Creating bitmap art

Hi all,

I just upgraded to Toonboom Harmony Advanced. I’m just animating for a hobby so I basically have to do all the work. What I’m doing right now is trying to create background scenes for my animations but I need to have them reallly detailed like you’d see in anime and such, not something that looks like it was done in PowerPoint or ms paint lol

I’m just trying to see what other users do when it comes to background art for their animation? Toonboom rocks when it comes to its animating software but I found the options for creating bitmap drawings and different tools/coloring options to be lacking. Do you guys/girls use photoshop or Corel or what? Thanks!

For more detailed backgrounds I really wouldn’t use (or ever want to use) Harmony. I do mine in Krita (excellent bitmap painting tools with nice perspective guides), PhotoLine (for more photoshop like compositing of photos and painted work in Krita) and Blender for 3d components and sometimes basic shapes for overpainting.

Any good bitmap editor with good painting tools will suffice, though. Krita is open source and free, and offers much nicer painting and drawing tools compared to Photoshop (in my opinion and experience).

Thank you so much for this. I have been using Krita since you told me and I’m finally beginning to do cool things with the program. That’s so awesome that it’s free!

I’m such a newbie to ALL of this. Once I started having a cool background scene come together it clicked with me that I will need to be animating WITHIN the scene which means I need my animations in front of the distant scenery, yet behind the foreground stuff (side rails and bushes). Is there a way to import my bitmap scene or save it as a certain file type from Krita so that when I bring it into Toonboom it will keep all those layers separate so that I can still animate in between the layers? Obviously I want my characters in front of the distant treeline but behind the sidewalk railing otherwise it wouldn’t look good. Do I just have to plan this stuff out as I draw my backgrounds and save the layers of one background scene into individual files in order to bring in the distant stuff, draw my animations, and then bring in the foreground stuff? Thanks for any help!

The way I work is that I organize background/environment elements from back to foreground in individual layer groups, and export these layer groups as separate elements. I then import these to recreate the same layering, and add the character(s) wedged between the foreground layer and the appropriate background layers.

Yes, you need to plan this out. And put each environment element and character on its own 3D plane which allows for parallax effects, and switching of layers to allow a character to move into and out of a scene in pseudo 3d layering.

And be sure to watch this classic to understand the principles from a classical Disney animation point of view.

That Disney video is cool. It makes me so glad we are in the digital age though lol. I gain more appreciation for animators with every day I try to learn how to do it. Thanks for the tips! What file type do you save the Krita artwork as? And when you import them into toonboom do you import as bitmap or vector or what?

I recommend Photoshop because it now comes with all of the very famous Kyle T Webster brushes. It seems like everyone uses them these days, but for good reason - they can’t be beat. Plus, Photoshop is so polished, easy to use, and standard. Some other options are Clip Studio Paint, Krita, Rebelle 2 (very good for watercolors.). Photoshop is my favorite, though.

What photoshop are you using and how much did it cost?

Only Photoshop CC is available, and only for rent. You pay 10 dollars a month for the Photographer’s plan. When you stop paying the rent, you lose access to Photoshop. Photoshop cannot be purchased anymore.

Myself, I prefer both Krita and ClipStudio for digital drawing and painting. Krita has better brushes and more brush control (in my opinion), and ClipStudio’s drawing feel is the best out there (in my opinion again). And both are much more focused on drawing and painting compared to Photoshop. For example, you won’t find perspective assistants to help you draw in perspective easily in Photoshop.

I have Photoshop CC 2018, which is available through a subscription.

I’ve recently started using Clip Studio Paint for the iPad Pro. It is fantastic for animation, too. It even has the ability to do shift-and-trace. I do wish that it would let you import audio to scrub for lip sync.

I’m going to have to check out ClipStudio too. Wow I didn’t know Krita has perspective assistants I even searched for them. All I could find was how to turn on the grid and rulers but they were kind of distracting.

So when you import the different layers of your background into ToonBoom what file type do you save the krita files as? I don’t want to lose any quality or have any conversion errors when I import into ToonBoom.

If you work with PSD and place each layer inside a group you can import your file with separate layers into Harmony. That’s practical when you have a multiplane with several layers or just a simple file with two layers, BG and OL. If you place several layers inside a group they will be different drawings of a layer. You can use this to import an animation someone made on Photoshop or to have different versions of your background layer that you can swap.

It works with Krita too, if you save a PSD, but I’m not sure it’s as clean as Photoshop in terms of Harmony getting the names of groups and layers. Normally I would name the group with whatever description (BG, OL, etc.) and number the layer inside (1, if just one, 1,2,3, etc., if some sort of animation), so it would be imported as layer ‘BG’ with drawing ‘1’.