draw vs. cut outs?

I am trying to understand the reasons for choosing either cutout or drawing of animations. It seems a balance between ease and aesthetics. I wonder what the opinions of experienced users are.
Thank You

This is a great discussion. We spend lots of “water cooler” time on this topic in our own planning sessions. And certainly there is no “right” answer as this is an artistic choice. Here are some pros and cons on cut outs.

Pro: cut outs require less drawing

Con: cut outs require a lot of pre-planning in their design

Pro: cut outs are very re-usable

Con: cut outs are usually not as fluid in their movements

Pro: cut outs can be animated easily

Con: straight drawing is more spontanious

It is a fun discussion, and there is no one best answer, it all depends on the artists involved and their objectives. -JK

I hope we will get some interest in this discussion.

Here is a comparison of a cut out walk using Der Der and a hand drawn walk. Side by side, old Der Der looks pretty good. Of course when your get into actual personality animation it is going to be tough to beat hand drawn with a cut out character. -JK

This is something I’ve given a lot of thought to, since I like both kinds of animation quite a lot.

Cut-outs are for a very stylized kind of animation. Broad, comic action won’t work very well. The characters really need to be designed to work well with the style – if you draw in the “Disney” style or “Anime” style, your audience will expect more movement from your characters.

The biggest trade-off is in the amount of detail you can use. Drawing a Disney-type character you can’t, for instance, give him a very elaborate Renaissance costume with lots of lace and frills and things because drawing those in every frame will be pretty much impossible. On the other hand, if it’s a cut-out character, you can go wild. In fact, you probably should, as that way your audience will be compensated for the lack of pyrotechnics in the animation (no big martial arts duels or amazing chase sequences). The detail extends to the treatment of the character itself. A cartoon character for drawn animation needs to be simplified. A cut-out character can have subtle shading, texture, cross-hatching, etc. You can have those things in animation that’s drawn frame-by-frame, but unless you are extremely well-funded, or have a large studio, or are working with only one character, it’s not really practical.

Hope that helped.

This discussion has great possibilities. It is refreshing to have discussions here that don’t totally revolve around just Toon Boom and someones problems using the software. Not that solving those problems isn’t very important but I suspect even the Toon Boom product team would enjoy just some basic conceptional and non-software specific conversation. After all, there are plenty of TBS users who are past most of the ‘novice’ issues and want to get input and ideas related to actually producing animation.

You would be very surprised at how much slapstick can be done using cut outs. Many people think that cutouts are easier to animate and save on drawing. Well they do reduce drawing but that is replaced by a whole lot more design planning and frankly it is harder to properly animate a cut out then it is to hand draw the same action. The value comes more in the reusability over time. I’m sure we will get plenty of opinions posted here, thanks -JK

Actually, you’re probably right. Now that I think of it, the last project I did with cut-out style animation had a few slapstick moments that got some laughs, although the humor was more in the story and less in the choreography of the action.

I would still maintain, though, that if you are planning a cartoon with lots of broad comedy, traditional is the way to go. Exaggeration is easier, characters can move in more directions, dramatic angles are easier to achieve (e.g. a worm’s eye view of a character as he falls down after being hit on the head, to use a typical example).

In my opinion, they were trying to do more challenging stories, but they were slapping the Disney formula onto them. You can do a cartoon version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, but not if you try to turn what is supposed to be a Gothic tragedy/horror story into a romantic comedy with music and funny gargoyle sidekicks. Or you can do a science fiction story like “Atlantis” aimed at teens, but not if you plan on marketing it to the typical Disney pre-teen audience. The suits bascially ruined the animation. Let’s hope John Lasseter can turn it around.

(Actually, if I was going to do an animated version of “Hunchback” I might use cut-outs. Medeival illustrations have that flat look to them.)

I appreciate all your comments. These are especially useful to someone new to this.
My planned use of animation is two fold. One is for artistic animation perhaps leading to commercial viability but not necessary. The other is directly commercial. I am experimenting with creating corporate presentations, training and other materials which would move from the use of traditional PowerPoint slide presentations (which are designed for a group setting and require a person to present) to the use of animations (which would be used as stand alone presentations for individual use.) These would be focused on training or promotion pieces.
At first I thought that hand drawn animation would be used for art and that cut-outs would be for business. This was based on perceived concept of reusability and ease/speed of use.
As I experiment, it seems that the hand drawn would be almost as reusable. Not just the base drawings but also many of the animation sequences.
On the side of ease/speed, cut outs may have the edge. Much of this conclusion is based on finding www.cartoonsolutions.com and realizing that there are pre-made cut out templates that would fit the commercial story lines. (By the way, I am now searching for more sources if anyone out there knows of any.)
Any thoughts?

We actually do both types of productions commercially so I can tell you that you are on the right track. You can even embed SWFs inside PDFs for business training documents. And yes clients love the animations VS power point slides. So SWFs work great on websites but also can be distributed inside electronic documents.

