Join Dermot O' Connor for an in-depth discussion in this video A bouncing ball with paths and arcs, part of Toon Boom Animate and Harmony Essential Training.
- Up until now, we've been working with drawings and exposures. And at this point, it's time to advance to keyframes. By keyframes I mean specifically the digital keyframes that we're going to be placing on the timeline, and these are going to control the positioning and the animation itself. Don't confuse them with a drawing keyframe where you have a drawing keyframe or a drawing breakdown or a drawing inbetween. These are actually computer keyframes that we're about to deal with now. In your exercise files folder, you'll find our bouncing ball setup and it's a very simple file.
If you don't have the exercise file, it's not that big a deal. It's really just a ground plane drawn with the Pencil or Line tool. On top of that, there's the ball layer drawn with the simple Ellipse tool here. And on the top I've just created an extremely basic bouncing ball guide layer. So let's look at these again. Now, you may have a setup situation whereby if you click on the layers, they disappear behind each other. This is because as you've just seen me do, there's a feature called Current Drawing on Top.
This can be very useful sometimes. It can also be a bit of a nuisance. So it's essential to know when to switch this on and off. I had it on for a long time, couldn't find it, didn't know what was doing it, and it was making life miserable. So this is one of features that you want to make a little mental note of this. Don't forget it. Okay, so I'm going to make sure that we always have our layer hierarchy set, so that the ball doesn't disappear on us when we click on the ground layer and so on. Okay, so let's proceed, and I want to show you a couple of other things that might trip you up.
I'm going to make a new Drawing layer. And I'm just going to create a very crude object. I'm going to use the Brush tool. And I'll make a blue box. I'm feeling blue today. So now, let's start the animation process. Here's how you would do it from scratch. We have our drawing in the drawing layer. Let's extend the timeline by hitting F5 on the keyboard. Now our drawing is held for this many exposures. Now we want to animate it. So let's click on the Animate button.
These icons here really deal with the animation process. So if you're selecting something to animate it, then this is the Transform tool, this is what you want to use. This is the pivot point, and as you can see, and this will often happen, the pivot point will go to a place where you don't really want it to be. So it's natural to move it, and then click. But when you click on it again, you find out that's a temporary move. You can use this for temporary changes and alterations, but not the permanent ones. If you want a permanent transition, it's best, I think, to use these tools up here.
And these are found, if you don't see them, they're in the Toolbars > Advanced Animation tools. Windows > Toolbars > Advanced Animation. Click on this tool here and then click on your object, and you'll see the repositioning process. So let's just pop this in the middle. Now when we switch off that object, and back onto it, our pivot's remembered. Now let's do an animation. I'm just going to move and you see we have our first animation placed. It happened because we're in Animation mode.
If you wanted to delete that, if you've made this keyframe by accident as I just have, hit F7 on the keyboard, and it's gone. And with the Animation mode off, now you can position the object without making a keyframe. You want to be very careful about when and where you make the keyframe. So you make them under your own volition and not because the program thinks you might want to do it. Okay, so let's set Animation mode on. We have our first keyframe here. So if I want the key frame exactly here, I can select F6. And now we have our keyframe.
I'm going to go to the end frame and just drag the box over, and now you see we have our first animated tween. This is the final key frame, the first keyframe, and then all of these intermediate frames are made for us. To see these frames, let's go to View > Show > Control. This shows us the ticks. These tick marks represent the centerpoint of all of the frames. Now let's go to the middle point and then using the Transform tool, I'm going to grab the box and pull it up.
And you see we have a smooth motion between these keys. Now this is great if you want something mechanical. But if you're looking for a natural animation, like a bouncing ball or a character, this is probably not a good idea. So how do we make these curved? The good news is that it's fairly straightforward. And this is yet another one of these features that you have to remember. It's under the Coordinates and Control Points panel. Let's go in there. This is determined by this feature here, Separate Positions. If I click that off so this box is whited out, then you'll see it's deleted all of our ugly straight lines.
So let's delete these keyframes again. I'll hit F7 and F7. I like the start key, I'm going to keep that. Now I'm going to move again to the final frame. And this time you can see the, it's very cool, you can see the path being laid down dynamically. Let's go to the middle one and pull it up. That's a really, really nice feature. So now we have these arcs that are built into the animation process and we don't have to worry quite so much. So there's a number of notes that you really should make a little mark about, and this is also a critical one.
Don't forget this one lest you find yourself making animation that doesn't have any smooth motion in it. Now I'll delete this layer, okay? And let's switch the ground layer back on so we can just have an idea about the environment. And I'm going to padlock it. When you padlock a layer, it turns red and that's just like a little warning to you that you can't access this layer. Let's do the same thing for the spacing and timing layer because I don't need to change that. And now we will begin working in the ball layer. So I'm going to select that, and once I select the ball again using the Transform tool, a quick note on the Transform tool.
If I were to select this ball using the Select tool, you can see how I can pull the color off because it's not grouped together. Toon Boom really likes to keep things as versatile as possible so sometimes this can be annoying. However, when you're working in the Transform tool, you don't have to worry about that. because it will select everything. There's no way it's going to select all of these internal components. If you have an art layer that's got lots of little strokes and what not, when you're in the Animation process, it's all one big block. As you can see, the pivot point's in the wrong place. Let's fix that.
Just gonna pull that back up into the middle. And now when I click off, and click back on, you see the pivot's correct. And we have our first keyframe. The next thing to do is to apply the subsequent extreme actions where they're needed. I'm going to use the keys, the period key and the comma key on the keyboard, to move backwards and forwards on the timeline. To set these and to know exactly what frame I'm on, this little area here will show us. So let me go to frame seven and using the Transform tool and making sure that the Animation mode is on, we drag the ball to the roughly to this impact position right here.
Next is frame 13, and again I'm watching this counter here. And notice that every time I click and move because Animation Mode is on, I'm setting a keyframe at the desired point. Okay. So let's play this back. See what it looks like. I think we have to make the area active. So it's certainly moving, but something weird is going on. Let's see what it is. If we go to View > Show > Control, we see the arcs.
Now there's no way that Toon Boom could have known, or the program could have known, that this arc was needed to go to a sharp point here. It's interpolated this curve based on its best guess. And the best guess just isn't working. Fortunately, we can access these points and alter the tension and the curvature of the arc. So let's do that. At this point we need to access another Toolbar. And that's under Toolbars > Control Points. It's disappearing off the edge of the screen over here. What I'm going to do is to free up some room.
This particular suite of icons, I rarely use. I don't think we really need it. So let's remove that. That is our Tool Presets. Remove that, and I'm going to move the Advanced Animation icons over a little bit. I don't want to make anything disappear. I think that gives us a complete... yep, there we go. So now if you try to select these key points that you do it with the Transform tool. When I began using this program I would try to select them using the Select tool, thinking, it's the Select tool.
Actually, it's working, hang on a second. I was having a problem with this earlier. So the Select tool sometimes has a hard time selecting these. But the Transform tool just pops them into purple. And then you can alter them. If you have an issue selecting it with that, then I think the Transform tool is the safest way to do it. So let's take a look at these numbers. What we see here is a number of options. We have tension, continuity, and bias. And by changing these numbers, you can alter the nature of the line.
I'm changing tension to one. Think of this as a string with tension on it or not on it. By increasing the tension on that point... It's like a rope. I'm pulling it into this key. Let's do the same thing here. You can tell they're not quite right yet, but this is a good first pass. You can alter things like continuity, modify these, but for right now, the only one that we really need to worry about to get the desired effect, the most common effect anyway, is the tension. The tension numbers go from one to minus one. You can use fractions, 0.1 and 0.2.
But in this case, I think we're good enough to proceed. We have a straight line here now. What if you want to make this curved? You could indeed use the Transform tool and just make another keyframe. What you've done now essentially is made an, I think, an error in workflow. You've created a key frame that, strictly speaking, you don't need. And this just creates work and confusion. The key to doing a lot of animation and doing it well, is to only use the key frames that you really need. So let's delete that, and instead of that we have a very good feature called Control Point. Let's move over the line and create another of these little control points.
I hit P on the keyboard to create that point. Notice that this point does not generate any keys. So I can basically use the tension to get these arcs into a crude approximation of what I want and then use this very cool shortcut P. And again, to make this work, the red line has to be active around the Camera View or it won't work. Then you apply it, and then you can pull that point. I would recommend just activating the Camera View and putting these points wherever you need them.
And the same principle applies to these points. Use as few of them as you need. Don't go over the top with them. The fewer they are, the easier it will be to control. But there's nothing stopping you from putting in more if you think I just can't get this thing quite as smooth as I like. You might need two, three. But I think I can get away with no more than two on this. Let's now hide this because it's very hard to see the action. I'll go View > Show > Control, and let's reactivate the ground, and with the screen active, Shift and Enter.
So it's coming a lot closer. It's floaty right now, it doesn't feel like it has any weight to it. So the solution to this problem will be to use some ease ins and ease outs, and that's what we're going to do next.
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