Toon Boom or Illustrator or Flash or....

Hi everybody!

I am a newbie in digital illustration and animation. Could someone advice me on what software would be the best for making some illustrations (that could be used for children books and similar) and also for using this illustrations step further to make some simple cut out or frame to frame animations/cartoons.

Another thing- can Toon boom (studio or animate or some other version) be used for illustration, maybe instead of Adobe illustrator? Is it posssible that Adobe Flash, Illustrator and After Effects at some basic level do the same thing as Toon Boom ? Are the differences felt mostly bey professionals who do some hi-polished animations or illustrations?

For the last 7 days I have been reading numerous articles and reviews but I am still confused and beginning to be half crazy.

Thank you all in advance and sorry if someting that I wrote is silly. :slight_smile:

I guess it depends on your illustrations.

Why not give Animate the free test drive with the PLE edition which is free to try with.

Animate clearly shines when animation is involved but I have seen Adam phillips create amazing illustrations with it.

I have been trying it out. TB is great, no doubt about it, and video resources on this site are wonderful.

"I guess it depends on your illustrations."

Could you please explain this a little bit more? What kind of illustrations would I want to do rather in Illustrator then in ToonB?

found some reviews and comparisons…

Well toonboom is more about vector lines. If you want want rough realistic pencil type illustrations that is harder to do (although harmony has textured brushes). That said you can do a lot in Animate and I would always draw in it, not a third party program.

Thanks for the info!
I wouldnt draw realistic so vector is just fine.

I have got one more little question. While taking a short rest from making animation, I decide to make an illustration, or maybe a logo in TB, proceed to draw it all in the starting frame, make all the layers, put all the colors, make the final. Save all that…------ and then if for some reason I should to be able to use that file in Adobe illustrator, could the finished layered project that I did in TB be opened in AI (without losing any layers ans similar)?

That question right there answers everything.

No. You are not going to be able to export out from Toon Boom Animate, Animate Pro or Harmony in a PDF, or Illustrator file.

Some may say you could export out as a SWF but that is really limiting and isn’t really a solution. Many have requested that Toon Boom add PDF export to the Animate line but so far nothing.

You really should look at buying a dedicated vector drawing app. Illustrator isn’t the only player in town. A frequent poster, Zebtoonz uses Xara Pro. There are many paid, shareware, free programs out there that would compliment Toon Boom and give you more freedom and options when it comes to producing logos, illustrations for print.

Use the right tool for the job at hand. Could you use Toon Boom exclusively, like you wish to do? Sure, but it would be frustrating and inefficient


I’m a professional animator who finished using Harmony at work a few months ago and going back to Flash is such a breath of fresh air.

Though Flash is littered with bugs, the ones that will mangle your work and work process are very few compared to Toonboom products. The process of revising work is much more forgiving in Flash. Harmony has excellent line and drawing tools and some of the compositing tools like cutter, and color override, are really great but animating anything has too many pitfalls. Problems that can be caused completely by accident have no indication how it happened or how to fix it. Different windows and modules can screw up your art/animation/cameras/renders and in so many different ways that can’t be attributed to typical program crashes and bugs; the extreme headache of learning how to setup your art, rigs, and recognize the problems as they happen renders a 4000 dollar program worth the price of Animate Pro at best.

Add to that the time needed to find and/or educate talent so that they can use the program, and the rigs under a deadline and you’re asking for sleepless months ahead.

If you’re an amateur animator, I’d say stick with or learn Flash first. Perhaps Studio might work for you as it is apparently far less involved but I’m not holding my breath given my experience.

If you’re a professional animator, I’d say find a studio that will hire you and teach you Harmony because the program in any form (Animate to Harmony) is not worth a purchase.

I bought Animate Pro 2 a year ago because of the desire to have a better drawing tool over Flash and I fully regret the decision. TB’s public relations are very clever and video reviews are questionable at best. I’ve scoured their resources looking for opinions on Toonboom. All criticisms are effectively cut short. In addition, my concise dissatisfaction was taken as an invitation to give Toonboom more money through email correspondence.

AP2’s outputs are bare bones. MOV and rasterized image sequences are the only choice for output along with a usually clunky swf process. Poor shortcut customization makes for rough seas. The only reason to get Animate Pro 2 is for a more fluid drawing tool, the cutter, and the color override while the problems and training time is far more problematic.

Focus windows and inputs are troublesome, rigs are painful and require multiple people of decent experience to enable well, timeline and network conflicts, lack of shortcuts necessitates the screen to be heavily cluttered.

I’ve never before spoken out against a product, company, sales rep or human being just doing their job. Truly, I haven’t had reason to be so upset until using this product (AP2 + 6 months/16 hrs-per-day of Harmony). I do not want any employees to be offended for my comments, however I believe the praise Toonboom both gives itself and takes from the loosely-experienced users is not balanced in the face of the problems it presents.

Toonboom, from Animate Pro 2 and up, is absolutely not worth it for anyone except big studios with money to burn and souls to siphon.

Thanks :wink:

I upgraded to Animate from Studio, however lost the ability to export to PDF. I do not understand, I thought if I paid more money I would get more features, not lose them. Exporting to PDF gives the flexibility of backing up drawings to a more universal, industry standard format, it puzzles me why it’s not possible.

I think exporting to a standard vector format would be good. Just about everything can handle SVG.

Naturally, everyone is entitled to an opinion. Of course I’m biased, but in my travels, and the events that I’ve attended, I’ve had so many people come up to me and tell me that they love our product - I actually get very few people that have the reaction of jR_5040.

We have really gone above and beyond with our tutorial series to help get users up and running quickly. You’ll find a full set of video tutorials on the website, as well as a weekly Tip of the Week series where I take some questions that people have and explain how they work in the software.

Harmony is a software that is built for many different uses - anything from traditional, to frame-by-frame, to cutout style. And if you’re coming from a fresh background, with no experience, most people find Harmony to be much more intuitive than Flash.

However I think what happens is that a lot of users who do come from a Flash background are used to the way that things work there. So there is a learning curve associated with breaking your thinking from the “Flash” way of doing things, to a more intuitive, real-world scenario. People that come from 3D, for example, find Harmony extremely intuitive, because you’re working with a real hierarchy, in a real 3D space.

As for exporting, we are limited by the swf format, and what it can understand. Of course we have developed our export to support as much as Flash will allow, but without them reworking the format, there is little that can be done.

Also just to let some users know, since it seems like they’re not aware, there has been a PDF export added to Harmony.

Good luck with your evaluation!


I can submit a feature request to have the PDF output added to the Animate line. It exists in Harmony, but the PDF format is limited, like other vector formats, in what it can represent.

Animate and Animate Pro can export vector formats via the swf format.