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Character Building

Create assets from a sketch, rearrange drawing layers and set up pivot points.

About the Author

Christina Halstead

Christina Halstead

2D Animator and Character Designer

Burbank, USA


Video Transcript

Hi, my name is Christina Halstead and this is a tutorial for Toon Boom Harmony Essentials. And this is basically a little bit of information about layers and naming.

So what I got here is just a basic stick figure. And what we're going to do now, I'm going to show you what to do when it comes to creating layers, arranging them, what basically these symbols down here mean, and how to, you know, move the layers around. So right here we got my little stick dude. And I'm going to...so I'll delete this, so I can show you how I did this.

So basically, here he is. We're in the Drawing view. You can tell by this tab up here. You can also see him in the Camera view. We're going to stick to the Drawing view for the moment.

So, right here, this is your layer. This is your timeline and you can see your layers here. Essentials does all its layering right here in the timeline. So, right here you have your on/off for the layers. Right now nothing happened because it's the only layer, so it's going to stay on.

This is how you get your Onion Skinning to turn on. And that basically is if you have more than one drawing in this layer, you can see where those other drawings are in relation to the drawing you currently have active.

And this is how you can lock and unlock your layer. And you can see that when it's locked, the name turns red.

So I'm going to go ahead and make a new layer and there's a couple ways you can do that. You can go to Insert > and in this case, you're going to be adding a drawing and you can do that from this menu here. And this little dialog box will pop up. And basically, it says you can either Add and Close, which is basically the equivalent of saying OK, after you name your layer. Or you can do Add and it will add a layer and then set up for the next layer to be added without closing the dialog box.

In this case, we are just going to go ahead and call... Well actually I'll do, I'll add two layers. So in this case, we're going to do one. We're going to call this: Leg. And we're going to call that: Leg. And we're going to call it: Leg_R, for leg right. And then I'm going to hit Add. And it's going to go and you can see down here that they added Leg_R(ight).

Now it still has Leg_R(ight) up here, so we're going to go ahead and call this: Foot_R(ight). We're going to go ahead and go Add and Close. So it closes the dialog box.

Now you can see that the little stick guy is gone. He's still here, but because we're on a different layer, he's not showing up. And since he's my template, for where I'm going to draw this leg. We can go ahead and hit this little lightbulb right here, basically makes the Light Table. So by hitting that, we have a semitransparent view of that little stick guy.

If I go to his actual layer, you'll see that he actually does show up darker now, as his original colour should be. So I'm going to go ahead and go to Leg. I'm going to zoom in. And you can see the leg right here.

So what I'm going to do is I'm going to see what... thin this line out a little bit. This is the Brush tool.

I could use Pencil tool, but in this case right now, I'd much rather use the Brush tool, because that's just how I want to draw this line out. So I'll go ahead and...

I'm hitting Undo, by the way. Undo is [Ctrl + Z]. Right now I have it mapped to my tablet pen, which is why it's happening so fast. You can also do Undo up here.

So let's go ahead and draw this. Another handy feature for drawing is holding down [Ctrl + Alt]. It brings up this little round graphic right here. This is basically, kind of a graphical representation of an old animation drawing table. And what you can do while holding that down, you can actually rotate your canvas. Super useful.

Oops, let's go back to Leg here. And just so you know, Reset for your rotation is [Shift + X].

So I'm going to go back and I'm going to rotate this again. And I'm going to go with this. And right now I'm not too happy with the way that line is looking, so I'm going to go ahead and go into my Select tool, which is the black arrow. And I'm going to take this, which is the pivot. You can see there's a little P. I'm going to move that up here. That's where I want it to be pivoting from, so if I were to rotate it now, it would rotate it from that point, instead of the centre point. So what I'm going to do is actually, basically what I just did. I just moved that around to where I wanted it. Put it right here.

Then I'm going to add one more line. There we go.

Now I'm going to use the Cutter tool, which can be found actually up here with this black arrow. The Cutter tool. Now you use it to kind of lop off these little, extra lines that you don't want. So now I have a curve. All right, so we got part of the leg right now.

We're going to go back in and I'm going to draw the second part of the leg.

It's a little wobbly. I'm going to increase the Smoothing just a little bit. Also rotate. Now, there's my leg.

So I've got that drawn the way I want it to. You can always actually edit it out just a little bit. Put that pivot point right there. Just going to skew that out, so it's a little bit thicker on the top. There we go.

Now I'm going to draw the foot. So by picking that, now both of these areas greyed out. So you have to be careful, so you know which one you're actually working on, looking for as a reference. Course I can always turn the Leg layer off and on, with these little eyeball graphics. There you go.

Now nothing turns off and on because there's nothing on the foot. So I'm going to go back to frame 1 and select my drawing tool. And I'm going to go ahead and work on my foot. I'm going to try to line it up with that leg piece right there. And now to clean that up again. There we go.

Actually go in and use a little bit of the Eraser tool. Actually, it's huge. Make that a little bit smaller. There we go. So I have my Eraser tool and... So then I'm actually going to do that. There we go.

Okay, now I'll go ahead and give this character some toes. Now I'm going to go back in to the Leg layer and erase some of this stuff, because we don't need that actually. And I'm going to actually going to have the Foot layer, and I do, going for colour. Which I will show you how to do. I will actually have the Foot layer above the Leg layer, which is why it's okay that that black line will stay there, on the Leg layer. So I'm going to go ahead and put some colour in. And as I've shown before, I can use the Stroke tool to close up open areas.

So we're going to go back to Leg. I'm going to Show Stroke. You can see all the little parts of my leg right here. I'm going to go ahead and close that off.

And you see, I've actually gone a little too far, so I'll go with my Contour [Editor tool] and push that back in there, so it's covered up by the foot. And I'm going to go back up here and this is a reminder, you can find the Stroke tool in with all the Paint Bucket stuff. I'm going to go ahead and close that up, so now I have a closed shape and now I'm going to pick a colour for this character.

Let's go ahead, since this is a dog character. I'm going to go ahead and I can rename. By double-clicking on the name, I can name it. I'm going to go ahead and call this colour swatch: fur. In fact, I'll call it: fur 1. I'm going to double-click on that and the little Paint Picker comes up. So I can go ahead and... Let's make him a little reddish. There we go.

So when I go, I'm going to select Paint, from my drop-down. Or in this case, I also have a hotkey right here. Go ahead and hit that. So now I have a coloured area. It's just that easy. And if I decide later on that I don't want that colour, I can make him, you know, fuchsia. But I actually am going to keep him that orangey-red colour.

Now that that's done, I'm going to go back to my Foot layer. Go in, use that tool to close up this area inside, zoom out and go back to my Paint [tool] and fill it in.

Now you can see that I've got a foot and a leg.

Now I actually don't even have the stick guy. He's in there too. I'm going to turn that off. I'll go back to Camera view now. You can see, in the Camera view, that whatever layer is on, that's the one that's highlighted. As long as you're using a creation type tool: a Pencil, Bucket. Any of these tools that actually lay down colour or line.

Now if I go to, this is the Transform tool here, I can see where the pivots are for these layers.

For instance, say I selected the drawing layer for my leg, this is its pivot. I can actually permanently change where that pivot is, by going up here to this Rotate tool, which will permanently put the pivot right about here. Which is where the leg would join the pelvis. You can see that right there.

And for the foot, I'll do the same thing. I'll select the foot down here and I'll take its pivot and I'll put it right here, so that way with the Transform tool, if I were to rotate this, it now rotates at the foot. Same thing for the leg. And as you can see, the foot there isn't connected.

I'll go into that in my next tutorial, which is Putting Together Your Character.