How do I understand how to use this?


First of all, I am NOT a troll. I am as sincere as can be. Yes, I happen to love Anime Studio, and work with it at least 30 hours a week, but that doesn’t mean I’m oblivious to the fact that, on the surface, TB Studio offers a ton more capability.

And I bought TB Studio 6 – paid full price (not even discounted). So it’s not like I don’t WANT to use it. But here’s my problem:

First of all, I am a computer professional with over 3 decades of experience in Windows, Mac, Linux and even DOS (for those of you who remember that). I used to program for a living and, after that, managed a group of programmers. The point is I’m not exactly a novice when it comes to using software, and I pride myself on being able to master just about anything I’ve tried in the last 40 years. But Toon Boom just has me stumped.

I watch the tutorial videos, I even read the manual (something I’ve never had to do with any other software, mind you) and the interface still continues to bewilder me. It just ain’t intuitive in any manner shape or form.

Even constructing a 3D character in Max or Maya (both programs I spent considerably more for) is 10 times easier than trying to rig a character in TB. I feel like I need a doctorate just to understand all the layers, pinnings and whatnot just to get a simple cutout going (something that, conversely, my eight year old grandson can do with ease in Anime Studio).

The reason I am making this plea to all of you for help is that I got the ad to upgrade to version 7 (good until the end of June) and, of course, I’m such a software whore (who spreads their wallet open for nearly anything) this time I’m trying to resist. I look at those robo-bone thingees or whatever they are called and think, “Hey, maybe they finally have rigging down to where a simpleton like me can understand it” but then I remember that I thought this a year ago and was still stumped.

Is this (the whole Toon Boom interface) really something that you either get or you don’t? Or is it an acquired taste, that all of you had immense difficulties but were able to overcome? Or am I just really far too old (quite possible) and/or stupid to be using this?

I’d love some help and direction – stop me before I waste more money or encourage me that it might be worth it (either way will be helpful).

Oh, and if it helps I’m not really any kind of artist so frame by frame isn’t something that is important to me much (or at all). All of my animation is cutout or whatever it is you guys call it when you put bones behind the different parts and have them bend the arms and legs (in Anime Studio I can put them all in a single layer which just makes perfect sense to me – and I can also pose them all at the same time, again, this is just the way it should be).

(And, again, I’m not looking for war here – I am readily willing to admit it might just be me and no one else who has this trouble, in which case I really shouldn’t consider upgrading at all).

ToonBoom Studio is patterned after classical photographic animation methods which has its pros and cons when it come to learning to master the software. The main con or negative is that it isn’t like software that was crested with no direct connection to classical animation (IE Flash) and therefore for people with no background in photographic animation it seems strange. The main pro or positive is that there are tons of books and references that were written to teach classical animation techniques and those techniques are directly transferable to TBS once you understand the underlying connection between the classical and the TBS equivalents. Here are two basic lessons that unlock many of those connections and usually turn on light bulbs once they are studied. Then the third link shows you a whole series of useful articles and tutorials on using TBS. Hope this helps -JK

ToonBoon Basics Part 1

ToonBoon Basics Part 2

Cartooning in ToonBoom Learning Track

Thanks for your kind and prompt reply.

Based on reading (in particular, the last link) I think I have a better understanding of where Toon Boom and I part ways. First of all, though, I’d like to clear something up – while I’m not artistic (having no talent in those lines) I DO understand Animation quite well, having made a pretty good living from it for several years (3D animation, but the principles are the same). I’ve also done extensive reading on the history and art of 2D (and Williams’ book is my bible).

So it isn’t so much that I don’t understand frame by frame as it just doesn’t “speak” to me. However, as Toon Boom touts the ability to do cut-out animation I thought this would be no problem, as that’s all I do with Anime Studio.

However, now I see that there is cutout and there is cutout. In particular, it looks as though Toon Boom considers cutout animation to be what I’d call layer animation, meaning you need to move each and every single layer of a character rig in order to animate the entire thing (although you can group layers for a hierarchical movement so, for example, if you move the body layer the parts at least track with it).

I’m an old man – and while that’s quicker than FBF it’s no where near quick enough for me. So I guess what I had been looking for was what we in the Anime Studio world call bones – that is, the ability to rig a character at ONE level and at this level control all the various parts. No wonder I’ve been confused.

So… if I understand correctly (and, again, I’m old so I may not) it looks as though version 7 adds that capability. Is that true? Is the one and only thing that confused me was that I was looking for some sort of bone rig and it never existed?

I realize some (most?) of you may not have 7 yet and not be able to answer me, but it would help if I got just one answer, because it’s not clear from the sample videos on this subject (those same sort of sample videos got me into trouble on version 6 when I assumed this capability was there). I want to have the ability to add all my keys while what I would call being on the same layer. IOW, I don’t want to have to change or click some other layer or thing in order to be able to animate the entire rig.

If that’s true that would be reason alone to give TB one more shot (and, as I said, it doesn’t take a lot for me to shell out my dough – like Will Rodgers, I never met software I didn’t like, at least in some manner).

If you are referring it as IK (inverse kinematic), it is the advanced feather that only existed in Animate pro and Harmony. If you want to know more on this feature, you better check Animate Pro and Harmony in Toon Boom Site