This is another post for Toonboom animators! I'm going to keep changing up the type of blog posts I do; some will be more personal, some about my film progress, some tutorials and some reviews. Seems like people are finding the tutorials helpful so I'm going to do more.

I keep re-realising HOW MUCH there is to learn about Toonboom Animate, gah! This past week I started to ponder what symbols were even good for in Toonboom. I have yet to even use a symbol in Toonboom. I did some research and as it turns out, using symbols in Toonboom defeats the benefits Toonboom has to offer! Toonboom implemented symbols into it's software mainly to help make animators with a Flash background feel at home when learning the software. There are a couple occasions they may prove useful but for the most part you shouldn't use symbols in Toonboom. Drawings and pegs are accessible from the main timeline so you never need to click into symbols to access nested animation. There is no concern for the swimmy animation you would get in Flash by not nesting, for example, facial features on a head because you can parent the facial features to the cranium.

Symbols in TB are just like symbols in Flash. When a drawing is made into a symbol, you must enter the symbol to edit it. (To enter a symbol you can either double click into it on the stage or right click it in the library and select edit.) Symbols in Flash are extremely useful for things like head compositions (comps) when you want symbols to be parented to a main symbol. There isn't a parenting or hierarchy system in Flash so symbols is a sort of a getaround. Now with Toonboom, there is NO NEED to go into symbols! Everything is accessible from the stage! It's a real timesaver and it's very immediate. Toonboom is great for rigging characters so take advantage of this.

TIP: To go up the hierarchy in Toonboom hit "B" to go down the hierarchy hit "Shift + B". Super useful shortcut!

The time that symbols are useful in Toonboom is when you have an element that is an animated cycle and for elements that you want to update all at the same time. For example if you had 4 wheels on a car and all the wheels were the same, you could make one wheel symbol and place it where you need without having to create new drawings. And that way, if you make a change to one of the wheels, the changes will apply to all of the wheels.

It's very easy to add a new drawing on the timeline. Turn on the timeline view for easy access and visual representation of buttons such as duplicate drawing or create empty drawing. Do this by going to the Toolbar menu and then selecting Timeline View.

Instead of making a symbol of a character so that you may access it from new scenes, you need to make a master template. Action templates are a whole other thing and those are good for saving drawings or animation that you want to reuse. I may put together a blog post in the future on Master Templates and Action Templates but if you need more information right now, please watch this video on Master Templates and this video on Action Templates.

Now, if you did make a symbol with embedded layers, the pivot point on the outside of that symbol is going to be the pivot point of one of the symbols within. If you decide which layer within your symbol is the main layer, for example the body of a car; there is an easy way to set the pivot for that piece inside and outside the symbol! Set the pivot on the main layer within your symbol, then use the option Copy Pivot to Parent Symbol on the Tool Properties Menu.

Holding CTRL while bringing a symbol onto the stage will bring up the paste special menu. From here you may choose whether to:
-paste all frames in the symbol (great if there is animation within a symbol)
-choose how many times a symbols animation cycles
-create a cycle

Symbols are local only to the current scene! If you want to access symbols from other scenes you need to make a template.

Here are some videos with a more in depth and visual explanation of symbols in Toonboom:

Toonboom Tip of the Week - Symbols (Part 1) - VIDEO

Toonboom Tip of the Week - Symbols (Part 2) - VIDEO

In Toonboom Animate, drawings and keyframes are separate items. You can manipulate the exposure of the drawings independently from the position of keyframes. When you extend the exposure of a drawing it is represented by a grey block in the Timeline view. When you expose a second drawing, a second grey block is displayed. To animate the position of drawings you will do so with keyframes. Keyframes appear as black squares on the timeline.
A peg is something you attach (hook) drawings to so that you may edit your drawings. A perfect example of this is creating a master peg for your character rig and every element of your character will be hooked to the master peg. You can then use the master peg to place you character in a scene and resize it. An interesting way to think of pegs is that they act similarly to the "edit all" button in Flash. When you can edit just the peg to affect the size and position of elements attached to it, this is easy to modify and control.
AuthorAndrea K Haid