How to Make a Smooth Transition From Traditional to Paperless

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For some artists, the transition from traditional to digital can often look daunting. Using a digital storyboard has many advantages; a paperless environment, ease of correction using the undo feature, ease of drawing reuse by copying and pasting. In this article, we’ll show you how Toon Boom Storyboard Pro can facilitate the transition from traditional to paperless methods. Its elegant interface, intuitive tools and practical shortcuts will make your shift to digital storyboarding a breeze.

Capturing traditional techniques using digital drawing tools

Toon Boom Storyboard Pro tools are derived from the tools used in traditional paper storyboarding, enabling the traditional storyboard artist to feel more “at home” while drawing.

Pen Tablet, Texture Pen and Pressure Sensitivity

To maintain the traditional feel of drawing on paper you can use a Pen Tablet. This comprises a tablet and a digital pen. This partially, or completely, replaces the mouse. A pen tablet gives you more control than a mouse, even to point of being able flip the pen and use the digital eraser in the same way as you would use a regular pencil eraser. If you want to keep the paper feeling while you draw, you can always stick a piece of paper on your tablet!

The Toon Boom Storyboard Pro Brush tool responds to the pen pressure you place on the pen tablet. In other words, the harder you press on the pen, the thicker the line becomes. The lighter you press, the lighter and thinner the line becomes.

Use the Texture Pen to recreate that "sketch" look and feel. Toon Boom Storyboard Pro has some default texture pens that you can use and adjust to suit your own taste. You can easily identify them by the "T" symbol marker alongside the pen size.

You can also load your own bitmap textures to create different pens. Just create a new pen and using the Pen editor, bring in any Targa (*.tga) or PSD (*.psd) file you want.


You can adjust the maximum and minimum size of any pen and change its colour by selecting a new one in the colour palette. The colour change will also work on the texture pens regardless of the texture file colour.

Rotary Table / Animation Disc

On a computer screen, the drawing angle is not always the best. The Rotate View tool in Toon Boom Storyboard Pro speeds up your drawing process by allowing you to rotate your drawing workspace to an angle more comfortable to your pen position, just as if you would turn a sketch pad. The Rotate View tool is also known as the animation disc.

  • Press the [CTRL]+[ALT] keyboard shortcut to activate the rotary table, hold it down while rotating your workspace and let it go once the desired angle is reached.
  • Press the [SHIFT]+[X] keyboard shortcut to reset the workspace rotation.

Sketching and shading your drawings

Another useful method of maintaining a traditional technique is to create a brush with a partially transparent blue colour and sketch your storyboard with it. This produces a result similar to using an animation pencil. Once the sketch is completed, you just add a new layer on top and use a regular or texture black pen to trace the final version. You can keep or discard the blue layer depending on the desired look.

To give more depth to your drawings, you can use the Brush tool to shade them with various tones of grey. Add a layer under the actual line drawing and paint some shadows.

If you like to draw everything on the same layer, you can use the Draw Behind option available in the Brush Tool Properties view to shade your drawing. To get rid of your sketch, you can also enable the Select By Colour option available in the Select Tool Properties view and click on one of the lines of your blue sketch.


Sample Texture Files (ZIP)
Includes: craquelure.psd, plaid.psd, canvas.psd, patchwork.psd