Getting Started in OpenToonz

So OpenToonz is out and everyone is super excited. A new free, open source animation program that studio Ghibli used and help refine into the program it is today. You can't go wrong with free, so let's dive in and get ready to animate in it!

First we'll need to download and install it, you can find it to download here and install it like you would any other program, easy peasy.

Once you've done that and opened it up you'll see it's a small program in the center of your screen, at least for me on a Mac it is.

Now one thing that I found is that if you use the full screen button on the Mac, the little green guy on the top of the window, OpenToonz has a drop down menu that appears when you get to the top to toggle fullscreen or not and it covers up those buttons.

So rather than using fullscreen I'd suggest bring it to the top corner of your screen and dragging it out to expand to fit your screen.

Anyway back to the nitty gritty. You'll see that it starts in the Cleanup window, and we want to animate straight into the program so we need to switch out of this window and into the InknPaint window.

At the top right hand corner of the program you'll see lots of little tabs, starting with Cleanup. The third one in is the InknPaint window and that's what we want so click that guy.

Now we'll be taken to a pretty bare bones window here, as I mentioned previously it doesn't automatically display some of the windows, like the Toolbar, so let's add all the windows we'll need so that we can animate.

Go to your Windows drop down bar at the top of your screen, and we'll open up the Toolbar first. You'll see your toolbar appear in the middle of the program window, just click and drag that guy to wherever you'd like him. I like mine to be on the left hand side, like in Photoshop, and if you drag him over there you'll see a little green bar appear.

That means it's combining it to the main program window rather than a free floating window, I prefer to do have that but it's up to you how you'd like it.

Now let's add our Tool Options bar, this is where it controls settings for each tool like brush size and pressure sensitivity. Under the Windows menu select Tool Options bar and drag it where you'd like, I chose above my canvas, again similar to where Photoshop has it live.

Once we've done that let's add our timeline. Instead of being called a timeline however, OpenToonz calls it an Xsheet, so go to Windows and choose Xsheet and drag that guy where ever you'd like him to live. I like to drag mine right above the Level Palette: until I see the green bar, but again the choice is yours.

So since we're talking about the Xsheet, how is it different than a timeline? Well OpenToonz is a little more old school than other programs, so it behaves a little bit differently. Xsheet stands for exposure sheet, and in the old days you'd get a real sheet of paper to take notes on and that would contain instructions for whomever may be shooting the frames of animation onto film. Here's a picture of one from Nickelodeon.

An Xsheet behaves much the same way a timeline does, only an Xsheet reads top to bottom rather than from left to right.

So our first frame will be in the top row, and the second frame beneath it, and so on. Other programs also use Xsheets, like ToonBoom and Dragon Frame, although they also have traditional timelines as well. You'll get used to it quickly though so don't worry.

Now let's open up the Style Editor, who also lives in the Windows drop down menu. I like putting him above my Level Strip window over towards the top right of my screen. This is where you'll get to edit your color, or as OpenToonz calls it Styles.

Now that we have all the windows we'll need to start, if we go up to the Windows drop down menu and turn on Lock Room Panes that will keep everything as you have it now. If we don't do that, the next time you open up OpenToonz you'll have to do this all over again and that gets old really fast.

Now we have our OpenToonz window all set up and squared away and ready to go!