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.
The plan is to create a new palette for each character. There are some colors that all characters will have accessible to them, like black, white and blue (more on that in a moment).
Create a New Palette
If you do not see the Color tab available, select Window — Color Palette to make it available. When you look at the Color tab for the first time it will have the default colors loaded. This is a set of 120 colors with a varying range of hues. Instead of being labeled “blue” or “red”, they’re labeled by number. Perhaps you’ll find “color 104″ to be easy to remember but I find it distracting and confusing. We’re going to create a new palette and name the colors with a system that is easy for us to remember.
Select “New Palette” from the dropdown menu in the Color tab. You’ll notice that Toon Boom populates the first color for you, with the ever-so-helpful name of “default”. I was thinking about painting my living room a nice shade of default. Now that I see it though it may be a bit dark.
Double click on the color and it will let you rename it to “black”.
To add a new color to the palette click on the plus sign in the Color tab. Each time you click on the plus sign it will duplicate whatever color you currently have selected. Once it does this you can adjust this color using either the Eyedropper tool to select an existing color or you can manually select a hue via the color wheel (just to the left of the plus sign).
Your color wheel may look different from what you see here, depending on which operating system you use.
Adjust the slider to the right of the color wheel all the way to the top, which will give you white. Rename this new color, and then repeat the process to create a third color. This time you’ll select a bluish color from the wheel, be sure to rename it as well.
Typically when laying out a new scene I find it useful to use a bright blue color to sketch out the rough layouts. This is a practice that is common in animation, as it’s easy to see the blue lines for further planning as well as disregard the blue when testing new animation.
From there the sky’s the limit. For my relatively simple characters I typically include a base color, a highlight and a shadow. This will cover most everything I’ll need for that character.
If you create an accessory that needs it’s own color, a bowtie for example, go ahead and name that color “bowtie”. That way you don’t have to think too much when you go to color the character in at the end of your animation. Traditionally speaking animators don’t like to think anymore than they have to, make it as easy on yourself as you can.
How to Create a Gradient
When you first bring up the color wheel you’ll see an checkbox labeled “Gradient”. If you check that box you’ll be able to select the individual colors of the gradient slider directly below the checkbox. This is where you can also change the gradient to be radial or linear. Drag the individual colors to move the positioning within the gradient.
Name Your Color for Clarity
When I first began animating with Toon Boom I used to use the version of the list of colors that did not show the names of the colors (one of the small icons on the Color tab). I was also not renaming the colors. Eventually though I realized that if I took the time to correctly label the colors I was saving myself a bunch of time down the road. This premise is the very core of Toon Boom – save yourself buckets of time later by doing the difficult parts now.
Export the Palette for Future Use
Once you’ve established your color palette, you can export it to be used in later projects. There’s a small icon on the Color tab that you can click to see a menu of options (shown below). If you select “Palette — Export Palette” you’ll be presented with a window that will let you rename your palette whatever you like. I recommend using the character’s name for the palette to keep things simple.
You Should Be Dangerous Now
Your coloring and gradient skills have now increased, congratulations. Your deft stylus maneuvers will leave them in the dust. Now get out there and animate!