Adobe Flash CS3 Vs. Toon Boom Studio3.5?

I’m looking into all software on the market for creating flash style animations. I must say that Adobe’s CS3 line of software has my attention. Toon Boom Studio is also whipering in my ear, but I have not made my mind up yet. I can’t seem to find any real examples of animators using Toon Boom Studio that has impressed me. However, I have found many impressive examples of Adobe Flash creations. Can anyone provide me with examples created in TBS to help me understand the power of TBS? It seems to me at this point that TBS needs Adobe to truely get of the ground if at all. Maybe I’m being hard on TBS, but I hoping someone will prove to me in some way that TBS is truely powerful…the price is great that’s for sure!

You could check the TBS myspace page if you want ot see a bunch of examples of it in action. Cant make promises about quality of all of them of course.

I think the disparity between the number of good toons done in flash & those done in TBS is probably in proportion with the difference in number of users overall. If 75 million people use flash & 4 million use TBS (random numbers) its only natural to see more good flash stuff out there, but I’d bet percentage wise its about the same when comparing junk to quality stuff.

The primary differences I know of between flash & tbs are that TBS is a digital environment that still follows or mimics many of the traditional methods of animation. Flash does not do that. It is strictly geared towards the digital world & does not take any/many traditional approach.

TBS has the ability to work with flash & other adobe products, but it is not at all necessary & is a very powerful piece of software on its own. The only limitation TBS has is really the user’s talent & creativity.

Also, check out the TBS vs. Flash thread if you havent already

If you’re outputting to a video format like avi or quicktime, you don’t need anything else. You can go from TBS to your ipod in a few easy clicks. If you’re looking to use .swf, I guess you do need Flash or something like it to get the job done.

TBS is much more suited to the artistic process with its palettes, pegs, and rotating drawing disk. There are plug ins that will do this for the Flash environment, but then you’re into it for more cash, and you still won’t find a drawing disk in Flash.

Look a little higher up the chain to find Toon Boom in the industry. There are several folks around this forum using Toon Boom Studio for professional work, and a number of secondary and post-secondary schools are using it to teach animation. Other Toon Boom products are used in the making of the Simpsons, King of the Hill, Curious George, and more.

Like any software, it takes some time to get to where it comes easy, but that is true of animating in Flash as well. About a year and a half ago I was about to go back to Flash before I realized I hadn’t properly utilized several of Toon Boom’s most powerful functions. It does cutout style Flash animation, or you can use it for traditional style frame by frame work.

I think in the end it depends on your personal preferences and workflow.

Thanks everyone for your input! My goal is to follow the stop motion approach. I would like to create/sculpt models out of resin/wood. Then place these models on a tabletop environment using a blank background. Next, I want to take pictures, frame-by-frame of the model/action figure in action taking into account how the background would look/shift with the movement of the action figures. My goal is to then take the frame-by-frame pictures of only the action hero and alter them to produce a certain style (apply a filter over the images or re-trace them.) I want to use Toon Boom Studio to not only center my images, but to simply play the entered frames. I would also reply on TBS to help with the background environment/movement. What do you think is TBS up for the task? I own Illustrator CS2 and love the live trace option! I’m finding out that you can simply drag and drop vector graphics straight from Illustrator CS3 into the stage of CS3 flash (no more importing just drag and drop!)

My personal dilemma, I’m a collage student and can purchase software with my student discount. I also have a student’s budget, which is next to nothing. For around $500.00 I can purchase Adobe’s “Web Premium Suite” with includes: Photoshop CS3 Extended, Illustrator CS3, Acrobat 8 Professional, Flash CS3 Professional, Dreamweaver CS3, Fireworks CS3, and Contribute CS3. With the same student discount I can purchase Toon Boom Studio 3.5 for $139.98 (prices from: If I just upgrade my Illustrator CS2 to Illustrator CS3 I will not receive a student discount, I have to pay $199.99. So, if my math is correct for an upgrade for Illustrator and Toon Boom Studio it will cost me $339.97, subtract that from $500.00 and the difference is only $160.03 (or around.) I get the other programs listed above if I pay that extra $160.00. My fear is that besides the drag and drop option Flash CS3 will not be user friendly and I will spend the rest of my life trying to produce something while learning the software. I do love the interface that I have seen using the TBS demo! I have not went through and tired all of the options in TBS. So, my fear with TBS is that it will not be able to produce to my approach. OK…now that I have given everyone my life story. I believe you guys know TBS somewhat? Knowing what you know about all of the above programs…what would you do in my situation?

