Learn to Animate

Plastic Deformed Animation

Use the Plastic tool to make drawings across a level responsively transform/deform. This is great for adding motion to part or all of a stationary object (ie. tree boughs swaying in the wind) and for adding secondary motion to an already moving object (ie. adding squash & stretch to a bouncing ball).
  1. Create a level:
    1. Use any level type
    2. Make sure to use a descriptive name
    3. At least 1 frame
      • Multiple frames can be used for more complex animations where each frame is a different viewpoint (optional)
  2. Draw the object, character, or body segment to be modified
    1. If drawing just part of a body/object, make sure to draw the rest of the object/body on at least 1 more level
      • ie. for shifting hair, the hair should be on a separate level from the face/body
      • ie. for a swishing skirt, the skirt should be on a separate level from the rest of the body
    2. For Vector and Toonz Raster levels, make sure to fill in the drawing with color(s)
      • Unfilled line drawings do not deform as easily as filled drawings
  3. For Vector Levels only, compress the level into a Sub-Xsheet
    1. Select the entire level by clicking on the column/layer header
    2. In the Command Bar, click on the collapse button

Warning: once a plastic mesh has been created for a level, that level can no longer be edited (unless the plastic mesh is removed).

  1. Select the Plastic tool
    1. The Plastic tool is in the bottom (or right) quarter of the toolbar, if it not visible by default, click on arrow at the very bottom (or right) of the toolbar to display additional tools
  2. In the tool Option Bar, the mode should be set to "Build Skeleton"
  3. In the Xsheet/Timeline select all of the frames you would like to distort for the level:
    1. Left-click on the drag bar (top/left edge of the level) to select the entire level
    2. Or left-click + drag across the desired cells
  4. In the tool Option Bar, select "Create Mesh"
    1. Change the "Edge Length" value to add detail:
      1. Higher values = smaller file size but less detail/control
      2. Lower values = more detail/control but higher file size
    2. For Raster Levels, the DPI can be changed, though that is usually not necessary
    3. "Mesh Margin" controls how far the mesh overhangs the drawing
    4. Select "Apply"
    Less Detail
    More Detail
  5. A mesh level (purple in the Xsheet/Timeline and green in the viewer) should now be visible next to the original level
    1. In the Stage Schematic, the mesh level is now the "parent" of the original level
  1. In the Xsheet/Timeline or in the Stage Schematic, select the Mesh level
  2. With the Plastic tool still set to "Build Skeleton", create an armature on the mesh:
    Examples of different rigging approaches
    1. Set the root vertex for the armature by left-clicking on the mesh
      • The root vertex acts as a parent for all of the armature
      • The root stays stationary
      • The root is best placed:
        • In the center for most objects (this is the lower torso for many characters)
        • Above/below for certain complex movements (like a catipillar walking)
        • To the left/right for certain complex movements (like lips opening and closing)
        • At the point of connection for drawings that are part of a larger object/character on a different level
    2. Add additional vertices wherever a joint is needed to complete the armature structure
      1. Each new vertex is connected to the previously selected vertex (the selected vertex is identified by the red square)
      2. Click and drag on a vertex to reposition (if necessary)
      3. To remove a vertex:
        1. Left-click to select
        2. Use the "Delete" key to remove
  3. You can also add additional skeletons to change the range/type of movement or for additional frames:
    1. Select the frame of the mesh level in the Xsheet/Timeline
    2. Next to "Skeleton", click on the +
    3. Create the new skeleton following the same process as before
    4. Repeat as needed

Use weight painting to stop parts of the drawing from deforming in response to movements of the skeleton. If you want the entire drawing to move with the skeleton, skip this step.

  1. Change the mode of the Plastic tool to "Paint Rigid"
  2. To make rigid:
    1. Set the paint type to "Rigid"
    2. Paint areas red to make them rigid
  3. To make flexible:
    1. Set the paint type to "Flex"
    2. Paint areas green to make them flexible again
For changes in location, use the Animate tool (A) to add position keyframes before animating with the Plastic tool or alternating with the Plastic tool. For repeating plastic animations, wait until the plastic keyframes are set before adding position keyframes.
  1. Change the Plastic tool's mode to "Animate"
  2. In the Xsheet/Timeline:
    1. Stretch the frames for both the mesh level and the original drawing level to last for the desired length of time (recommended minimum of 50 frames):
      1. Click and drag on the cell's white handle
      2. Or right-click on the cell and select "Edit Cell Numbers" → Timestretch
    2. Select the first cell of the mesh level
    3. Adjust the position of the vertices to put the drawing into the starting position (this will automatically generate the first keyframe)
      1. The unaltered drawing is considered the rest pose. To set the rest pose as a keyframe, right-click in the Viewer and select "Set Global Rest Key" or just select "Set Key" to make a normal keyframe
    4. Select another frame in the mesh level (to place the ending keyframe for the desired movement)
    5. Adjust the position of the vertices to put the drawing into the ending position (this will automatically generate the first keyframe)
    6. Repeat as needed
  3. Examples showing Plastic deformations in action
  1. Extend both the drawing and mesh levels to take up more frames if necessary
  2. With the Plastic Tool set to "Animate", copy and paste your keyframes wherever necessary along the plastic mesh in the Timeline/Xsheet:
    1. In the Xsheet/Timeline:
      1. Select the keyframe by left-clicking directly on the key icon in the desired cell
      2. Use CMD-C to copy
      3. Select the cell to copy into and use CMD-V to paste
    2. In the Function Editor:
      1. On the right side, in the file tree, select the mesh column folder (this makes all of the keyframe data visible for that level)
        • Click on folder/data icons to enable/disable visibility of folders and data as necessary
      2. On the left side, select the cell (or cells) to copy
        • Click and drag to select multiple cells in a row
      3. Use CMD-C to copy the keyframe data
      4. Select the cell to paste into and use CMD-V to paste
        • To paste an entire row of data, you only need to select the first cell for the new row
  3. Make adjustments as necessary
  1. Create a Sub-Xsheet with the mesh and drawing levels
    1. Select both levels by clicking and dragging across both the column/layer headers
    2. In the Command Bar, click on the collapse button
  2. Select the cells of the Sub-Xsheet that you want to repeat
    1. Left-click on the level's dragbar (left/top edge of the cells) to select all
    2. Left-click and drag to select consecutive cells
  3. In the Command Bar, press the "Repeat" button
  4. Specify the number of times you want the cycle to repeat and press "Repeat"
  5. With the Sub-Xsheet selected, use the Animate tool (A) to change the location of the plastic modified drawing
    1. At the frame for the beginning position, add a keyframe
    2. Move the drawing to the planned location
    3. At the frame for the ending location, move the drawing to the planned location (this should automatically create a keyframe)
  6. Add additional keyframes and make adjustments as necessary
Create a short, cohesive animation that includes:
  • A background with:
    • A repeating plastic deformation
    • Plastic deformation to add movement to a stationary object
  • Use plastic deformation to add secondary movement to an already moving character/object
    • This could be added to the entire character/object
    • This could be added to just part of a character/object (feel free to use your cut-out character)
  • Plastic deformation added to an entire object/character