Toon Boom Studio 3
Toon Boom Studio is one of the most unique programs available on the Macintosh platform. This clever little software package allows anyone who can hold a pencil or pressure-sensitive pen to create professional-looking animations in a manner that is both intuitive and fun. Simply draw a cartoon or import a vector or bitmap image, organize animation cells, operate virtual cameras and you have yourself an animation that can be exported to Flash and a variety of other formats.
At first glance this latest upgrade appears to offer nothing staggeringly different from the last incarnation of the program, released a little over a year ago. But as well as some long-overdue bug fixes, there is plenty in version 3 to bring a smile to Toon Boom users’ faces.
Among the new features is the addition of live anti-aliasing. In prior versions this was an omission that drew plenty of complaints from disgruntled users and was often enough to send them scurrying in the direction of Macromedia Flash. Improvements have also been made to the program’s interface, with Sceneplanning and Drawing modes now merged into one catch-all mode. In common with the recent upgrade to Illustrator CS, users can now save custom layouts. It’s also possible to shuffle between any view in one window – an invaluable workflow speed bump.
Another overdue feature is the ability to add and animate type. The text tool makes its debut along with several other new tools, including the Transform tool, which enables the rotating, scaling and skewing of keyframes in one tool, and Cutter tool, which allows regions to be divided so separated components can be edited or deleted.
Alongside such significant improvements come a slew of minor tweaks and enhancements. These include the ability to select and modify individual keyframes from within the Timeline; a library feature that allows users to save drawings and animations for later re-use; and the ability to create compressed SWF files.
This could not really be called a major upgrade, rather, a nip and tuck to a program that has always been full of promise, if lacking a little polish. Existing users should be pleased that Toon Boom’s interface has become a little more streamlined, while newcomers with a background in any other mainstream vector package will be sure to feel at home with the program’s feature set.