Practice Your Spelling with an Educational App created in Animate Pro

"My experience with Animate Pro is that pretty much most can be done at a very high level within the program itself, hence saving a lot of time in the long run." — Shirhan Manan, 3D Artist / Animator

Practice Your Spelling with an Educational App created in Animate Pro

How long have you been in this profession?

I have been animating for as long as I can remember. Started doing real work since 2008.

What are your most important accomplishments?

My most important accomplishment would be the successful completion and release of my first iPad app titled 'Animals 4 Kids'

Also, a big booster for me was back in 2010, being selected in the top 10 for 'My Outer Space' Toon Boom contest. I won a copy of Animate Pro 2 and it changed my life.

History with Toon Boom Animate Pro:

The first time I played around with Toon Boom Animate Pro was during the 'My Outer Space' contest where I realised how powerful this piece of software is. Coming from a Flash background with many years experience in it, the transition to Animate Pro was very easy, as it has many similar functions that I'm used to in Flash, such as symbols, but with even more flexibility and heaps of effects modules just to name a few.

Do you create your animations using Toon Boom Animate Pro only?

For final animation yes.

If not, what other applications are you using?

I use Photoshop for a lot of rough work and character designs. Sony Vegas for editing clips together.

Why did you choose to combine these products?

I feel very comfortable sketching rough in Photoshop and doing my final work within Animate Pro and finally cutting it all together in Sony Vegas.

Please describe your workflow

I start by designing my characters in Photoshop. In the case of Animals 4 Kids I designed my characters specifically for cut-out animation. In Photoshop I mark out where joints and cuts will be and then import the design into Animate Pro. I then start to outline all of the body parts separately onto their own individual layers with the pencil or polyline line tool. With Animate Pro 3, I then start to adjust the thickness of the outlines to give it a tapered look as if it were a traditional brush and then convert Pencil Lines to Brush Strokes once I'm happy with it. Next, I start to fill in the body parts with colours and convert each part into a symbol. I then start to rig the character using pegs and add deformers if need be. Then the real fun begins, when I start to animate the characters. Coming from a traditional animation background, I treat animating in cut-out style the way I would traditional animation with keyframes, breakdowns and inbetweens. In the end, pretty much all frames will have a keyframe.

What kind of animation do you create?

These days, I usually do cut-out mixed with tradigital. I can also animate hand-drawn traditional and in 3D.

What animation technique are you mostly using (i. e. cut-out, paperless, traditional)?

Cut-out and paperless. Less paper, the better.

What are your top five favorite features in Toon Boom Animate Pro:
  1. The pencil tool and pencil editor.
  2. The cutter tool makes life easier.
  3. The rigging tools, deformers and pegs.
  4. Toon Booms colour palette system. Very easy to manage colours.
  5. Effects modules and Toon Booms renderer. The colours come out really nice.

Working in the interface

What Toon Boom Animate Pro’s features allow you to distinguish your animation productions?

What I believe, with Toon Boom you can convincingly create cut-out animation to look like traditional animation. While it may be noticeable by professional animators, in general it can be done if done the right way. It can also be done with other software, but I believe Toon Boom does it best, with it's intuitive tools and it's animation friendly approach.

Did you experience any productivity gains in using Toon Boom Animate Pro (please give a descriptive answer)?

After a few years playing around with Animate Pro, I found that the whole process from design, colour, rigging to animation a very efficient way to get shots done quickly and with great quality. In my case, I get more animations done now than I ever did in the past with Toon Boom and still learning more as I continue to optimise my workflow.

Are you more efficient today compared to your production toolset used previously (please give a descriptive answer)?

Very much so. These days I can focus more on animation and quality because of Toon Boom's flexibility. Less time spent on forcing a software to do what you want it to do to get a certain desired result, while it can be done easily and efficiently with the power of Toon Boom alone.

Working in the interface

Is it possible to get the same results with other digital animation software?

Yes it is, but at a cost. The cost is time. Every program does have it's strengths and weaknesses, but my experience with Animate Pro is, that pretty much most can be done at a very high level within the program itself, hence saving a lot of time in the long run.

How do you feel about Toon Boom Animate Pro?

I feel Animate Pro really is the perfect companion for a 2D animator. It's broad range and approach to all the types of 2D animation that can be done with Animate Pro is amazing and mind boggling. Hand-drawn, paperless, cut-out styles can all be done with this one program making it a very flexible solution for many animators out there. I myself have barely touched the tip of the ice-berg to what Animate Pro has to offer and am always excited to learn more of it's features.

How was your learning curve? Have you used the video tutorials?

I found that learning to use Animate Pro was very easy in most ways, but not all. I was familiar with Toon Boom Studio to start off with, since I had used it for several years before Animate Pro. I found that my previous Flash experience combined with Toon Boom Studio experience and with a little more help from the video tutorials, the transition was quite smooth. The network view and more advance rigging techniques and effects modules was the harder part to learn, as Flash and Toon Boom Studio didn't have these. Knowing how to connect the nodes to what, and what does what was a bit tricky, and I'm still learning the network view to this day.

Equipment used:
  • iMac Quad-Core
  • Windows 8.1
  • Wacom tablet
You can find the app 'Animals 4 Kids' in the app store at:

Follow Shirhan on my website at:


About Shirhan Manan

Shirhan Manan was born in Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth) South Africa and migrated with his parents to Melbourne, Australia at an early age. Shirhan has been fascinated with animation since he was a child, and especially with Warner Brothers and Disney characters. He figured out at an early age that many drawings made up an animation. He used to tape early morning cartoons and watch them in slow motion analyzing each frame. Once he figured that out, he started to create his own cartoons on paper and then cutting each one out and pasting them onto clear plastic and shooting them in sequence on his dad’s analogue video camera. Shirhan eventually went on to get a Diploma in Cartooning and Illustration and finally an Advanced Diploma in Animation at Holmesglen TAFE in Melbourne, where he learnt traditional, stop-motion and 3D animation from industry experts. He now works full time as a 3D Artist/Animator/Front End Developer for a small publishing company that produces training materials, videos and multimedia presentations. On the side, he runs is own business called Manamation. He does some freelance work and most recently app development. It is a one-man band, however, having a toddler for a son, makes for a great tester for the apps he creates. He also enjoys playing guitar and composes all of his own music and sound FX for Manamations. Shirhan loves animals and he loves to animate them as well.