Intro to Toon Boom Harmony - FREE Animation and FX Tutorials

animation toon boom harmony tutorial vfx Oct 18, 2022
Intro to Toon Boom Harmony - FREE Animation and FX Tutorials - Featured

Learn how to make beautiful stylized 2D FX for animation and video games using Toon Boom Harmony. This free five-part series will guide you through what you need to know. 

Do you wonder how FX artists create 2D animated effects or video game flipbooks in Toon Boom Harmony? These lessons will cover everything from the tools you’ll be using, to setting up your workspace and navigating the exporting process so you have an animation ready to be presented.

Taught by VFX artist Maginpanic, these lessons are part of our Tradigital 2D FX bundle of courses. The bundle features three courses on all things 2D FX, including animation, motion graphics, and video game development. 

Tradigital 2D FX includes lessons in Adobe Animate, Toon Boom Harmony, and After Effects. If you are curious to the difference or best use case of each program, check out our 2D FX software comparison which also lists a few free tools if you don't have access to Toon Boom. 


What will you learn in this Toon Boom Harmony series?

In this introduction to the series on using and working in Toon Boom Harmony, VFX artist Maginpanic walks you through the basics of creating riveting 2D animations inside Toon Boom Harmony.

You will learn about topics like:

  • Color Card
  • The Cutter Tool
  • Using the Contour Editor
  • Basic 2D Animation Theory
  • Exporting Your Flipbook
  • The Transform Tool
  • Using Nodes
  • Controlling Animation Exposure 

Ready to dive in? Let's get started. 


Download Free 2D FX Project Files and Assets 

Before we kick things off, you can follow along with these tutorials with some free project files and 2D FX assets. Just fill out the form below to subscribe and get the download sent to your inbox. (You'll need to confirm you signed up in your email to receive the download link.)



Toon Boom Harmony Intro - Quick Draw

For the first part of this series, Maginpanic shows us the layout of the software, and what to expect before you open it up. After reviewing some of the important hotkeys and tools needed for basic animation, the tutorial walks us through the process of using the brush tool to draw the individual two-dimensional pieces of the animation on your timeline. 

Pro Tip: Remember to install QuickTime before starting your animation journey in Toon Boom Harmony!



One of the best things about watching tutorials like this is the idea of learning theory and method through observation. The simple act of watching an artist at work can inform a lot of the “whys” for certain parts of animation and visual effects. You really do walk away with a greater understanding of how animation works in its most basic form.


Toon Boom Harmony Intro - Preferences

In the next lesson, we look at how to set up your preferences before you start animating. One of the most important steps you should always take is setting up the automatic save function. Animation is tedious work and nothing makes this more tedious than losing progress on an animation you’ve been working hard on for hours upon end. 

You’ll also look at some general good ideas for setting up the Exposure Sheet, such as knowing why you should extend the exposure sheet of the previous drawing.

We’ll also look at setting up keyboard shortcuts and which keys are the most streamlined for what you’ll be using inside Toon Boom. 




If you’re interested in learning how to create inspired 2D animations but feel like Toon Boom isn’t the right fit, be sure to check out our in-depth look at the different programs available to you right now!


Toon Boom Harmony Intro - Tips and Tricks

Now let's look at your timeline and workspace layout. Knowing how to navigate your workspace is perhaps the most important step on your journey to efficient, flow-state animating!

Maginpanic walks us through using layers and how to work with multiple layers without getting confused about proper sequencing of your ongoing animation. We’ll go over the stellar Transform tool for switching between layers quickly and how to approach structuring your timeline so you stay mentally organized while animating.

On top of this organizational approach, we’ll also look at using tools like the Cutter tool for removing unwanted parts of your drawing in a manner of seconds - keeping your drawings streamlined and clean. 





Toon Boom Harmony Intro -  Node View

Let's take a look at rendering frames and how to approach the exporting process. This is the most action-packed episode yet covering a lot of ground in not a lot of time. Toon Boom’s Node-based layout makes the visualization process easy for knowing where your layers are in relation to each other and how to conceptually think about your animations.

We’ll also go over one of the buttons you should never touch like the “Render and Play” button. 





Toon Boom Harmony Intro - Making a Sprite Sheet / Flipbook

In this lesson, we’ll look at making a sprite sheet or flipbook. Flipbooks are not only essential for game dev, they are also a necessary step in applying to jobs at major gaming studios.

To start you’ll create a square (perimeter) around your animation, go to the top toolbar and right click, then hit Game. From here you’ll want to pick “Export to Easel JS”. From here it's about calculating how many squares you need, based on how many frames your animation lasts for. You’ll want the shape to be a square, so dimensions that equal out to 4x4, 5x5, 6x6 and so on… are preferred. 

Maginpanic walks us through the very particular step-by-step process for making sure your sprite sheet is visually cohesive and exported correctly. 




Learn 2D Animation and Realtime FX 

Want to dive into professional game dev and animation workflows? Now that you have the basics of Toon Boom Harmony, get ready to go past the tools and learn the creative skills that FX artists around the world use to make effects in games, film, and television. VFX Apprentice courses are here to show you the way. 

Our roster of instructors will teach you how to create original stylized FX, art fundamentals, and proper workflows to get you up to speed and ready to land a dream job with a studio or creative house. 


Start Your VFX Apprenticeship

Begin your journey towards mastering FX for games and animation. Join VFX-A All Access and discover cutting-edge 2D, 3D, and real-time FX training. 

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Our instructors have left their mark on AAA titles, indie games, animated films, television series, mobile games, and experiential events. They are here to help you make your own mark.

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