Any way to swap symbols ala Flash or....

Hi folks,

I’ve been a Flash user for about 5 years and have used the software for almost all the shows I’ve worked on, such Nick, MTV, and others. Now at my current job, we are using Toon Boom Animate 2 and I have been reading on tutorials, looking at shows using the software, forums, and emailing folks who have used TB to gain knowledge. I am still kinda having a hard time transitioning from Flash to Toon Boom and I was hoping someone here could help me out.

In Flash, we nest symbols, for example: on the main timeline, there will be two layers, which has one audio layer and one scene symbol layer.
-Within the scene symbol, it will have your a layer for a character and a layer for your bg.
-Inside your character symbol, there is a head comp symbol, torso, arms, hand, legs, and feet.
-Inside the head comp symbol, it has the eyes, nose, mouth eyebrow, hair, and eyebrows.
-If I wanted to say, have the character turn his head from a 3/4 view to a profile view on frame 25; I would place a key frame on the head comp symbol, go to properties panel, swap symbol, and go click on the profile head comp symbol. Now the head is profile along with the associated components within it.

Is there a way to achieve that method in Toon Boom? I’ve been trying all sorts of ways and I still can’t really pull it off well. I’ve seen a user have a head along with its head components, i.e. face, eyes, nose, mouth under a peg and when they wanted to change views, they would change each individual part and scrub within to the desire view. I think this is kinda cumbersome and I can see having hundreds of frames within a symbol such as the eyes. for example, you’ll need frames for 3/4 view eyes blinking, then looking in all directions, then special occasion frames such as twitching eyes. Then ya gotta go do frames for profile and do the same circumstances. I mean, I guess it’s not too bad, but if there’s another way please inform me.

Also, is there an easier way to have a symbol act like a graphic symbol with the play once option? When i draw a few frames of an eye blinking, then convert those into a symbol, it will create a new layer with the associated eye blink symbol and keeping the original layer that you drew on. I delete the old layer and the symbol would act like a single frame graphic symbol. The only way I found was that if you delete the layer with the symbol, grab the same symbol from the library into the timeline, the symbol itself actually plays out. The thing is that the object won’t be placed on the stage at the exact spot and I would have to nudge it to the original spot. Is there an easier way to do this?

Sorry for the long post, but I have been trying the get the most outta TB and doing a combo of puppetry and traditional ala Toot & Puddle and I think I can achieve similar results if I can have these questions answered.



when you create a symbol… in tb you have 2 or more frames in the time line… when you drop all the frames in the symbol library you create a symbol…

then you drop this symbol from your library to your camera view… now you click the symbol… and just in a side of the library preview you got a “DRAWING SUBSTITUTION panel”… all you have to do is move the drawing frames in this panel and it change each frames in your time line… just like a graphic symbol in flash… just move the frames drawings… is the same concept of the graphic symbol…

i hope it help you…


Have you seen this:

When you drag and drop a symbol onto the camera view, then it will drop wherever you let go of your mouse. However if you drag and drop your symbol onto the timeline, it will drop it in the original position that the symbol was created in - this might help you somewhat.

I would recommend that you stay away from symbols as much as possible when working with characters. The reason being, especially if you create a rig with nested symbols, every time you want to animate inside that symbol you will need to go inside it to complete the animation. If you stick to just using drawing layers without creating symbols, you have much more flexibility.

For swapping layers there’s the Drawing Substitution window in the library that can be of use to you. There’s also the shortcuts [ and ] to swap to previous and next drawings that are also very handy. Usually when I’m swapping things like eyes I’ll just select that layer then hit ] or [ until I reach the eye that I want.

Not nesting things in symbols gives you a lot more flexibility on the animation side. For example, if you have a head layer, then you have some facial features on separate layers, when you want to do a head turn, you can just animate the facial features moving slightly to the side of the head (or closer to the middle depending on which way the head is turning) for a subtle perspective effect without actually having to swap a drawing yet. Then simply swap the drawing for the completed head turn.

If you had a head symbol with nested facial features symbols inside, then you’d have to double-click to go inside of the head symbol and animate the facail features, blinks, etc. in here instead of on the main stage, which I simply find to be more time consuming.

I hope I’ve given you some ideas!

Toon Boom Support

Thanks guys for the tidbits. I understand using the “drawing substitution” panel, since its a lot like the plug-ins Thumbnail from Tricks N Scripts and Lipper, where you have a visual representation of whats contained within the symbol. And yes “johncmurphy” I have seen that video (a few times actually), which has helped me a bit.

