Was this video useful to you?
Rate this video from 1 to 5.
Learn how to draw a traditionally animated character—from the rough to cleanup. Using the Xsheet and the Timeline view, learn to create drawing layers, add keyframes and in-betweens. Use onion skinning and the animation light table to ensure correct proportions and fluidity of movement. In this lesson, you’ll be drawing and animating a three-quarter view walk cycle. Or you can follow along with the superhero sample material if you choose.
Welcome to the tutorial How To Draw and Animate. So now that you know a little bit about the tools that exist within the software, it's time to start your animation. So in this tutorial I'm going to show you how to use the Drawing Tools to draw a character and then how to use several drawings of the character to create an animation. More specifically we're going to draw the three-quarter view walk cycle of a superhero character. So we ended the previous video in the Drawing View, which has a white background. When you close the software and then re-open it, your project should re-open with the same interface modifications when you saved and closed your project. For example, if you saved and closed your project with the Drawing View visible, then the project should re-open with the Drawing View visible. The reason that we don't see that in this case is because I switched to the Camera View, which has a grey background by default off camera. So the first thing we need to do is go into the Preferences and we do that by going into Stage > Preferences if you're using a Mac, or Edit > Preferences if you're using Windows. Then we're going to go to the Exposure Sheet tab and select this option here, Use Current Frame as Drawing Name and I'll show you in a minute why we're doing this. Then we can click on the OK button to close the window and the next thing we need to do is actually bring up that exposure sheet. So I'm going to go to this section here where we see the Tool Properties and the Library, and click on the [+] Button to bring up the X-sheet, which is a shorter way of writing the exposure sheets. And then I'd actually expand this entire window here. And then what I'm going to do is use the keyboard shortcut [Alt] or [Option] + B to bring up the Brush Tool. And actually if we were in the Tool Properties panel, you can also select the width of your brush. So I'll stay with Brush #2 which has the general width of 10. And if you don't already have a drawing layer created in your Timeline, you can click on this button here to add a drawing layer.
And within this Add Drawing Layer dialogue box, you have the option of changing your drawing name right away and then deciding whether you would like the line art—so that's where you're going to draw all your lines of course—to be vector or bitmap, and whether you'd like your colour art layer to be vector or bitmap. And I'm going to go into more detail about that later. Basically, if you choose bitmap for either your line or your colour art, you won't be drawing using vectors, you'll actually be drawing using bitmaps or pixels. And the decision to use bitmaps over vector is usually an aesthetic choice. I'm going to go into more detail about this in the Paint video. But I just want you to know that those options do exist and for the sake of keeping our file size light, I'm going to stay with the vector option for both line art and colour art, and actually what I'm going to do is just close this because the drawing layer that I already have in my Timeline View is vector. However, I can rename this layer by double-clicking on it and renaming it in the Layer Properties box right here. So I'm going to name it Rough and close that.
The next thing I'm going to do is switch to the Drawing View. You can actually draw in either the Camera or the Drawing View, but I like to draw in the Drawing View so that there's no confusion about what is a drawing and what is an animated camera move or key framed move. So let's go to the Drawing View. And of course we don't have that frame right now, so what I like to do is turn on the Drawing Grid so that I have a few guidelines for my drawing. So one thing that I forgot to do was to select a color for our Brush. So let's do that now. So if we go to the Colour View, we can quickly add a swatch by clicking on this [+] Button right here. And because the black was selected, it created a new swatch in that colour. And if we double-click on it, we can see our Colour Picker Window appears, and I'm going to change this to the Hue/Saturation value because I find it easier to work with. And I actually want to choose something in the light blue tone, maybe something like this and I'm going to rename my colour to Sketch. It's nice to colour in a light blue layer as you sketch or a lighter colour in general at least, and usually blue is the least offensive as you're drawing because later when we do a cleanup trace, we're going to use black lines, and it's often difficult to trace black line on top of black line. So that's why I created a light blue sketch colour.
