Using supplied templates

New user here. Bought TBS so the kids have an interesting, creative summer. So far, we’ve created frame-by-frame bouncing balls, but we’re not having any luck getting the cut-outs to work. We watched the videos on the TBS (several times), we copied Der Der into the timeline, but he refuses to budge. The rotate tool and the transform tool don’t work. Obviously something simple we’re not doing, but what is it??

Also, once we get past that problem, we don’t know how to use the template. What’s the method for using, say, his expressions? Copy them into the exposure sheet somehow? The documentation on all this is sparse, despite shelling out $100 for the eLearning Kit.

Your help is greatly appreciated. Dad (me) is tearing his hair out. There ain’t much left!! :stuck_out_tongue:

Hi Bob,

The first thing you might want to check is if your software is currently set in Peg only mode or not. This option can be found under the Tool Menu. If it is the application will always select the parent peg of the element and if the element does not have them it make the arm or leg unselectable. This being said Der Der should be done in peg hierarchy so you should actually trigger the Peg Only Mode On in that case.

Concerning the templates to import them you will first need to open Toon Boom Studio then go in Window>Library. Now I am not quite sure which package you have bought but if you right click in the left part of the library (where the Global and Local libraries are) you should have the option Open Library. You should be able to browse to find the file with the extension tbc file (it will probably be at the root of the template folder you have bought). If you cannot find that .tbc file you can also select the Global library then in the right part of the Library right click and do Import Template Files… Then browse in the folders of the templates you have bought and you should be able to import them from there.

Best regards,


Ugo -

I appreciate your reply. Der Der refuses to move any body parts, no matter whether Peg Only Mode is turned ON or OFF. Tried that. And as you say, since he’s rigged properly, he should work either way. He doesn’t. So any other ideas as to what I could be doing wrong?

Thanks also for the instructions regarding the Library. I’ve figured that part out, as you can see: I’ve got Der Der imported into my timeline (see my first comment).

No, I’ve just retried it again, with a new project. Nothing moves. Same problem with Goth Girl.

Hi Bob,

Can you provide us a screenshot of the interface with the character imported in it and the tool you are trying to use to get it to rotate. I just want to make sure everything is displayed properly.

Best regards,


I am emailing you the screen grab, since it doesn’t look like I can attach it here. I will email it to the techsupport address.

Hey Bob,

Just checking to make sure the very basics are covered, you are in camera view when you attempt to animate der der correct? I’m sure you are, but a lot of times all it takes is just one little missed step like that to make a project not work.

I don’t know if they will provide any insight you haven’t gotten already, but I have a couple of video tutorials on rigging and animating cut out characters. You can check them out if you’d like, maybe hearing the same thing in different words will clear something up for you.

Good luck

Thanks, kdog, I ran thru your tutorials. It’s very helpful to see a video of the tool in use, with a voiceover explaining what you’re doing. Not sure if others have pointed out: the video doesn’t look right at full size – very fuzzy. Still helpful at small size, tho.

To Ugo and TBS: the problem seems to be solved, and I think it’s a Wacom tablet issue. I use an Intuos 2 tablet pen and mouse. I think TBS wasn’t recognizing it fully (no idea what was going on there, actually). Once I switched from using the Wacom mouse to the Wacom pen, it worked.

Now Der Der moves.

I figured this out this morning, by trying to draw my own character. The drawing tools weren’t working with the mouse. I switched to the pen, and after some tapping it began to work. Weird.

So then I tried Der Der and sure enough the rotate and transform tools work now. I suppose I need to do some setup on my Wacom.

Now I just need to figure out how to animate using the pegs! kdog’s video should help out there.

