Importing Cartoon Characters

Ok, here is my question. We have artists in different cities. They will be sending us the characters via Email as a JPEG. My questions are

Once we get the images in Email, how do we transfer the JPEGs into Toon Boom Studio for animation. Do we cut the arms and legs and head and eyes, etc… for animation in photoshop, and then import each layer? Or do we cut it up, re-draw it in some way in Toon Boom Studio? Can someone answer this question?


It depends on what your final needs for these character will be.

If you want them to stay as raster graphics (jpg, etc) and you are planing to make cutout puppets of them then you will need to cut them up in a raster graphic editing program like Photoshop and save them in a format like PNG with a transparent alpha channel as their background. Then each individual body part must be imported into a separate image element so you can rig your puppet.

If you want to have them as vector graphic characters then you would import the JPG version into an image element and then using separate drawing elements for each body part you would trace the original character as you divide it into body parts and then rig your drawing elements into the final puppet.

Unless there is a very strong reason that you want to remain with the raster graphic images you would be well advised to redraw them in vector form. Cut-out characters are complex enough and usually require extensive additional parts so that trying to construct them long distance with another artist doing the drawings and e-mailing them will turn into a nightmare. So the easiest way is to use their work as your initial blueprint and construct the characters on your own inside TBS. This will be much easier and more flexible. I hope this gives you some insight.

One last piece of advice, don’t blindly charge down the cut-out puppet road. Cut-outs are not easy to construct or animate. If you can draw and use a more limited animation technique you will get better results for much less work. Most people confuse cut-outs with limited animation using library assets. -JK

Awsome answer, it looks to me like you have to trace it, and then create the different movements. I am very new to this so I am asking basic questions. Thanks!

My next question is, if our artist sends us a picture with color. Do we have to re-color the elements from TB? That is what it looks like to me.


For your vector art work it is best to color it after you draw it in TBS. If you have original art that you want to use as a color guide, then I suggest that you import that art into an image element, then you can create a color palette to hold your character’s color scheme. For each color in your imported color model you will create a swatch in your color palette. Using the dropper that is part of the color selection dialog for setting your swatch colors, you can sample the colors of your imported model one at a time and they will become your palette swatch colors. Just use the dropper that is part of the color dialog not the dropper that is on the TBS tool palette, as they are for different purposes. -JK

Useful References to read:
color palettes
color swatches

Cool, I think I am getting this. So what would you recommend to someone that is JUST starting out in the program for tutorials? Do you think the first workout series is good?

It all depends on the new user’s prior experience. In general, users come to TBS who have no animation experience and no animation software experience. For those people I recommend that they start by learning to do simple full animation exercises like bouncing a ball, the flour sack, and stick figure animations.

For someone with animation experience but no software experience, they just need to work through the basic tutorials and maybe some of the tutorials on the different websites. This would also be true for someone with prior software experience from a program like Flash.

The Workout Series is useful and for those users who feel it appropriate they are a good way to make quick progress on the learning curve to using the software, not so much for learning animation.

The key point here is learning the features of the software prior to learning the fundamentals of animation is backwards. A user should learn the fundamentals which only require the minimum of features to apply first and then gradually learn to use the short cuts and extra features later. This is just a personal opinion. -JK

I think I have a similar question. When I import a drawing from EZ draw as a jpg it comes with a rectangle around it that covers my background in toon boom. Is there a way around this. I can’t draw worth a darn in toon boom but can do much better in ez-draw.

If you can create your drawing with a transparent background and save it as a PNG or other format that supports an alpha channel then you can solve your problem. I don’t believe JPG supports transparent backgrounds. I’m not familiar with EZ Draw so I can’t advise you if it will work to create a transparent background raster image. -JK