I'm going to minimize that again and go to the X-sheet View and make sure that our first cell is selected here. It's the same as basically selecting the first frame here in the Timeline and then I'm going to click here on the bottom of the Drawing View so that the Focus is on the Drawing View and use the keyboard shortcut, either [Ctrl] + [Alt] on Windows or [Option] + [Command] on Mac to rotate my canvas slightly. I'm going to use the keyboard shortcut too to zoom in a little bit. So the first thing that I want to draw is the primary action and what that means is what parts of the body make the largest movements or the most dramatic movements. In the case of a human figure walking, that's usually the torso and the legs. The secondary movements come with the swinging of the arms and the movement of the head. And after that, you can add little details as you wish. It's better to draw in this way because if you draw a full drawing and then another full drawing, what happens when you need to correct drawings, you have to over-correct all the little details, which is very time-consuming. And when you draw in this way, you often draw very rigidly, where as if you draw the big shapes first, there's a bit more fluidity to the overall animation. And as we start drawing, you'll notice that we won't draw just one drawing, then another drawing and then another drawing in the first segment, third frames of the Timeline. What we're going to draw are the major poses or what is referred to as the key poses and then draw the drawings in between, which can either be breakdowns are in-betweens. And this will become more clear to you as we draw. And in the interest of saving time, I might speed up this part of the video.
Okay so here we have our first rough pose. You can see a torso here, so a chest, you can see the pectoral muscles here and the abdominal muscles here, you know, little sort of underwear shorts and we have, you know, the thighs, the calves and the feet walking with the bottom of the foot here on the left side making contact with the ground. And the other foot we see the toes pointing upwards. This is pretty classic for the first key pose in a walk cycle and the angle is three-quarter view, so it's not profile, it's not front, but he's walking slightly turned towards the camera. So what we're going to do now in the X-sheet is I'm going to select this first cell here and we don't actually see any of the tools for the X-sheet. So let's go to the Windows Menu and select Toolbars > X-sheet View. And so now all we have to do is click the Simple button here, the K, to mark the drawing as the key frame. And you'll notice also here in the Timeline, a little red square appeared at the top of this cell. So that denotes a key frame drawing.
So the next thing I'm going to do is turn on the Onion Skin, which you can do by clicking on this icon here. It's an eye and there's little layers here that denote the different layers of the Onion Skin. So automatically here in the Timeline View, you can see on top of this red playhead that a blue line with a little blue triangle has popped out. And what you can do is you can drag this further along the Timeline to include more frames or cells into the range of the Onion Skinning. So we're going to draw our next drawing on the fourth cell or the fourth frame, so that's one, two, three, four. So what we can do is bring this forehead. And actually what we're going to do, I just realized, the arrow on the back shows you the drawings that were done behind your current frame, and these will include the drawings that were created after, or appear after at least, the currently selected frame. So what we need to do is pull this so it's at least four frames back, so it includes that drawing. And we can actually just close this side so that we just see what's behind us and not in front of us. However, because there are no drawings in front of us, we wouldn't see anything anyway. And as you can see, drawings that are in the past or behind the currently selected frame are in red, and this is not obvious, but if there were any drawings after the currently selected frame in the Timeline and this Onion Skinning bar was pulled out, we would see those drawings in green.
So we can see here in the Timeline that our fourth frame is selected, so we're ready to draw the second key pose. And once again, I will probably speed up this part of the video. So as you can see here, my next key pose shows a full bend in the right leg and the whole figure has moved slightly forward and slightly downwards. When you're doing a three-quarter view walk cycle, your character usually starts moving slightly downwards diagonally towards the lower right corner of the screen. It's when you create a walk cycle in the profile view that the character walks in a straight line across the screen. Other things to note is that the toe of the foot on the left is still making contact, as is the heel of the foot on the right, and that the proportions and volume should stay the same between the two key poses. So let's mark this as a key pose in the X-sheet View by selecting it first and then clicking on the Mark as Key Drawing button. And if you remember at the beginning of this tutorial, we had gone into the Preferences panel to select the option, Name Drawing as Frame Number. And that's because normally when you draw in Harmony, if you draw something on the first frame, and then draw a drawing on the fourth frame, this drawing should actually be called "2" because it's the second drawing that you physically drew in the software.
