Bitmaps resized when imported

I am curious… I read in post “Import image larger than camera size” that images imported into TBS are automatically resized to the dimensions of the camera (is that the default camera btw?).

Why is TBS designed this way rather than keeping the original image dimensions?

I am curious because I recently imported a media file (.swf) containing a bitmap and the dimensions are kept to the original image size.

Was there a historical reason for this? Or is it for animation reasons? Or a design difficulty? Or something else?

p.s. This question is not so important - I am really just curious that is all. All I could find back in the forum posts was an unanswered question in:
Import image why not use DPI to match size?

Hi Bruxist,

To make a long story short, the main reason is that our software imports bitmap on a ratio rather then on resolution. The drawing and camera view that you see does not actually contain pixel but rather a 4:3 or what ever ratio you set.

This is basically related to the fact that Toon Boom Studio is based on vector based and vector has no concept of pixel. Therefore, the way the bitmap images are imported is by fitting them to a guide which is the size of the field guide. We are still considering on implementing such a bitmap technology in next versions of Toon Boom Studio.

Hope that answers your question.

Best regards,


Yeap that answers it nicely - Many Thanks Ugo

I was baffled by what was going on until I checked a field guide and saw that, as you described, my imported character had been expanded in vectorization to the width of a 12-field, and so towered over my background.

Personally I would find it more intuitive to be able to scale by pixels in my graphics creation program, and either have that scaling honored with respect to the default frame size or be able to set a size bounding-box for the import.

Be all that as it may, I’m wondering how people work with the system as it is. I can imagine a workaround involving setting up the character already scaled in a blank default-size frame before import, but is that a needless complication? Is the answer just that vectorization works so well that I can scale freely after import without (generally) worrying about loss of detail or creation of artifacts?


I’ve grown to really love this program, but this particular resizing quirk has given me quite a bit of trouble. Maybe a more experienced user can suggest how I should deal with it…

I design my cut out characters in Photoshop using scanned-in cut-out pieces of artwork I’ve created with paint, chalk, pencil, etc, on actual paper. I save each body part out to its own PNG file and import them all into TBS. As has been described, due to TBS’s way of handling these files, each piece is magnified to fill the width of the camera. So, immediately, all of the pieces are out of scale relative to every other piece (since they’re all different sizes). HUGE bummer. So, I have to spend a long time resizing every piece down to be in proper proportion to all the other pieces. (I have to import a static image of the entire character to use an underlying guide.) Some pieces have to be reduced to 10% of their import size, some 15%, some 50%, etc. It just depends on how big the original element was and how much it was enlarged on import.

That much is a pain, but it gets worse. If I decide I want to make one of these resized elements a child of another element, the child is automatically resized again by the percent the parent had been resized. The element is shrunken down to a tiny little nothing, and I have to resize it AGAIN, bringing it back up to the size it should be. This back and forth resizing goes on and on until all the quirks are worked out and I finally have a character built, but it’s extremely time consuming and HAS to be unnecessary.

I’m hoping I’m just doing something wrong and there’s another way to approach this. Can anyone give me any suggestions? Is there any way to keep all my pieces in scale with each other on import? The whole process would be so painless if I could do that… any help is appreciated.

Hi Kryan,

For cut-out bitmap what you could do is to design your character inside Photoshop in a framing that has the same ratio then your project in Toon Boom Studio. Don’t worry if you have extra space around your pieces and simply design all of your character in layers with alpha around it. Once you are done export every layers with the full resolution of the project. For the export format make sure to use a format that has an alpha channel (png/psd/tga…).

When you get in Toon Boom Studio create a drawing column and do Import and Vectorize>From Files… and make sure to use the vectorize texture function. This should clip the extra alpha around all of the images you import and everything will be frame correctly since everything is in the same format. Be aware that this will only work in version 4.0 and above since the vectorize with texture is a new feature.

Hope this help, let me know if you need more explanation about this.

Best regards,



I’ve got a question about using bitmap backgrounds. I know the User Guide recommends bringing them in as Image Elements. Once they’re in place - is there any way to adjust their size & position in the Drawing View?

It doesn’t seem like it, so what I do is attach them to a peg and change the size & position in Camera view. It would be great, though, to be able to see those changes in the Drawing view. If someone knows of a way, please share.


