Cut-out Animation: Any advice?

I’ve been creating some cut-out animations but I’m not convinced I am doing this the fastest way possible. Is there another, faster way?

At the moment I’m using Photoshop 7 to create separate layers for each of the body parts (head, chest, upper arm, lower arm etc.). I then export them as PNG files (to maintain the transparent background) and import&vectorize them (with colour and texture) into separate drawing elements on the timeline. I then add parent pegs to all new elements.

This seems overly laborious. I have all the elements in separately named layers in Photoshop. I’d like to be able to slurp all the layers into ToonBoom, with the element name matching the Photoshop Layer name.

From advice from Rob Cambell, I don’t think that’s possible…but maybe there’s another approach entirely that would make this easier? I’ve tried saving the Photoshop file as an Illustrator file (.ai) and importing…but ToonBoom doesn’t recognize it.

I’d be tempted to create the pieces in ToonBoom but I need the other drawing tools available in Photoshop…

Someone also made a good recommendation to just import one arm/leg and then clone them - that helps. They also mentioned shortcuts - which I still need to look into. But before I get carried away, is there any easier way I’m missing here?


I’m guessing I could put all the body parts in one layer in Photoshop (but spaced appart) and then import that as a single image and cut appart within ToonBoom…

You have to get each body part that you want to independently animate into its own individual element. You have to set the rotational pivot point of each element in the hierarchy and you have to build the hierarchy itself. That is all part of rigging your puppet character. The amount of work involved in rigging is a trade off VS hand drawing the animation. If using the puppet justifies the rigging time it makes sense if not you can hand draw the animation. There aren’t any short cuts for importing layers from PS or Illustrator. So you have to decide up front if the time trade offs are worth the effort. -JK

Thanks - I think I actually answered my own question (at least in part).

In Photoshop
1) Create body part in separate layer
Make sure there is a slight overlap on ends near joints
Make sure none of the parts overlap (at least for now)
2) Select show for each layer containing a body part you need
3) Select Edit -Merged Copy
4) Paste to new layer
5) Export this new layer to a PNG files (to keep transparency)
6) Import into ToonBoom (import&vectorize with texture)
7) In ToonBoom, “Cut” each body part and past to separate Drawing element