creating clean lined characters a breeze. (Why not import a hand drawn sketch and use the "A" tool to do a trace?).

Yet, concerning Anime Studio's Bones, I don't like the way they end up distorting a vector drawing. All the workarounds don't help me much. The "envelope" distortion method falls short, in my opinion.

On the other hand, OpenToonz' "Plastic" is actually quite fantastic - its Bone implementation really fast, logical and easy - and using a triangulated mesh of your own devising, for distortion, is brilliant. Only Creature has something similar.

To be honest with you, I absolutely despise cutout animation (the rigid sort) - of every variety. I would never use it. Yet, using OpenToonz "Plastic" meshes and bones allows really simple and straightforward character creation - with amazing and controlled distortion properties. It works equally well on raster drawings, too. Nearly every sort of shape distortion is all available within the Plastic Paradigm. The only downside is that elements without an outline suddenly develop a thin outline when placed on another element of similar color.

And what about Head turns and Body turns that everyone seems to be slathering for? Well, in OpenToonz you can finely control "Z-Depth" by animating the "Sorting Order" of each Bone Node. You heard me right - animated Z-Ordering (on the fly) for every Bone Node. A limb, or part of a limb - or facial feature can start out at one depth - and end up in another - all without a lot of Tom Foolery. This, I'm sure you will agree, makes creating Head and Body turns incredibly fast and intuitive - along with characters which naturally stretch and bend and distort in every way, with great control on every frame. Come back Tex Avery!

A good workaround to a vertically aligned X-Sheet (with a shortage of keyframe type indications) - can be found by never placing an "Edit Tool" keyframe at the exact spot occupied by a "Plastic" keyframe - and then notating every kind of keyframe using the Post-It notes. (Like commenting code).

So, finally, I'm having a slight change of heart toward OpenToonz - at least for creating and finalizing characters and their associated animations. Tex Avery style.

Greg Smith


PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2016 9:09 am
by herbert123
Good news, a flurry of new developments and issues tackled in the latest builds:

1) it is now possible to work with pixels as a physical unit - which means no longer does the user have to worry about the PPI value potentially embedded in the meta data of an image. 1 pixel equates 1px when an image is imported, no matter its PPI setting.

For some work this is truly preferable to work with - for example, pixel art animations.

2) the dreaded sub-Xsheet crash when sub-Xsheets with plastic mesh deformations are embedded in a scene is now resolved.

3) Pencil Test is now renamed to "Camera Test" and a lot of improvements to the webcam capture have been integrated based on feedback on the first implementation. The return key is the standard capture key now.

4) ...and usability issues are now discussed and implemented as well. The edit tool will be improved soon, I gather.

5) Turtletooth (one of the new developers) is integrating MP4, GIF, and Webm export. It already works in his portable version.

Greg, I noticed you are posting bugs and suggestions on github too - great!


PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2016 11:59 pm
by JaMike
Psmith wrote:Mike:

If you argue with me - I will argue back.

I'm not looking to argue, just to discuss. It doesn't help anybody if either of us are misinformed. :)

Psmith wrote:You say all of the major studios that I named (ILM, Dreamworks, Cartoon Network), are outsourcing the majority of their animation and CG effects to Canada? What, who, when, how much? Cite your sources, please. Animation produced by animators working in Canada is quite expensive.

You also named Disney in your original post. Now, since this is a 2D animation forum and we're discussing another 2D animation package, I'm talking about 2D animation, not 3D series or VFX (although looking at the credits of most big movies nowadays, you'll see Canadian VFX companies on them). The Canadian dollar is valued quite low, and the subsidies you get for producing in Canada are substantial.

So, just a list of series done in Canada from those studios? Let's see, there's Lion Guard, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Tangled, those new Mickey Mouse shorts, Teen Titans Go, Rick & Morty. Dawn Of The Croods was started in Canada but DW weren't happy with the results they were getting from using Toon Boom Harmony, so they went overseas on that to do it hand-drawn (I'll give you that one :) ).

The point is, it's so economically wise to produce in Canada, it's now the first place networks look. Older series may still be produced overseas, and bad, cheap ones, but Canada is where it's at. I know because I've been looking to move over there to work.

Psmith wrote:Regarding those animation studios which are continually and profitably making stop motion animated films in the West - I think you named all 2 of them. What happened to good 'ole Nick Park?

Working on his new film, "Early Man", if I recall. :)

Psmith wrote:The shrinking of commercial animation products made by westerners living in the west is surely happening - and maybe this does serve to put the existing, (high priced and traditionally based), commercial 2D software market in the death throes.

As Toonz Premium has proved, the days of $6000 2D software are over. Even Toon Boom have had to climb down from their astronomical prices in order to stay afloat.

Psmith wrote:You are right, (and so I said): software manufacturers never make promises to their paying customers - but they do help to fuel rumors and hearsay generated by the paying customers themselves - by lending credibility to their "privilege" of making "Feature Requests". It is what paying beta testers live on.

I don't think that's limited to software - that's just marketing. Although the new Harmony 14 tag line "the future of 2D animation" is probably going to come back and bite them. :)

Psmith wrote:Your previous comments regarding the need for quality OpenToonz tutorials - and a decreasing need for Blender tutorials did cause me to reconsider.

That's great news! I did not seek to argue, just to encourage, but if stoking your fire is what it took, then I stand by what I said. :) There IS a need for what you've been doing, and I'm really glad you're back!


PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2016 5:16 pm
by Psmith

To be honest, I've never heard of, nor am I interested in those "series" you named. I can't help but add that almost everything modern that I have exposed my eyes and ears to makes me nauseas. The storylines are infantile or "adult" beyond tolerance for me. I'm stuck in the values that were present in animation back in the 30's and then, partially, in the 50's of the last century. I can't help it - that's what I grew up with and gained comfort and entertainment from. I learned to value that representation of quality.

Those story and animation values do not exist today in any commercial products that I have viewed.

For those who have scarcely watched any of the old cartoons, they need an education in paying careful attention to those standards from that era - the story, the humor and the animation quality.

For those of us fortunate enough to have a good education in "antique" animation, we would do well to use all of our strength and talent and insight to regain that lost quality. An animation Renaissance must begin at once.

One primary thing can aid us the most in this pursuit - tools that allow us to emulate the look and feel of ancient animation, while significantly reducing the labor and time and number of animators needed to produce such a product. OpenToonz has a surprising number of these tools - but they are scarcely developed and must mature, soon.

As people passionate about animation, why would we settle for the downgraded and degraded animation standards of today - when we have a superior product from yesterday as an example, possibly within our grasp today? It's not an unrealistic goal - if we apply the present technology to produce such a superior and antique result.

Regarding the Canadian animation market - it is most definitely a compromised one, with a view to the quality that I have mentioned - catering to the substandard needs of the Hollywood film merchants.

No doubt, the demand exceeds the supply that is available in Canada for producing such films. But, this doesn't help the needed non-Canadian animators much - since the costs and requirements for living and working in Canada are very high. Permanent residency in Canada is very difficult to obtain.

Those producers who look at cost as the bottom line may see this difficulty, and cut to the chase by moving production, right from the start, to the far cheaper studios in the mystical East. Good for the East, bad for the West.

One thing I will say about the Hollywood film peddlers - they have greatly succeeded - over the past 50 years or so - of systematically conditioning each growing generation of cartoon watchers to first accept and then embrace lower and lower and lower quality animation and story - the calibre of entertainment, in general. So much so, that the "animation" these new generations of consumers view and laugh at are no more than sequences of still imagery with tatty dialog attached - a complete victory of generational programming of the mind and soul.

Greg Smith


PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2016 5:30 pm
by Psmith
Regarding examples of modern animation - and the lack of quality therein - I've found one example, made by an individual animator, producer, musician, etc. (this may be very old news for some of you) that exemplifies and perhaps exceeds the standards of the classic animated shorts we all know:

"How to Make a Seven Minute Film in Just Eight Years"

Tis a sad story - but a humorous one - with a lesson for each of us.

Greg Smith


PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2016 11:13 am
by jahnocli
I've seen it before but it was great to see it again!


PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2016 7:52 pm
by synthsin75
That was great, Greg. I'd never seen it before.


PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2016 7:51 pm
by JaMike
Psmith wrote:Regarding examples of modern animation - and the lack of quality therein - I've found one example, made by an individual animator, producer, musician, etc. (this may be very old news for some of you) that exemplifies and perhaps exceeds the standards of the classic animated shorts we all know:

"How to Make a Seven Minute Film in Just Eight Years"

It's a great short - but the guy spent a lot of time and money on it, more than most of us could afford. Funny that the software only accounts for 5% of his expenses (since this thread is about free software).

Did he make any money out of it? He has more work here -

You picked a very expensive short as an example of good work. And it wouldn't have been much cheaper to make with free software. The question is, can people do such high quality on a low budget using free software? Even the Blender shorts cost a ton of arts funding.

But this is maybe a discussion for another thread, we don't want to hijack this one with talking about 3D shorts. :oops:


PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2016 11:13 pm
by Psmith

To me, the story of the making of "The Passenger" was a treatise on self deception and obsession - two things that can happen with animators who are both talented and ambitious. It's easy to be unrealistic in the estimation of our ability to produce animated content - whether it be for sale or just for show.

The 3D aspect of his production just added mountains of complexity and frustration to what was already a daunting endeavor, even if it had been a 2D production.

Chris Jones used Lightwave - way back in the late 90's, to produce this "short" - and it was not cheap software. I think his calculation of the money spent on both hardware and software - over the eight years he toiled making the film - was more like $20,000 - out of the $60,000 he spent to maintain human life and make the film at the same time.

He had the advantage over most of us by being suitably employed in a related industry - being frugal - and having the savings of $60,000.

What is the lesson for those of us seeking to learn this powerful software that is, at least for now, both free of cost and requiring only modest hardware to run? One lesson may be, "make hay while the sun shines" - and another may be, "I need all the help I can to complete my animation endeavors - technologically speaking.

OpenToonz "freeness" also cannot hurt any such endeavor - not one little bit.

We better get with it . . .

Greg Smith


PostPosted: Tue Aug 02, 2016 1:55 am
by Psmith
I've ceased holding back on making more videos involving OpenToonz, because the software now works relatively reliably (many bugs squashed) - and I've spent considerable time finding some ideal methods for creating Classic Cartoon Characters - and animating them convincingly - with a minimum of time and effort:

I hope you all learn and enjoy OpenToonz,

Greg Smith


PostPosted: Tue Aug 02, 2016 10:26 pm
by JaMike
That's great Greg, keep it up! I look forward to seeing more of your videos.


PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2016 3:50 pm
by herbert123
New version 1.1 released!

Grab it while it's hot ;-) ... tag/v1.1.0

Big new features:
- "Pixels" option as an absolute measurement unit - no more DPI or relative scaling when working in this mode.
- Brush stroke stabilizer while drawing
- Camera Capture feature: use your webcam to capture frames, perform pencil tests, etc. Includes onion skinning option!
- Integrated FFmpeg for import/export mp4, webm and gif formats (to activate FFmpeg support, you must download FFmpeg from and point OT at it in the import/export preferences. For longer sequences you may have to increase the FFmpeg timeout)

Other improvements:
- Added Spanish translation
- Enable to set a shortcut to maximize the pane / the entire room.
- Enable to toggle “Show Lines with Thickness 0” from the context menu of the viewer.
- “Drawing Substitution Forward/Backward” commands to switch the drawing at the current frame to next/previous one in the level.
- Store the toolbar state
- Level Create Popup sets default name and updates paths correctly.
- Added "Autopaint for Lines" indicator on Palette.
- Optimized the Configure Shortcuts popup.
- Changed default bg color for Level Export command to avoid black background in non-alpha output formats.
- Removed ctrl key requirement from Function Curves graph editor.

And many bug fixes, and a number of GUI improvements.


PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2016 7:35 pm
by rave
Thank you for this good news.


PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2016 8:20 pm
by dkwroot
Opentoonz looks great, I just wish they'd add the option to make the timeline horizontal. Vertical x-sheet is great for frame-by-frame, but cutout animators prefer horizontal. It's the difference between being able to see more of the canvas when you draw verses seeing more of the timeline when you animate. I know it's a petty grievance, but the vertical timeline just really turns me off.