Best way to order layers in Harmony Advanced?

Hi everyone,

just trying out all of the Harmony trials to find out which of them suits my needs.
Apparently, Advanced is gonna be my choice, but I’m failing at ordering my layers right now.

Because, coming from Photoshop and Illustrator, I am used to order layers by simply dragging and dropping the layers in the layers panel.
I’ve never needed something like changing the Z-value.
I know that in Toon Boom you can do the same with the layers in the timeline, but for any reason it doesn’t always work like that.

In Premium, when I noticed Toon Boom wouldn’t let me drag a layer (exactly that behaviour you’ll see in my video below), I knew the reason was that the layer wasn’t connected to the ‘composition’ node. Once I had it connected, I could order the layer in the layers panel by dragging.

But now Advanced doesn’t let me order the layers by dragging and I don’t know why. And there is no node view to fix it.
I just screen captured the issue:

I checked Google and found your documentation:

Besides dragging the layers, there’s something called nudging.
But as I found out, that won’t work when you have each object on a separate layer (as shown in the video).

The third method I know of is to open the layer properties, uncheck ‘Separate’ and check ‘3D Path’ and change the Z-value.
But that’s way too compicated if you need to do that every time with a lot of objects.

So I was wondering what’s the best way to order layers in Essentials/Advanced, if dragging doesn’t work?
And anyway, why does it stop working sometimes, as you can see in the video?

Would be glad if someone can explain that to me. Thanks for any help!

2000 character limit say whhaaaaaaat?

Anyway, I know that’s a lot to take in but z pos will be your best friend once you get your head around it. I HIGHLY recommend watching Toon Boom’s character rigging tutorials. Even though the Karate Rabbit series is for Animate/Animate Pro, the rigging is virtually the same for Harmony and it will explain z nudging really, really much betterer than me :slight_smile:

Hi 10Tacle,
Please try to send an email to and we will be follow up this issue.

You can have the 3D path set as ‘Separate’ by default so you don’t have to change it every time.

The reason you can’t just rearrange layers is because your characters and objects are constantly moving forward and back on the z axis. Layers are more useful for setting up parental heirarchies and are set at 0.000 z pos by default.

Animating by rearranging layers: Imagine you have a person standing there and their arm/forearm/hand are arranged in the layers in order. Now you want to animate the person putting their arm behind their back. You would want the hand and possibly forearm to move behind his back. You rearrange the layers in the timeline (which might also muck up your parental heirarchy/pegs). Ok, now you want to move the arm back in front of the body and you rearrange the layers again, but that now erases the previous animation.

Now, let’s animate the arm using z pos. Person is animated moving their arm behind their back. The persons body is at z pos 0.000. You nudge the hand and forearm -0.001 and it disappears behind the body and a keyframe is created. Now the person is animated moving the hand in front of the body again. Set the forearm and hand back to their original z pos and it’s back in front of the body and another keyframe is created. No layers were rearranged and the heirarchy/pegs weren’t intefered with.

Another example of where nudging is better over layer ordering is when you set up a characters head. Usually the head and it’s peg will be the “parent” of all the layers, that is, when you move/rotate the head all facial features follow it. If the head is the parent it is usually at the top of the layer heirarchy with all the features under it in the timeline. The features will also be hidden behind the head. That’s why you have to nudge the z pos to 0.001 of the eyes/nose/mouth etc to have them appear in front of the head but stay layered underneath it in the timeline.

Rearranging the wires in network view also works like nudging.

Now THAT’S an explanation, thank you so much!
And now it all makes perfect sense to me.
That’s definitely a couple of good reasons for using Z-values only.
Will do that.

But even after checking out your link there’s still a thing I miss.
As mentioned in the videos, nudging (ALT + Up/Down Key) only works within a single layer (‘drawing’).
I already tested that and it works perfectly.

But what if I’ve got more than just one layer and want to rearrange them?
As I said before, nudging won’t work for two or more layers.

So that means I still need to open the layer properties and change the Z-value.
But isn’t there a shorter way to do that? Couldn’t find a keyboard shortcut.

If I really have to work with Z-values, I’d wish it would be faster than that.

You can nudge more than one element at once. If you shift + select the objects on stage and nudge with the keyboard shortcut it will work, just keep nudging until they are at desired z pos.
Do you have your character set up with pegs? If you do, this is much easier because you simply collapse your peg group (with the little arrow in the timeline) and set the desired z pos in layer properties. Eg. Your characters arm: You collapse the arm peg which controls upper arm, lowerarm and hand and set z pos to -0.001 and the whole arm appears behind your characters back. Or youcould shift click just the forearm and hand on the stage and use the shortcut to nudge until they both appear behind the back. Try it out! Like I said, when you watch the tutorials it will explain it VERY well and they have a great rig set up that you can build on and adjust to suit yourself.

You can also expand your layer properties in the timeline by clicking the “plus” symbol instead of bringing up the layer properties dialogue box every time.

Also, this is the where they explain how to set the Seperate Position Preference in layer properties which is turned off by default. seperate

EDIT: If you have already setup your scene with pos 3D path instead of seperate positions (or vice versa) you will need to manually change each of your layer properties in the layer properties box. This will usually cause all sorts of crazy changes to size, position etc so beware! The preference change will only apply to every new scene you create.