time saving techniques


one thing that’s frustrating for most of us i suppose is how much time it takes to produce a few seconds of animation. particularly to those of us who animate traditionally.
since i started using toonboom i noticed my speed has increased compared to it was 6 months ago. but still sometimes you wish you would wake up the next morning to find out that somehow all of your frames have been cleaned up and colored.

please share with us whatever technique you use on Toonboom animate that has helped you save time, whether you are a tradigital or a cut out animator, i am sure it will help many of us.

I’m a big fan of cut and paste and then erasing out parts so it doesn’t end up looking too mechanical. I do this with heads and hands a fair amount, particularly when they’re moving larger distances and the movements don’t need to be so subtle. I have some grumpy animator friends that will tell you that kind of thing hurts the work but I think you just find the spots where it won’t be so obvious and where you’re likely to just shift and trace on paper anyway.

The biggest time-saving (and I believe a huge impact on quality of work and just getting better in general) is the fact that I don’t have to go shoot a test every time I want to see if something’s working. I sometimes will find myself wasting a little time by watching my scene run through a few times but it’s more than made up for by not having to go through my stacks of paper, set up the scene, etc.

I do find that there’s not much time-saving with clean-up, but rough animation flies by and because it’s so much easier to keep layers organized than it is with paper my brain power is focused on the animation as opposed to which drawing goes with what layer/version. Maybe I just need to get better at digital cleanup! Those are my thoughts for now - good topic!

thanks Chrispurdin for your input!

when i first started, i used to do the rough animation (the fun part) and then i would clean up and finally color (the boring part). as you said, one flies through the rough animation but clean up and coloring are tedious and take up most of my production time as i animate tradigitally, frame by frame.
because i work alone, hence no body to clean up and color for me, i realized that if i spent a few minutes analysing my scene first, i could save a lot of time by doing the clean up and coloring of one frame before moving on to the next one, as opposed to clean up the whole scene then when finished cleaning up, coloring the whole scene. this works well if there isn’t much gross movement of the character(s).
the analysis also allows me to identify the different parts in a certain movement so it would be easier to break a character down into layers, those parts of a character that don’t move much would be on one layer with longer exposure, those mostly doing the movement would be on separate layers, this way i won’t have to clean up and color the whole body with every frame, and instead, focus would be on the moving parts.
i also try to move objects on pegs as much as possible.
and of course, since i use my laptop for everything, i try to switch off the internet whenever i am animating, since it can be much of a distraction…

Here some tips that are useful for me:

Draw with a wacom or something similar

Plan ahead your scenes. Sometimes your Background or props can be reused several times in one large scene that you can render once and later cut and edit.

Do rough drawing and animation first and when you feel ok with the motion, start coloring or detailing it.

Tweening sometimes is an option as cut and paste instead of redrawing

Use symbols for hands or eyes and swap them.

Take advantage of peg layers anytime you need them


my favourite thing is to have a layer where I just make notes.

Just things like what I need to do, or if I plan to put an effect in, or even just arrows for direction of lighting to remind me to keep the shading correct etc.