sketching workflow

I am trying to move from paper to digital and downloaded the eval version. On paper I do a lot of light sketches as I work through the shapes.

So far, with the vector-based method, I’m getting these heavy memory intensive drawings. Everytime I try to draw something, I get nervous, feeling like my drawing has to be clean and I can’t really explore.

For my workflow, is toon boom better for clean-up work? Is there a way to do a first-pass with raster, before going into vector (like, say, in photoshop)?

Everyone has their own methods, but I like to do all my preliminary sketching in Photoshop. I also tend to paint my backgrounds in Photoshop too.

It’s not until I have a few drawings that I’m happy with that I move to TBS to either copy, trace or import and vectorise my character, ready for cutting up and rigging.



Welcome to Toon Boom, here are some thoughts and approaches that you might want to consider as you develop your approach to using the software.

First off consider scratchpad or “rough” elements. TBS is structured so that the picture for each frame is a composite of multiple elements (layers) in a layered stack. Take that concept to an earlier level in your work flow. A pose drawing is constructed using the composite of multiple elements, just like in classical drawing you might sketch and construct on a sheet of paper (a layer) and clean up over that rough sketch on a second or third sheet of paper (second or third layers).

TBS is designed to easily allow you to include or exclude elements with a simple checking or un-checking of an include box next to the element label in either the timeline or the exposure sheet. So elements for sketching or rough animating are easy to use and then exclude from rendering.

The auto-light table in DRAWING VIEW works great for cleaning up drawings over rough sketch elements.

Additionally, you can create special color swatches with adjusted alpha levels so that they are translucent which mimics a lighter sketching stroke that builds when you repeat sketching over the most desirable lines and forms.

The combination of various colors and translucent intensities gives you lots of flexibility in sketching and construction. I actually have a special color palette just of my sketching swatches in various colors and translucent intensities. I import this sketching palette into new projects when I first begin the project using the color palette export and import functionality built into TBS.

Additionally, you can toggle between having overlapping lines merged or maintained as separate strokes with the TOOLS>DRAW TOP LAYER command.

Don’t be confused by the terms pencil and brush as tool names. It is best to always use the brush tool when sketching and cleaning up. You have tremendous flexibility in controlling the brush shape and the brush sensitivity using the PENS PANEL. Avoid the pencil tool as it is not as easy to customize. If you use line tools in your construction (oval,rectangle,pen, line) you can convert the center lines they create into brush strokes easily with the TOOLS>CONVERT LINES TO BRUSH command.

So digital sketching and solid drawing hierarchical forms construction leading to a cleaned up final drawing is easily a part of the workflow inside TBS. I hope this gets you to thinking and experimenting and keep the questions coming.-JK

You could try drawing on paper in black pen and scanning them in as vector drawings. Or you could do your roughs on paper in pencil and scan them in as Images, then draw over them in Toon Boom with a drawing element.

Thank you. All the comments were helpful and I’m trying each one.

I had another question.

When I’m inbetweening, I’ll pull the the drawings off the pegs, shift my inbetween over the extreme until the part I’m checking (say, a shoe) is precisely lined up: inbetween on top of extreme. Then I tape the two sheets together and flip, correcting tiny details on the shoe.

What would be the equivalent workflow in Studio or Animate?

The transform tool seems like an answer. But my problem is that with the transform tool, I quickly loose how the drawing is oriented (on a paper, I always know my drawings orientation (i.e. registration) because of the shape of the paper and the holes.) But in toon boom the transform tool felt so loose that I started making a mess.

So my question is: for detail and volume control – is there a better way to do what I’m trying to do – or is there a completely different workflow that’s better suited for this application?

I second JK’s alpha settings ideas- but regarding taking drawings off the pegs (I miss that too) my approach is to copy the relevant parts of the previous and subsequent drawings to the area where they need to be on the inbetween.

So if your shoe is traveling a great distance from 1 to 5, copy just the shoes from those drawings onto your breakdown on 3. Inbetween them then delete them when you’re done. Grouping them before drawing over them makes it easier to delete them later too.

For flipping, you’ll just have to scrub the timeline. That’s my approach anyway, hope you find something that works for you! Cheers,


Here is a great page I put together about FLIPPING in toonboom. Pay specific attention to the last paragraph which explains how to do both flipping and drawing table rotation using the touch strips of a Wacom tablet, that was one of the best improvements I ever made to my workflow in TBS.

While we are on the topic of inbetweening in TBS I added a link to my page of tips on TWEAKING AND ADJUSTING TIMING -JK