mesh warping improvements for harmony 12

i’ve been eyeballing the game-sprite software “Spine”, looks pretty dang good. had never heard of it until late last year. trying to learn what it would do for me that harmony would not for game sprite development/animation, and even just for regular 2d animation projects. i know it is a slightly apples/oranges comparison, as the two products are intended for different spheres of industry, but i know that toonboom would like harmony to become more of a game industry staple.

in particular, spine’s implementation of mesh warping objects looks very powerful. i would love to see an alternative warping method that worked more like this in the next harmony, compared to the current warping feature in harmony 11. harmony’s existing mesh warp is still good, but works very differently and perhaps is not as commonly useful – what it does, it does well, but it is really more of a special effect than an animation tool. photoshop has a similar mesh manipulation method but that isn’t as useful for game pipeline work as spine appears to be.

i might be missing some huge pieces here, for example i know that spine utilizes runtime libraries in the various supported game engines for accessing the bones and control points and other functional data. still, you can export those warped animations out of spine as flat image sequences or video, so this alternate warping method is still a worthwhile consideration for 2d/2.5d animation in harmony.

pretty good overview video, some really nice looking examples:

you can find some other examples of the spine mesh warp in action on youtube. i read that Spine was used for the animation of the sprites in the game “Dragon’s Crown” from last year, which had a really cool, fluid effect.

still would love that mesh deform from spine, but the “game bones” in h12 look pretty cool. downloading now!

hi, thanks for responding. that’s exciting that you are looking into this mesh deformation!

yes i am already very impressed with the bones and especially the curve deformation toolset in Harmony, i used these tools recently for a project and had great results. had a rather advanced arm rig with hair and shading and everything (LOVE the compositing features of the network system for this sort of advanced layering), and using the curve deformers worked nicely to animate the rigged arms. also used them for subtler movements like torso bends and face movement (jaw-wagging, chewing, etc.)

the mesh animation that Spine provides is really “just” a (very!) fancy distortion effect, so it would just be one more excellent tool in the Harmony arsenal. otherwise, yes i agree that Spine is primarily a cut out puppet manipulation environment, extremely focused on game dev, and Harmony has to be good at all things :slight_smile: i draw directly in Harmony w/ a Cintiq display, i love the feel of the vector drawing tools. simply can’t draw in Flash anymore, it seems so clumsy.

i hope you are also seriously considering having an SDK available for Unreal Engine 4. with that now being free (before hitting the royalty threshold) i am exploring that environment with increased zeal.

I can tell you that we are definitely considering to have a mesh deform tool like Spine in the future version of the Toon Boom Harmony. I looked at the animation of Dragon’s Crown and yes it’s fluid but the cut-out animation itself is pretty stiff/rigid and you see all the different pieces.

That said Toon Boom Harmony 11.1 bones system combined with the curve deformers is very powerful too and you don’t have that rigid animation. You can draw also directly in Harmony without having to use Photoshop since we have bitmap and vector drawing layers.

When it come to the export it’s one sprite sheet for all the pieces that compose your character. Like Spine we export the animation of the bones separately in an Open Source format like XML. Then you can use our Harmony Game SDK to have this running into Unity®.

Have a look a this page for more details: