To those familiar with Toon Boom’s software release cycle, it should come as no surprise that the latest version of Toon Boom’s Studio – the company’s ‘beginner’ animation package – is exceptionally well-executed. This, after all, is a company whose products have leapt forward in features, value for money and sheer usability with every new release.
In version 6, things are no different. The headline features see many of the pro-orientated mechanics of digital animation stripped down, repackaged and deployed for a novice audience. Toon Boom gives the beginners’ market the required features, yet strips out all of the unnecessary complexity. The focus here is on getting the best results in the simplest way possible.
Take the bone-rigging features, for example. Just a few years ago, such animation features would be the sole preserve of £1,000-plus packages, only fully employed by pro animators with a complete understanding of bone mechanics and character rigging. In use here, however, they’re quite brilliant. A skeleton effect layer overlays your character and automatically generates each body part. This can then be moved about to create either simple gestures or complex walking and movement patterns by dragging each limb to a new frame. The program then generates a motion tween between the two co-ordinates, resulting in a fluid movement. This cycle can be saved and redeployed later in the animation, meaning that once a walk cycle or movement has been created, it’s simply a case of repeating this effect whenever needed.