Genie Smoke Cycle

Ever wonder how to animate a loop of water, smoke or hair flowing in a natural and organic way? Toon Boom Animate provides you with the drawing and animation tools to take you from start to finish. This month, discover how to create a flowing cycle using the Morphing feature, by creating smoke billowing from a Genie's lamp.

Getting the Sample Material Required

To perform this exercise, you will need to download the following sample material provided with this article.

Downloads: Sample Material (ZIP)

The sample material package is composed of two Animate scenes:

  • genie_smoke_unfinished: use this scene to practice placing the hint points and creating the morphing sequences
  • genie_smoke_completed : use this scene as a reference to complete the unfinished sample scene or to create your own smoking lamp.

Creating the Artwork

The first step in this exercise is to create your artwork. If you are using the unfinished sample scene, your artwork is already created and you can move on to the Creating the Morphing Sequence and Cycle section below.

The lamp and smoke will be created in several layers because it is easier to morph simpler shapes.

  1. Prior to creating layers, you must decide which parts of the animation will remain static and which will be needed to create your morphing sequence. The genie lamp, for example, will remain static while the smoke flows from its spout.
  2. Each part of the animation will be drawn in on a different layer that you will create in the Timeline view. However, all your key drawings for the smoke morph will be drawn on the same layer, but at different points (frames) along the timeline.
  3. Once your layers are created, draw your genie lamp and the first smoke cloud to obtain the correct positioning. Don't forget to draw the smoke on a different layer.
  4. You can create a soft effect for the smoke by removing its outline, giving it a gradient fill and playing with the gradient fill's transparency (Alpha) at both ends of the gradient scale.
  5. Click on frame 10 on the smoke layer and turn on the onion skin feature before drawing the second smoke cloud in the sequence. Try to balance the concave and convex curves so that where the smoke is convex in one drawing it becomes concave in the other.
  6. Click on frame 20 in the Timeline view and draw the third smoke cloud in the sequence. The three clouds should look something like this:
  7. Go back to frame 1 in the Timeline view, then in the Camera/Drawing view, right-click (Windows) or [Ctrl] + click (Mac) on Drawing 1 and select Copy Drawing Object from the pop-up menu.
  8. In the Timeline view click on frame 30, then somewhere in the Camera/Drawing view, right-click (Windows) or [Ctrl] + click (Mac) and select Paste Drawing Object. Frame 1 and frame 30 should now contain the same smoke cloud drawing.
  9. Add a background and lamp shadow on different layers if you so desire.
  10. Extend each drawing until the last frame, if they are not already extended. Your Timeline should look something like this:

Creating the Morphing Sequence and Cycle

You are now ready to create your morphing sequence, set your hint points and adjust the velocity. You must create a morphing sequence between each key drawing on each layer.

  1. First, create your morphing sequences in the Timeline view by right-clicking (Windows) or [Ctrl] + clicking (Mac) on the in-betweens and selecting Morphing > Create Morphing. Make sure to not select your key drawings, but only the in-betweens. Your Timeline view should now look like this:
  2. In the Drawing view, set your hint points using the Morphing Tool and the Contour Hint option in the Morphing Tool Properties view.
    Remember that you need to place a set of start and stop (green and red) hint points between Drawings 1 and 2, 2 and 3, and 3 and 1, not just one set of hint points from frame 1 to 30. You should feel them slide and snap into place like magnets along the contour of your drawing.
    Refer to the genie_smoke_completed scene to see where the hint points are placed.
  3. Once the hints are in place, in the Morphing view, adjust the velocity for each morphing sequence to prevent your animation from feeling too mechanical.
  4. In the Timeline view, select frames 1 to 30 of the smoke layer, then right-click (Windows) or [Ctrl] + click (Mac) and select Morphing > Convert Morphing to Drawings.
  5. In the Converting Morph dialog box that appears, type in an appropriate name for your drawings and then press OK. You can reuse the original layer name.
  6. In the Timeline view select the last frame of each layer and press [Delete].
    This eliminates the double drawing that existed in both frames 1 and 30 so that there is no pause in a looped cycle and ensures that all the inanimate drawings have the same frame length as the smoke cycle.
    Your Timeline should look like this:
  7. In the Camera view, select the Loop and Playback buttons and watch your completed animation.

You should now have a billowing genie lamp!