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Import images to use as background art and learn about the differences in resolution. Sample material is provided for you to follow along.
Welcome to the tutorial How To Import Bitmap Images. In this tutorial, I'm going to show you how to import a bitmap image, as well as all the preferences associated with that procedure. Once again, although we ended the previous tutorial in the white Drawing View, I switched to the Camera View for this tutorial off-camera. There are several ways to import a bitmap image. One way is to go to the File Menu at the top and select Import > Images. As you can see, the Import Images dialogue box appears. Or you can click on this icon here, the last icon of the File Menu Toolbar and as you can see, the same Import Images dialogue box appears. The first thing that you would need to do is click on this button here to browse somewhere on your computer to find an image. Usually you'll see this blank. I had been importing images a little bit before the start of this tutorial, so this is already filled in. Let's browse for that image. I'm going to select this one, FIT_1080x920 and select Open. Then under the Layers property heading, you can create a layer either named whatever you would like, so I could name it FIT without maybe the size for example, or I could create a layer based on my file name. As you may have noticed, if you create a single layer name, it automatically chooses your file name. It also gives you the option to change your file name in this field. I'm going to create a layer based on my file name. Right now, Add To Existing Layer is greyed out and that's because none of my layers in the Timeline are enabled. So I'm going to cancel this and enable my three layers, but I locked my Rough layer so you can see what happens when I do that.
This time, if I create Symbol from Imported Items, and I'll tell you in a minute why that is, I can Add to Existing Layer. You can see that both the Clean and the Superhero appear, but not the rough and that's because the rough is locked. Were it unlocked, I would see it now appear in this list because it is enabled in the Timeline. The reason that I'm unable to add this image to an existing layer without it being a symbol is because right now I'm keeping it as an original bitmap. However if I wanted to import it as a Toon Boom Bitmap drawing, which means that it's a bitmap within a vector frame, as you can see, I do have the option of Adding To Existing Layer. But I can only add to the Clean layer because if you remember, our Clean layer is a bitmap drawing layer and we used a bitmap brush to outline our superhero character on this layer. However if I then convert to Toon Boom vector drawing, which basically means that I'm vectorizing my drawing, I also have the option to Add To Existing Layer, but this time I can only add to the Superhero layer because if you remember, that's a vector layer and that's where I outlined my superhero using Pencil lines, so vector Pencil lines. In this case, I'm just going to create a new layer. I'm going to base it on the file name. I'm not going to put it in a symbol and because I want to show you what happens when I use these three options here, I'm going to start with the first one, Keep As Original Bitmap, and I'll tell you about the Alignment and Transparency in just a moment. Let's just do that first and say OK.
I'm just going to disable these three layers once again in the Timeline. The only thing I want you to get from this so far is to see that if you import an image and keep it as its original bitmap format, you are unable to use any of the Drawing Tools on this bitmap image. You can see right away as I pass the Select Tool over the image that there's a white circle with a cross through it, meaning this cannot be used. I'm clicking and nothing is happening to this image. I can try to use any of the Drawing Tools and none of them work. The only thing that would work are tools from the Animation Toolbar, such as the Transform Tool. Using this, I could rotate my image for example and key frames would be created for the movements that I'm making. In addition to all this, notice here in the Timeline that beside the file name or the layer name, that the symbol doesn't look like the symbol that you see for all the other drawing layers. That's because even though the Clean is a bitmap drawing layer, it's actually like the second option in the Import Images dialogue box. It's a bitmap, but within a vector frame. So this symbol means that it's really just a bitmap. There's no vector frame at all and it cannot be manipulated and what that icon is actually is a little mountain scene with a little sun, so you can really see it looks like a photograph. It's a bitmap image.
