Toon Boom Studio 5 Announced

In the great tradition of Toon Boom Studio, when a sale on the previous version is announced it seems that a release of a new version will not be far behind. So when the great sale of Toon Boom Studio 4.5 was announced for only $299, I began to expect that version 5 would not be long in coming.

May has brought those expectations to life, with the announcement of Toon Boom Studio 5.

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Flip Boom Special Edition Includes Drawing Tablet

One of the problems with getting started in animation is the cost of getting setup. Free cartoon software can be found out there, but it’s often not as good as if you had spent just a couple of dollars. Even after you find and buy the perfect animation software, it’s pretty imperative that you purchase a drawing tablet, especially for 2D animation.

» Buy Flip Boom with Drawing Tablet – $49.99

I spent a good amount of time looking for a drawing tablet to advertise that was affordable, which is how I ended up advertising the $69 Bamboo version on the right. To get started then, would cost about $100: $39 for Flip Boom and $69 for a drawing tablet.

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Free Toon Boom Template – Cartoon Turkey

In this oh-so-festive time of year what kind of blogger would I be without doing something for Thanksgiving? This article will show you how to create your own cartoon turkey with Toon Boom. If you don’t feel like making your own turkey drawing, you should feel free to download the free Toon Boom template here.

Note that this template will be drawn with Toon Boom 4.0, so if you’ve recently upgraded to 4.5 some of these screenshots may not look identical to your version of Toon Boom.

Plan Your Cartoon Turkey

Turkeys are crazy-looking birds, with a lot of fluff and detail that is not so easy to recall from memory. When trying to create a drawing that’s based on something from the real world I recommend finding an image of it online and using that as a starting point. We won’t be copying the image in our drawing, but will be using its anatomy and color scheme for reference.

After doing a Google Image Search for turkeys, here are a couple of solid candidates:


Start a new Toon Boom file and create a new palette. Use the color picker to select the most prominent colors of the turkeys, naming them so you don’t have to guess which colors go where later on. If you’re a bit rusty on color management, the Toon Boom palette tutorial is a good read.

Here’s a look at my completed palette:


Sketch Your Turkey


Use a sketch color you’re comfortable with and draw your turkey. There’s nothing terribly wrong with tracing from one of the original turkeys, but you’ll learn more if you draw it yourself.

After drawing this sketch I’m considerably more aware how ugly turkeys are. That trunk on the front of their hideous faces does not make me think happy thoughts.

Add Layers for the Limbs

At this point you need to decide what parts of the turkey you’ll want to move. Anything that will move should get its own layer. The layers I’ll add are:

  • torso
  • head
  • eyes
  • front pupil
  • back pupil
  • front leg
  • back leg

You could add any number of items to this list including the tail feathers, the wing or even the horrible horrible neck fat.

Once you’ve added and named your layers you can take some time to parent/child them correctly. For example, if you make the head layer be a child of the torso layer, anytime you move the torso the head will correctly move with it. Drag and drop child layers onto parent layers to assign them as such.

Note that I also created one parent peg for the entire character, labeled simply “Turkey”. It may not be easy to discern from the image but the legs are on the same level as the torso. The logic for this is that you will sometimes want to move the torso without the legs moving (for example, if you want your turkey to look up but stand still). Here’s what your layers should look like:


The final planning step before getting into drawing the final turkey is to adjust the pivot point for each layer. Select your rotation tool and you should see a green circle appear on your turkey drawing. Go to each layer and move the green circle to where that limb’s pivot point should be.

Draw Your Turkey

All of your hard planning shall now be rewarded. Go to each layer and begin drawing the appropriate turkey part on that layer. Feel free to be as detailed or cartoony as you like — have some fun!

You’ll notice as you draw the layers that something isn’t quite right — the head is behind the torso, the eyes are behind the head, etc. This is one of the key lessons to learn in Toon Boom: how a child layer can be in front of its parent layer.

Choose the head layer, and then the “Select” tool (from the Sceneplanning tools, the icon with the filled-in arrow). Now choose the Top View tab. If you do not see the Top View tab, go to “Window – Top View” from the menu. What you’ll see in the Top View are several green lines that represent your drawings. The highlighted green line represents the layer you currently have chosen. You should be able to drag that highlighted line closer towards the camera, thus making it appear on top of its parent.

In the Top View the maroon lines on the side represent the camera’s line of sight. Therefore moving anything downwards towards the camera lens will make that layer appear bigger as it gets closer to the camera.

Here’s the green line that represents the head layer after it’s been pulled closer to the camera:


Apply the same trick with the eyes and pupils.

Once completed you should have a pleasant enough looking turkey:


Pass the Gravy

What would a cartoon turkey be if we didn’t have some fun animating him? For more information on how to animate your cartoon turkey please read Make Your Own Cartoon.

