ToonBoom and Blender 3D

Hi everyone… Hope all is well!

Ive been trying out a whole bunch of different software in conjunction wih Toonboom to explore different artistic styles ie photoshop / TBS or Flash / TBS… Ive recently discovered 3D animation software “Blender”… see Ive heard of people creating 3D backgrounds to use in conjunction with 2D animations…

Have any forum members had any success in combining these two products? Seems like a very high level / technical 3D application which is available for free!

I’m not sure what you’re getting at when you say …“combine”. But TBS facilitates a number of import formats regardless of where it is created. Sure you can use blender to create backgrounds and import to TBS …but there is also other free applications like Google’s sketchup etc.

If you’re looking to do more with Blender (I’ve delved into both TBS and Blender) …and its a very powerfull worthy software that rivals similar applications thats much more expensive …why would you want to use it with TBS?

Blender has modeling, gaming and animation features thats very very powerfull …in the right hands it can do anything some of the popular and costlier softwares like 3DS MAX and MAYA …can do. And it can ultimately create feature films with the same qualities seen in any PIXAR movie.
There is a learning curve …can’t say whether its any steeper than the other software mentioned …or even TBS.

But if you’re going to bother learning to use Blender’s features beyond basic modeling …why bother with TBS?

Animation is a means to tell a story … 2D is great and still very very relevant …but in my humble opinion … 3D does a better job because the visual is more compelling. People will disagree …its just my opinion.

If you’re going to use Blender only to create background scenery … you may want to look at other alternatives as well. I’m sure many on this board can point you in the right direction.

Well, I think, Blender is one of the most complex free open source 3D software available.
Even it’s such a great program, I never got really used to the Interface, but that was a few years ago,
I guess lots of things have changed since then…

Today, I am using Cinema 4D - got a free copy of Release 6 with “computer arts” magazine
some time ago - liked immediately the Interface, upgraded since,
and never looked back.

Anyway, whatever 3D software you use, I guess they all work nicely together with TBS…?
I am just starting to combine 2D and 3D sometimes… so far it worked great…

I you like, here is an early example… the car at the end (Dixie-Vintage) was animated and rendered in 3D and then imported into Toon Boom Studio:

Have a look at “The Triplets of Belleville”
it shows a masterful combination of 2D (Toon Boom) and 3D (?Maya?)


Thanks for the quick responses…

Ive worked exclusivly with photoshop and Toonboom Studio and plan to continue this way for animations and images (which I believe is a fantastic combination) so I guess at this stage my enquiry actually is to satisfy my curiosity:

1. regarding art / visuals - explore new design options.
2. About moving to 3D animation. Im a big fan of the Rustboy cartoon (which was made at home on a budget system) and is absolutely stunning. Ive never really entertained the idea of 3D animation due to the cost of some of the software… until I found blender and checked out some of its animation capabilities and cartoons like Big Buck Bunny (on youtube)… The learning curve seems steep (but I had no troubles with toonboom), so believe I can get there eventually.

Anyway… Ive downloaded the available free version and have checked out some youtube tutorials… Seems like it could be fun… and you get to learn something new.

Thanks again

You got a freebie for Cinema 4D …oh man …soo sorry I missed out!!
You’re right …Blender has a very unusual interface where buttons have multiple functions depending on which mode blender is in. I used it a few years ago and like you was put off and abandoned it …but I came back …and while I havn’t have the time to really create anything yet …I have a much better understanding of the interface.

There are a lot of tutorials out there …some better than others … but often they are dated as blender updates the software regularly.

Your stuff looks great …in fact I remember seeing some of that stuff a few months ago and wondered whether you used only 2D (TBS) to create it.

Blender has functions like inverse kinetics … hair & fur …cloth etc … …and I’m assuming Cinema 4D has similar features.

But again I’ll pose the question to you …if your adebt at using a 3D software …any software …why do you find it necessary to pull its functions into or cimbine it with 2D …why not just use total 3D?

Well, I can’t say that I find it necessary to combine 2D with 3D…
It’s rather more experimental…

It’s always exciting to learn new things… explore new possibilities…
Has anybody said doing Animation is boring…?..


I understand …after all experimenting is half the fun!! I just asked because I looking to maybe learn something.

A very interesting topic for me as I’ve just begun looking into the possibilities of combining 2D & 3D.

Being a professional artist I’m generally much more interested in 2D, but I’m seeing more and more examples of how the two can be combined. A while back I discovered Jane & the Dragon on Saturday morning TV and was really intrigued by the look they achieved. Also, this animated Chinese painting blew me away with the camera moves! You’ll see the wire frame models at the end of the movie and how they are skinned with 2D painted textures. Jane & the Dragon is done in a similar manner to retain the look of the illustrations in the books it’s based on. So I’m currently playing around with Blender and Carrara in addition to my 2D apps. As has been mentioned, it’s fun and experimental, and in addition helps keep the ol’ gray cells in shape by trying something new.

As Nolan alluded to, there are a number of British audio and graphics magazines that give away free software on included DVDs. in some cases these are full licenses for well-known programs. I’m really sorry I missed out on Cinema 4D, but I did get a free full version of Carrara 5 Pro a month or so ago via 3D World magazine.


can anyone please tell me exactly HOW to import a blender 3d file into toonboom?! im just about to pull my hair out with this, i thought i’d give the whole 3d background, 2d character thing a try but whenever i export a file from blender, when i try to import it on toonboom the file isnt there, toon boom does this to me alot when the file isnt 2d, so if TOON BOOM studio cant import a 3d file, then how on earth is it possible to combine my 2d characters in a 3d enviroment??!! ???