Hi Goodeaton,

This is assuming you’re using tbs 4.0, it won’t work in 3.5.
What you want to do is create a drawing element, then right click a frame & select “import and vectorize” > “from file” > (select your file) > check the “With texture” option, and viola! ;D

That will allow you to manipulate your imported work in drawing view, hope it helps. Ask away if you have more questions.

Thanks for the reply! I do plan to use the “vectorize bitmap” option at some point.

I guess my question is about what Toon Boom calls Static Images (I’m looking @ p. 98 in the v.04 User Guide.) I know that Toon Boom Studio can handle bitmapped art as background elements. Although it’s said that TBS is a solely a vector application, as far as I can tell it does import bitmaps, and it seems to keep them as bitmaps, when imported as an image element.

Was just wondering if these could be modified in the Drawing View too. Maybe they can’t, and that’s why they’re called "Static Images."

Thanks again for your input -!

Dear Ugo,

as you know, I have been facing quite similar difficulties, when importing my photo cutout character layers into TBS.
Due to the high resolution of my images, importing and vectorizing resulted in unbearable huge files. For this I reason - maybe being too cautious - not only did I choose a lower res, but also cropped each layer in Photoshop before exporting. For this reason I had to import a blueprint of my final character as a background, so I could manually resize each imported and vectorized element accordingly. But this IS a rather painstaking and time-consuming approach.
Now, I’m wondering…

Does this mean, if you import and vectorize a complete layer with only a small part visible (e.g. a character’s shoe), there will be no increase in file size compared to the same image cropped to size before ex/importing? What happens to the (invisible) alpha channel areas of an image during vectorization?

Just want to get this right, before taking a step back in my working process.
Thank you for all the explanations,

Here is a good experiment for you to try. Take two objects that are independent of each other in a bitmapped image placed on a transparent background and saved to PNG format. Then import and vectorize them with textures. You will see that the transparent area of the image is not included and that the two objects are all that is inside the vector outline selection. It is quite interesting.

I look forward to Ugo’s technical explanation, but the bottom line is that from a simple test you can confirm that the alpha (transparent) area appears to be omitted in the import. I actually did this with two characters on a single image and then was able to easily reorient them relative to each other in the same drawing element. It opens up a lot of possibilities. -JK

Ah, I start to understand. Slowly.
So that’s why when importing eyes.png I ended up with one vector for each eye, so I could reposition them separately. This is very nice, especially when it comes to repositioning lips, cheeks, nostrils etc. in various positions…

Thank you once more & again,

Hi Autlaw,

Unfortunately the import and vectorize feature does not make the file size smaller but manipulating it afterward will be much more convenient. The main difference is that when you do an import image that has an alpha channel it will end up importing a box which will be quite tedious to manipulate (basically the zone that has the alpha will be selectable and since you work in cutout may be obstructing access to the other pieces underneath).

In the case of the vectorize feature it does import the same image with the alpha but applies a mask over it which fits the shape of the element. This being said if you use the contour editor and enlarger the shape range you will notice that you do have the alpha layer hidden outside of the current mask which will be selectable as well.

Not sure if I was clear enough but if that is the case let me know and I will try to reword the whole thing.

Best regards,


Thank you, Ugo, for the fast and very clear answer!

Now I understand, why processing at a lower resolution AND cropping in Photoshop made such a huge difference in TBS file size.
Since file size was the core of my problems, I’m gonna stick with cropping and resizing by hand (using the Contour Editor appears to be almost the same amount of additional work, but with getting larger files - so there seems to be no direct benefit in this approach).

I don’t mind additional work (a big part of animation seems to be just that), but I’m trying to avoid at least some of the dead ends on my way.

Therefore, very thankful for your guidance,

Hi Ugo, The question I have is with bitmap backgrounds. The project I am doing will output in HD and film, so I am working at 1920 X 1080. I am drawing my backgrounds in Toon Boom, and want to ad textures and photo elements on them in photoshop. I tried exporting the line as PNG snapshots. Then, I import and vectorize the PNG’s back into my Toon Boom project. On many of my scenes I have zooms and pans, so the bg I bring back in is never the right size. In photoshop I am working at my project size, 72 dpi. Is it a problem if I have to resize a lot?

