Puppet Rigs like "Mercury Filmworks' ???

Hi Toon Boom users!!

I just watching all Mercury Filmworks shows, their rigs are incredible! complex! smooth animations!!
star vs. the Forces of Evil, mickey mouse shorts, The Lion Guard, Wander Over Yonder (my favorite)

sometimes is hard to believe that is puppet animation!

How they rig? tips? techniques? books? tutorials??

where we can learn to create complex rigs studio ready quality ???

I am creating my web series, and I want to learn before getting to the rigging phase


Hi themonster!

Mercury is indeed a really awesome animation studio and they always push the Harmony boundaries!!
They are also quite private on their process, which is quite understandable. :slight_smile:

We are currently building 180 rigs that we will make available to our users very shortly.

We also just launched a series of instructor-led online courses. We are now starting with Rigging 1 and Cut-out Animation 1, but Rigging 2 and 3 will follow up.
We will be teaching all kinds of rigging types, including the very advanced ones. Rigging 1 is the foundations.

See more info here: https://www.toonboom.com/training/online-courses


THANK YOU for caring and sharing!

Over at Digital Tutors (now Pluralsight) they have an advanced rigging tutorial. I am just another Harmony user wanting to know everything about the software BTW. If you have the funds to invest I believe it is well worth subscribing for at least one month. You can always do it on and off if your time is limited. Everything there on Harmony is worth viewing, at least if you are at the beginning level. The advanced rigging information is taught by an experienced animator and is idiosyncratic. I am not sold on his entire process (i.e using the Underlay and Overlay unconventionally) but I am keeping my mind open as it may make sense to adopt some techniques as I become more familiar with the animating process.

the best tutorials of harmony are in digital tutors (pluralsight creative) as far as I know

yep, I am subscribed to DT :wink:

Hey adamoliver!

thanks! well, Jake and the Neverland Pirates have very very good rigs, the face turn around and body parts are so well connected that you need to focus to see the breaking points of the puppets, for me, the best are star vs. the Forces of Evil, sometimes, I ask myself if is a hybrid between cut out and traditional in harmony,

my main concern is to setup a character ready to animate, turnarounds, good facial rigs, and so on, harmony tutorials are lacking :wink:

thanks for taking time to pass by, sometimes I got tired of following basics tutorials…and there is not “next step” in learning harmony!

hope we can see more tips on how to setup characters, thanks, !

Hi Marie,

well, I just mentioned Mercury as an example of professional rigs in harmony,
there are no tutorials yet, no info, and we want to learn how to setup
nice rigs and create animations :wink:

nice idea about rigging 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and more I hope !!

We will watch the recordings of the courses after?
I am working usually


Good to hear there’s more advanced classes on there way! And rig samples will be very useful. 180 sounds a lot…!

As for studios keeping their rigs private, I totally understand this, although think there’s several options when rigging a production character which most people aren’t aware of, especially when making a decision on the software. The Jake example blew me away and I’d love to see a tutorial on things like this, obviously not using Mercury’s rig but just the methods for a 3D slider cutter facial rig (or whatever you’d call it!)

These kind of tutorials will only help increase the knowledge base and up take of the software, rather than people sticking to what they know.

Thank you for your feedback Adam!

We are on it! :smiley:

Having only heard about them after reading your post I don’t know anything about their process but everything I saw in the Wander Over Yonder clips I watched just now seemed like something attainable using Harmony. So just read and watch everything you can find on Harmony. If you like the visual and animation style of Wander Over Yonder draw and activate your characters like Wander Over Yonder.

I thought everything was well done too…almost perfect but I think Hater warrants a cartoon voice that does not sound like Any-dude-talking-like-a-monster.

Hi o0Ampy0o, yes, I love to investigate who uses Harmony and how they do it…

Mercury Filmworks IS a Toon Boom Harmony Studio :wink:

I think they are the best cut out animation studio. They produce the best quality and all high profile productions…

Second best is boulder media…


but we still have “basics” tutorials…

Can we have an advanced rigging tutorial with toon boom Harmony ??? :wink: can be nice…


As someone who is a rigger and animator on a Harmony-made TV show (and having seen that Wander rig up close in the software) I can tell you that it’s not quite as complex as you think. Harmony can get quite slow if you use all the bells and whistles, so it’s more of an art to balance the use of modules, like cutters, colour overrides and of course deformers. I’d normally recommend designing a simple character that communicates well and can hit nice clean poses, then get working on some great drawing substitutions coupled with deformers on the limbs and body. The head can be rigged several ways depending on your needs. Wander’s face can slide about as it’s simple enough. Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates is one of the best rigs I’ve seen for facial set up, but it’s complicated to use (although it does achieve a fantastic 3D effect).

The benefit of these more complex set ups is that once you’ve put some work in at the beginning, you build a nice pose library which you can start copying and pasting in as a base for more poses.

On a different note, I’m going to do my best to answer these kinds of more specific, advanced questions as the knowledge base for Harmony is still lacking at the higher end. I was there and feel your frustration! It’s a great bit of kit so happy to get more people up to speed with it.

Hope that helps!


I’d very much like to attend these courses, but 1600$ is far beyond what I can pay for a course, unfortunately.

Did you know that this is for 24 hours of training ?
This is an hourly rate of $67 for top training content …

you can get digital tutors membership! and wait for the advance training :wink:

I have a Digital Tutors membership, but I don’t think their courses on Harmony are great. Stephen Sloans use of art layers is interesting though. The free tutorials and webinars from ToonBoom are only scratching the surface of deformation rigging. Still I am picking up useful points here and there. I am really looking forward to the 180 rigs Marie-Eve is writing about. I would like to see how the guy they used to introduce Harmony 12 Premium is rigged.

I am an hobbyist, 66 years old, and I am not going to make a job as an animator. Still I love animating, and I am very enthusiastic about deformations, especially envelope deformation and how it can be used to sort of bridge the gap between handdrawn and cutout animation. Right now there is not much help when you cannot afford training to 1600$. Please do not misunderstand - I am not saying the price isn’t right, only it is not for someone who is not going to make a job as an animator. :slight_smile: I must praise the tutorials in the past from Lilly Vogelesong - they were the means to learn ToonBoom software: Thourough, detailed and really dedicated - and the best of all - they were free!

Are the 180 rigs going to be free or at least affordable to hobbyists?

IMO the Digital Tutors courses are well-done. I would not describe them as not being great but most cover basic introductions to concepts or features and do not delve into professional level application of principles.

Lilly Vogelsang’s videos were informative. Many were based off questions from users here in this forum rendering them very relevant. Frequently this served to strengthen weaknesses in the software documentation. This was also a steady contribution of practical knowledge available to all users.

I think both satisfy their objectives.

Thank you very much everyone for your feedback. It is most useful!

When the sample projects for the 180s will be completed, they will be available for free. :slight_smile:

Continue sending us your feedback. We always really appreciate it.

Happy Holidays season to you guys!


hey GenevieveDemers
how do you animate this model i dont see any deformer bones to move hands,arms,body or feet,
i only see envelop deformers.