Best Technique to do Characters with no Out-lines

I was wondering what technique would be the best to design characters with no out-lines in Animate? like Stoked for example.

Would you create the outline with a black brush then color it in and match the outline with the character’s interior?

For example, after you are done with the outline (assuming black) for the face, you then color in the face and fill the black outline with the same color as the face’s color to erase the black line.

Or would you make your outlines with the Polyline - color it in - then delete the lines?

I like doing my outlines, or inking, with the polyline, but I find selecting specific parts of a line very difficult in Animate. The select tool always seems to select what it wants. Nonetheless, I think I can still use the polyline and convert it a brush stroke.

Also, I noticed that Animate has

convert to …
Pencil lines to Brush strokes
Brush Strokes to Pencil Lines
Strokes to Pencil Lines

I always thought that pencil lines and Strokes where the same thing. I guess not in Animate.

i dont know the best way, i was wondering that too though. Like whats the best way to make a shape without an outline i wonder? Probably to turn the stroke color to an invisible transparent color. Ive done it by deleting each outer edge one at a time and thats just takes forever.

But what are strokes? Strokes are invisible lines. Thats the difference. They are the same in Animate as they are in Toonboom.

Brush strokes are what you get when you use the brush tool - these are strokes that are defined by their outer edge. Pencil lines are defined by their centre line. Strokes (not brush strokes, but just plain strokes) are simply pencil lines with a width of 0. In other words, they are a line in space, defined by a centre line, but they have no width.

Probably the easiest way to achieve what you’re looking for is to design your character with pencil lines, or using the polyline tool or the line tool. Then do your fills. Select the entire character, and in the tool properties of the select tool set the pencil width to 0.

Nelvana did not work with outlines at all. They did not have outlines that were the same colour as the fill, they actually had lines of zero width. As stated above, you can achieve this by selecting the line and setting to 0, or you can select the pencil lines and delete them - however it’s probably faster just to select the whole thing and set the lines to 0.

Hope this helps.

Toon Boom Support

I should also mention, you can also draw with invisible lines from the very beginning if you like. Just set the pencil/polyline/line to 0 width and draw. A window will pop up asking you to hit K to show strokes if you haven’t already. Now you will see your strokes as blue lines. Then you can fill them and you won’t need to readjust anything later.

Toon Boom Support


I agree Genious. The things you learn on a day to day basis about the things you can do or how you can do them in Animate are amazing. I feel like a new born baby discovering the world :o

I will try both methods you describe and see which one I go with.

Oh, and Lilly if there are anymore techniques that you know of, that have been used by these studios like Nelvana, please don’t be shy :wink:

Thank you Lilly.

I will try to keep in mind if there are any things that I can think of that will help you… but sometimes it’s hard to think of what could be useful to you. :slight_smile: Also sometimes it’s hard to digest too much information at once. It’s often easier to learn one thing, play around with it for a while, then try something else, and try out different ways of doing things until you find your own personal style.

I will try to think of other things that could be useful.

Toon Boom Support


I could tell you what would be useful to me or us, EVERYTHING ;D but I do agree with you 100% on taking it easy and learning one thing at a time. Since I started doing that myself I have been able to pickup a few things.

However, the beauty ( or Horror in some cases ::)) of the Internet is that when you post something, anything, it lasts forever. Whatever you post, I would save or Bookmark for later.

Just to give you an idea of another thing would be nice to know -

How does Nelvana or any studio handle the use of textures in there Backgrounds? mainly Grossology? They look amazing BTW.
Do they use bitmap BG’s ? or do they use Animate Pro, or harmony’s (assuming they are using either of the 2) textured brushes to make them?

I thank you again for even acknowledging the “don’t be shy” statement. Anything, anything, you provide in this regard would be greatly appreciated.


I know that Nelvana tries to build most of their backgrounds in Harmony - but, as you say, there will be some assets that need complicated textures on them.

There are several different ways of achieving this. Sometimes, they import PSD background images and leave them as bitmaps. If you do it this way, then keep in mind that the PSD - since it’s not a vector file (and thus, the reason they try not to use them as much as possible) must be big enough to accomodate any camera movements that you make. I.e. if you scene is 720 x 540, and you’re going to zoom in to twice that much, then your image needs to be at least twice that much as well.

Another thing that can be very useful is to import textures as colour pots. In your colour window, there’s a button for “Add Texture”. This will then allow you to add a targa or a psd file. Since we have the Edit Gradient/Texture tool - which is located under the Contour Editor button, there’s actually a lot that you can do simply by combining texture pots to achieve the textures that you want. You can even duplicate your layer, and for example, on one of the layers have the texture, then on the duplicate put a gradient fill to make a shadow, then lay them on top of each other with the shadow layer attached to a transparency node. Playing around with concepts like this can help you to achieve cool looks. But once again you have to be careful that you’re not enlarging the texture much bigger than the original texture’s resolution or it will look blurry.

Then lastly, as you say, there is the texture brush. Although this can and definitely is used in some cases, I think people try to avoid doing everything with a texture brush, because sometimes this can make the scenes very heavy. If you end up making a background that is quite heavy, then it can increase the render time, so keep that in mind.

I know that Nelvana in particular were experimenting around with trying to get their backgrounds to be vector-only. I know that they were able to achieve very close to the same look with the vector drawings as they got with the PSDs, but in some cases these scenes took longer to render. It’s worth it, for example, if it’s a scene where you know you’re going to be zooming in a lot - because if you were to zoom in a lot on a bitmap, you’d have to have a very large bitmap indeed. But if you’re not doing a lot of zooming, then it might make sense to just keep your backgrounds as PSDs. You can have several different versions of the same scene at different zoom levels for the different shots that you need.

I hope that helps!

Toon Boom Support

yes very helpful indeed, thanks again you lilly. I remember seeing the painting with textures part of the userguide. where you have that characters clothes painted with a plaid texture. I assume that is what you mean by colour pots? Also, I think this is available in animate non pro.

Well, I guess I have enough ammunition to go and try a few things and see what works best.

you know you need your own blog,screencasts,podcast,
or something of that nature.

hi. id like to share my technique…
a.1st layer is just a rough sketch of character.
b.add a 2nd new layer, trace it with a thin pen as outline.
c.drop paint to colour the character this stage i optimise the drawing (by selecting the drawing and click the optimise option)
e.the select the thin pen outline press delete.

by optimising, lines are fused/joined so selecting it and pressing delete will eventually deleting all pen line outlines.
or u could just select the lines and zero the pen width. but to me this is a messy option when u want to view stroke lines enabled.

and just for a note. i love samurai jack! ;D

Denny thanks for sharing. The problem I sometimes have with Optimizing the line, is that sometimes the program changes or distorts the line, but I will try it as you say thanks again. Who doesn’t like good ol’ Samurai Jack?

it often changes the lines if you go from brush strokes → pencil lines.

If i were to do this I would like the idea of having the outerlines 0 width. They don’t get in the way plus you might want them later (who knows why but you might :slight_smile: )

would you guys suggest keeping the lines in the template library, just in case, or would you delete them (or set them to 0) prior to putting them there?

It’s never a bad idea to keep a version of the character with the lines in the template library. You can always go back and delete it later if you decide that you don’t need it.

Toon Boom Support