And then if we draw on Frame #2, our third drawing, this would be named "3". But because we checked that option box in the Preferences panel, what I draw on Frame #1, the drawing will have the same name. So Frame #1 contains Drawing #1, Frame or Cell #4 contains Drawing #4. And the reason that you see these little red pencils on the side here is because we haven't saved yet. So let's do that, and you can do that by either going to this button here, the third icon from the left at the top, or by using the keyboard shortcut [Ctrl] + [S] on Windows or [Command] + [S] on Mac. So now what we're going to do is select Frame or Cell #2 and draw the in-between. And we're going to go down here in the Timeline and pull our Onion Skinning marker so that we can see the drawing in front, as well as the drawing behind.
And I'm calling this an in-between and not a breakdown because there's not going to be any major movement. It's not like the body between Frame #1 and #4 all of a sudden jumps up here and we really need to mark that pose as being higher. So I'm really just drawing a drawing in between these two shapes and because I know that I'm going to have two in-betweens, let's zoom in a little bit here. My first in-between is probably going to be closer to the red drawing or the drawing in Frame #1 and my second drawing is going to be slightly closer to the green drawing or the drawing in Frame #4. And just like with the previous two key poses, in the interest of saving time, I'm going to speed up the part of the video where I actually draw.
Okay and there we go. And if we actually turn off the Onion Skinning for a moment, you can just see the pose on its own. And if we turn it back on, you can see the blue drawing between the red previous frame and the green next frame. Another thing you can do is toggle between the two drawings, either by grabbing the red playhead and just moving back and forth like this. It's actually easier, I'm sorry, if you disabled Onion Skinning first so you can get a sense of that animation. There's a little bit of a skip there because we haven't drawn our second in-between. The other way that you can move between drawings is by using the keyboard shortcut [G] to move to the next drawing and [F] to move backwards towards the previous drawing. So you can do that to get a sense of whether the animation looks good and fluid, and if the proportions are correct. So you can also mark this drawing if you select it here in the X-sheet as an in-between and you can do that again by clicking on this eye icon here in the View Toolbar, but it's not really necessary. The other way to mark cells in the X-sheet is by going to the X-sheet View Menu here at the top and selecting Drawings > Mark Drawings As, and in this case, I would select In-Between Drawings.
So I'm going to continue drawing all the key frames and in-betweens for this three-quarter profile view walk cycle animation of our superhero character. Then I'm going to add on the swinging of the arms and the head, and then after that maybe some details in the costume. This would take a very long time to record and have you watch, so what I'm going to do is do all these things off camera. However we will provide a sample scene for you so you can see all of the rough key frames and in-between poses to examine how they were done. Okay, so I've progressed a little bit more in my project off camera. Within the first frame, what I did is I drew the entire character with his torso, his leg movements, the first position of the swinging of his arms, as well as all the details of his costume. However I didn't continue this throughout the animation. What we have in Frame #2 is once again just the torso and the legs, and if you remember, that was an in-between for the key frames, Frame #1 and Frame #4. And I continued doing the in-betweens for the first ten frames or so. So if I scrub back and forth like this, you can get a sense of the movement, so the actual animation. And then from Frame #10 to #25, I just blocked in the key frames. So you can see that there, leaving you the ability to draw in the in-betweens that would exist between these key frames.
Another way of scrubbing or another way of testing an animation besides using the red playhead to scrub back and forth is to actually use the Play buttons here from the Play Toolbar. What you should do in order to not play from #1 to #60, because if you do that you're going to have a lot of blank space, is to grab this little black triangle, I'm not sure if you can see it, and drag it. It was hidden behind this red bar. It's still with the little red bar, there you go. Just the end of the frame that you would like to play or loop. So I don't know if you can see here, there's a little black triangle there and a little black triangle here, and what those two black triangles demarcate is the range for playback. These red bars, on the other hand, indicate the last frame of the scene. So here I have 60 frames for my scene. If I drag this across, all of a sudden I only have 54 frames, and you can also see this indicated here in the Stop field. Now the Stop field shows the 54th frame. Now let's go drag back again. So if I bring that marker back to #10, and I go back to Camera View and I turn off my grid, and I press the Play button, you can see that the software will automatically play your drawings. And if you want to watch that little bit of movement again and again, you can click on the Loop button and then press Play. So I'm going to stop that.
