Pipeline Integration - Exporting Layers


I work on Adobe Illustrator to create character design of vector file illustrations separated in layers so my client can animate the facial expressions and body gestures of a character on, for example: Adobe After Effects. But what I’d really like is to work on Harmony Premium 15 instead of Adobe Illustrator, and I’m having some trouble exporting layered .PSD files.

Toon Boom site mentions “Pipeline Integration”, “Harmony is designed to integrate with other software in a production pipeline. Import multilayer PSD and PSB files, Illustrator, PDF, bitmaps and audio.” But what about EXPORTING vector files? Harmony Premium doesn’t export .ai or .svg files, but why not? And why does the .swf exported file end up as a single MERGED layer? And, again, how do I succesfully export layered .PSD files from Harmony Premium 15?

Thanks for reading my post, I look forward to a guided help of some kind.

Guilherme Silveira Dias

Thanks for the input, NolanScott, but when Imported to Adobe After Effects, the File / Export / Layout Image from Selection .PSD files overlay each other with a white background plus the black area around the art,[/quote]
I don’t have After Effects, but importing those PSD files into Photoshop all have transparent backgrounds.

Choose File Format PSD4 from the Export Layout Images from Selection window

Thank you, NolanScott. It worked!

Thanks, Luis Canau. Following your instructions I was able to export to Photoshop, but not to After Effects. So instead of PSD4 I tried PNGDP4, and it worked! Now I need to send these files to the After Effects animator and check if it works for him. It probably does.

Again, I’m using Harmony to design a cast of unique cartoon characters, different facial expressions that will play in the character’s personality, etc. I’m a freelance character illustrator, so Adobe Illustrator always seemed to be the best choice for my sphere of activities. But recently I worked as line artist/final liner of keyframes on an animated series and I want to continue doing that, so now I’m interested on doing both design and animation with Harmony 15. And when I write “design” I mean, for example:

“I have to print a 2m high banner, and there is no way I can export in any of the Bitmap formats an image with such size, once it takes a lot of memory and the software crashes.” - quoting jonas.brandao - Posted 5 years ago, on 2012.

Thank you, Luis Canau!

Actually I need to export as vector because it is scalable, meaning I can do an animation that is 640 x 480 px and scale it up to any size, even beyond 8K. Secondly, I want to quit using Adobe Illustrator for character design, and in order to do that I need to be able to export as vector/scalable format, specially if I’m doing a mascot/branding for a client (they all want it scalable to print in any size they need). But I understand that Harmony is meant to be used for animation only, so it makes sense that .swf is the only vector format it supports for exporting, and .ai, .swf and .pdf are only available formats for importing to library.

Try, if Exporting PSD Layouts works for you.
File / Export / Layout Image / from Selection

Thanks for the input, NolanScott, but when Imported to Adobe After Effects, the File / Export / Layout Image from Selection .PSD files overlay each other with a white background plus the black area around the art, as you can see on the uploaded to imgur .png image: https://imgur.com/a/aWVHZ

Any chances I could export as layered vector art, such as a .swf that has transparency, like… alpha background? When I export .swf from Harmony 15 Premium and import to Adobe After Effects there’s no transparency, but a single merged layer with a black background together with all the art.

(PS.: And if I try to import the .swf to Photoshop Video Frames to Layers command the file can’t be opened. Changing the subject, happy twenty eighteen everyone.)

Since you’re trying to export PSD files I assume you don’t need to actually work with vector files in AE? You can add Write modules to each layer you want to export separately and choose (on the Write module properties) the format PSD4 so that you have transparency. For instance, if you want to export Body plus Left Arm and Right Arm you would add a Write module under each one of the three layers making sure to assign them different names on the Drawing Filename field (for instance, body, arm_l and arm_r; I would add a dash for image sequences so that you’d get body-1, body-2, body-3, etc.)

You can add as many Write modules as the layers (or grouped layers or layers connected to a composite…) as you want. When you make Render Write Nodes the software renders a layer for each Write module on your Node View (as I mentioned, make sure export file names are different, otherwise one export will overwrite the other).

But note that Harmony is conceived mostly as an end point software if not in terms of final compositing at least in final animation, so the exporting is not exactly aimed at preparing assets to be animated externally. But with this method you have a lot of flexibility to export layers to AE. You can even add Colour-Art and Line-Art nodes to a drawing layer (as long as you have your art properly separated on those sublayers) and a Write node for each, so that you export line and colour separately.

Luis Canau

Well, you can always make your designs in Harmony at 8K or even customize an higher resolution that would avoid any sort of scaling up, but that’s still bitmap images. It would work if you don’t actually need to edit or animate vectors on AE. You can make illustrations with a certain print size in mind if you make a scene with the adequate pixels considering the difference between 72 DPI in video and 300 DPI for print.

Maybe you can make a suggestion on the Feature Requests board to add options to export vector files to edit on other software. I have no idea how complex that would be. The vector technology in Toon Boom might be very different from the one in Illustrator.

I feel that Toon Boom Harmony’s “Pipeline Integration” is designed to integrate Harmony with… Harmony!! in a production pipeline.