An honest look at OpenToonz

This will be a vary brief overview of OpenToonz. I am not sponsored by Opentoonz and have no affiliation with them at all. Unfortunately. I will be providing a link below if you are interested in using this tool. There is a lot to discuss here and I would prefer to over everything I can in a video. Here is just a few things to know about the program without writing a full length novel about it. I hope this helps you.

If you are like me you are relatively new to 2D animation and your not willing to shill out $500 for Toon Boom or any professional studio program. Unless you are a collage student going into animation classes you don’t have that kind of money to spend. As of now iv used three different animation softwares. The first was Clip Paint which has animation as a secondary function. Pencil, which left me running back to Clip Paint, and finally Open Toonz. Currently this is the one im using for my Nihilist animations as well as my animatic Vlog stuff that I just started doing. Having some background in animation in general there are a few things to note here. First thing is that it is free. As such it will enevidably have bugs that you will need to deal with from time to time. I would like to get thees out of the way first than I can talk more about the positive things later.

It go’s without saying that this program will crash from time to time. I think because it has a lot of tools and is able to do so much that sometimes it can become unstable. That or the programing needs to be polished more. But thankfully it dose not do this to often. On my Mac book however, it crashed more often. Now keep in mind that my Mac is laptop that works more as a casual computer. So that may be one reason for it. I have yet to use it on other Macs. However one of the most annoying glitches that I normally face is this. Sometimes when you draw something on your time line and try to drag that image so it last longer and takes up more frames, it erases the entire frame. That and sometimes while using the hot keys it draws extra lines or the preacher sensitivity on my pen goes haywire and you are only able to draw thick big lines.

Needles to say thees are extremely annoying and I have gotten into the habit of saving every minute. Sometimes every time I draw something. I can’t tell you how may times I have had to re draw something that I spent a good amount of time on. Luckily loosing my drawing dose not happen vary often, but random lines being drawn happens more often. But a quick control Z sorts this out quickly. Im sure there are lots more glitches that happen but thees are the ones that plug me the most. But its not all doom and gloom. There is a reason why I still use it despite the bugs. So without further padding lets dive into the program and take a good hard look into it.

First of its the interface. At first glance there is a lot to look at. Your tools are on the side bar to the left, you have various screens in the middle ranging from your canvas/camera view, a Level sheet, Style Editor, and your Scene page on the right side of the screen. And on the top tabs you have various layouts that help with different parts of production. Needles to say this is the most professional looking interface I have seen in a free 2D program. You have different camera options including a 3D view. Also worth noting that in this program as a-posed to clip paint you can animate your camera. Now that is cool. And the entire thing is customizable.

Lets now talk about animation for a moment. If you love doing frame by frame animation like I do then you will like this one. The only strange thing is that the timeline gos down instead of side to side. I find this strange but you will soon get use to it. The way frame by frame animation works in this program is the use of what is known as Styles. So for instance when you start drawing it instantly creates a style. it starts out as a black ling and you can change it at any time without re drawing your frame. Say for instance that you decide you don’t want a black line instead you want a blue one. Just select your style, go to the color tab and select your color, push the auto apply and it changes every singe line in that style to the new color. This is especially handy if you put the wrong color in you drawing. All you do is change the style and your all set. No more re painting every single drawing anymore guys.

There are four different style types. There is Toonz Vector, Toonz Raster, Raster Level, and Scan Level. First lets start with the Toonz Vector stile. Well, its a vector based pen type. I don’t really like vector vary much. The lines always come out looking smooth, but they never behave the way that you may want. You can tweet it to behave better, but I like the freedom that raster provides. On the upside, there are lots of different pens or brushes to choose from. And if you want to change one pen stroke to another just select the one you want and it changes every single line that you drew with that stile. So if you thought hay this line work is just to thick, and I would like it to be thinner, just pick a smaller brush and they all will change. You also have the options to alter the thickness of the strokes with some of the tools on the left side bar too.

Next are the raster levels. Now thees are my favorite but they are both different in small ways. For instance the Raster Level gives you the potion of using several different brushes. But the Toonz Raster dose not. Your probably thinking well why not just always use the Raster level. Surly thats the better rout. The problem is that only Toonz Raster lets you use the bucket fill tool on it. With the Raster level you are stuck making a different animation layer and coloring there. Now if you are willing to do this its just fine, however with the Toonz Raster you can use the bucket fill to fill in your line work. And don’t work about empty spaces between pixels. There is a freehand option that lets you draw around shows empty spaces and fill them in. It is amazing. However I prefer the brushes on the Raster level more but what can you do other that pick between the two?

It should be said however that I prefer how the brushes work in Clip Paint Studio. Going from there to here it is night and day. And altho the Raster level has some good brushes to use, rite now I prefer using the Toonz Raster because it makes coloring in my lines SOOOOOOO MUCH EASYER if you compare the two work flows. Not to mention that you can’t even import audio into Clip Paint which is why I started looking for a better program to work with. So with my background its defiantly a give and take thing.

The scan layer is just as it sounds. Scan in your work and input it in. However I have never used it so I really should not comment on its usage.

Finally the last thing I want to talk about is the option to take a 2D drawing, rig it and animate it. While I have yet to find a use for this if you are interested in making flash style game or maybe do animations in the vain of Forsaken Bride and the Rayman game where they stretch and squash 2D images to use for animation look no further. Rigging up you animations are as easy here as it is in blender. You can customize the waiting and key frame your animations in a quick and easy way. Like I said I have yet to really use this myself, but watching how others worked using this method was really easy to understand.

Really there is a lot more to this program but I think a video or 5 would do it more justice in the long run. There are wonder full teachers like adding effects with COULD render things like after effects obsolete in some instances, there are a multitude of tools on the side bar, and exploring things lit the Sheet and how it can help or confuse you depending on how familiar you are with it. For being a free tool, this thing has a lot to offer and let me tell you I have only scratched there surface of this program. If you are looking for a free program that is as close to a professional product that you can get look no further. Yes there are some annoying glitches here and there but in the end the good outward the bad. However if Clip Paint came out with a version of its software that let me import audio things may change. If possible is would try and import things so I could use Open Toonz to color in my characters as well as add effects like extra lighting and things of that nature. I don’t know how that would all work seeing as it has not happened yet. But for now Open Toonz is a good 8/10 for me.


If you are interested  here is a link to there website. I am NOT sponsored in any way. I just like the program. I recommend going to the site and reading more about them.