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:
- 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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