Let's import another image. I'm going to click on the Browse button again and this time I'm going to select Pan and say Open. I'm going to keep everything the same except that in the Alignment section, instead of choosing Fit, I'm going to choose Pan and say OK. If we zoom out here, we can see that clearly Fit and Pan import in very differently. Let's start with Fit. What the software does when you select Fit is scale the image so that the height of the image matches the height of the scene. What happened when we imported Pan is that it's preparing the image to be filmed as a Pan. If you don't know what a pan is, it's when you take a background for example and you either move the camera or you move the background, and you do this. In the case of a vertical pan like this, it could be, say, someone falling down a rabbit hole and so the character would be staying in place, maybe moving its arms and legs. It looks like it's falling, but what would really be happening is that we'd be panning the background, so there's some vertical movement in the background. Of course that's most classically seen more often, you see a pan maybe going from left to right when say, there's a car driving in the middle of the frame. In order to make it look like it's driving forward towards the right side, you would pull your background image towards the left like that.
Then if we import a third image, so PR being Project Resolution, we can open that. From the Alignment Rules drop-down menu, we can select Project Resolution and say OK. Let me hide the Pan now. With the Project Resolution, you can see that the native size of this image is being represented pixel for pixel in the Camera View. We know that because the size of this image, which is the same size as the Fit and the Pan, is 1080x1920. The size of our project scene 1920x1080, so the exact dimensions but with the height and the width reversed. If we select this image and we rotate it to exactly 90°, you'll see that it fits perfectly within the camera frame. Now let's take a look at the Transparency settings. Let's Import Image one more time and let's keep everything the same. Let's Import as an Original Bitmap, keep it the Project Resolution, but I'm going to import in the same image four times, once with the Pre-Multiplied with White, once with the Pre-Multiplied with Black, once with Straight and once with Clamp Colour to Alpha. I'm actually going to choose a different image. I'm going to choose these rocks that were created in Photoshop as a background image.
I'm just going to disable the Project Resolution image and let's reset the view here. This image, just like the three that I previously imported, also have the same resolution of 1920x1080, except obviously, this one is fit horizontally or in the landscape orientation. You can see that because if I select Project Resolution, they fit perfectly and they're not blurry. They're at a good resolution. The Transparency setting are fairly subtle, the first being Pre-Multiplied with White. If we zoom in a little bit here, let's take a look at the edge of our image. We can see that there's sort of a glowing line around our image and what that is is that with all bitmap images, as we saw, they fade out at the edges. The pixels around the edges of the image become slightly more transparent and more progressively transparent. Pre-Multiplied with White takes the colour of these pixels as well as their transparency and multiplies them with white. Don't get confused with white pigment versus white light. For example, if I added a white pigment to a red pigment, say when you're painting, you would get a pale pink. That doesn't necessarily work the same way when you're multiplying a white with a red-coloured pixel. It's not as obvious as having a white border versus a black border. It's really just the pixels being multiplied with white. If we add a Colour Card to our scene, and by default that Colour Card is white, and we turn on the Render View, we might be able to see the difference more clearly. Let me zoom in a little bit more here. You have to zoom in really close to be able to see, but you see this kind of rainbow-like coloured line. That's what the Pre-Multiplied by White looks like.
If we then turn off the Pre-Multiplied by White image and look at the Pre-Multiplied by Black, we'll notice that sort of rainbow pixel-y line is gone. If we go back to the Open GL View and maybe zoom out a bit, you can just see that the edges are coloured differently and that's because they were Pre-Multiplied with Black this time.
