Onion Skin vs. Light Table buttons

Anyone know what use there is in having separate buttons for turning light table and onion skin on/off? Seems like you would never use light table without onion skin and onion skin without light table on so why take up space and confuse things by having a button for each?

Both are important. They do similar things.

While one can draw in Camera mode, sometimes (like when working on eyes or other details) it’s good to isolate that drawing layer, so Drawing mode is used. Other layers, are not visible unless light table is turned on, then the other layers are visible. Light table allows other layers to be visible, in drawing mode, at the same time.

Onion skinning allows all frames to be visible either 1, 2 or 3 drawings (think keyframes) before or after the current timeframe. The past and future frames are either red or green tinted and ghosted.

Doesn’t construction of cartoon animation in the real world lump all of this together?

You draw on transparent cells. You use a light table to see layers of cells. Sometimes it is to work on motion. Other times it is to work on stationary objects. The light table is used in conjunction with transparent cells for the benefit of seeing steps in action sequences and to build upon an existing object.

I know a Wiki is not the most authoritative source however this is an excerpt from Onion Skinning:

“In traditional cartoon animation, the individual frames of a movie were initially drawn on thin onionskin paper over a light source. The animators (mostly inbetweeners) would put the previous and next drawings exactly beneath the working drawing, so that they could draw the ‘in between’ to give a smooth motion.”

So it appears that somewhere in translation to digital software a distinction was established designating Onion Skinning as a Keyframing process while the Light Table function merely allows you to see a layer or layers of static objects?

I think it could have all been simplified by having a single Light Table On/Off to use in any manner you would with an actual light table. By doing it as two separate options you lose the inherent logic and sense of an intuitive workspace which would also lessen the learning curve.