Thursday, February 26, 2009

Brush strokes: Flash vs Toonboom

The first thing you notice about drawing in ANIMATE (compared to Flash) is the much improved line quality and accuracy!  

CLICK HERE to see enlarged pic. These are screengrabs of the brush strokes created in Flash and TB Animate. 

Unfortunately, what you get on screen is not true to what you draw... Flash tweaks your original linework and as you can see - those looped lines are really messed up (compared to the Toonboom versions). I would have to manipulate the strokes with the Arrow tool and pull them into shape.  

What you see on screen is exactly what you draw which is great! There's a catch though... In the TOONBOOM workspace, you can have Anti-aliasing enabled or disabled. Anti-aliasing adds a "Soft and blurry" effect to the strokes. Some people may not notice this but I do, and I find this blurry effect a bit distracting, like using ink that bleeds. With the Anti-aliasing Disabled (you can toggle this setting under Preferences > Open GL) it's the total opposite effect. The strokes are pixelly and jagged. This is even more distracting so I usually go with the Anti-Alias mode.

In my ideal world, I would love it if ToonBoom's line quality was crisper, like Flash's, while maintaining its smoothness and accuracy... 

Editing Strokes
To be honest though, I am so used to manipulating vectors in Flash it's weird to not have to do this in ToonBoom. Actually it's more time-consuming to edit strokes in ToonBoom because the Contour Editor feature requires a familiarity with Bezier points and handles... something I never had to learn. The thing I like about Flash is that you can just push and pull strokes into their perfect curve at ANY POINT ON THE CURVE without even having to SEE those points.

Smoothening Strokes
Both programs have a smoothening feature. I have yet to figure out how to smoothen only PART of a stroke in Animate. In Flash, you can very quickly select a part of a stroke and smoothen only this part. In Animate, the entire stroke is selected.
Tips, anyone?


  1. This probably isn't the only solution (or best one) but to smooth part of a brush stroke, you can use the Cutter tool ( second tool down when holding down the black arrow too). Then go to Edit > Create Drawing from Drawing Selection. Then in the prompt, select Cut from Source, and also enter a new layer name to create. Then it'll be separate and smoothable on its own. Afterwards you can paste it back down to the original layer.

  2. Thanks Justin! Requires a few extra steps but yes, I imagine that would work. What would be awesome is if Toonboom created a more precise Selection Tool/Lasso... one that works more like Flash's or Photoshop's Lasso.

  3. Well..
    Thanks for these tip..
    I can add more...

    actually, toonboom animate allow you to smooth further the lines and take out that blurry effect that you get on the edges when you zoom in.

    Goto: Prefrences>OpenGL

    Then increase the parameter "Render at this factor Times the scence resolution" to be > 1

    setting this parameter to 1, will look good when you work at 100% view size. but when you work always while zooming, you can increase this.

    Let's say you always zoom at 300%, then you need to set this parameter to 3 for optimal results.

    One disadvantage of increasing this is that it will need more memory and is slower than having it at 1.


  4. I Ageel, thank you. Yes, after writing this post, I learned about Open GL settings and mine is set at "6" because I often zoom in a lot. It's true that it will need more memory and is slower. Pity about this.

  5. Is there a way to get a textured brush stroke in animate? Like something out of illustrator?

    1. I'm curious about getting a textured brush look too. I can see on Toonboom's website that Toonboom Pro has textured brush options, but not Toonboom (the basic version). Is the vector looking line the only option in the basic version of Toonboom?

  6. I actually really like the way flash smoothes out the lines.