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Designed to be the best and most affordable 2d animation software for hobbyists and professionals alike, Toon Boom Studio has a lot of expectations to live up to. In this review we’ll take a look and see if it lives up to its grand reputation or whether it falls short.


The first thing you’ll notice when you open up Toon Boom Studio is that it’s absolutely jam-packed with features. For me, one of the biggest attractions is that you can do 5 different styles of animation…these are:

1./ Traditional paper animation (you can scan your drawings in and colour them in Toon Boom Studio)
2./ Traditional digital animation (draw directly into the program)
3./ Flash style cut out animation (although missing the interactivity and scripting abilities of Flash)
4./ Rotoscoping (tracing over live action video footage)
5./ Stop motion animation (just link up a camera and use the software to capture each frame)

Watch the video below which shows you the 5 techniques in detail. (Note: this video refers to version 5 of the software, whereas the current version is 6 and now includes “Bones” which I discuss below).

It is as the name suggests, an animation studio all in one package. This is great since it effectively saves you having to spend money on separate programs to do the same job.

Thankfully they have maintained a clean interface which is fully customizable. If this is your first foray into animation then you may find it a bit difficult at first to find your way around, but a few quick tutorials will show you what you need to know and get you up to speed quickly.

A great bonus for teens and youngsters is that since Toon Boom Studio is used by professional studios and freelancers it’s a great software to get to grips with as it can really boost their future career prospects and give them a head start. It also makes it easy to upgrade to their high-end Animate program if they wish later on, since it relies on the same basic structure but with more advanced tools.

You can import and export all the main formats including HD, which makes it ideal for everything from production level quality to small web videos. Uploading directly to YouTube and Facebook is also a breeze which means sharing your work has never been easier.

If you want to go the traditional paper animation route you can do your drawings on paper first and then scan them in to coloured and composited. The Peg Bar Recognition tool is extremely useful for keeping your drawings in the same place to avoid jittering around the screen.

The colouring tools are effective and allow you to do anything from simple fill colouring, up to gradient fills and even shadows. There is an automatic line detection feature which automatically closes the lines for you if you’ve left any gaps in your drawings (anyone who’s used other 2d animation software programs that don’t have this feature know just how frustrating and time consuming it can be).

You also have the ability to convert raster images to vector images for lossless zooming and better line manipulation. You can scan in your images as raster to preserve line quality and then convert to vector if you wish, depending on what you’re going to do and the look you’re going for in your animation.

The Virtual Camera is one of Toon Boom Studio’s biggest strengths as it gives you an effective 3d camera in a 2d environment, allowing you to do Multiplane camera effects and far more creativity than a standard pan and zoom that you find in most other programs.

Bone tools are a great addition to Version 6 of the Toon Boom Studio, and address a major problem that many Flash users expressed with older versions of the software. Basically, prior to version 5 it was a little awkward to do good quality Flash-style cut out animation since each body part needed to be on a separate layer and then animated accordingly…as you can imagine, if you have even an average character, it can get very complex and a big headache very quickly.

Thankfully, the bone tools in version 6 have addressed this and now allow a great amount of flexibility in both character design and how it is animated.

Click here
to watch a video that explains the bone system and how to use it.


Although the marketing behind Toon Boom Studio tends to give the impression that it is extremely to use, I would contend that is does have a fairly steep learning curve particularly if this is your first foray into any kind of animation software or just animation in general.

Thankfully there are some good resources, learning materials and a helpful forum which will get you up to speed pretty quickly. For youngsters, I recommend they start by using one of the easier 2d animation programs, and then move up to Toon Boom Studio when they have a basic foundation and want to test themselves further.

It’s also a bit pricey if you’re a complete beginner and are unsure about how much you’ll use it. However, when you consider that you can do any of the 5 major animation techniques (as mentioned above) then it is pretty cheap, especially when compared to how much it used to cost to do any one of those techniques 5 to 10 years ago.

Plus, there is a free 30-day trial version which lets you use all the features of the software and make an informed decision about whether it is the right 2d software for you. There are also the occasional discount promos, but you have to keep your eyes peeled for them.

Another drawback is the lack of an integrated storyboard in the software. This can be a bit frustrating if you’re looking to do your own projects and have limited space or budget, since you’ll need to either do it on paper or in another program Toon Boom’s Storyboard program is one such program).


All in all Toon Boom Studio is a great piece of 2d animation software that has enough tools and options to satisfy most animators, and can produce professional level quality animation. The variety of import and export formats mean that you will have no problem in creating content for the web to DVD to film standard.

While there is a bit of a learning curve Toon Boom Studio is a great bridge between the low-end simple softwares and high-end level software used by major studios. The help videos and tutorials will get you going pretty quickly, and once you know your way around then you know that there really isn’t much difference between this software and the ones the real big boys use…it’s just a few extra tools and bells and whistles.

For me the biggest attraction is the versatility of the software. Being able to do any of the 5 major animation techniques all in one package that can run on your average laptop is pretty special, and when looked at from this perspective the price is pretty cheap.

Click here to try this software free for 30 days


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