How do I export a pan background that I have drawn in Toon Boom? Then how is it best brought back in?

Or is this best done by compositing in After Effects?

Thank you!


If you want to export a pan background out of Toon Boom Studio I guess you could temporarily change the resolution of your scene so it fits the size of your background in the File>Animation Properties.

Hopefully this is what you are looking for (I am not quite sure how your workflow is setup so it may not address the situation).



This thread helped me a little, so I want to contribute something to it for anybody who’s in despair about this particular import issue. Early on I finally figured that my scanned characters would fit snugly enough into Toon Boom’s drawing area if I first put them in the same sized Photoshop picture as the camera size for the Toon Boom session (that’s a mouthful, I know, but anybody confused should read it slowly a couple of times because it’s really pretty simple–and I’ll give an example: Go to File, select Animation Properties, choose how big you want the screen to be in terms of pixels, and then make sure that your image sizes frame to the same size in Photoshop, that’s all–or check the default setting that begins every new session of TBS 4; that’s your camera size, so conform to it in Photoshop; just fit your character into the same sized rectangle).

I knew nothing of ratios or any of that, so I just figured that, unlike Flash, TBS 4 has a quirk and that I had happened upon a work-around thing for it, that’s all.

But today I was way frustrated when I realized that my Bitmap background stuff won’t fit as automatically as the characters, which can only mean that, contrary to my assumptions, my characters were never exactly the same size as I had actually made them in Photoshop. This explained a few peculiar paradoxes that I had encountered earlier that I won’t get into here.

It helped to read through some of Ugo’s remarks on the subject.

Of course, as far as characters go, none of this really matters since the task, if you really think about it, is to simply make the character images conform to one another in the program that will be serving as your final export–and, for me, TBS 4 is that program. Characters are easy, but then something that has to fill the screen is a different challenge. It’s exasperating to see something hanging loose no matter how you try to resize it in another program!–and image sequences must be the same size, obviously.


In my case I have a fire BG sequence where photographs of fire are fading in and out of one another to give a flicker effect. Fortunately I’ve discovered that it’s really no big deal fitting something like this into TBS—and it’s really the only way to import anything of this sort from Flash, honestly (the difference between using one column in the Exposure Sheet to using three or four if you import it as raw SWF material–and don’t forget that SWFs cannot be vectorized! I could tell some real stories about SWF flukes in Toon Boom! You’re entering the Twilight Zone! FORGET SWFs!).


Just take the first Bitmap in the sequence and then position it in relation to the camera in Side View. Once you have it the way you want it; then import the rest in a batch and they’ll all fall in place like good little creations should. Every last one of them will be the same size and fit the screen in exactly the same way. Actually you could do the same with any sequence–backgrounds, characters, whatever. In the case of backgrounds and landscapes you might even want it bigger than the screen and pushed back out of the way as you bring the camera nearer and farther from it to suit the action of the story. Uniformity is really the only issue. You want your pictures and drawings and photos to agree in scale.

And if anybody gets frustrated with Toon Boom–and who doesn’t?–hey, you didn’t buy the wrong program, believe me. I checked out the Anime Studio Pro 5 trial—and forget it. No scanned artwork can be vectorized in Anime Studio. That’s the bottom line. TBS 4 is the only program for anybody who wants to import their own stuff with a scanner and is attached to Flash and Photoshop. You made the right choice. Don’t be haunted by that question. It’s just a matter of working around some of the idiosyncratic things that come up—this and the fact that there’s no book on it.

I try to think of it as an adventure into the Unknown.


The arbitrary rescaling of all photoshop layers when importing into TBS, makes this photoshop layers feature un-usable if you plan to rig any of the layers together.

Though Ugo’s suggestion to import separate layers via Import&Vectorize does solve the scaling issue, the fact the layers are all vector textures, creates a massive CPU hit, which slows the program down to such a point as to make the app. …yip, un-usable.

I thought I’d give TBS another try after a 12 month absence due to frustration…first task I tried and it doesn’t work.

nothings changed. same broken app…

back to Flash…good luck.

okay i lied… after 12 months, I gave TBS one more 1hr.

Import&Vectorize separate PNG’s works well, you must just beef up/configure video memory in Preferences/Display.

mutter mutter…