Bitmap Troubles, Scanning in 3.0

My film is entirely composed of elements from outside the computer. I’ve got a lovely stack of 14 field animation paper and about 50 hand painted watercolor paintings. The paintings were scanned in at super high resolution so that I could eventually up-res the project without trouble.
Two concerns:

Scanning
I’ve tried messing with the vectorization filter, but all the scans I’m getting are pretty unsatisfactory. The hard edged vector look doesn’t really translate that fantastically from the pencil originals. I understand that solo is much better at this. Solo is, of course, quite expensive. Thoughts?

Backgrounds
The watercolors I’ve painted are fairly detailed 18X20" originals. The scans of these are all roughly 3400X2400 pixels. The actual scans themselves are lovely. However, when I render from toon boom, they are significantly blurred when compared to the original. I have some examples if that would help.

Thank you for any assistance you can give me!
-Chris

I presume you haven’t rendered only the preview (return-key)
but exported your file via the Export Movie… settings.

I recently scanned in a very glossy magazine cover as an image background,
and that was looking a little “blurry” in preview,
but sharp and crisp as .png - .psd and still fairly good as QuickTime.movie.

Cheers
Nolan

TBS’s “scan and vectorize” for linework never yielded good results for me either. No matter how I set up the scanner or the properties in TBS, the lines came out broken and unsalvageable.

So I bulk scanned in Photoshop using an action that adjusted and saved each image as bitmaps, then ran them through a java program to register the peg holes. The results were great. Very little closing of lines and a faithful interpretation of the animation and individual artworks, but very time consuming.

I’ve since abandoned paper in favour of a graphics tablet and hope to make the transition smooth enough for my new client to not be able to tell the difference…

Best of luck with your production, hope you find some solutions!!!

Burton.

Hi Stickybullseye,

Have you ever tried to clean up your drawings with a very black line
before you scan them in.

As long as I clean up my hand-drawn-pencil-images
with black felt-pen or ink, they are excellent translated
and nearly as good and original as if I would have drawn them
directly in Toon Boom.

Cheers
Nolan

I clean up with a .3mm 2B clutch pencil which is the standard for the feature studio I work in. The drawings are scanned through USAnimation- TBS’s bigger and better juggernaut of an ancestor. The linework is perfectly hard, clean lines and comes up beautifully. I figure if it’s good enough for that level, it’s good enough for my personal projects, but TBS never gave me good results with scanning. Even if I do get good scans, I have to do one at a time which is slow if I have even two seconds of full animation (48 frames).

The method I described in my earlier post yields a result something like this and incorporates peg registration, a feature sorely lacking from TBS.

I feel the felt tip pen leaves too little room for error on the page, and a good pencil creates the same or a finer line quality once it’s scanned, but is maleable on the page in comparison, so I stick with it. I’m learning to work with a shiny new Wacom to reach the same results nowadays anyway.

Cheers for the tip- it’s cool to hear how other artists approach their work. And I’m glad to know I’m not the only one having trouble giving up the old fashioned paper and pen(cil)!!! ;D

Burton.

I understand that Solo uses the same scanning techniques as Opus/Harmony. I’m just wondering if anyone has used it. I’d be curious to know how well it works in practice. Also, is solo a universal binary for intel macs yet? I’m probably going to upgrade to a new computer soon and that would be a big factor in whether or not I upgrade to Solo.

My problems with the bitmap backgrounds is indeed occurring in the final export render(I have tried a host of export options and it always occurs the same). The problem is with the rendering of the bitmaps. All the vector elements are clean and crisp. Is anyone familiar with a solution to this problem? I will post some comparison pictures soon.

Thanks again for your time!
-Chris

i thought there was a separate solo forum for those questions… ::slight_smile:
cheers,
rob

Rob- I’m sorry if I got a little off topic, but I am asking a specific question about toon boom studio - the software that I am currently using. The only reason I am mentioning solo at all is because I am dissatisfied enough with the problems in studio to consider the upgrade.

Here are some comparisons of original scan images before they go into toon boom and after they come out.
http://wnuk.blogspot.com/
The top is the original scan, the bottom is the render. Besides being slightly blurred, it is also apparently lightening the image a bit as well. The problems are especially visible in the pile of rubbish and the cabinets. There is an overall loss of detail.

Any thoughts on a solution?

Hi Chris,

You might have to experiment a little with the Display-settings in the Preferences.

Have you ever changed the Renderer-settings: (I have a choice between Qartz2D and OpenGL) -

or changed some of the Rendering Options.

I am not sure if that would make a difference in your case…
but who never tries who never knows.

