Kick Buttowski

I’ve recently been watching episodes of Kick Buttowski and, needless to say, have been very impressed with the animation. I looked it up on the Wikipedia and saw that it is produced by Mercury Filmworks using Toon Boom software. Of course, the animation is done by professionals who really know what they’re doing, but I’d really like to know how they do their rigging and animating. I wonder if any of their team ever frequent this forum or would be willing to answer questions and share tips?

Some of the things I’ve noticed is that the backgrounds are all slightly out of focus which helps the characters stand out more. The rigging and movement of the mouths is particularly well done. It seems that the upper teeth for the most part are stationary with the head and looks like they are covered with a drawing layer for the skin surrounding the mouth opening. So it gives a more natural look and at the same time is more fluid and moving around as the character speaks. I noticed the same type of effect on the animations of Fish Hooks. I also wonder if this is primarily frame by frame animation or a combination of cutout and fxf.

In any case, it would be nice to have some input from the pros here on the forums so that we amateurs can learn more tips of the trade.

Hmmm, very interesting, Lilly. Do you think you could ever get some of their animators to share tips here on the forum? That would be cool. Or do a webinar with a Q&A section. I’ve learned a lot just from looking at the breakdown of a character done by another animator.

I’m particularly interested in knowing how they do the movements for the eyes and mouths. I assume the arms and legs are just a series of drawings on their respective layers so they can swap out whichever pose they need.


I just downloaded and checked out the sample template for Deform Bob (for Harmony) and found the answer to some of my questions regarding the mouth and eyes. In the file I can see how they are rigged and setup–very interesting! I’m gonna have to study this more to figure out how they work.

Hi Zeb,
Can I ask where you found that template of Deform Bob and whether it works with Animate Pro 2?

Here’s the link:

Sorry, it only works for Harmony.

Thanks for that Zeb.
Funny I thought they were identical except for the fact that Animate Pro is standalone and Harmony is on a network…

Well, that too, but this particular file has the Harmony .xstage extension and the character is rigged with deformers to demonstrate how they work.

I see. Thanks for that mate.

Thanks for that Lilly. May have to upgrade… :-\

Here is the link to the first of 3 clips where Lilly shows how to rig the eye. Thanks, Lilly!

It’s all done in cutout style. They do some interesting stuff with Cutters and effects to achieve this look. Although I can’t talk about specifically what they do there, we will shortly be putting up an example on the Harmony Hub that shows how to do a cutter-style mouth.

Whenever a cutout show is done, though, there will be some drawing involved as well. Like if the arm that you need doesn’t exist in your library, then you can redraw it. But there’s a lot more flexibility now with rigging, particularly with deform, that means that there’s a lot less redrawing than there used to be.


I can ask but I know that they view their rigs as kind of trade secrets, so I’m not sure if they will agree. :-\ But I’ll ask!


Harmony has the four new features that Animate Pro doesn’t have:
- deform
- thick and thin pencil
- deform
- 2d 3d integration

So any scenes that showcase that work can’t be saved in a compatible file format with animate pro. Sorry!