I would like to invite you to read some of the articles posted in the Cartooning in Toon Boom blog. I particularly recommend the 5 part series on key framed animation as a great intro to using TBS and doing keyframing. It was written as a prelude to future articles that will explore cut-out design, rigging and animation. So it is the foundation for those articles. These aren’t videos but they are very detailed with pictures too. -JK

JK -

Thanks for the invite, and for taking time to write up the material. While it’s helpful to know how things used to be done, however, what I really need to know is how to use the software I paid for. So I’m looking for information that explains how it works. That information IS in the manual, I’m finding, but it’s rather like being taught to drive a car by being giving a list of things the car can do, and having to figure out why you would, say, push down the gas pedal, and when would you want to turn the wheel. What I’m looking for is:
Open the door.
Sit down in front of the wheel.
Close the door.
Put the key in the ignition (see diagram)
Turn key as shown (see diagram)
NOTE: please read section How to Stop before proceeding!

It doesn’t have to be a video, but it is great to see the tool in use. After all, that’s how I learned to drive: watching my parents do it!

I look forward to the new articles you mention! Thank you!


My articles provide context, but that is to help readers understand the metaphors used in how TBS is organized. If you actually read the articles I give very detailed instructions on using the actual software, they aren’t history lessons. But you also have a misconception that there is a disconnect to how animation was and still is made and how software is used to make animation. They are one and the same. If you understand the classical lessons then you can apply the software as a tool. The software is useless otherwise. You bought a hammer but you are trying to learn carpentry, even a pneumatic hammer just drives nails easier it doesn’t tell you when and how to use those nails.

Sorry, I guess I wasn’t being clear. Believe me, I understand how important it is to understand the context. I use Painter and Photoshop in my business, doing digital imaging for photographers. I see many people trying to use Painter, when they have no art background. The software doesn’t turn you into an artist. So, you’re preaching to the choir there. :slight_smile:

What I meant to say is, I would like some step-by-step projects to go with the rather pricey “training material” TBS sold me. I want my kids to have some fun, have some early successes with simple follow-alongs. Later, once they try to do more advanced things, they will be motivated to learn the how and why of animation.

My kids are only 12 and 13, so the sooner they are in there having fun, the better a chance the software won’t end up collecting dust on the shelf.

But I do understand what you mean. If one of the kids ends up going to animation school, I’m leaning towards sending them to DigiPen, where they do nothing but pencil and paper, traditional animation the entire first year. They don’t go near a computer until they know how to do it manually. The school seems to agree with you that the foundations are very important.

I wish I could explain that to folks who want to “click a button” and have Painter crank out a work of art. It took me 4 years of art school and 30 years of hard work to do what I do now. Painter just makes it easier.

One more thing. I’m trying to learn the 3D program Cinema 4d. They’ve included with the program a DVD containing a follow-along hands-on project. This is extremely helpful in learning how the tool works. However, once I learn how it works, if I don’t have an art background, I won’t know how to set up scenes and light them properly. I won’t have design and composition, etc.

I think a lot of folks learn the tools in animation first, and then look at the work they admire (Pixar, Disney, Bil Plympton) and try to figure out how they do what they do. But first, they catch the bug. I think TBS would be helping themselves tremendously by helping their users get going.

Perhaps TBS is an easy-to-use, well-designed piece of software. But it’s impossible to use if you don’t know how it works.

/screed ;D

Here is a suggestion for the kids. Animate stick figures. They are easy to draw and they can start telling stories with them right away. They don’t have to get immersed in hierarchies, and parent-child relationships or keyframes much at all and they will have a blast. I did a tutorial on the blog of a stick figure throwing a ball as an example. But they can start by drawing them running or jumping or climbing or walking or whatever turns their fancy. Once they get a few basics of how to make the stick figure move by sequentially changing drawings using the onion skin as a reference then tell them to start writing stories about their stick figure characters and make the story into a cartoon. Keep it totally simple. This is the way we learned to animate when I was a kid, except we used small note pads and made flip books. With TBS this kind of animated cartoon making is so simple and once the kids learn to tell a story with the stick figures they will be hooked on learning to draw better and add form and personality to their characters.

Cut-out animation is the worst place to start and you are guaranteed to have the software gathering dust in six months because the kids will get turned off by how complicated it is to master.

