Join Dermot O' Connor for an in-depth discussion in this video Pegs, part of Toon Boom Animate and Harmony Essential Training.
- Now I'll introduce you to the concept of pegs. Back in the good ole days, we used to draw in paper and pencil and one of the tools that we used to align our drawings were these pegs, and these were peg holes in a drawing and the drawings would go in top of these physical pegs. We could slide them left and right. There would be a peg bar on the top and the bottom and we could slide them left-right for the character animation, or overlays and backgrounds, and that was about as sophisticated as you could get without doing some very difficult things.
So, what Toon Boom Animate does is they used this concept of pegs. It's simply a metaphor or an idea to explain the process of being able to manipulate many of these drawing layers at the same time. So imagine that these are all separate layers. What happens if you want to animate the entire character? What if you want to just move him over to one side? Well, you could select each of these layers and move them all one by one by one, very tedious, or you can nest them all inside a peg layer.
So let's do that. I'm going to add a peg. Push this, actually we can keep that there, and just grab all of our layers and drag them into it, the same way that we were nesting layers for creating parent and children. So now that we have the peg done, we can call this alien underscore peg. The other thing to do is to remember that the peg is going to have its own transformation point, so in the Windows toolbars advanced toolbar, we'll select that and just put it somewhere sensible, like between his feet.
Now if we want to animate or position the character, we can do so. We can now manipulate all of the layers. If he has many, many, many timelines or keyframes and other actions, they are all now being controlled by this peg. We can then scale the peg, rotate the peg, stretch, squash, skew, and so forth. So this is like nesting it. If you're coming from a Flash background, it's the equivalent of nesting all of your layers inside a symbol, the big difference being you don't have to tunnel into and out of that symbol to make a change.
You can still do all of your animation work on this timeline. So that's a master peg. A master peg, in this case, being a peg that consumes the entire figure. Now you can add many pegs. For example, I could have, when I was setting up this character, if you remember the procedure of nesting all of these parts inside the skull, I could easily have made a peg just for the skull, as I just made for the entire body. It just depends on what level of nesting that you are comfortable with.
The advantage of this is, there is one less layer, and there is one less peg. I would have had a peg there. Instead, I can just go straight to the skull layer. You can set key frames on the peg layer just as you can set key frames on the drawing layers. So it's the kind of thing that sounds a little abstract when you hear it first. You will learn it by doing it. There is very, very valuable use of pegs, and that that would involve animating components of hierarchies. Let me show you what that means. So what I'm going to do is make some frames here.
Let's go to frame 20, extend that timeline, and notice also, by the way, now that we see this, I've color-coded my layers. You don't have to do this. I just like a brightly-colored timeline, or at least pastel colored because all those gray layers can be hard to follow, so this makes it easier for me, I color-coded the skull as yellow or the arms and legs as blues or greens, and whatever works for you, if you prefer gray, stick with gray. Anyway, let's click on the animate button, and with the transform tool, we'll set a key on our right arm.
His physical right arm. I'm really going to move this thing up high, and let's just get the head out of the way. We'll just rotate that head with all of its nested facial features and that gives us just a little bit more room just to pull that arm up, and let's give him a big kind of a roundhouse swing like a punch, something pretty huge. Okay, so not much showing on there but what happens if you want to add like a stretch on the lower component? So I'm going to hit shift and B to scroll down to the forearm, and what if I just want to stretch that forearm line that? Well what happens when I do that is that the entire lower arm, the hand as well, also follows along because it is a child of the forearm level.
So let's undo that, and how we will fix this is to add a peg to the forearm level. So let's see how this operates. So we'll go in here and I'm going to add a peg layer and I'm going to remove the hand layer from that hierarchy chain and put the arm_right_lower level at the very bottom. We may need to add some pivots again because this peg will have its own pivot that will be incorrect, so let's correct that using the advanced animations tools, and let's see if that's all still working, and that's quite lovely.
So now I want to go to the midpoint, and this is the point where the, let me just switch out of this, where I want to select the forearm by itself, and this is this layer here. Notice there are no key frames on it, so I think we should hit F6 just to manually put in some key frames just to be on the safe side. Then we can stretch and skew and really do something very extreme with this so you can totally see the point of going to all this trouble.
Now let's watch the swing. It's almost like it's dragging. This would be great for things like cloth sleeves and anything of a loose material, but it might even work for something like metal if the action was meant to be fast enough. It certainly gives it a lot more life and you can push it well further than this with absolutely no translation of that alteration onto the hand itself. So if you want that level of control over your figure, this is the way. A fantastic use of pegs. So they're the kind of feature that maybe you can avoid at the beginning of your animation with Toon Boom but as you proceed, you're probably going to find points where this is going to be essential for you.
Note: Dermot uses Toon Boom Animate to demonstrate these techniques, but Toon Boom Harmony and Toon Boom Animate Pro users will also benefit from the training.
- Creating scenes
- Drawing and transforming objects
- Applying color and ink
- Drawing keys and breakdowns
- Easing in and out
- Nudging in 3D space
- Rigging a character
- Animating with forward and inverse kinematics
- Morph-tweening characters
- Animating cameras
- Performing automatic lip syncs
- Exporting movies and images