PROS / Toon Boom Studio has an excellent bone rigging system that makes your characters move smoothly and naturally, and the auto lip sync makes adding dialogue a breeze.
CONS / There is no beginner mode, and you cannot record sounds with the program.
VERDICT / Toon Boom Studio is the most powerful 2D animation software available and is the best choice if you are serious about creating and sharing your animated visions .
Animation has come a long way since you drew your first stick figure flipbook in math class, and with 2D animation software, it's finally possible to make your fantasy animation world into a reality. Toon Boom Studio is one of the best 2D animation software programs available and is our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award winner because of its powerful tools, an interface that is easy to learn and use and multi-technique animation methods.
Toon Boom Studio is packed full of essential animation tools, giving you full control over your 2D animation projects. While major animation studios such as Disney, Cartoon Network, Warner Bros. and Nickelodeon use Toon Boom's professional-grade animation software to create their shows and feature films, Toon Boom Studio – the consumer-level version – is not short-changed at all. This animation maker includes all the critical and essential tools you need to create and produce a high-quality animation project.
Toon Boom Studio supports five different animation techniques: traditional paper animation, digital animation, cut-out/puppet animation, rotoscoping and stop-motion. You can choose to animate using a single method, or you can mix them together for some interesting effects. You can also sketch your own images in the animation software with the drawing tools, or import digital pictures from your camera or scanned drawings.
One of the most impressive tools of Toon Boom Studio is the bone rigging feature. Bone rigging is an essential digital animation technique that simplifies 2D animating quite a bit. By creating a bone-and-joint wire skeleton inside your animated subjects, you can then position them how you want. This gives your animations a more natural look and feel, as your subjects will bend in the right spots and not look unnatural (unless you want them to). This feature is easy to use in Toon Boom Studio, and it facilitates detailed model control for your projects.
More-traditional animators can use onion skinning and an exposure sheet to control the movements and the timing of each animation. This method allows you to see your previous drawing beneath your next sketch, helping to create a smoother motion. You can also use animation pegs to chart the path of the movement. Toon Boom Studio's onion skinning and light table tools also work for stop-motion animation projects.
You can choose to animate frame by frame, or use key frames and have the software automatically animate the steps between two points. If you can't draw a straight line without help, the animation software features a tracing tool, and then gives you the option to use the auto-gap tool to fill in the blanks. These additional tools can speed the workflow of both seasoned pros and beginning animators.
Fortunately, this cartoon maker does more than just animate your images. You can also upload audio and synchronize it to your project. The intuitive lip sync engine automatically synchronizes your dialogue – which will save you time and frustration. You can also edit your sound effects and audio to your heart's content in Toon Boom Studio; the only drawback is that you have to use a different program to record the initial sounds.
Toon Boom offers a 3D environment in which you can place your 2D images. You can adjust the camera angle to capture only what you want as you move your images around on an X, Y and Z axis. You can also follow a certain subject with the camera as you animate. The great deal of control over the look of your finished product is another reason this animation software is the best.
If you plan to create a stop-motion video, then you'll be glad Toon Boom Studio includes a Chroma key feature for removing the background from pictures so that you can insert new scenery. Toon Boom Studio also lets you add text and scene transitions to your project.
As any good 2D animation software should, Toon Boom Studio supports tablet input, so you can draw and color in the program rather than using your mouse. Although it can be difficult at first, once you get used to using a tablet, you'll be amazed at the increased quality of your sketches and you'll wonder why you didn't use one sooner.
This 2D animation software includes many fun effects, including flames, rain, smoke and camera shakes. By using these premade effects, you'll be able to concentrate on your story instead of figuring out how to animate a rainstorm drop by drop. If you find that your drawings seem too harsh, the Blur effect can help soften the edges in your animations, making it easier on the eyes.
The camera shake effect is a great way to emphasize an earthquake, explosion or crash. The option to attach cast shadows to your characters, giving them extra depth.
Import & Export
No matter what kind of image file format you're trying to import or export, Toon Boom Studio has you covered. You can scan and upload your own paper drawings or digital images, including Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator files. This animation software can import more than 13 different file types, including GIF, JPEG, BMP, PNG and TIFF formats. This diversity makes it easy to import your images, regardless of what program you create your drawings in.
Toon Boom Studio can export your projects in a variety of ways. You can even export single cells or frames instead of an entire project. In addition to creating AVI video files for television playback, you can select a format that can be uploaded directly to YouTube or Facebook.
Help & Support
Unfortunately, Toon Boom Studio is not the kind of animation software that you can use immediately without having any previous knowledge of animation. If you are a complete animation novice, you'll need to take some time to familiarize yourself with animation basics in order to get the most out of this software.
Fortunately, Toon Boom provides many resources that allow you to start learning quickly. One of the most helpful features on the Toon Boom website is the User Forum. There, you can ask questions about the animation software and receive answers from other users as well as Toon Boom employees.
There is also a knowledgebase and FAQs page, as well as a variety of manuals and tutorials to find the answers you need. If you have additional need for help, you can contact the company by phone or email. We were impressed with the quantity and quality of customer support options offered with Toon Boom Studio.
One of the few drawbacks with Toon Boom Studio is the fact that the official training videos require an additional purchase. Toon Boom also charges for its Workout Series, which includes different exercises to fine-tune your animation. There is a free Quick Start Tutorial, which will give you the basics of using this animation software, but if you want more than that, you're going to have to pay extra or search out user-made videos online.
Toon Boom Studio is an incredibly powerful, fun-to-use 2D animation software program that gives you the control you need to create your best animation. While it may take a while to learn how to use, this 2D animation software is well worth the effort. By taking advantage of its deep toolbox and multitude of features, you will be able to create the animated world you have had locked away in your imagination and bring it to life.