Cut out tutorial woes

I have upgraded to studio 4.5 with the hopes of using cut-out photo animation combined with video. I have purchased the work-out series photo animation in order to get started on it. It has not been a pleasant experience! I followed the lesson to the letter, in particular I was very careful in trying to get the hierarchy just right. It took me several tries but I finally got it built the way it was described in the tutorial. Alas, when I choose the rotate or transform tool the “bounding boxes” around my selections (like upper arm etc) are HUGE, they are twice as high as the character. This is very distracting and makes it difficult to set pivot points. All the elements are like this. I admit I used a different photoshop file than the one supplied, however I followed the same procedure in resizing etc. What has gone wrong?

Hi Nick:

I’m purely guessing here, but I think I may be right:


To remedy this, use the Rotation tool to adjust the pivot point to the logical anatomical spot (knee, hip, etc).

As you do this, other parts of your rig may move and adjust, much to your consternation. With this in mind, you may do well to undo your rig heirarchy before adjusting pivot points.

I hope that helps.

Nick - I feel your pain.

I think this probably comes up more times that ToonBoom expects. Hopefully someone reads this at ToonBoom…

Rob made some good points. You can also download the Der-Der tutorial which is pretty good.

However, I think I know exactly what your problem is. I’ve experienced the very same thing. There are two possibilities:
(1) When you import the image from Photoshop, ToonBoom will also import the associated alpha layer (In Photoshop, this is the checkered backgrouind layer). This layer is the same size as the Photoshop canvas layer. You will get this when importing PNG files with an alpha layer also.

The unfortunate thing is, you wont be able to see this layer in ToonBoom, but ToonBoom will be able to see it. In fact when you select the object (say the arm), ToonBoom will actually select the arm AND the alpha layer (which can be huge). When you try and locate a pivot point, things go haywire.

To get around this it would be useful for ToonBoom to show where the alpha layer is when you imort and preview the image. At least that will give you a heads-up that something odd is going on. Maybe even show the alpha layer in another color.

The way round this is to remove the alpha layer:
(a) Select The Drawing Element on the Timeline
(b) Select Drawing Workspace (get into drawing mode)
(c) Click on top left select tool and, from the drop down menu, select "Reposition all Drawings"
That will highlight all of the drawing objects ToonBoom can see in that drawing element cell. You will often see what looks like a large white box hiding behind the image.

In some cases the image you want is separate from the alpha layer, in which case you can just select the big white box and delete it. Other wise you’d need to select the bit of the image you want to keep, cut it out, paste and then select the white box and delete it.

Hope that makese sense.

(2) The second possibility is that you have left one or two pixel behind in the image. Again, they may be so small you can’t see them. If they’re stuck in the far left corner of the canvas, guess what, ToonBoom thinks your image extends right over to the errant pixel.

Just use the Select tool to select the pixel(s) and delete them.


Rob’s last point also touched on my No.1 pet peeve with ToonBoom. That of
“migrating” pivor points, with a life of their own. You probably haven’t seen this yet - but you will :wink:

The behaviour of these pivot points depend heavily on how and what order you construct your cut-out character. Different nesting of elements; separate pegs or keyframes in drawings; Placing rotation pivot point before nesting elements or after, often lead to different results.

What has worked for me is the following:
A) Import separate “body” parts and clean them up in ToonBoom
B) You only need to import one leg and one arm. (You can actually cone them later). The hands are different. You may need to import both right and left hands.
C) Put each into a separate Drawing Element
D) Use the Select Tool to move the body parts around to get them generally lined up. Don’t worry about scale, you can make the whole thing smaller later.
E) Nest the Drawing Elements with the various ‘body’ parts in: Place lower arm Drawing Element onto Upper arm Drawing Element etc.
F) Use Rotation tool to locate position of pivot points
G) Extend the Exposure for all elements to, say 100 frames
The use keyframes and the Transform Tool only to create the motion you want. In v4.5 you don’t need separate Peg elements for basic animation, you can put keyframes directly in the Drawing Elements.

When you are happy with the rigging and basic motion you can then clone the arm and legs.

I think ToonBoom could make a few modifications and make cut-out animation so much less painful. (If you compare it to rigging a character in Anime you know it can be so much easier. The rigging and animation should be kept separate). I really wish they’d make some improvements in this area.

Best of luck!