Super Awesome Cel Shading In Toon Boom Harmony

For those of you whom are to impatient for the video, here’s two screen caps that sums up this post:

2016-11-21_12-01-11 shading-and-highlights-node

To animate it, you simply have to plan it out. Animate as usual. I animate my shadows on a separate draft layer and then use it as a reference. It’s not easy or hard but it gets confusing. I left in the mistakes I made just in case it helps to see how I correct them.

At some point when adding highlights you don’t want it to glow on the outter edges. You want it all within the boundaries of your drawing. In raster drawing this is known as clipping or masking. To do this, all you need is a matte drawing in a layer of it’s own and the cutter effect. Plan carefully between the matte and the glow or blending layer, and you’ll be good to go!

These two videos should help you guys get a good idea of what and how to do it. I get asked this a lot ever since I posted an avatar of my OC with a lava lamp like orbs floating around him. This is the gist of it.

Speed Animation A.K.A. Animation Timelapse

Yes finally I have created one! After many promises of having completed one, which I have, I finally managed to record the entire process without video corruption! My greatest enemy as a speedpaint artist.

What I’ve learned in Toon Boom Harmony so far as that the Tone effect layer is both helpful and your worst enemy. It’s very difficult to animate smooth shadows.

I have also learned that when animating cel shading it’s a good idea to have a pen with a width of 2 and simply turn the alpha to zero later. So for example you use a bright pink colour and mark out your shading and a bright green for highlights. Once animated as you would regular line art, then add your colours and turn the alpha on the bright colours to zero. The problem with this though is when it comes time to edit the vectors. It can become bothersom and laborious. Which is why I like the tone layer but I HATE how the tone layer colours.

I have yet to figure out how to use blend effect with something that functions similarly to clipping in photoshop.

But I assume I’ll work it out one day.

Updates To Come!

I purchased Snagit 13 because my laptop is getting old and can no longer handle the amazing power that is Camtasia. Also there just simply wasn’t enough ram to capture such beautiful HD video of my art as I worked.

Snagit is great! It’s been years since I’ve used it. I tried it a long, long, long time ago and after 3 days using the trial, I hadn’t looked at it since. It was terrible. But they’ve really upped their game. The improvements are fantastic as well as the features.

I’ve tested it with most of the art applications that I use and so far, it’s been a total success! So I am happy to announce that speed art, speed animation, art timelapses and animation timelapses are back! Along with more tutorials when I have the time.

OpenCanvas Screentoning

Other than using the available patterns, you can also use the Color Halftone filter and noise filter to create all kinds of screentones and screentone effects. But when it comes to the Halftone filter, the best settings to use is an angle of 45 for a traditional looking and feeling screentone effect.

These are the same settings you should use in Photoshop for the same effect and they function quite similarly.

Pencil2D And Other Opensource Animation

There’s a surprising amount of Opensource software or Freeware for animation but rarely can you find ones that are stable. I have had a long history of using Pencil2D. I frequently rage quit it. The most current release for me personally is the most stable and very comfortable to animate in.

Krita is doing a good job but it still has playback issues. Which is why I recommend exporting your Krita animations as a PNG sequence and importing it into Pencil2D to test the motion and then export as an AVI for youtube.

Pencil2D is one of those programs that I recommend for beginners and intermediates but not advanced artists. Advanced artists and animators will likely become frustrated by it’s limitations.

It’s playback however is fantastic. If you’re going to use freeware or opensource to animate with for something more serious and refuse to or can’t buy TVPaint or Toon Boom’s Harmony then I recommend these programs. Either together or solo.

  1. Krita (especially for scenery art and to test out animation)
  2. Pencil2D (To animate with and timing)
  3. MonkeyJam (To compile and export as an avi as well as use a traditional XSheet)
  4. OpenToonz (To compile, export, edit and composite. Also to use motion tweens for whatever reason)
  5. Adobe Media Converter (Free version, use it to compile your PNG sequence into a HD MP4)

Modo Quick Tip

I was told by The Foundry’s twitter to try the trial of full Modo for a demo experience of Modo indie. I did this a few months ago and I was still on the fence about it but I forgot one key thing. Finding the info was so difficult.

After spending several years using Blender. An experience of pure love/hate. The one thing I couldn’t figure out or wrap my head around in Modo and Modo Indie was the ‘T’ hotkey. I understand that it’s mostly for tweaking but I’m used to creating easily visible vertex points or edges. But I couldn’t get ‘T’ hotkey shortcut to work properly.

My quick tip: Make sure nothing is selected! That was my first mistake. My second was not having the edge I wanted to edit selected when extending it.

When I figure out more, I’ll post more tips. But trust me when I say searching for “One click” or “Single click modelling” is not only difficult but pulls up more results for Maya.

I also highly recommend learning the hotkeys.

Art Updates Coming Soon

I’ve been away a long time and for that I apologise but I’m working my way to creating some more tutorials on pixel art in Clip Studio Paint and Krita. Recently I haven’t been drawing or taking very long pauses between but I’m back to doing what I love.