Well, careful planing is the essence of combining 2D and 3D(computer generated images).
In Short: create your 3D scenes, render them out as QuickTime movie, and import those movies
into Toon Boom Studio. Here draw on different layers your 2D characters.
When you’re done export your movie.

I would highly recommend to study the making of: “The Iron Giant” directed by Brad Bird,
or Walt Disney’s the making of: “Treasure Planet”.
Here is one little example:


thank you for your very helpful reply, im a home user that has gotten the hang of 2d animation, and all its methods, i know the basics of creating a 3d object but nothing else ;D so ill be sure to check out how the iron giant was made, and hopefully learn more things on 3d, again, than you for your response.

-the newbie

I think 3d programs are way too complicated and cheapen the look of 2d animation, once in a while I’ll see a good job with hybrid 2d-3d, but there are very few. You’re better off just drawing the backgrounds by hand using perspective lines if you want your animation to look like you tried to make something good, scan them in and use gradiant colors in TBS, looks great if you spend a little time on it. While, yes, a good hand drawn background can take hours to make, 3d takes just as long and it’s all in front of a computer and when it doesn’t do what you want it to, you can actually feel your blood pressure going through the ceiling. My pencil does exactly what I want it to, here’s a line, it’s definately there, If I want it gone, no clicking, no typing, I erase it and make a new one. I need that though. Just remember, 3d background 2d character, and vise versa, not good together. So unless your 2d character looks really really good, or your background is made to look like a 2d background or is really really bad, you’ll get a crazy, Semi-Rodger Rabbit/ Toy Story look to your film which is best to avoid because, like I have said, it looks cheap.

Actually I have a different perspective. I actually think 2D cheapens the 3D effect. While I agree 3D can be complex …2D itself is no cake-walk. But in the case of bakground effect with 3D …after the work is done creating the background …you can view it in every which way you want! With 2D after you’ve created a perspective on the shot …to truly see a different camera angle …saddle up and recreate the whole thing again.

And as far as getting ticked off … Flash …TBS …will take you where Blender will take you just as fast … they all have their quirks! Also while you can still work on paper and use TBS …it was designed to be paperless … so the technical issues you described with 3D exists in 2D.

But I will concede its tricky blending both …and often I feel 2D just works better in a pure 2D world. I never warmed up to the Roger Rabbit effect where 2D is in a 3D world.

However there is a compromise …you can use 3D to create scenes and render it to mimic 2D

But in my view …telling the same story …and assuming 2D and the 3D software are in capable hands … I would bet on 3D …the visuals is un rivaled …and its just more compelling!

I agree that if they are done well, a 3d background can work, I’ve seen a few that looked great, mostly from Dreamworks, but for a beginner with no experience in 3d, it probably will look cheaper than just drawing it. I’m completely biased against it though, I tried to make a vase in a 3d program and the only thing I actually tackled was a 3d barf, so I quit that class on the spot. And I am aware backgrounds will always take a long time, and, practically they should, they can be held on the screen for minutes at a time and generally take up about 75-90 percent of the screen so if they don’t take a long time they probably won’t look all that great. So I suppose if you spend a lot of time making the background look like it belongs there, it would be okay but there is no quick and easy way out. It really comes down to preference, if you can work in the computer for hours at a time and can make a convincingly 2d, 3d background, go for it. If you hate computers and have big red signs all over the place that say “Don’t punch the computer! it will crash it! >:(” with the angry face and everything, then you should probably work it out by hand and scan it in.

I tried 3D several years ago …abandon it in frustration myself …and took up TBS.
But Like I said …TBS …and other 2D software are not exactly easy tools to learn…but over the years TBS has come a long way from the version 2.xx! I eventually learned how to use TBS …and really believe its the best pure 2D animation tool out there.

But after several years …and seeing several exelent 3D production …I just had to explore that technology again.

Blender is a free tool …highly capable …and can hold its own against the likes of Maya…whose main advantage is probably organized advirtisment!

I am almost a newbie at it …but I can design a vase in less than 3 minutes!! The tools are there …you’re just not aware of them. And Blender has a highly developed sculpting tool where you can create your character with a Wacom Tablet …much like you would in TBS. Not an easy task non-the-less … but this technique allows you to use your talent rather than feeling like a pure computer geek construction a charater using a mouse.

I don’t want to prolong this thread because its a dis-service to TBS which I believe is a great tool …and only getting better.

But the point I want to make is with 3D once you create a drawing …object …etc …you have the ability to now view it any way you want …with accuracy …without ever having to recreate it again.

And many 3D programs allow you to render your creation in a 2D format

You might want to look into Sketchup which has a freeware version. There is a 3D warehouse online which has hundreds of free models of practically anything you could ever need. The downside is that the majority are realistic models which, if you are doing a cartoon style animation, doesn’t integrate well.

I remember seeing a documentary on the making of some animated film like The Emperor’s New Groove where they would incorporate 3D objects with 2D characters and backgrounds. The artist was saying that the trick was to make your 3D not look 3D so that it would integrate seamlessly with the rest of the components of the film.