Thursday, 5 March 2020

How to Get Started with Toonboom Harmony

Plamen Ananiev
Plamen Ananiev is returning to Escape Studios on 18 March 2020 to teach our evening class in 2D animation, introducing our students to the art and craft of 2D animation with Toonboom Harmony.

Harmony is now one of the leading software packages for the creation of 2D animation, such as at London-based animation powerhouse Blue Zoo, which recently created a whole new division for 2D animation.

In this post, Plamen explains how students can get started with Harmony, setting up the software to exploit its maximum potential.

Setting Up Your Preferences in Harmony
Before we delve into animation in Toon Boom Harmony, an important step is to set up our preferences. Here’s a list of the ones I use, which comes from a few years of trial and error on my part. Some of the listed ones are recommended, while others are absolutely necessary.

First off, in order to access the Preferences, you’ll need to go to the top left corner of the screen and click Edit- Preferences. Once the Preferences panel opens, there are numerous categories and you can explore them in your own time to see what works for you.  We’ll only be using a few at this stage.

Plamen Ananiev
There are a few important things in this tab, starting with the Auto- Save feature. I always have this enabled as I’m not a fan of losing my progress in case of a crash. I usually find an interval of 10 minutes to be okay.

Next thing is Focus on Mouse Enter. This will enable us to switch from panel to panel in our interface by just hovering over them. It’s not vital to have this on but I find it very intuitive.

Shortcut Zooms on Mouse is also recommended as it will enable us to zoom into where our cursor is, instead of the middle of the screen.

Default Separate Position for Pegs is absolutely vital for our work as it allows us to split our position information into X, Y and Z axes.

Stop-Motion Keyframes is our next feature, and we’ll start by having that on. This will keep our keyframes from automatically inbetweening so we can set up our animation a bit easier. It’s a matter of preference whether you’d like this on or off, however I recommend to start with it turned on.

The settings here affect how our artwork gets rendered in Toon Boom when looking in OpenGL view.
The only setting we need here is Enable composite passthrough for all effects. This is absolutely vital, as if we don’t have it turned on, having multiple cutters may result in our artwork appearing with the wrong masking order in OpenGL view.

There are a few things we need from the Advanced tab but they are quite important.
Support Overlay and Underlay Arts is necessary to give us more layers to split our artwork on. By default we only have line and colour art layers, however this setting will add two more to give us more flexibility in how we layer our drawings.

An important setting we need to make sure is turned OFF if we’re working with rigs is Element Node “Animate Using Animation Tools” Default Value. By having this checkbox unticked we’re making sure that our drawings cannot store any transformation information, so they become only storage containers for our artwork. This is absolutely essential when rigging or working with rigs, as we need to make sure that all our transformations happen on the pegs instead.

Plamen Ananiev
To find out more about Plamen and his animation methods, read this blog post.

Toonboom Harmony Evening Class
Our 2D Animation evening class in Toonboom Harmony is returning on 18 March 2020.
The class runs for 10 weeks, one evening a week (Tuesdays), and is an introduction to animating in Toonboom Harmony, one of the leading software packages for the creation of 2D animation.

The Escape Studios Animation Blog offers a personal view on the art of animation and visual effects. To find out more about our new BA/MArt, now recruiting for September 2020, follow this link.   To apply, visit the official page here

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