Extending Keyframes

I really want to use toonboom over flash only because toonboom looks and feels better when inking my work. But Im finding toonboom to be incredible frustrating when I want to do simple things like fix my timing or the order of my drawings. Sometimes all I want to do is take a frame and extend its exposure. I see a way to do that once I right click the timeline but then all of my frames further along the timeline are moved as well. Also sometimes I want to just insert a keyframe thats exactly the same drawing but a differnt key, cant figure out how to do that besides copy and paste. Pretty much to make it simple
how do I :

-Extend a frames exposure manually without having to type in numbers like in flash and without disturbing other keys

-Convert keyframes into blank keyframes (without having to insert a blank keyframe and then deleting keys because its pushed all my other keys forward)

-Pretty much everything in the timeline you do in flash, can I do the exact same way as far as inserting keys and converting keys?

Hopefully you can do all of these things and Im just overlooking something
If by chance im not
Here are some features on my wishlist,

-Make it so its easier to distiguish between different keyframes. Right now they just have a little spacing between them but its hard to tell where your keyframes are otherwise.

-Able to drag exposure like u do on dopesheet without disturbing all the frames behind it

-Basically a simplified timeline (I hate to always refer back to flash but I think they really nailed it as far as timeline and keyframe management goes)

-Ohh and this is offsubject but maybe different zoom percents bar like they have in flash.

Otherthan that I really enjoy toonboom, just arranging and converting keyframes in just painstankinging for my pipeline because I m slowed down at the moment because I animate by keyposes instead of straight ahead. But Once again though amazing software otherwise. Highly recommend it

The following pages in the Cartooning in Toon Boom WIKI should be useful in helping you answer your questions.



If you want to successfully switch from Flash to TBS you will need to wrap your head around some important conceptual differences in approach and terminology. Flash calls everything a keyframe and that is totally confusing. Keyframes are frames where animation parameters are keyed to specific frames. Drawings in TBS are called cells and are uniquely named. Flash drawings are called keyframes and aren’t uniquely named. You may currently be comfortable with the free form approach of Flash’s timeline but you will soon find that the TBS approach is much more animator friendly but requires greater organization and discipline in your work flow.

Read these articles to get a better understanding of TBS keyframes.


Keep asking questions. -JK

I feel like I should be getting this because I come with a traditional animation background but im still having trouble. I read the tutorials for timing and Im alittle dissapointed because I dont think U can actually stretch exposure of a frame WITHout messing up the exposure of all the frames behind it.

Like I make a drawing at frame 1, then do a drawing at frame 5. I want all the frames from 1-4 to be the same. I dont want any empty spaces with no frames. As of right now to do this I would have to set exposure of frame 1 to 4 then delete the empty keys which is a lot of work when u get a hundreds of drawings going.

I think I would have to find some new way of animating or think differently like you suggested. Perhaps I should draw everything on 1 exposure frame, and then once all the drawings are made try to set the exposure to whatever number I need for each frame. So draw and then time it out second. Like I said before I really need to use this software so Im willing to make sacrifices but I just wish I didnt. Im just used to doing my drawing and timing at the same time to speed things up.

What method do you personally use for doing pose to pose method of animating in toonboom and for adding your breakdowns and inbetweens? Would help me a lot to see how someone else does it: D

Let’s approach animating an action as if you were not thinking in terms of computer software but rather as a classical animator. Classical animators worked in a photographic world where there were no Timelines only exposure sheets. And the exposure sheet was not as much of a tool for animating as it was for communicating camera operation instructions.

For this simple example we will have 8 key drawings. These drawings represent 8 major parts of the action. So our first job is to rough out these 8 keys poses. If we were working classically we would do this on 8 sheets of paper working on an animation disc that was back lighted. We would flip the drawings to see the transitions and begin to develop and idea for the overall timing of the action.

In TBS we can do the same thing. We create the eight key pose drawings as an eight frame sequence.


We don’t use frames in the timeline or the exposure sheet to space our drawings. We do our fundamental spacing visually in the drawings themselves.

So now we want to “slug” out the timing which is a trial and error process. We do that by using the “set exposure command”.

We go to each drawing in the sequence and using set exposure we try out the timing approach that we think will work and test it and then we go back and make revisions as desired. Note that you have to go to each key drawing and set the number of total exposures of that drawing that you want. The first instance of the drawing is the actual key and the additional instances are “repeats” some of those repeats may become “holds” and some of them may become “inbetweens”. Your goal is to set the desired number of repeats between each pair of key drawings. You do this by using the Set Exposure command while having the red selector positioned on the first key of each pair of keys. So start at d1 and set your total number of exposures you want between d1 and d2. Then move to d2 and set your total number of exposures you want between d2 and d3. Then move to d3 and set your total number of exposures you want between d3 and d4. And so on until you have “slugged” out the sequence.

