Layout and Posing

If you are working on either a traditional or tradigital (digitally hand-drawn animation) animation project in a team environment, or if you are working with other people, it is important to communicate information clearly and keep your work well organized. In this article, you will learn how to make a smooth transition from the storyboard to an animation by making use of a production step known as Layout and Posing. To find out more about the steps described in this article, please refer to the Animate User Guide.

About Layout and Posing

The Layout and Posing process comes from traditional animation where it is done on paper and then passed on to the animator. The Layout and Posing step translates the storyboard information to a format which the animators can use. Since the storyboard is not always accurate, the layout artist will reproduce the storyboard scene to the correct scale, draw the animation poses on the model (posing), plan the camera moves and create the black and white background (background layout).

The background is a section from the location design, also called key background. Background layout is different than the location design. The background artist will refer to the storyboard and the location design to draw the appropriate background for the scene.

For tradigital animation projects the Layout and Posing is done in the animation software, since the main purpose of this technique is to save paper and transfer most of the work to digital.

With Animate you do your layouts and posing digitally there is no need to use paper or scan elements in. Simply open your Drawing or Camera view and draw your background and posing as well as camera move references.

Importing the References

The first step in drawing the background and posing is to import your references from digital or paper format.

The main reference for the layout is the storyboard. You can also import an animatic and a location design, if you have one available.

Importing the Storyboard

The layout and posing process is based on the storyboard. In order to start layout and posing, you need to import your storyboard into the scene from digital or paper format.

  • A digital storyboard can be created using Toon Boom Storyboard and imported to Toon Boom Animate.
  • A paper storyboard can be scanned using third party software and imported into Animate as a bitmap image.

Importing the Location Designs

The location design can be designed directly in Toon Boom Animate or done on paper and scanned in.

Importing an Animatic

If you have an animatic available, you may decide to import it. The animatic will give you the correct timing to expose your animation poses.

Setting the Camera

Now that all references are in place, you are ready to add and set your camera. It is very important to set the camera frame before adding any more elements so that you can correctly place the characters, backgrounds and props.

To set your camera position, follow these three steps:

In order to set the camera, you must add a Camera layer to your scene if it is not already present.

To add a Camera:

  • In the top menu, select Insert > Camera.

The camera will often be animated. If you plan to not only draw a camera move, but also to create it, you will have to add and attach a peg to the camera.

To add a new peg in the Timeline view:

  1. In the Timeline view, select the Camera layer.
  2. In the Timeline View Layer toolbar, click on the Add Peg button.

Once you have set and positioned your camera you can position other elements, characters, and background. Position the camera while referring to the storyboard or animatic. Depending on how you select and move the camera it can be static or animated.

Static Camera
To position your camera without animating it:

  1. In the Tools toolbar, disable the Animate mode and select the Transform tool.
  2. In the Timeline view, select the Camera Peg.
  3. In the Camera, Top or Side View, position the camera.

Animated Camera
To position your camera and animate it:

  1. In the Tools toolbar, enable the Animate mode and select the Transform tool.
  2. In the Timeline view, select the Camera Peg.
  3. In the Timeline view, go to the first frame where the camera will start moving
  4. In the Camera, Top or Side View, position the camera.
  5. In the Timeline view, go to the last frame where the camera will move.
  6. In the Camera, Top or Side View, position the camera.
  7. In the Timeline view, make sure the first keyframe is set as Motion Keyframe.
  1. Adding a Camera
  2. Adding a Peg
  3. Setting the Camera Position

Sketching the Layout and Posing

Now that the references and the camera have been set, you can start drawing your background layout and posing.

Create a rough sketch of the scene background and each character pose, base these on the location design and the storyboard. If the storyboard has three different character poses, draw each pose at the correct scale and position referring to the official character model.

To sketch:

  1. In the Timeline or Xsheet view, select the cell in which you want to draw.
  2. In the Tools toolbar, select the drawing tools of choice.
  3. In the Drawing or Camera view, display the grid.
  4. In the Colour View, select the colour which you require.
  5. In the Camera or Drawing view, begin to sketch your drawing.
  6. If you draw in the next cell and wish to see your previous drawing, enable the Onion Skin.

Cleaning and Inking the Layout and Posing

When your layout and posing sketches are ready, it is time to clean them up. To keep your rough drawings, add a new drawing layer to trace over the sketches using the Light Table. This process is similar to using an animation disk to clean paper drawings.

To trace your background and poses:

  1. In the Timeline view, add a new layer.
  2. Tools toolbar, select the drawing tool of your choice.
  3. In the Timeline or Xsheet view, select the cell in which you want to draw.
  4. Trace over your sketch. This method allows you to keep the rough and clean drawings intact.
  5. Disable the rough layer to prevent it from appearing in the scene.

Indicating the Camera Positions

To show changes in camera position, or if you have a position indicator other than the Toon Boom Animate camera frame, you can draw a sample showing the actual moves. This can be stored in the library and reused for all of your scenes.

Drawing the Camera Frame Sample

In the Camera View, you can use the Rectangle tool to draw over the camera frame. You only need to do this once as it can be stored in the library and accessed as many times as needed throughout the scene.

To draw a camera frame:

  1. In the Camera View's bottom toolbar, click on the Camera Options drop-down menu and enable the Safe Area option.
  2. In the Timeline or Xsheet View, add a new drawing layer and name it appropriately.
  3. In the Timeline or Xsheet View, select the cell in which you want to draw.
  4. In the Colour View, create a palette for the camera frame.
  5. In the Tools toolbar, select the Rectangle tool.
  6. In the Camera view, trace over the camera frame. You can also trace over the Safe TV frame.
  7. In the Tools toolbar, select the Brush, Line, Pencil or Polyline tool and trace the camera frame centre.

Creating the Camera Frame Template

Once your camera frame drawing is completed, you can store it in the Library view and drag it into scenes any time you need it.

If you use a colour code for your different camera frames, such as Start Frame and End Frame, you can create two or three different templates painted with different colours. Simply add the extra colours to your palette and repaint the camera frame before storing it in the Library view.

To create and import templates for a camera frame:

  1. Library, select the library directory where the template will be stored.
  2. Right-click (Windows) or [Ctrl]+click (Mac) and select Right to Modify.
  3. In the Timeline View, select the camera frame layer or drawing and drag it to the Library view.
  4. In the scene where you need to indicate the camera frame, from the Library view, drag and drop the reference template to the Timeline's left side.
  5. In the Camera view, using the Transform tool, position the Camera Frame template.