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Color Management with Toon Boom Palettes

Toon Boom uses a palette system to maintain its colors. The benefit of this system is that once you create the colors for a character you can easily import that palette into any new cartoons you create, making it easy for you to maintain a consistent design for your cartoon characters. This tutorial will walk you through the basics of creating a new palette for your cartoon characters, and will show you how to save that palette for future cartoons.

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Manual Lip Synch Toon Boom Tutorial

The automated lip syncing capabilities of Toon Boom Studio are both useful and impressive. However, no matter how well it translates your sound files there’s always some part of the lip sync that will need to be adjusted manually. The automated lip sync is simply not sophisticated enough to capture every nuance of speech. This lip sync tutorial will lay the foundation for you to do manage this process manually.

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Wrestling With a Blur Effect in Toon Boom

For some time now Toon Boom animators have been crying out for a proper blur effect to add to their arsenal. If similar vector-based applications like Flash can manage to create bitmapped blur effects certainly Toon Boom can emulate that success?

Toon Boom Studio 4 sought to bridge this missing feature with a feathering tool. Unfortunately, the limitations of this new tool were quickly uncovered.

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Interview with JK, Professional Toon Boom Animator

All new users of Toon Boom invariably run across the well-maintained forums at Likewise, all visitors to the forum will have a conversation with JK. He is the wise Yoda-esque voice of reason and knowledge on the forums, and is the true definition of a power user of Toon Boom.

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Star Wars Special Effects: Create a Lightsaber

In honor of Episode 3 being released on cable this week (as if I needed a reason), let’s spend some time using Toon Boom Studio to recreate some of the most interesting special effects from the Star Wars saga. Of course, you can’t talk about Star Wars special effects without starting with the lightsaber.

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Toon Boom vs Flash

Flash has become a popular animation tool in its own right, as anybody that follows Aaron Simpson’s blog Cold Hard Flash can tell you. Even with this surge in popularity the question remains — how does Flash compare with a more formal animation program such as Toon Boom?

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How to use Toon Boom to Create an Animated Gif


I know what you’re thinking. Why would I want to know how to make an animated gif? Didn’t that stop being cool in 1998? Absolutely. However, when used properly an animated gif can be a useful and entertaining tool in your Toon Boom arsenal. In addition, animated gifs are actually recognized by Google and Yahoo. Links inside SWF files continue to elude the search engines.

This Toon Boom tutorial is also provided as a free video lesson. (10 minutes)
Click here to watch it now.


The plan for creating an animated gif from Toon Boom is:

  1. Identify the frames in Toon Boom to be exported.
  2. Export those frames as individual images.
  3. Import those images into ImageReady.
  4. Cleanup, crop and resize the images.
  5. Export as an animated gif.

Getting Started

To complete this tutorial you will need:

  • Toon Boom Studio (download free trial)
  • Adobe ImageReady

Identify the Frames to Export

Locate the frames in Toon Boom that you plan on exporting to ImageReady. You need to limit the playback to just these frames, so make sure Free Playback is selected by going to:

Play > Playback Range > Free

Select the first frame to be exported then go to:

Play > Playback Range > Change Playback Start Frame

Make sure that the frame number entered in the box is the correct frame, then hit ok. Now you can select the last frame to be exported then go to:

Play > Playback Range > Change Playback End Frame

Once again, ensure that the frame number entered is correct then hit ok again. Now if you hit play you should only see those chosen frames appear in your animation.

Export Frames as Images

Now you can export the chosen frames as individual images by going to:

File > Export Movie

Tip: The animated gif will be easier to create later if you create a new folder to export the images to.

You’ll see a utility box come up, with several options. First, select the location to export the images. Next, make sure “Image Sequence” is selected from the Export Format dropdown menu. Export Type should have “Timeline Current Scene” selected, and Export Range should have “Free Playback Range” selected. Hit ok, and the images will begin exporting.

Import the Images into ImageReady

Open ImageReady and go to:

File > Import > Folder as Frames

Navigate to the directory where you saved your images and select ok. ImageReady will now import all of the images in that directory, in order by name. Fortunately for you, Toon Boom was smart enough to put the frames in numerical order.

Cleanup the Images

If there are any flaws in the images now is the time to correct them. Cropping and resizing to your needed dimensions is a good idea to keep the final animated gif at a reasonable file size.

Tip: If two of your frames are identical, make sure the frame is displaying one image twice instead of two images once. Limiting the number of unique images will help keep the file size small.

Export the Animated Gif

Go to:

File > Save Optimized As

Use the dialog window to select a location for your animated gif, then hit “Save”.

You now know how to create an animated gif! Be sure to use this power for good. If you must use it for evil, please let me know so I can blog about it here.

Toon Boom Tutorial: Create Animated Gif

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