Cheers
Nolan

i haven’t scanned bitmaps for toon boom productions yet, so i know nothing about the rendered quality, or if it has anything in common with the platform or scanner type.

but i know that if there is a problem, the tb guys would have to deal with it if they intend to include the bitmap editing in one of the next versions at the latest. if it could come earlier, i dunno…

i know, a weak supporting word from me but i presume this is the reality.
cheers,
rob

This is my first time using bitmaps as backgrounds, so I’m not exactly an expert on the topic. At this point, here is what I do know:
This is the 3.01 Mac OS X (Power PC) version of Toon Boom Studio. I’ve tried any way I could think of to impact the quality of the rendered background bitmaps, to no avail.

I am rendering a single PNG frame from a 24 P sequence so it is not video compression causing an issue. The vector characters look fantastic - it is only the background that is blurred.

I tried changing all the display options in the preferences, but that only seems affects how the image is rendered in the preview display - not the final.

I tried using photoshop to scale the imported bitmap image down from high res to the native resolution (so that toon boom didn’t have to), but that too has produced an identical blurry image.

At this point I could care less about the line quality of my character animation after vectorizion. It is not stellar, but it is serviceable. It also still produces a better result (for me) than using a wacom to draw directly into the computer.

I am, however, very concerned about these backgrounds. I’m a beginner at watercolors, but I did spend a significant amount of time on them. I’m pretty upset at the prospect of all of them being rendered with a blur by fairly expensive (and otherwise fantastic) software.

Please - if anyone knows a solution to this roadblock or has any other suggestions, I will try just about anything to get it to work properly. Nolan, Rob, and Burton - your words of advice and support are appreciated immensely!

-Chris

Hi Chris,

If you’d have time you could send us one of your watercolor image and we could try to find out some exportation settings (or see if we can manage to solve the problem).

Simply attach it to a mail to techsupport@toonboomstudio.com.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Ugo

Hey Ugo! Thanks for the assist! I sent off an e-mail with a background of the type that I’m using (Although it is in jpg format instead of PSD). Please let me know if the e-mail came through OK. It was about 5 MB large after I compressed the background, so I wasn’t sure if your e-mail network would accept it.

Thanks again for your time!
-Chris

hi chris & ugo,
keep us up to date on this topic, please.
cheers,
rob

Hi everyone,

I recieved the file and will be working on it as soon as possible. Gonna keep you updated on that.

Best regards,

Ugo

Hi all,

Ok I’ll foward the message I sent to Chris about this issue to you guys.

"We have investigated the problem and found out what the cause is. The thing is when you are using high resolution in a smaller resolution exportation it priorly compress the image to the size of the export then recompress with the file compressor. So the main problem is that when you export to lets say 720x480 it is as if you took Photoshop, reduced the resolution of your file to 720x480 then saved it has a png with full quality (yet still a compressed format). The problem has been mentioned to RnD and should be fixed in upcoming releases of Toon Boom Studio.

For now I have found only 1 way to export your animation without losing quality. You will need to export a Flash movie with Jpeg quality to 0. The thing with swf is that it does not actually resize the bitmap image it only makes them fit in the window screen (thats why when you zoom in on a vector you don’t see any artifacts). Now the main point is even if you set the quality of the Jpeg to 0 on your background the image is so huge you can’t even see the difference. Although you will notice a great difference in the weight of the file (I went from 4mo to 300ko). Now there might be a problem if you try to import other bitmaps of lower resolutions inside Toon Boom Studio since they will get compressed to 0 quality too and you might see the difference on them. If you want to avoid that make sure to have all of your bitmap the same size so the jpeg quality wont affect it. Now the only thing left for you to try would be to actually lower the size of the original file so you don’t see the difference inside Toon Boom then make your actual final exportation."

Will keep you updated if we have anything new about the subject.

Best regards,

Ugo

Ugo-

Thank you for your attention - I really do appreciate that the team is looking into this.

I did consider that the enormous resolution scans might have been causing the problems. To test that possibility, I used photoshop to scale my background image down to my destination resolution of 720x540. In this way, it is literally a 1:1 pixel ratio from import to export - no resizing to be done by toon boom. Upon export, the background was still exhibiting the same blurring problem when compared to the resized photoshop scan. The size of the bitmap seems to have no bearing on the problem.

If this problem were due double compression (if I understand you correctly) then the bitmaps should look the same as if they were resized in photoshop, and then saved as a PNG. But it looks much more blurred than that. PNG at good quality is not a very lossy compression.

Interestingly, I tried the flash export with the high res backgrounds and I get a sharp image. Unfortunately, the export compresses that image heavily and there are visible mosaic patterns in the render. The file size is small, but there is a price in image quality. I’d rather have an enormous file size, honestly and I have the jpg quality slider set to 100.

So, at this point, I will continue trying to play around with the flash export to see if I can attain better results. Please let me know if any other options come up, or if you have any advice.

Again - thank you so much for your help!

-Chris