Here are some insights into style. What you want to do is called “limited” animation. So cut outs work fine as does hand drawn work. In Flash the reusability is done through symbols. In TBS the term is templates. How you create the template is not significant (cut outs, hand drawn) what is significant is the design of the template so that it is easy to use and re-use. Also for business communications the concepts and content are the important part so they enjoy it being humorously presented but they aren’t generally art critics so you don’t need to do Disney style animation, in fact Rocky and Bullwinkle style or even South Park style works great. The TBS camera is your best friend because you can animate with the camera and minimize drawings significantly. (study Anime style to really appreciate the power of the camera)

One other tip is focus on your story boarding work and plan as much at that stage as possible because it will save you a lot of unneeded re-work. Making animatics of your boards with your scratch sound track will tell you what is selling the idea without finding out a big piece of animation is totally confusing after you have spent weeks making it.

Ask more questions if you have them and we will try to pass along insights and experiences. The use of animation to simplify training about and the understanding of complex concepts is a huge field and there are plenty of opportunities.

Here is a silly example of a simple style of instructional cartoon about workplace safety.

Hope this helps - JK

wow it is awesome !
is it totally made in toon boom studio ??

Thanks, there is nothing done in that simple cartoon that is difficult. It is very limited animation. And the elecrocution effect was the most difficult trick. TBS is an excellent product but I think that many people expect the software to create the “magic”. By that I mean, if you buy a pencil and some paper would you break the pencil and throw it away because it doesn’t know how to draw by itself. Each cartoonist or artist must develop their skills and only expect the software to act as a tool. With time and effort and practice you will be amazed at what is possible using TBS. Just keep experimenting and asking questions.

if u dont mind ;Dwill u share with us that how u created that burnig smoke affect ? :smiley: second that blury speed lines when that character mad :smiley: and the last that bright white glow effect/flash light near in the end of animation :smiley:
thank u

I don’t mind sharing any knowledge. Special effects animation is like any other animation and it is a skill learned through applying the same techniques and some creativity. I don’t have the time right now to give you a detailed walk through but I’ll make a note that I want to post a thread on effects animation and when time permits I’ll start explaining some of the tricks that we have learned. -JK

ok fine i am waiting for ur tutorials :smiley:

wow it is awesome !
is it totally made in toon boom studio ??

one more question !
how did u draw that character , i mean which tools did u use while completing it , so far i hv used brush + poly line tool but couldn’t get best result …every time i miss something in my sketch drawing and colouring :slight_smile:

Here are a few tips on how we work in TBS and hopefully they will give you some insights. First we do rough sketches, sometimes directly into a drawing element and sometime on paper and then imported into an image element. (depends on how we feel and what are deadlines might be etc.) For doing roughs directly into TBS we use the brush tool. We have a sketching pen set up in properties that has a minimum of 5 a maximum of 20 and a smoothing factor of 2. We set up a color swatch that is red with its alpha setting at 50% to make it transparent so you can see the lines below thru the top lines as you sketch. We also have a blue swatch set up the same. We also make sure that the “draw top layer” option is toggled off.

The rough sketching process is the same digitally or on paper in that you build your work based on solid geometrical forms and construct the character picking the best sketch lines as you go. I normally work in red first and then clean up my “best lines” with the blue.

Once we have our roughs done and the action worked out we decide the best way to build the character in elements on top of the roughs. We have to decide if we want to use one or more elements to make the animation easier. The roughs will be only used as guides for animating and not be included in the final movie.

Limited animation is based on the concept that you only want to have to re-draw that part of the action that actually is changing. So if you have different parts of the character that will change more often than other parts then it makes sense to seperate them into different elements to save re-drawing parts that basically aren’t moving. Thats pretty much the process. Except to remind you that you use the auto light table to do the overlays between different elements. Oh one other tip, I usually do a bunch of gestural thumbnail sized sketches on paper really roughly to figure out how the performance should be presented before I actually start my animation drawings. -JK

i think i will go for it ,but the mention u hv mentioned above is too big and thick …i myself was using pen with setting minimum 1 and maximun 5 with smoothing 2 …is not fine? ???

It is all a matter of personal preference. I tend to sketch large usually 6-7 field for most character sketches. I have a very light touch. But your pen and colors for sketching are not important except what works best for you personally. The goal is to work loose and capture the pose and energy you are after. It will be your guide and gets discarded so don’t think of it as finished art, that’s why it is called a rough sketch. -JK

As I dig a little deeper into cut outs there seems to be an additional benefit. Cutouts will do tweens automatically where animating will not.
Does this sound correct

No that is not exactly correct. Tweening can be applied to regular animating also. For example if you animated a walk cycle in place and attached it to a peg, you could still tween it along a motion path to have it move from one screen location to another. -JK

but wouldn’t you have to physically draw each tween before animating the walk for the drawn sequence where in cut outs you place the two extremes on the timeline and the software “draws” the tweens for the cutout?
(I did not notice how the animation would then be placed on a peg line to move through a frame, I assume it is the same as pegging the drawn animation but not really sure.)

The key point is that in cutouts the software created the tweens where in drawn animation you have to draw each tween then place on a path (pegs).

At least that is what I thought I saw with the cutout demo that came with the software. Or, did I get it wrong?