Symbols v Drawings for Cut Out characters

I assume autolipsync doesn’t work with symbols (correct me if i am wrong).

As this is the case, why would you ever do a character with symbols? I am trying to figure what advantages there are. As far as i can see there is only 1, it creates an easy place to view and edit your drawings (whereas normally you have to select the drawing in the timeline to edit it).

The major disadvantages is no lip sych, unable to ever edit the drawing without going into the symbol.

So I guess I am looking for someone to say why you should use symbols. Curious to see what people have to say.

This came about cause I was trying to figure the easiest way to quickly lipsync a character in multiple views (since I couldn’t be bothered to do it manually) and the autolipsync didn’t work with my symbols >:(. I think I am going to only make characters with drawings from now on and forget about symbols (except for grouping objects). On the bright side it lip syncs nicely now from different views if i switch angles mid sentance.

Hi TheRaider,
It works for me with symbols! When I play around with the mechanical bear puppet Toon Boom have provided, I can get auto lipsync to work. When the Lip-Sync Mapping dialog box appears choose your mouth layer as the destination layer and select your mouth symbol in the Symbols in Layer drop down box.
Now, like I said I’ve used Toon Boom’s puppet so I haven’t assigned the mouth shapes myself, but it is possible with symbols!

Well i look like an idiot then, cause I couldn’t get it to work at all.

I am going to try again.

Are you using Animate Pro or Animate? I have Animate Pro so it might be different to Animate?

Are you working with your own symbols or are you playing around with some provided characters?

I don’t know how Toon Boom assigned the mouth shapes with their mechanical bear puppet, (cos I haven’t gotten as far as getting stuck into lip-sync yet) but I can tell you after a quick play-around that it does work somehow? Helpful… I know.

I only have animate. The pro price is a little beyond me since I am unlikly to ever make money from animate. More just for personal projects ;D

I only ever use my own material.

I have named the layers on the X sheet before making them a symbol (A B C D E F G X as required).

Done a number of tests in different ways and couldn’t get it working.

Like I would draw a head, draw the mouths. Works fine.

Make them symbols, delete layers from the scene, import the symbols and no longer works.

Ok I just had a play around drawing my own mouth shapes and changing them to symbols to try out auto lip syncing.

I found that when I renamed my mouth shape drawings (before I made them symbols) on the Xsheet it would delete my drawings altogether from the camera view. So instead I renamed each drawing by right clicking on it’s frame in the timeline, and selected Drawing, Rename drawing from the contextual menu (or command D). I renamed each of my mouth shapes A,B,C,D,E,F,G,X.

I made this MOUTH layer a symbol and also called it MOUTH. I deleted the layer with the drawings and dragged the mouth symbol to the timeline and again called that layer ‘MOUTH’.

I imported the sound file, then right clicked on it in the timeline and chose Lip-sync, auto lip-sync detection from the contextual menu.

Then I right clicked on the sound in the timeline again and chose lip-sync, map lip-sync from the contextual menu. When the Lip-Sync Mapping dialog box appears choose your mouth layer as the destination layer and select your mouth symbol in the ‘Symbols in Layer’ drop down box.


It worked for me! Fingers crossed it works for you too!

Okay now im seriously annoyed at it.

I did exactly what you did and same result. (i assume your on a mac? im on a PC).

What happens when I try to autolipsync is instead of lipsyncing it brings up gray boxes in the timeline (instead the the blue film from symbols) which I assume is why nothing is showing.

However this part
"and select your mouth symbol in the ‘Symbols in Layer’ drop down box. "

I don’t have. Just Source and destination (and the ability to choose which drawing if they don’t match, but in my case they do).

edit: just to be clear this is only symbols, drawings work perfectly. However the way I work I turn the drawing into a symbol.

sorry to get your hopes up then Raider, seems like auto lip-sync with symbols is only for Animate Pro… unless someone knows different or has a work-around?