For the type of work you described wanting to do you don’t want or need the CS3 bundle except maybe Photo Shop. You do need sound editing software and equipment, you do need a DV camera and frame capture software like Stop Motion Pro. You probably will want and need After Effects and a good Non Linear Editor like Premier or Final Cut. You sure don’t want Toon Boom Studio for stop frame animation nor do you want Flash. Toon Boom is much more animator friendly than Flash and great for 2D animation. Flash has added practically nothing useful for animators in the last three releases. But you are researching the wrong stuff for stop motion animation. Just my opinion, but you’re barking up the wrong tree.-JK

Thanks for the great ideas JK-TGRS Final Cut and Stop Motion Pro look very cool and I maybe able to use them in the future! I’m going after the traditional animation look and would like to use the traditional frame-by-frame “cells” found in “old-school” cartoons. Only I will paint the cells using a digital brush. I will only be using the frame-by-frame pictures that I take with a camera of models as templates. I then want to trace over the pictures using a light table creating black lined art. My thought is that I can keep proportions/style constant this way. I’m also looking for very dynamic positions for the figures, which are to hard for me to draw from my imagination. I figure I should play into my strengths. I’m not the greatest animator when it comes to drawing a character from different angles. However, I can proto-type a model and then take pictures from different point of views. Once I have created a storyboard of sorts through taking pictures. I plan to trace and scan the pictures. Once I scan the pictures into my computer I will use Adobe Illustrator’s “live trace” option turning rough drawings in vector images. This is what I’m thinking and I’m not really sure if it will work I’m just thinking out loud. From what I can tell if I produce frame-by-frame drawings in vector format (no matter how I produce them) and can get them into Toon Boom Studio…TBS with play each frame in sequence I believe that is right? So…you truely believe in TBS over flash for 2D animation? Thank you again for your time and input…I hope you write me back to tell me, I’m on the right track or full of you know what…any input will help!

If you want to do 2D animation then I highly recommend TBS over Flash. Most people who use Flash are never really happy with it for animation but they get settled into it and don’t want to spend the effort to learn some other software. We use both, Flash is great for interactive stuff and we do educational website stuff that is interactive so Flash rules for that stuff. But for animating and making cartoons nothing beats TBS for the money. As to your moving vector art from Illustrator CS2 to TBS, I haven’t done it, I believe people do it. Your roto-scoping idea may work for you. You might find shooting DV of real people is easier. Best of luck. -JK


Just a tip on this since its something I have trouble with as well. Something alot of people neglect doing when trying to draw something from a funny angle is acting it out. Either literally do it yourself in a mirror, or you can get a poseable wooden model at any art/craft store. They can be put into just about any position & you can look at them for hours from any angle you’d like. There’s nothing wrong with the approach you’re taking, but if you try to force yourself to draw from your observations, your skill will probably improve much faster than it will by tracing photos. Even better than the wood dolls might be an old stretch armstrong (if they still exist) you could get some real “cartoony” poses out of that I’m sure.

Anyway, good luck with your project(s)

The use of any kind of references is a good idea. Drawing from memory is not the way most people work. Perhaps if a person has drawn the same things over and over many many times they can get to the point that they stop needing references but for the rest of us mortals we need all the help we can get. Most studios have files of reference materials, shoot reference movies, and often make multiple 3D sculpted models of major characters in different poses. The only problem with posable models is that you still don’t have a reference to the actual movement itself. That’s why shooting DV of yourself or a friend or coworker is so much better. You get to watch the action over and over and then you can exaggerate and caricature what you observe. Not to mention the fact that models tell you nothing about the timing or the action while video captures that too. Sculpted models are great for helping you to visualize a character “on model” from different angles but nothing beats video. So, much like computers have made animation so much more accessible, a DV camera is a must have tool. -JK

Thanks for the input I’m absorbing all that you guys say and I truly appreciate your time. The idea of using a digital video camera to capture timing and movement is very true. I believe that I could save some time by video “taping” movement to help in the process. Right now I’m looking forward to creating clips with a racecar that I have designed (this may change.) I guess each project/clip has its own approach to creating the final piece. All of my other questions I have about TBS I believe I can find in the PDF file for TBS. But if I don’t find my answers I will be back! Once again thanks for the info (All of you!)

After reading about all software that is out I have decided togo with Adobe “WEB PREMIUM” (flash CS3 along with other programs). I dont believe that Toon Boom Studios can give me the effects that I’m looking for. Why worry about Toon Boom being able to import files from a AI format when Adobe Flash CS3 can handle it with a “drag and drop”. I must say Toon Boom does have options that are very interesting but I’m scared it simply can’t use filters and effects as I wish! If I create a complex image in Photoshop I want to be able to import that image without losing filters/effects!

I think you may be able to get some/all of those effects from solo, but youd have to investigate. the adobe package still might suit you better, but just so you explore all your options.

Ok…I have just spent many hours reading everything that I could find online about Adobe Flash CS3. First, I believe that my expectations of both Flash and Toon Boom were very extreme. The effects that I was dreaming about would mean that I would need to purchase a new computer with a vast amount of memory and processing speed. I would also need a room full of programmers to help produce the cartoon, plus a bank account with no limit. I have started to take a closer look at cartoons of all styles in-order to make sure that I truely have a grasp on a style or find an equal medium that would be pleasing. Over the last 2 weeks I have spent most of my life researching as much information on cartooning and animators software. To make a long story short, I have decided to fully commit to Toon Boom Studio. Perhaps in the future I will purchase professional studio equipment but for now TBS is the best bang for my buck!

Good conclusion and there are all these friendly people who are glad to help you learn and get going…such a deal! -JK