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Assembling the Character

Learn how to assemble the character, position pivot points and peg groups.

About the Author

Christina Halstead

Christina Halstead

2D Animator and Character Designer

Burbank, USA


Video Transcript

Hello there, my name is Christina Halstead and this is a tutorial for Toon Boom Harmony Essentials.

This is following up my tutorials on how to build a character and a little bit about the tools you would use to do so. And as you can see, I've advanced ahead where I actually have a character. And he is all in his little pieces right now. So you can see I have an N and F, I'm using that for Near and Far.

Sometimes if you have a character that's symmetrical, like this one would be, you can use N and F as Near and Far, instead of Right and Left because if you were to, let's say, 180 the character or just flip it horizontally, suddenly right is left and left is right and your naming conventions can get a little messed up.

So in this case, he's symmetrical, so Near and Far work fine for me. In this case, Near is on the right side and Far is on the left side. So I think you can see that I've got all these little pieces. And what I'm about to do now is start putting them into little peg groups.

A peg, which you can find right here, is basically like a null layer. It just acts as a layer that you can transform and move around without actually affecting the art layer.

So what I'm going to do now, is I'm going to select a bunch of things by holding [Shift] and just tapping from the highest point to the lowest point. I'm going to hit [Ctrl + P], which pegs all of these pieces right here.

Sometimes you don't need to peg everything. I like to peg. I like to have every piece have its own peg, because that way I can keep track of what I do to that piece without actually hurting the art layer.

So in this case, I'm going to use these little white arrows to shrink these down. And you can actually manually put things in a peg too.

So let me go ahead and add a peg. And it's going to treat... It's going to actually add that peg to the layer that I had selected, in this case, it was the near pupil. I'm going to go ahead and rename that as: head.

What I'm going to do is I'm going to select the rest of these and I'm going to drag them to the head layer and pop them in. That actually put the pupil there at the bottom. Let's go ahead and put that back up here.

And so now when I select the head, the peg, the new HEAD-P(eg), which I used in caps, so I know it's like kind of the over peg. You can see that it actally selects all the little pieces that are inside. And if I were to actually move this they all move together, separate from the neck. And actually, you may have just seen something interesting.

This pink layer--which I just selected is the cheek. This pink layer means that I'm actually selecting the art layer. And we actually... I would be preferred to have the yellow selection colouration, which means I've selected a peg. And the way to do that, to make sure you always select the peg and not the art layer is this little symbol right here, which basically says: if this has a peg, don't pick the art layer. So if I select that and I select this, you can now see that that cheek has turned yellow. And if I go ahead and hit this, you can see that everything is still selected.

Another thing you can do when it comes to assembling a character, is you can actually put pieces and attach them to other pieces. So let's go ahead and I'll show you what I mean by that.

Let's go ahead and take... Let's go ahead and take this arm area right here. And I'm going to put pegs on all of these. By hitting [Ctrl + P], after selecting them. So now they all have their own little peg.

And then I'm going to do one more peg. And by double-clicking that peg, I can rename it... Oops. I can rename that: ARM-P. Actually that should be ARM_N-P. There you go.

Now I can select these two guys and get them in... Oops. Get them in with it. There we go. I'll put this here. So now you can see they're all within the ARM-P(eg). So if I select the ARM-P(eg) it selects all of them.

And what I'm going to do now is I'm going to reset its rotational point basically its centre point, by using the Rotate tool up here, which permanently resets where the peg centre goes. Or at least where the point of rotation goes.

Now I'll go back to the Transform tool here. You can see that now, it's rotating right there, instead of where it was. If you ever want to move the peg around without actually permanently changing [it] --you can see the phantom peg right there, where it's supposed to belong-- you can temporarily move a peg by dragging it when the little P shows up with the Transform tool sign. And you can actually change where the rotation starts. It also affects things like squash and stretch.

If I move this up here, you can see now it's changing to follow the peg. If I select off and select it again, it's back at its original point that I just created using the Rotation tool. So that is basically how you can assemble the pieces.

And as you can probably figure, you can go deeper and deeper into a character's build and just start attaching pieces to pieces, so eventually you would see the foot attached to the leg and the leg attached to the body. And same thing with the tail. Same thing with the face.

And then so the head would be attached to the neck, neck would be attached to the body. And you can basically, [in] the end, have one whole peg that would be the master peg. You could select that and it would select the whole character. And that's basically a good way of doing the layering.

And with Essentials, you only have the Timeline view to do your layering in. In Advanced and Premium, you would have the Node view, which was formally called the Network view and that is a more visual way of organizing your character. And I highly recommend you take a look at that, if you get a chance to see how it works because it's pretty, pretty useful.

One more thing I'll show you. And this is something very useful, that I use in all the builds that I make. Is that this little box right here is a colour selector and it basically changes the colour for your layers. And in this case, since I collapsed the head layer. Whatever I do to it will change all the layers inside.

So in this case, if I select this orange colour right here. Now all these are orange. And that's quite helpful when you have a full timeline.

If i drag this red bar up to extend my timeline for the entire piece, you can see that all of these... It changes like basically the entire colour.

It's really easy to see if you're just scrolling through your timeline, what belongs to what. I tend to keep it organized, colours by sides, so let's say, for anything on the Near side, I would use this bright red. So, all these are the Near side. And this way when I'm just kind of breezing through my timeline, I can see that if I see this bright red I know it has something to do with the right side of the face.

So all of these guys up here, they're all going to show up as red. I don't think I got the ear there. I didn't get the ear yet.

And you can make your own little system. I've got a system of about 10 colours or so, that I use to organize how these look.

And that's basically it for How to Organize Your Character and Put the Pieces Together.