Animation techniques used in Grossology?

I was watching an episode of Grossology and remembered that I noticed the characters are shown in the Animate manual.

I noticed something, though. The eyes and mouth in the show seem to actually animate (with in-betweens) and not just flip from shape to shape.

My understanding of making a cut-out character as shown in the manual is to make a set of mouth shapes to use with the lip-sync feature, but that creates a flip style animation (unless I’m missing something).

What is a good method, or how did they go about animating the mouth and eyes in Grossology? Was it morphs, symbols with animation or some other method?

By watching the show, my guess is they use morphs extensively. For things like bending the torso, arms and legs. I can imagine the time it takes to do that.

I wish there was a more in-depth tutorial on how to create something of that quality. The manual for Animate certainly teases you with hints on these characters and techniques.

My guess would be as you said morphs, the body is not such a big mystery. I think they use a combo of cutout and tradigital. Some of the body parts like say and arm, is probably drawn full and then turned into a symbol or who knows raw art, as opposed to the bicep, forearm, and hand.

It would be killer to learn all of there techniques for sure.

Heh, I did some more reading and playing around in Animate and now kinda realize that this was sorta a silly question.

It’s actually covered in the morphing chapter. I managed do get it to work with a simple eye. Wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought. I can see how if you had a library of expressions that you could setup the basic animation and then go trough and set up morphs between them where needed. It’s not really that hard.

Live and learn. :stuck_out_tongue:

It is definitly just a mix of styles.

I imagine even the lipsync is a combo of drawing and morphing (as some shapes you would be better drawing the inbetweens than morphing).

Basically I think they would set up the cut out character and use that wherever possible then when they wanted to do something the puppet couldn’t do they would use other methods such as traditional frame by frame and morphing.

It is probably a fairly good workflow for a studio in being able to still take advantage of puppets while at the same time keep the frame by frame feel.

Also they probably lipsync by hand, or if they do use auto lipsync go and tweak all the keys, delete the repeated drawings and put their inbetweens in either via morphing or drawing themselves.

I know some of the grossology guys. They draw very beautiful mouth charts to begin with. They will start with the basic mouth chart and a number of in-between mouths. They don’t need to morph very much.

They certainly work wonders with that method then. It looks very smooth. I can only imagine the amount of expressions they have per character.

They wouldn’t need to morph at all if they didn’t want. It is just a time saver.

I am going to do some tests and see what I can come up with :stuck_out_tongue:

Another technique that they use at Nelvana, in addition to morphing, is doing their own drawings for frames that can’t easily be done with cutout. I’m not sure whether they would do this for mouth shapes, but definitely for arms and legs when they need to be foreshortened.

1. Extend the exposure on the frame that you need to re-draw
2. Duplicate Drawing on that frame (there’s a button on the timeline or you can right-click the cell and select Drawings > Duplicate Drawings)
3. Now you can either edit the new drawing with the contour editor, or siimply draw a new drawing from scratch.

This allows for a blend of cutout technique with also some hand-drawing in it as well. If, for example, you’re drawing an arm and you want to foreshorten it, what you might even want to do is delete the exposure on the forearm for example, then just draw the arm as one seamless piece on the upper arm layer.

Hope this gives you guys some new ideas!

Toon Boom Support

BTW - I forgot to mention, I downloaded the Digital Pro User Guide after seeing it mentioned on the TB’s Tips & tricks forum. I was amazed at how more in depth that user guide is compared to Animate’s.

If you have not checked it out I think you should cause like I said it goes into much more detail about Library structure, naming conventions and a host of other things that are not mentioned on the Animate User guide. Check page 182 for a mention on what Lilly was talking about on this thread.

Of course you have to keep in mind that if you have Animate (non-pro) some of the things mentioned will not apply. However, the library, and cutout tips do apply to Animate (non-pro)… right? Check it out and see for yourselves.

I have a question for Lilly. What is the deal with this page which I reached after clicking on white pages link in the harmony section?

I see a list where you can select ALL of TB’s software including Animate (non-pro) which I have.

It states, "Contact us right now and get access to extensive white papers, real production case studies, learning materials and free evaluation from our expert animation consultant.
Is this extra material that we have not seen anywhere else?

Why would we need to contact sales? to get a Quote? and what kind of material are we talking about? Can anybody buy it or just studios?

Real production case studies, is that files from studios? or Consultation?

Also, on the Digital Pro User Guide I see a reference to things like, “Paperless Animation Tasks book”, or "Refer to the Ink and Paint chapter in the Paperless Animation Workflow Guide"

I’ve never heard of these books or guides, are they available for download?

Thanks and sorry for the bombardment of questions but I am thirsting for knowledge. ;D


The link you have accessed is to send a request for some consultancy from our team. This is to get production assistance and training mostly. Has for the software question it is to help the team define if you have the best software solution for your need and if it is the case give us a head start in planning the appointment (if it is to happen).

Has for the extra documentation from Digital Pro, you should be able to get access to all the doc from Digital Pro through the following link:

Best regards,


Thanks, for some reason I could not get to that digital pro elearning page yesterday.

Nice find Alex. I’m still using the PLE, but any info is a help.

Morbius, smart man, there is nothing wrong with trying the PLE and making sure you like it before you spend your hard earned money on it.

I should have mentioned that on page 238 of the digitalPro_Cutout_Workflow_Guide.pdf there is a section titled, “choosing the Rigging technique” and it goes into Pro’s and con’s of each of the 3 Riggin techniques Open Rig,Hierarchy,and Mixed.

I know there is a mention of this on page 585 of the Animate User Guide but it is not nearly as detailed as the Digital Pro one.