(our first timed approach)

Suppose you don’t like that timing so you want to adjust it. Move your frame slider to the first drawing of a series of drawings and using set exposure you change the number of exposures for that drawing. For example go to the first d4 drawing and use set exposure 3 to place 3 exposures between d4 and d5 instead of the current number of 2 exposures. Then go to d5 and do the same there. Then go to d6 and use set exposure to 2 to place 2 exposures between d6 and d7 instead of the current 3 exposures. That’s how you adjust exposures between key drawings. Keep doing this until you are satisfied with your key’s timing. Then you can do inbetweening without disturbing the over all timed sequence.

(our revised timing 24 frames 8 drawings)

Now we have our 8 key poses timed out to represent our action. And we can now begin to inbetween without changing this time sequence. There are two approaches to replacing drawings for inbetweening. One approach is to move to a frame where we want to do an inbetween and use the Cells panel to replace the current drawing at that frame with a blank drawing on which we can draw our inbetween using onion skinning. The other approach is to move to a frame where we want to do an inbetween and use the Duplicate drawing command to make a duplicate copy of the previous drawing. We will slightly modify the duplicate to become our inbetween. We repeat this process until we have replaced keys with inbetweens as desired.

(24 frames 24 drawings)

Note that the same 24 frame sequence has been maintained but that new inbetween drawings now have been inserted into the sequence. Of course you don’t have to use that many inbetween drawings, I just wanted to show a maximum case example.

The process is:
(1) first break your action into key drawings.
(2)Then “slug” out the timing of the action using set exposure to add repeats inbetween each of the keys.
(3)Test the “slugged” out action and using set exposure go back and adjust the number of repeats between each pair of keys until you have your desired timing.
(4) Using either the Cells panel to replace a repeat with a blank or using Duplicate drawing to replace a repeat with a duplicate, you work in your inbetweens into your already timed out sequence.

You should try this approach and you will soon find that this is a very easy way to develop and adjust pose to pose timing of an action.

I hope this gives you some insight into how you might approach animating in TBS. There are other approaches too. But this is my favorite for classical animation. -JK

Ok thanks alot I finaly see how is should be. I really appreciate your help.

My method for doing my timing/ inbetweens now is using the cel window and timeline. I just highlight all the frames I want and then go to cel window and place what drawing I want for those frames.

Although I do understand how things are and that u want to stick to the traditional animator workflow on the computer. I think u could really benefit with some new age ideas as well.

Please consider my suggestion of perhaps adding a little square on the keyframe that u can drag to extend your exposure like u can in flash or tvpaint, I find this method much easier and quicker than by using the cel window for timing. But I do like the idea of cel window for other things. Was a good idea. Anyway, thanks again for the help. I really hope in toonboom v5.0 my suggestion is considered : D Really enjoy drawing in this program my work just tends to look better.

You can certainly keep lobbying for your suggestions and I’m sure the Toon Boom Animation development team will as always consider all suggestions.

There are other ways to adjust timing that already exist that closely match some of your suggested approaches. For example you can go to the exposure sheet and if you mouse over a cell you will see a double ended arrow cursor which means that you can extend or remove exposures by just dragging the arrow to the point desired. The problem that most people have with all of these approaches is that they start out placing drawings on frames with gaps of empty frames between them instead of placing cells in contiguous sequences. TBS respects those empty cell gaps, so when you try to add or remove exposures TBS also moves the gaps as if they were occupied by cells. Just don’t place cells on the timeline or the exposure sheet with empty frame gaps between them and you will be able to use the drag to extend exposures method of timing your work.

In the time line the process is slightly different, but again avoid creating empty frame gaps. In the time line you select all down stream cells on a track and drag them to extend the exposure of the previous cell. So basically you are “pulling” the cell sequence to extend exposures. You just select and drag out smaller and smaller down stream cell groups as you progressively want to add exposures. So instead of grabbing a cell and dragging it out to push the whole down steam group of cells down and add exposures like you do in the exposure sheet, you jump to the frame just past where you want to add exposures and select everything down stream from it and pull out the space for those wanted exposure additions. Do a little experimenting with this in both the exposure sheet and the timeline and I suspect you will be very pleased. -JK


Please keep lobbying TB with your suggestions (I don’t want to be left alone). There’s actually a lot of tweaks in v4.5 that are really good (especially handling large project files/scenes). Without them I would have stopped using TB. I’m hoping they did this, at least in part, because of user feedback like yours…

JK makes some good points, like always, regarding the idea of not having spaces between cells. I don’t disagree with anything he said. But there are times when you need those gaps between cells. Unfortunately, when you paste a cell into the timeline, leave a gap of a number of frames and then paste the same cell into a later frame, TB fills in the gap with the same cell. I can see this would be useful in some cases, but not in others. You also can’t double-click a group of cells, that are surrounded by empty frames, and then drag it on the timeline to widen, or, lengthen the gap between the cells.