UPDATE: This is what Lili Chin has written over at the Toonboombastic blog:
“This Auto Lip Sync feature does not work with Symbol mouths. The mouths have to be Drawings. So when you create your mouths, it would help to save them as Drawings in a library template (.tpl) OR you could save them in a Symbol and then Expand the Symbol on the timeline before you Auto Detect Lip Sync and Map Lip Sync.”

When you say “I think I am going to only make characters with drawings from now on and forget about symbols”, i was wondering how you do drawing subsitution when you haven’t made the characters parts into symbols? Isn’t that why people are so attracted to using symbols?

Also, how are you getting your lipsync to work when your character changes view mid sentence. You said, “On the bright side it lip syncs nicely now from different views if i switch angles mid sentance”. I’ve been scratching my head over how to do this for a while and would love to hear how you’ve managed it! :slight_smile:

Not at all with the drawing subsitutions.

All you have to do is select the layer, open the library table and you can access drawing subsitutions just like normal.

For switching views midsentance my solution is really simple. For each view I have a different set of mouths (different layer so i don’t get confused because you have a lot of mouths. So I just auto sync both(say front view and side view) and then it is a matter of quick deletion of the frames I don’t need and done! I find it makes much easier to manage a character like that.

I am not sure what she means about expanding the symbol ??? It seems to me it is best to leave it as drawings. The main plus for symbols is easy to add new drawings/view current drawings.

I must be thick :-\ I still can’t wrap my head around using substitutions without making it a symbol first. Maybe I’ve been at the computer too long!

As for lips-yncing different views, that’s how I’ve been doing my mouths as well! But I was hoping there was some other magic way without using different mouth layers and deleting. It’s not that bad, I just wondered if it was the best way.

When Lili talks about ‘expanding the symbol’ she means placing the symbol on your mouth layer in the timeline and making sure all eight mouth shapes to be used (a, b, c, d, e, f, g, x) are on consecutive frames, just like you would if you were using drawings. A on frame 1, b on frame 2, c on frame 3 etc. Then do lip-sync detection, lip-mapping like normal and it must convert your symbols back to drawings on the mouth layer.

Easy way to get your head around it.

-Create a new layer in blank document.
-scribble on frame 1
-different scribble frame 2
-go to frame 3 and with the library tab open you will see you can do the drawing subtition

(note you can do this on frame 1 and 2 as well and the drawing isn’t deleted :slight_smile: )

hmm that method from lili may be an animate pro method cause that is essentially what I did with no luck.

The lip-sync to symbols feature is one that was originally added for Animate Pro, however it will also be available in Animate 2.

However, that being said, I would still not recommend using symbols in this case. Working with symbols will, in most cases, simply slow down your workflow. The one case that I have found where using symbols is the most useful is when you want to animate a group of drawings together. For example, if you want to animate an arm, as well as a patch that you’ve created to cover the joint, then I will usually enclose the arm and the patch in a symbol together. The reason is, I don’t accidentally want to grab the patch and animate it - I only want to grab the arm.

As you say, you can use drawing substitutions just as easily with regular drawings as you can with symbols. Whenever you create a drawing layer, it saves each new drawing as a new .tvg file in the file system. Whenever you do a drawing substitution, it simply cycles through all the available drawings for that drawing layer.

As TheRaider said, the easiest way to test this is just to do a few drawings. Start a new drawing layer, do drawings 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Now go to frame 6, do a drawing here. Press [ to swap drawings backwards, and you will cycle back through drawings 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Once you save your scene, these drawings are saved, and they are only deleted from the disk if you choose to “delete selected drawing”. If you do a regular delete, all it does is remove the timing (exposure) of that drawing. So you can actually go back, select all the drawings, and hit delete. Now select an empty cell and hit the ] button, and it will cycle through the drawings again.

I hope that wasn’t more confusing than it was useful…

Toon Boom Support

Well, that explains why I spent ALL night wrestling with it. :stuck_out_tongue:

Ok I must re-open this great discussion because I am at this stage right now and I am a bit unsure as to how to set this character up.