If we then take a look at the Straight transparency option, you don't see the border of coloured pixels. It looks very clean around the edges. And then the last one is Clamp to Colour Alpha. I don't actually see a huge difference here in this case, but I can show you really quickly what that means. I'm going to de-select that layer and let's go onto the Clean layer because that's a bitmap drawing layer. So we get our bitmap colour palette. Let me create a new colour. I'm going to give that colour the RGB values of 250, 180 and 30. Actually let's go to the HSV View so you can see that it's like a yellow. Then if I decide to create a second swatch at half those values, so half of 250 is 125, half of 180 is 90 and half of 30 is 15, you'll see I kind of get a golden brown colour. But you can tell that it's within the same hue value. It's almost just like you took your Colour Picker and slid it downwards like this to get those half values, my point being that when you Clamp Colour to Alpha, the transparency value of the pixels at the edge of your image is say 50%, then the RGB values will be multiplied by 50% to get the edge colour. So you'll get half the values at that transparency point. Maybe that's a lot of extra technical information. What you really should do when you're importing images is just try importing the same image using the different transparency settings and depending on your background, see which one blends the best. Also, you should always test in the Render View, let's go back to our images here, to really get a good idea of what the image looks like because this is what it's going to look like in a render. If, for example, this image was not 920x1080 as I know it is, it might appear more blurry in the Render View or it might appear blurry here in the Open GL View, but that's just because the software is displaying a lower resolution version of the image so that you can work faster. So it's always better to test in the Render View because the Open GL View will not give you an accurate reading of what your image will look like once it's rendered.
I'm going to disable that Colour Card and we'll disable this layer as well. Let's take a look at some of the other import options. This time, I'm going to keep all my Layer settings the same as I have been doing, but we're going to take a look at Importing as a Toon Boom Bitmap Drawing. I'm going to select this and actually I'm going to browse for another image. I'm going to start with this one. It's TV Horizontal Fit. That's because if you noticed down here in the Alignment rules, the three options that we have for the rules are Horizontal Fit, Vertical and Actual Size. Let's start as Horizontal as a Toon Boom bitmap drawing and say OK. Let's zoom out a bit. In the Timeline here, we can see that our Toon Boom horizontal image has a different symbol. We already know that's a bitmap drawing layer and not just a bitmap layer because the icon is different. It's actually the exact same as the Clean layer. It's a bitmap drawing in a vector frame to put it very simply. But what this means in practical purposes is that you can actually use the Drawing Tools to manipulate this image to a degree. For example, if I use the Select Tool, I can select the image which I wasn't able to do before. It looks like I can rotate it. You can see the icon come up, you can scale it, etc. You can also take the Brush Tool and paint on your image. You can manipulate the image and work with the image, which was not something you were able to do if you left your image in its original bitmap form.
If we take a look at the actual Horizontal Fit, we'll notice that what the software did was it took the width of the image and matched it to the width of your project scene. That's what Horizontal Fit would look like. If we then bring in the Vertical Fit and I have to hide the Horizontal for you to be able to see that, it looks like this. It actually looks like just the fit for when you import in an original bitmap image. It matches the height of the image to the height of the project scene. Just to let you know, I selected an orange background colour this time as opposed to black to let you know this is the Toon Boom option in the Import Images dialogue box. When it says Import as a Toon Boom Bitmap Drawing, it'll just give you a visual reference that the orange if relating to that choice.
Let's bring in the last one, which is Actual Size here. We'll open that, select Actual Size and click on OK. Once again, we see what looks like the Project Resolution alignment rule for when you bring in an original bitmap image. Once again, we know this because if select the Actual Size, and notice this time I'm using the Select Tool and not the Transform Tool, and I rotate it 90°, you can see the same thing is happening. It's being mapped pixel for pixel into the dimensions of the project scene. A better way to illustrate this example is if we bring in an image that's actually half the resolution. This Actual Size image is 540x960 which is exactly half of 1080x1920. We see that it's half the size. Maybe it's better illustrated this way. You can see that it's exactly half the height and half the width. It's half the size. It's half the resolution. It appears exactly like that in your project.