Hopefully I’ll be able to start posting more tutorials soon!


I Bought Aloe Vera Online

Generally, I don’t like to buy my plants online. But, after my pleasant experience with Mudbrick Cottage herb farm, I thought why not?

Recently a neighbours dog was in our yard and knocked over my aloe vera. I bought it from Bunnings. At the time I bought it, I was unsure if it truly was an Aloe Vera Barbadensis. It looked very similar to Aloe Vera Perryi or another variety often called Aloe Vera Chinensis. Regardless, it was knocked over and turned into a nub. I still have it planted in hopes that it regrows because it was quite an attractive little aloe plant.

Bunnings stopped selling their aloe vera and I have no idea why. There were so many and all of my nearby stores had none in stock. I was upset. Summer is coming in fast and I’d really like to have an ample amount of fresh leaves. Not just for sunburn, but bug bites well.

After a lot of research and looking around at just about everywhere that was within driving distance, I came to find that my only option was to buy it online. I must admit, I did look at Gumtree and eBay as a source of online shopping. But, in the end I avoided it. A lot of the aloe vera advertised as Barbadensis or the Stockton Miller variety, were often not those types. I could tell just by looking at them and their spines. I’m quite surprised at how many people assume that all aloe vera is the same. There are so many species! Anyway, I looked elsewhere.

Eventually I came across Aloe Vera Australia and their website. Usually when I find a site like this, I feel almost as if it’s too good to be true. So I emailed them, not expecting a reply. Usually, it’s been in my experience, that a lot of Australian business websites often have their information still posted, but don’t actually sell any longer. Luckily, this was not the case.

The email I got was polite, quick and even had several links provided. No hidden fees or costs and a flat rate shipping fee. I was thrilled that the links linked me to a paypal cart. I refuse to purchase anything online that isn’t through paypal unless I’m 100% certain I can trust the seller and there’s very few that I trust. There was also no pushy marketing mumbo jumbo. Very calm and to the point. And that’s something that I really like.

So I made an order as soon as I had the money to do so. More expensive than I normally would spend on plants but, I very badly wanted that specific type of aloe vera. Not just for myself but for my family. I had actually waited almost a year for Bunnings to begin selling medicinal aloe vera again so you could imagine how angry I really was when my plant was more or less destroyed.

I got my package within 5 to 7 business days. I’m not sure of the specific day now that it arrived, but I’ve had my plants almost a week now. They’re all doing quite well.

When I opened my package the first thing I noticed was the smell. It was a fairly strong scent. I had never smelled it before. I assume though, that the smell was strong since I had ordered three aloe vera plants and they bumped about each other as they were delivered. I was happy with the smell because it was a unique plant scent that can only be described as “Aloe Vera”.

My current large one that I already own, I am constantly unsure of what type it is. When it’s cut it smells like bad onions and B.O. and is frankly only good for topical applications. But it’s not particularly potent. I keep it for it’s attractive leaves and to occasionally grind up into goop and put on my plants as fertilizer. But, being about 40cm or longer it still has some white spots which has been the most confusing part about trying to identify it. That and it’s never flowered.

Anyway, after I pulled out my three, very large and well matured aloe vera plants (I’m glad I didn’t have to grow them from pups) I then found two sizeable pups in amongst the packaging peanuts. So I have 5! I was quite thrilled. They’re very cute in my small terracotta pot. Digging about further as I noticed an invoice I then pulled out 3 bottles.

There was a 1 liter aloe vera concentrate fertilizer. The fertilizer is organic and made mostly with aloe vera. I was impressed with how potent it professes to be. I have yet to use it though because I am unsure of what measurements to use. Then I pulled out a zip lock bag containing a decent sized sample bottle of inner leaf juice aloe vera and aloe vera gel.

I’d have to say the two best things about both of these products was their lack of fake smells and the taste of the aloe juice surprised me. I didn’t like it actually. I’d rather get it raw from the plant. But compared to store bought stuff, even from the health food stores, this one actually tasted like aloe vera. It was a bit bitter but it was tolerable. My mum didn’t mind, which was good because she needs it the most.

The gel was really nice. Very cooling and refreshing with no smell. I personally hate green store bought aloe vera gel for sunburns. It’s never worked and you find yourself constantly applying it. It’s almost never worked or even hydrated my skin and I’ve always been disappointed in the end. And I was also to silly to realise that of course you have to use a lot, because then you’ll go out and buy more! But I don’t think that will be the case with this gel. It’s a faint yellow and delightfully odourless. You only need a small blob and it spreads very well.

After mum tried it she said she liked how the gel absorbed which is impressive coming from her. Other than being allergic, she seems to have trouble getting products to absorb into her dry skin. She also said it didn’t feel like she had any on which is another bonus.

I was extremely happy with my package and the samples were a wonderful surprise! Although it felt expensive at the time, the size and weight of the plants, it turned out to be far cheaper to purchase them this way. Even after factoring in the shipping cost which was a small fee of I think $9. There’s no way I would have gotten three large full grown aloe vera for less.

