Creating Games Using Harmony

"Part of the power of Harmony is if you can dream it,
you can normally do it!" — James Oliver

Creating Games Using Harmony

How long have you been in this profession?

5 or 6 years in one form or another!

What are your most important accomplishments?

  • Having the Marsyard simulation I created on display at the Powerhouse Museum.

  • Releasing my first iPhone/iPad game Cosmic Balance.

  • Creation of groundbreaking education courses at Thinkspace.

Do you create your animations using Toon Boom Harmony only? If not, what other applications are you using?

No. I also use Blender for rigging cut out characters for games.

Why did you choose to combine these products?

This allows you to use bone animation systems in game engines with your 2D characters eliminating the need for sprite sheets in certain situations. Using a blendof rigging and sprite sheets can bring 2D characters to life in games.

Please describe your workflow

The fact that I don’t have a set workflow shows the flexibility of the software to achieve many different tasks in so many ways. I am always trying to push what I do creatively and Harmony normally lets me do this without thinking about the tools. If anyone ever takes the Harmony Pencil Tool away from me I would probably cry!

Scene Setup

For games I sketch everything out in Harmony and arrange into cell sheets in Photoshop. I even use the Particle engine to help make particle effects in the game.

What kind of animation do you create?

I create all sorts of animations and don't like to box myself into a style. Part of the power of Harmony is if you can dream it, you can normally do it!

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

I am a big fan of cut-out animations blended with some traditional techniques. For someone not working in a large team, speed is important or you will never finish projects. My partner Chelsea Carter does the concept sketches for me, then I ink and colour them.

What are your top five favourite features in Toon Boom Harmony?

  1. Pencil tool, and not even close. The pencil in Harmony is a dream. I remember suggesting that sort of tool and people in the forum doubted you could do that with the vectors and you did!!!

  2. Morphing – This tool is such a time saver for in-betweens!

  3. Network view – This looks complicated and often is scary for an artist. However once you get used to it, you realize this is perhaps the most powerful feature. It gives you control of all features in a highly visual way.

  4. Resolution independence – You know how annoying it is in other software when you end up with the resolution you don't want!

  5. Forums – I love the community, which is friendly and welcoming. No trolling :)

  • Opening Scene
  • Sketch

What Toon Boom Harmony features allow you to distinguish your animation productions?

The drawing tools. It is my favourite software for creating art. The pencil tool is so flexible I can always get a good result quickly. If I am not happy with a small part, tweaking it is easy, no need to redraw.

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

The reason I use Harmony to draw is that I can tweak drawings quickly. Using the Animation toolset, I can make variations quickly in ways you don't normally think of. Just recently I was drawing a spaceship for a prototype and I was able to animate it really quickly by copying and pasting the main drawing and editing it.

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

My previous toolset was actually Studio, so I moved up the Toon Boom food chain! I believe it is a significant upgrade with a range of tools that is far in excess. The two pieces of software appear similar at first and soon you realize that new options are always opening up to you.

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

I am sure it is possible. But for me it is a matter of comfort in workflow. I ctually have Anime Studio and after trying that I realized I was very lucky to go down the Toon Boom path! There are many ways to get excellent results (just google ballpoint pen artwork to be blown away) but it all comes down to time. If you feel comfortable with the software, you can focus on it being a tool to make art rather than worrying about how to get things working.

How do you feel about Toon Boom Harmony?

Comfortable. I know giving a single word answer might seem underwhelming, but it is a true compliment. If you are comfortable with your software, it ceases to exist. I am glad there is an auto-save now because it is easy to get lost in your work.

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

Learning curve is a lot better now than when I started. I was one of the first to start making video tutorials with Animate (just before Adam Phillips made his) and now have made a lot. I am so happy for the video tutorials and wish I had them to start with. They are an excellent resource and no matter who you are, they should be watched! Not only do they quickly teach you Animate but they also let you see what the software is capable of and give you ideas. In addition, they helped me ramp up on Harmony faster when I got it.

Equipment used:

I just have a PC and a MacBook. I don't really have an amazing set-up like other people. A lot of people will cringe, but often I just use a mouse!

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