Raider what you describe above, do you have your 5 point character turn around? Or do you have each view as a seperate template? you know front_view.tpl, side_view.tpl, ect.

What I am not sure of is this (keep in mind that I have a character turn in frames), if I named the first mouth drawing x, which is the closed mouth in front view, the next frame which is now 3/4, the mouth is also supposed to be X cause it is also a closed mouth, and the same for the 3rd frame which is the side view.

My question is, does everyone seperate the character’s views and create the mouths for each view seperately, or is there a way to do the mouths while you have the 5 point character turn in different frames?

Yes i use it with a turnaround.

What i do as a child to the head have a layer for each view when it comes to mouths like front mouth, side mouth etc

The reason i do this is the sheer volume of mouth shapes means it makes them much easier to look after. Also I can then use the same names the mouth, so for example “smile”" is the same amile on all the views.

Note you can’t name layers like this if you use symbols.

But I am going much further now. Once i have done a basic lipsync with the toon boom i go through and morph between shapes that are similar and draw in betweens for ones which morphing doesn’t work for. It ends will really good easy lip sync.

Symbols to me seem like a pest, it makes the flash → toonboom transition easier but I find them unnessecary. Lilly makes the best argument for them in regards to patching.
I started in digital pro and now working in Animate 2 and harmony I ignore them entirely.

As for the character rotations, I prefer the 5 seperate views. Our workplace has… special computers and the big full turn rigs can be tricky to make and very heavy in the scene. Also before rigging each view we review the storyboards and rarely include full side, or front mouth charts unless specifically nessecary.
My full time job is making character and prop templates and ideally you want to know exactly what the character needs to do, and the emotions they go through. If a character is used in 1 episode, never appears back on and is never shown below the waste. we don’t include back views, or legs. If he’s always angry we don’t make smiling mouths or sad ones.

Ideally start with an inventory of everything your character needs to do and you wont find yourself (or other animators) leaving post-it notes all over your desk looking for more mouths :slight_smile:

Rhubix and Raider thanks for the tips. Morphing the mouths for lip sync sounds like the way to go. Rhubix the way I have been setting characters up is creating the 5 pt turn on diferent frames the way tb demonstrates in the user guide. Then I take each view and create templates out of them individually. Creating a full 5 pt turn around is a bit of a pain but you are saying that you can get away with making each view individually? interesting.

Are there any pro’s and con’s that anyone can think of from doing the 5 pt turn individually? cause if I can avoid having to do them in one full template I would be very happy. like I said before full character rigs are a royal pain.

The one thing I am not sure of what you mean by “doing a full turn rig is heavy on the scene” cause when you drag out the template containing the 5 pt turn you delete the views you are not using at the moment.

By a full turn rig I mean a rig that contains all the drawings for all 5 views. So the mouth element would contain the mouths for the side, front and 3qF (three quarter front) view. When you build this kind of rig it’s super easy to jump from front to 3qF or 3qF to side view, it’s just a matter of drawing changes. however working with full hierarchy rigs there’s the completion of pivot points. If the different drawings don’t share the same pivot the whole thing tends to explode… :frowning:
Even if your not using the views- the information is still stored in your scene. so if your working on a rickity computer then ideally you want your rigs as light as possible. We even go to the point of reducing the vector count as much as possible.
For each character I create 5 different templates. one of each view. Then the animators only import the views they need.
The downside to our method is you have to eye your turns.

Also on the subject of morphing. the ideal mouth chart has all your sounds and then a few inbetweens from the extremes AH- to OO EE- to YE to OO
A little bit of morphing is awesome- Morphing regularly is a pain- especially in a professional setting where your often getting paid by the seconds you produce - not the time your putting in. The perfect rig is one with 0 maintenance of adding patches and drawing subs… but I’m an obsessive rigger… so I get carried away ;D