I was able to finally fillet a leaf yesterday. I had waited first for them to get used to their new environment before cutting any leaves off. I took off another from a different plant today. The aloe vera smell is strong and the leaves are healthy. They also didn’t suffer much damage during shipping which is good. But it wouldn’t have mattered to me if they did because I know how hardy aloe vera can be. It would only be a matter of time before they would be replaced by nice green leaves.

So far I have two in pots and one in the ground. I don’t trust my yard. It’s prone to clay and flooding. I chose the driest spot that seems to drain the best for one of my aloe’s and I’m hoping for the best. I really do hope that the one in the ground does well because if it does, it will hopefully grow wild along that area and make my garden more attractive!

I also can’t wait for them to start growing pups so I can give them out to people as presents!

All round, I was really happy with my order. Just looking at it in the pictures and how it arrived, I finally have the right aloe vera! I couldn’t be happier! I’m really glad that I went outside of my comfort zone and emailed Aloe Vera Australia. I would definitely order from them again in the near future!

[A quick authors note, the featured image is a photo of one of the leaves from my plant that I did not purchase. It use to be my nana’s.]

My Thoughts About Aseprite

It’s really good. It’s worth the money but and this is a small but, it needs a few more tools or features to be incredible. From what I’ve seen these things have been requested and are being worked on.

I like how it animates, I love the onion skinning options but more importantly I love that you can break up the animation with tags. However I would like it on export, you could dice up your animation because of the tags but in bulk instead of one by one. Still though, that’s not really a major issue if you chop up your animation appropriately with layers, you could easily have a well organised sprite sheet. Below is an example of “tagging”.

Snap 2016-07-13 at 10.29.47

So far after using it a few times I have not encountered any drawing, colour or animation lag. However I did experience some major lag when selecting very large areas by colour. In the selection menu, just like in other major drawing apps there’s an option called “Colour Range”. This selected the very specific colour everywhere it’s used on your drawing. Most raster programs can do this, though the names vary. Clip Studio for example calls it Colour Gamut.

However, despite this lag it was to be expect with the size of my pixel artwork. All in all, it wasn’t that bad. For regular sized selections, it doesn’t lag much but it can and it’s something to be aware of. I frequently use the colour range option to change the colour of my line art.

Two things that Aseprite has above the other pixel art programs out there is the mirror tool and it’s ability to create repeatable tiles easily. As a pixel artist and needing to have everything flawless it can be very tedious to duplicate the other side if anything shifts during transformation or drawing it out by hand, counting every pixel only to figure out you’re off by one pixel. As far as repeating tiles go, Pyxel edit does a great job too but it crashes frequently. Below is a quick clip of it’s tiling in action.


Aseprite handles repeating tiles very well as it draw with a sort of live update, allowing you to create a flawless pattern. It’s called Tiled mode and it’s a life saver. Any of you other there that are more experienced know exactly what I’m talking about. The old ways of doing it. The main way use to be with photoshop, draw it, select half cut and swap then edit the middle seam you just caused and go from there.

All in all I really liked Aseprite. It’s cheap, easy to use and not overwhelming. I’ve used a lot of pixel programs over the years and Aseprite is quickly becoming a favourite. Pyxel edit still wins for now with it’s ability to create tiles which you can then use to create tilemaps and export both the tilemaps and tilesheets and being able to export your tilemaps layers separately making it easier to put into your game immediately. I mainly use tilemaps in programs like GameMaker Studio for various things.

Another important feature is being able to add a LOT of detail and it still animates without lag. Something that most other programs seem to do. You can see a small example of what I did which I managed to livestream without any lag as well.


The finished animation on my deviantart, I completed in Clip Studio because it suddenly became to complicated and advanced and either I don’t know enough about Aseprite yet (most likely) or it’s missing a few helpful tools to make it possible.

A few other things I’d like to point out that makes this app great is the fact that it has Layer Blending modes. I used dodge and overlay in the work above for my lights and shadows and Aseprite’s blur tool on the light glow. This has me impressed. A lot of pixel program don’t offer Layer Blending modes and I have no idea why because we all use them so frequently. Before you needed Photoshop or GIMP to achieve it on pixel art.

I hope more people will see this program and use it. There’s so much you can do. I did enjoy the ability to change my image’s colour with I think it was curves or levels or something similar. But it was a bit buggy. Though that’s neither here nor there because as long as Colour Range works, there’s other ways to alter your sprites colouring.

That’s pretty much all I’ve found out and what I like about it. I like it’s simplicity though I would love a few more advanced tools, I’d be very happy without them. I would definitely recommend this program to anyone that asked about it.


Recently I decided to challenge myself with my webcomic and only use freeware to create Lost Words. However I have had an issue with both of my tablets. A while ago I had to reset my Laptop and it majorly screwed up everything. Getting my tablets reinstalled and working right has been a nightmare.

I’ve also been re-exploring animation of various types. Learning more types of animation and figuring out which one I like to work with the best. It’s going alright. I’ve created a few little gifs here and there. Still trying to figure out how I want to colour my animations.