Let's take a look at the Transparency setting for the Toon Boom bitmap drawing. I'm going to browse again for that background rock image that we saw earlier, but this time I'm going to import it three times at Actual Size once again with Pre-Multiplied White, Black and then Straight. Let's deselect our orange Actual Size drawing and let's reset the view so we can see what's going on here. If we zoom in really close again, we can start seeing those rainbow pixels around the edge. I have all three layers selected. So let's look at the first one which is Pre-Multiplied With White. Unlike with the original bitmap image, even in the Open GL View, we can see clearly this line of pixels that have been pre-multiplied with white. If you remember in the bitmap images only displayed this level of colourful pixels when we viewed them in the Render View. If I enable the Colour Card again and do that, we can see that the border of colourful pixels still exists but they're a little bit softer. Once again, I'm zoomed in at 320% so that's why we see those pixels that clearly. If we go back to the Open GL Mode and we look at the rock background Pre-Multiplied With Black, we see that there is a border of rainbow-coloured pixels as well but you'll see that they're coloured slightly differently. Obviously multiplying then with white versus black gives you a different colour combination.
Then just the Straight looks just like this, very cut-off looking edge but it still looks quite nice in the Render View and there is no Clamp Colour to Alpha option for the Toon Boom Bitmap Image import. I'm going to hide that and reset the view again, and go to the Open GL Mode, and click on the Import Images button one more time. Let's look at the last Import option and that's to Convert To Toom Boom Vector Drawing as opposed to bitmap. You may have already guessed that what this does is it vectorizes your drawing. I'm going to select a drawing that makes a little more sense. I did a little bit of a cheat here. I actually exported the trace that we did of our superhero character but not the vector trace that we did with Pencil lines, but the bitmap trace on the Clean layer. We know for sure this is a bitmap. We also know it's a bitmap image because it's a JPEG. Let's click on Open and I'll show you the two different Vectorization options, Black and White, and Grey. Let's start with Black and White and click on OK.
As you may have noticed, there are no alignment rules. It's always fit. Let's zoom out a bit and you can see that. Then let's zoom in and you can see if we select these lines that they have a vector outline. For example, on this vector layer, if I create a brush stroke and then I select it, you can see this brush stroke has a vector outline. That's the same as what we see here. This once bitmap line now has a vector outline, which means it can be manipulated. It can be erased, it can be painted on. You can even fill it in with colour like that because it is now vectorized on a vector layer. Then if we go back to our Import Image button and we select the same drawing but this time we select Grey under the Vectorization parameters and click on OK, and then let's hide our vectorized drawing, you can see it resembles more the original clean drawing that we drew in the software. It's a bit softer, there's a greyscale there, it's not a solid black line. But at the same time, because it is on a vector layer, you can do the same thing we did before. You can paint the zones, you can use the Eraser to erase the line, you can manipulate it with any of the Drawing Tools, etc.
Now that we know about all the different Import options, what I'm going to do is import a bunch of background elements for our scene. Before I do that, I'm going to delete all of these layers that we do not need by [Shift] + Selecting them and then clicking on the Delete button. I'm also going to get rid of our Colour Card, so now we're exactly where we started at the beginning of the tutorial with the Superhero layer, the Clean layer and the Rough layer. Let's go back to our Import Images button. Let's browse. What I want to do is do a multi-selection. I'm going to select everything that we see here that begins with the word BG, so the City, Moon, Rocks_back, Rocks and Sky. I'm going to select the first one, hold down [Shift] and select the fifth one, and then click on the Open button. What I'm going to do is Create Layers Based on File Names. I'm going to import them as Toon Boom bitmap drawings, I'm going to keep them at Actual Size and I'm going to keep the Transparency as Straight. Let's click OK.
Let's reset our view so you can see what that looks like. We might need to just shift a few things around here. In my foreground, I want these rocks here, so I'll drag them above the City, the other set of rocks here. I can enable and disable those so you can see what that looks like. We have the sky background, the moon, the rocks in the background that are more transparent so they blend into the background, which gives them that atmospheric perspective, so they look further away because they look like they're blending into the sky colour, the city, and the rocks. Because they're imported as Toon Boom bitmap drawings, we know that we can manipulate these drawings, but they keep that nice painterly quality about them. That's it for the tutorial How To Import Bitmap Images. Stay tuned for the next Tutorial, How to Build a Cut-Out Character.