Enjoying Mind Blowing Efficiencies with Harmony

"The speed at which I can now create complex backgrounds, thanks to the dynamic brush, is astounding." — Adam Phillips, Animator, Illustrator and Designer

Enjoying Mind Blowing Efficiencies with Harmony

How long have you been in this profession?

19 years in animation, 12 of those in digital 

What are your most important accomplishments?

Developing the Brackenwood series, being at the forefront of paperless 2D animation, teaching 2D FX and working from home. 

Do you create your animations using Toon Boom Harmony Stand-Alone only?

Yes I'm very comfortable with vector art, so I work almost entirely in Harmony Stand-Alone now, including my illustration work.

I use Premiere Pro for editing my projects and occasionally use Maya and Photoshop.

Why did you choose to combine these products?

It's necessary to have a good editing program but apart from that, I like experimenting with other software applications to discover new products and to see what's best for me and the task at hand. Occasionally I incorporate those into my work where suitable.

Please describe your workflow

For personal projects, my workflow starts with script and character designs, then I begin storyboarding in Storyboard Pro. Once the storyboard is exported as individual Harmony scenes, I begin roughing in backgrounds and key animation poses. Usually with character animation, I follow a traditional workflow of rough, clean up, inbetween, then paint. For FX animation though, I often work clean as I go, animating straight ahead and painting with a large, soft brush without using outlines. Then I fully apply the effects before moving on to the next scene. Whenever I create a network of effects that could be useful in a future project, I save it to the Library. So now I have a folder of FX treatments (e.g. fire treatments, scene lighting, fog, etc) that I can drop into the Network and tweak, so I find the FX and compositing stage of my workflow is the fastest and most fun.

What kind of animation do you create?

100% digital frame-by-frame vector animation, incorporating any functionality, such as peg movement or morphing that makes processes easier and quicker.

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

Paperless in all aspects through design, storyboard, layout, backgrounds, animation and effects.

What are your top five favorite features in Toon Boom Harmony Stand-Alone:

  1. Dynamic Brush (huge time saver!)
  2. Particle systems
  3. Effect modules and Network View
  4. 3D integration with Maya
  5. Shift and trace

What Toon Boom Harmony Stand-Alone’s features allow you to distinguish your animation productions?

Light and colour plays a huge role in my work, so I thoroughly enjoy experimenting and working with the effect modules, like glows, variable blurs, variable opacity cutters and refraction. 

Did you experience any productivity gains in using Toon Boom Harmony Stand-Alone?

Absolutely. To pick just one example, the speed at which I can now create complex backgrounds, thanks to the dynamic brush, is astounding. When I first tried it out, my jaw was hanging open and my eyebrows disappeared somewhere into my hairline. I think they're still up there.

Are you more efficient today compared to your production toolset used previously?

Previously I was using Animate Pro which itself is a fantastically powerful program. With regards to efficiency, there are many features in Harmony Stand Alone that make light work of almost any task. At the end of the day I can look back proud and amazed at what, and how much, was accomplished.

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

Whenever I hear someone singing the praises of a particular 2D animation program, I like to track it down and test it out for myself. As yet I haven't found anything that comes close to Harmony's vast scope and impressive power. Right now I really can't see myself working with anything else.

How do you feel about Toon Boom Harmony Stand-Alone?

It's important to me that my tools allow me to achieve whatever I envision, no matter how difficult, implausible or insane that idea may seem. For every animation program I've used in the past, I could write pages of wish list feature requests. Harmony is the exception. Apart from just two feature requests (zoom/spin blur and gradient hotspot manipulation) I can honestly say it has everything I need and more.

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

I was unfamiliar with one or two Harmony features, but they were easy enough to learn thanks in part to the documentation and built in Help system. Toon Boom video tutorials are very comprehensive these days, covering almost everything from the very basics, up. I always turn to them if I need to learn a new feature quickly.

Equipment used:

As someone who likes to sit well back from the monitor, I'm very comfortable with my trusty old Wacom Intuos 3 9x12 tablet. If it ever dies, I'll quietly grieve for a moment then promptly upgrade to the Intuos 4.

  • Dashkin Wallpaper 1
  • Dashkin Wallpaper 2
  • Dashkin Wallpaper 3
  • Dashkin Wallpaper 4

About Adam Phillips

Adam Phillips is a Former Walt Disney Australia FX supervisor. He is now the publisher of Bitey Castle (www.bitey.com), creator of the Brackenwood series and all-time top scoring on Newgrounds.