They can create stick figure ballets to music, stick figure fights, funny gags with stick figures just interacting. You have inspired me, I’ll even write a new tutorial series on how to draw and animate with stick figure in TBS so your kids and others can see how much fun it can be with just the most basic stick figure characters so watch the Cartooning in Toon Boom blog for that tutorial series starting very soon, This type of animation is so simple and yet so much fun, even 4 legged stick animals are easy to use. -JK

True true. Bob, my history in animation began about 6 months ago. Admittedly my first thoughts were “hey with what computers can do nowadays, all I need is a funny idea & making the cartoon will be a piece of cake!” I started out with a buddy of mine doing a spoof infomercial we thought of. I watched Der der, asked most of the same questions you are asking(as well as everyone else), and after a lot of reading & some effort started trying to animate my cut out characters. I got about as far as a $*!##% walk cycle when I started realizing how many keyframes went into an actual cartoon (not to mention what type of keyframe) and I also started realizing tha t I barely understood what a keyframe was. Since then I’ve pretty much dropped work on that toon for a variety of reasons, but I’ve started on another than I have been doing primarily in the traditional method. I personally like the feel you can achieve better, it has a more logical feel to it if that makes any sense, and it certainly appears less mechanical than computer tweened motions. Granted some are very good, but look at some tweened motions vs. similar motions in looney tunes or tom & jerry, you’ll see what I mean.

Before I get too far off topic, I strongly suggest you take JK’s advice as far as getting your kids to learn & enjoy it at the same time. You’ve also given me the excuse to make my next tutorial(s) which I promised would go back to the basic use of tools & the general interface in toon boom. I can’t give you a date, but I will try to make it asap. Please let me know if there is a specific topic/tool that you would like to see a tut on & I’ll do my best to accomodate.

Just remembered these - they are a handful of lessons in animation that are extremely entertaining to read and do. They don’t give a lot of “how to” but if you can replicate what is on the screen (which isn’t too hard) you can be animating in no time. Check it out: Scroll down & there are 34 pages of lessons available.

Hey guys, thanks. JK, my kids have begun a simple thing with a ball (wearing very cool shades) rolling along whilst mountains and clouds move by behind. They’re having (excuse the pun) a ball. We’ll stay simple for now.

Kdog - I look forward to your upcoming tute. Whatever you think best, I’m sure it will be good. I don’t have time tonight to read the whole link you shared, but two things I notice right away:
1- the guy went to the Joe Kubert School, which was right down the street from where I grew up in NJ. Cool!
2- Page 2 of his notes was stolen by TBS and used in their “How to Animate” tutorial. (They also ripped large sections whole out of “Disney Animation - The Art of Illusion” without giving credit, though they do recommend it as reading. They may be plagiarists, but they have good taste.)

hah! hadn’t noticed that, but funny stuff. Regardless, he has great exercises on there that establish the fundamentals of squashing & stretching. He also illustrates very clearly how to go about constructing characters out of simple shapes which opens up infinite possibilities.

I’ll keep you posted on the tut & I’d definitely like to see some of the stuff your kids are doing.

Hi all

I know how to actually rig a character but how do I cut out. I know about the lasso to get the shape and scissors to cut it out but how to get them parts into the ‘exposure sheet’ and how to get the name there.

I have Adobe Illustrator CS2 and I have read that you can do the work there any suggestions?


How to Create a Cut-Out Character

Step 1: The first thing you need to do is decide on what type of character you want to create and how you are planning to use the character. By usage, I mean how they will move, the type of poses they will need to be able to assume. So start off making lots of pose sketches from all the different points of view (front, back, perspective, profile) (walking, running, jumping, sitting etc.) After you have made lots of pose drawings you will be better able to determine how your character will be broken up and jointed.

Step 2: Determine from your sketches which view point you plan to use, eventually you will want several view points, but to start, pick one. Most people start with perspective because that is the most used view point for most characters. Now make a clean pose sketch in that viewpoint, preferably one that shows all the character’s body parts as complete as possible. Try to avoid hidden body parts in this sketch. Put this sketch in its own element in your exposure sheet, I usually name the element “sketches”.