And let's turn our grid back on and go back to the first frame. So ideally the next step I'm going to show you, you would do after you have all of your roughs completed for the animation, so all of your figures from #1 to #25 look like this, or this detailed as a rough. So the next stage is called the cleaning up or the inking stage. And that's basically when you create the outlines for the character. It's also called tracing because we basically just trace a cleaner version of our rough. One of the goals that you should keep in mind as you're tracing is to try to create closed zones in order to fill that zone with colour. So the first thing I'm going to do is add a new layer. And that layer will act as the layer I will be tracing my lines on. So it's almost like putting a sheet of paper over your rough animation while using a light table, so that you can see the rough underneath, and tracing on top. So let me add that layer. And just for fun, I'll show you how the bitmap layer works by tracing a line as a bitmap brush drawing. So I'm going to re-name this layer Clean, as I'm cleaning it up or you can name it Ink or whatever you like. I'm going to make both the line art and the colour art bitmap. If I click on Apply, the new layer will appear right away in the Timeline View. But the Add Drawing Layer dialogue box will not close. And that was designed so that you could create multiple layers in a row without having to re-open and close the Add Drawing Layer dialogue box.
So I'm going to close this dialogue box and turn on the Light Table, which is this feature right here. If you're in the Camera View, you actually don't need to turn on the Light Table because the elements from all the layers in your Timeline that are enabled in the Timeline are always visible in the Camera View. So whether you use the Light Table or not, the Light Table in this case just fades the drawing, but it doesn't turn on or off visibility. Something you might want to do as a precaution is just lock your rough. That way as you're drawing, you're 100% sure you're not accidentally drawing your clean lines onto your rough layer. So the tool that I usually use to clean up the rough drawing is the Pencil Tool, which we haven't touched upon. But because I chose a bitmap layer, I'm going to have to use the Brush. The Pencil Brush by nature is a vector tool so it can only be used on vector drawing layers. Then I'm just going to go to the Tool Properties, and I'd also like to see the Colour View. So in terms of the Tool Properties, I think I'm going to choose the thinnest brush possible. I could also design my own brush by changing the maximum size. And I want to choose a dark colour such as black, so that I can clearly see the difference between it and the light blue colour that I used for the rough. So let's click at the bottom of the Drawing View to select it and put the Focus around it. Then zoom in and rotate our drawing slightly, and draw our first stroke.
So as you can see here right away, there's a difference between what we see as a brush stroke on the bitmap layer and what we saw as a brush stroke on the Rough layer. Even in this, what we call open GL state, where you can see that there's no anti-aliasing, which means that if we zoom in even further you can see the jaggedness of a brush stroke, on a bitmap layer, that jaggedness is even more amplified. And that's because after the anti-aliasing is applied, this line will look even softer in the final rendered version. It'll blend with the background colours and elements because of these semi-transparent pixels around the stroke. Whereas this blue vector line would be cleaned up quite a bit in the rendered version. It'll appear very sharp and clean, but it will not appear soft. So I'm going to continue tracing the thin black lines of our superhero. I will most probably speed up the video again.
Okay, so now you can see that I've fully completed tracing my superhero character and if we hide the rough, you can see just the clean black lines. As you may have noticed, the thinner that my lines got the fuzzier and lighter that they appeared, so some of the lines in the face are not as well defined. You'll be able to make a comparison between vector lines using the pencil and brush, and the bitmap brush line. Of course you're going to sacrifice a bit of precision for this nice, soft natural quality that you see in the bitmap brush stroke. But in any case, that's it for the tutorial How To Draw and Animate. Stay tuned for the next tutorial How To Paint.