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Easy Character Design

Learn how to quickly sketch a character in Harmony as well as in Storyboard Pro then export it to Harmony.

About the Author

Jonathan J. Mortimer

Jonathan J. Mortimer

Animator and Storyboard Artist

Scotland, United Kingdom


Video Transcript

Hey guys, how you doing? My name is Jonathan Mortimer. I'm a freelance animator and storyboard artist currently based in Sunny Scotland. For the past few years, I've been using Toon Boom products internationally for animated films and for games.

Today, I've been asked to bring you these tutorials on how to use Harmony Essentials. Hope you enjoy this, let's get started.

Hi guys, how you doing? My name's Jonathan Mortimer. I've been asked by Toon Boom to show you my style of animation, inspired by my short film, "43 forty three". That's currently on the Toon Boom Showcase. Let's get started.

So I'm just gonna open up Harmony. So here's my scene. There we go. And what I like to do is I actually like to work with the red or the blue color just to kind of create a quick sketch. So how about I start off by left clicking onto that layer and change the name to sketch? This means you and I can be kept on the same track.

We're gonna left click on one of the key frames to then start our drawing. I like to sketch with the paint brush. You can sketch with the pencil tool if you wish. I like the brush tool because I'm using an interactive tablet and I like the pressure sensitivity of it so I can get me a nice, free-flowing hand like so. Good stuff.

So what I'm gonna do to get us started is…well, let's have a little chat and talk about what we can do for our drawings, I have no idea if you guys are experienced animators or not. It doesn't really make much of a difference. If you're approaching this from a beginner's point of view, you may want to have where we chat about or how we think about explosive and implosive artists. So for example, if we just make ourselves a quick little sketch here. If I started off with the face, and then started working inward, like so, you could say that it's an implosive artist. Because you're starting out with the outline and then go and make your character.

Okay guys, let's take a little step out here and have a little chat about different approaches or methodologies to drawing your character. We could, as far as I've been…as far as that was explained to me, was we have two different types of artists. We have implosive artists that starts on the outside, the outline and works in until the finer details. We also have explosive artists that start out with maybe a nose or a certain feature and work outwards. It's entirely up to yourself which one you are. I'm just letting you know that there's two different ways of doing it, possibly even more. So don't worry about if I'm doing something different from what you've been shown or anything else.

I'm gonna start off my drawing basically with some of the details. So you could call me in this…on this tutorial, you can think of me as an explosive artist. So I might start off with an eye, have a quick sketch. I like working with vectors so I could actually, if I wanted to, take this eye and flip it to the other side, but I'm gonna sketch out.

Another great reason I use the vectors is that I could Ctrl+A to select it and I could reposition it, and scale it without losing definition. So I can make it a nice, big close-up or shrink it down. Something you should keep in mind guys. So we'll carry on doing this. I think the other eye. Don't worry too much about the spacing between the eyes, because as I said, because it's a vector, we can actually change it. Okay. And…but where's the light coming, in from now?

And the nose, everyone's gonna have their own style of how they want to do the nose. This is mine. I'll start up here. Nice, big eyebrows. Okay so, these nice big eyebrows to work with. And it's a bit too big so how about if we transform it and scale it down a little bit? See if we can get all of it in or most of it in.

So this character's gonna need a mouth, so let's just give him a little, quick one. That a nice little bit. And then I can start working around his head. Let's see. And once again guys, don't worry about how things are looking. I can even show you know what we can do to edit and change this. So let's select these lines. We could hold Shift to select both, and now we have a bit more freedom to start pulling these lines in. If we're not happy with them there, we can move it back up and forth. Yeah, that's not so bad like that for now. I'm sure you guys will spend more time working on your characters than I'm doing this one now. Just give you a nice, quick introduction to maybe how you want to approach these characters.

Okay. Our character needs some ears. One. Two. And what I like to do with my characters is I like to just continue up. I like to draw the rest of the head. Okay. We can shift it and skew it just to match up. So don't worry about it if it's not perfect. We can change it. We can edit it. Nothing is forever. Let's scale this back down again. Okay. So here is the start of my sketch. Not too bad, it's okay.

What I'm gonna do now, I'm just gonna press the padlock key to lock up that layer. And now, I'm gonna go to the plus sign and add a new drawing layer. And this one, I'm gonna call "Refined" and press Add and Close. It will still give me a faint outline of what I created before so that's great.

This is just a sketch. It gives us a rough basis so I can still edit and change this if I wish. It's just gonna be our guide. So when I use the black color, still in my paint brush, we can still refine the brush. We can go in and we can start drawing this bad boy out. Let's see. So that's where the lights hit in his eye. Kind of nice, big eyebrows.

We can curve his head ever so slightly in, and back out for the cheek, to give it a bit more of a realistic appearance. Oh, look, I'm just gonna give it a slight point if you want. And to put one for his ear. Good stuff. We can move up to the head. Let's pull this back a little bit. So how do we think?

It's entirely up to yourself what you'd like to do with your character's hair, I'm just gonna give my character a bit of length, with his hair. And we can just quickly give this character some hair. Yes, that's pretty cool. We'll go with that. We can still edit and refine this. You can still see the red outline. But that's basically how I start off making my characters.

From this point in, I would add some color. I can then even change and refine it so that I've got basically more of a character. I like working with vectors as I've previously mentioned because it's nice and easy for me to blow this character up for close ups, pull them back and it doesn't lose any definition. You have to watch the thickness of your brush, that will change with it.

Once you're happy the points, you might want to even do it after you've finished your sketch. File > Save As, and remember to keep saving your files so you don't lose any of your hard work. Okay guys, so that's if you wanna create your character in Harmony.

Let's have another thing. What if we create a character in Storyboard Pro? We can quickly sketch out this character.

So I've quickly made this sketch using the grey color. Perhaps you've even got a whole string of images that you wanna create for your…maybe a comic book, a feature film, whatever, whatever the case may be. You could refine this detail in Storyboard Pro. So let's just say we made a new vector layer. We made sure that we change the color to black. We might wanna make, change our brush size ever so slightly.

So I have one drawing. That is the black layer, which should be the refined one, and the bottom layer which is my gray end layer. Now I could, from here, just do the grey layer, and export it into Harmony for me to refine it and sketch it. Or I could even refine it in Storyboard Pro and then export it. It's entirely up to yourself.

What I do most of the time is I'll have my sketches. So I'll have several images and I'll go to File. I'll go to Export and to Toon Boom. I'll call this character "Character2." Just remember to put in details of where you want to save it, the name if you go into Harmony, or Animate. I'm gonna to go to Harmony, and I'm gonna use 12, so it's 9.2 or higher, and it's gonna be the Current Scene. And if I press Export, good to go. There. Okey-dokeys. So that's exported. I can just close this down. Remember to save your Storyboard Pro profile.

And back in Harmony, what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna look for my Character2 file. Change our colors and just press Yes. And there's our characters.

So, that's been exported into from Storyboard Pro. We can create a new layer by pressing the "+" symbol in Harmony and go to draw. We can rename it, Add and Close. And here, we can actually do a refined drawing of our storyboards.

Okay guys, well I hope that's been helpful. And if you want any further tutorials or further details, please feel free to add it to the forum.