Step 3: Time to decide about which parts you will subdivide your character. How will you hide the joints etc. Once you have decided on your parts layout, you need to go to your exposure sheet and create a drawing element for each and every part. Don’t forget to rename each part’s element a meaningful name and don’t forget that for each part you plan to animate it needs to be a separate element. And that means you need a left and right version of each part like pupils, arms, legs, feet, hands etc.

Step 4: Either by using the cutter tool or by using the auto light table you will create your body parts and place them in their appropriately named element. With the cutter tool you can cut up your sketch into parts and then cut and paste each part into its element. With the auto light table you can just trace each part from your sketch directly into its appropriate element. You can also start creating the extra parts that you will use to swap out in this character. Things like different hand positions and different foot positions and mouth shapes and other facial expression features like eyes and brows etc. Don’t try to make more than one view point per cut out rig. By that I mean don’t try to combine a front view of the character with a perspective view of the character in the same rig, it makes animating the character way more complicated. So plan on building several rigged versions for different views and types of movements. ( a walking rig is usually different from a sitting or bending rig )

Step 5: Now that you have the character cut up into elements, you can arrange them in the exposure sheet order to have them in a logical display in terms of which part overlays on top of which other part.

Step 6: Switch to camera view and rig the character. (That’s a whole additional process to understand)

That’s it for now, I’m working on a series of tutorials on cut out animation for the Cartooning in Toon Boom blog, but I also do not recommend cut-outs for new users of TBS and particularly those also new to animation. It over complicates things. I’m writing an article about a more practical learning approach using stick figures at the moment.

A word of advice, don’t pile more complication into your life by trying to build a cut-out character in Illustrator and importing parts into TBS. Yes, it can be done and yes you may want to use Illustrator at some point if you are really in love with using Illustrator, but these cut-outs are already way to complicated to design and build, so keep it simple for the first half dozen cut-outs characters you construct. Then when you are a super expert cut-out designer , you can layer in the extra complication if you so desire. -JK

Additional reference info:
Cut-Out Animation
Cutter Tool
Cell swapping

Ha, yes, it’s easy for you to say cut out, KJ but it is the cuting out and placing into the Exposure sheet I am finding difficult.

This is what I am trying, in drawing mode I take the cuter and go round the part I want to place in the exposure sheet. But, the want separate for me, the line I have drawn on the graphic just disappears! When I have managed to get the peace to separate from the graphic they still don’t allow me to drag and drop into the exposure sheet.

I have attempted to work with vector files, and the dote sort until I am getting dote!

Please help


PS. I want to go onto lip sync next??? ! !

First off, be sure you are using the cutter tool and not the scissors tool. The cutter icon looks like an xacto knife, not a pair of scissors. These tools work differently. The scissors tool requires you to move the cutout object otherwise the cuts vanish. The cutter tool does not require you to move the cut out object. Once you cut out an object just select that object and copy your selection. Then go to a cell in whichever element you wish to place this object. Select the cell frame location for that element in the exposure sheet. Then click inside the drawing view window to be sure it has window’s focus. Then you can paste your copied object. If you don’t have focus on the drawing window TBS will not allow you to paste the object so be sure you click in the drawing window to gain focus. It is just a process of cutting out the object you want for a body part, selecting the object, copying the selected object, selecting the destination cell in the destination element, and pasting the copied object into that element. The destination element has to exist in your exposure sheet and be a drawing element. Don’t use drag and drop, use copy and paste CTRL+C (copy drawing object) and CTRL+V (paste drawing object). Dragging and dropping between cells in elements copies the entire cell. -JK


you also may want to check out my tutorial on cutting out & rigging characters. In it you will see the two methods of acquiring your pieces that JK is talking about. 1 - using the cutter tool to get pieces, and 2 - using the light table to trace pieces into their own elements.

Give it a look & hopefully seeing the process will help it make som more sense.