How I usually work though, is that I actually animate everything within that symbol, such as a “34 Head” symbol. For instance, within the “34_Head” symbol, I have my layers containing the associated parts, i.e. 3/4 eyes, 3/4 nose, etc… and I do my animation for the blinks, lip sync and what not. Then I click out where I have my timeline, which just contain the one layer for my “34 Head” symbol and rotate it or move it however I need it. For me (and many Flash users), it helps organize and keeps our assets in order, especially for comps that have many layers like the head. Also, with this method, as I described, if a need to switch head views, I would already have a “profile head” symbol in my library and if I needed to swap views, I can just swap the “34 head” to my “profile Head” on the main head layer. The “profile head” symbol would already have layers nested within it contain profile views of the eyes, nose, mouth, etc… It may sound counter-intuitive to you guys though having to click so many times and may be redundant. I mean the symbol option wasn’t even added till Animate 2, so I can see where drawing substitute is the way to go.

My gig I’m working at now, we have a team of animators, and we’ll be needing to swap character assets between each other. When I work in Flash, we had symbols for our character views and whenever we needed them for other scenes, we would just copy the necessary symbols and bring it to our library. How does the TB crowd do it. Since you guys mention drawing substitutions, is that saved as some sort of template where you can hand out the assets to other animators?

I would love if someone could show me how they do it on video, because going through all these tutorials is putting a strain on me. Or anyone who came from a Flash background who has converted to TB fully could throw in their two cents . I know Adam Phillips and Bernard Derriman are the popular choices (whom I emailed a few times), but would like more input by others. Its like I gotta throw everything I learned in Flash and start a new. My apologies for rambling on again and I do appreciate the info you guys and gals are giving me.

Exactly, in our crowd instead of storing in a symbol you would store it in a template. Anything that’s saved in the Animate library can be accessed by any new project that you create. In order to save something in the library you simply need to right-click on that library and select Right to Modify, then you can drag and drop from the left-hand side of the library onto the library in question. If you’re making a master template (a re-usable rig) make sure to put a keyframe on the first frame of all layers.

You can check out the Kickstart tutorials (free to download) and check out the series for Building a Puppet. The last video is one that shows you how to put your template in the library.

Toon Boom Support

I’m slowly getting the hand of the templates thing. I saw that you can even store parts of the body, like a 3/4 peg head w/ all its parts. I was wondering if I brought the 3/4 head template in the timeline, animate it and had the head rotated. Then at say frame 36, I need a new view of the head, I grabbed a stored profile head template and brought that in the timeline.

-Will the profile head be placed exactly where I adjusted my 3/4 head? Or do I have to adjust the head to match?
-Does it matter of the head has IK or not?
-Is it better to have both head views share the same layer space?

Alright, I’m getting less babbly now. That’s gotta a good sign, eh :smiley:

Alright, the template seems to be the way to go. I can bring in whole turnaround character sheets or single character views or body parts. That is fine, BUT I dunno if there is an easier way to match adjusted position, rotation, scale, etc… when I add in a new head view template. I think I did it once, where I moved my front view head to the left, then I dragged my 34 head template onto the time line, which matched the position. Now when I try to mimic it again, it doesn’t match it and just goes to the original position, which is on the center of the torso. Boo! Almost…there

Alright, I think I have figured it out. In order for the newly swapped template to match the prior templates position you gotta do paste special. Here’s how I went about it:

Let’s say I have a front head template (head peg with its associated parts,i.e eyes, nose, mouth, etc…), I keyframed on frame 6 (with the animate button on) and rotate the head peg along with scaling it. Now on frame 7, I want to switch the head view to a profile one, well first I turn off the animate button, drag my profile head template onto frame 7 onto the head peg layer. You’ll see that the profile head is not matching the adjustments of the front head template. Cut frame 7 (where you placed the profile head template) from the head peg layer, go to edit–>paste special, the paste special window comes up, go to advanced, click on offset Keyrames, then OK. The profile head should match the transformations u did on frame 6 with the front head template.

Hope that makes sense!

Thank you for posting your workflow here, that is indeed the way to do it. The one important thing to remember when creating your different templates is that you should make sure to store them with a keyframe on the first frame, so that they will always offset and animate from the same position.

Also, one thing to keep in mind is that if you’re going to drag and drop templates on top of each other, then the folder structure inside the templates needs to be the same. So sometimes you might have a view that’s lacking several layers. I.e., on the back view you won’t see the facial features. In this case, however, you still need to have those layers in your template or you won’t be able to drag and drop this template on top of the other templates.

Hope these are helpful tips.

Toon Boom Support

Ah yes you are correct Lilly, pertaining to making sure to keyframe the 1st frame of each layer and having to make sure the order of them are exactly the same for each template.

To prevent chaos from happening, I usually create a 5 point turn around character sheet any how, so that way each view will be coordinated with each other layer and peg wise. Then I create a template for each turnaround, separate views of the head, hands, and so forth.