Rotate vs. Transform Tools & Peg Heirarchy Query

Hi, just a few questions about cut-out characters.

1) What is the difference between the Rotation and Transform tools for rotating/animating body parts? I have been setting the green pivot points on my characters with the Rotation tool, and have been using that tool to animate/rotate the body parts in my walk cycle. I know that there is a blue pivot point in the transform tool as well, and I just read on another post, that one should set the pivot points with the Rotation tool, but animate/rotate the body parts with the Transform tool. Why is this? Why can I not animate with the Rotation tool? Mine looks fine, but then I haven’t exported it yet. Will it not work?

2) In setting up my character heirarchy, I have run into a problem. It is a profile view of a character walking across the screen from left to right. The problem is that I need to position the left arm below the legs but have it attached to the torso peg. I don’t know how to attach the left arm to the torso peg without having the legs attached to the torso peg as well (when I bend the body forward at the waist in mid-stride I don’t want the legs to move as well - I want to move them independently). This is my heirarchy:

Whole Body Peg
=Torso Peg
==Right Arm Peg
===Lower Right Arm
====Right Hand
===Upper Right Arm
==Neck Peg
==Legs Peg
===Right Foot
====Right Lower Leg
===Right Upper Leg
===Left Foot
====Left Lower Leg
===Left Upper Leg
==Left Arm Peg
===Lower Left Arm
====Left Hand
===Upper Left Arm

The legs peg is necessary to offset the unintentional leg movement
everytime I move the torso forward or backward. But this is troublesome,
and with no reference point, I don’t often know where to move the legs back to.
The other seemingly unnecessary pegs I had to put in because the position of the drawings had to be such that lower parts were above upper parts (otherwise, in a bending arm for example, the wrong line at the inner joint would be visible).
The neck peg is because the head’s pivot is at the top of the neck and the neck’s pivot is at the bottom of the neck (the character thrusts his chin forward while strutting). The bottom of the neck though, has to be hidden by the torso drawing, while the neck and head have to move in sync with the torso.

Back to my first question: If I have made a mistake setting all my keyframes with the Rotation Tool, is there a quick way to fix that (i.e. reset them with the Transform Tool) without having to delete all keyframes and start animating the walk cycle again?

Any advice would be welcome.

Thanks very much.


As to your question, you can animate with either tool. The rotation tool only sets rotation keys, while the transform tool sets not only rotation keys but also location, scale and skew keys at the same time. The reasons that it is recommended to not use the rotation tool for animating are as follows:

1. You can accidentally move the rotation pivot point (green) and in doing so you will adversely effect all previously set rotation keys.

2. The transform tool has a temporary pivot point that can be repositioned without affecting any previously set rotation keys.

3. The transform tool allows you to set other key parameters at the same time, for example you might want to readjust the arm’s shoulder location relative to the character’s torso as you start the rotation. This in the case of a profile walk this helps to show slight hip and shoulder rotations as the arm swings during the walk.

The use of the transform tool as the primary keyframe animating tool is a guideline not a “must do” rule. It works best to do it that way, but you don’t have to follow all guidelines that’s a personal choice.

As to your hierarchy question, I’m not sure I follow the question. Are you concerned about which body part displays on top of which other body part? If that is your concern then the ordering of elements in the timeline track hierarchy is not the only way to control display layering. I suggest you read RIGGING A CUT-OUT CHARACTER IN TOON BOOM where I explain the use of the z direction of 3D space to control display layering.


Okay, I see. Thanks. I will try animating with the Transform Tool for other
characters. Should be simpler that way anyway.

Yes, that is more or less the problem with the hierarchy. I will read your blog and write back if there is anything I do not understand.

Appreciate the help.

Best regards,


Another very good blog. Explains what I needed to know very clearly. Thank you very much.