Learn to Animate

Projects and Scenes

Projects are the collection of resources that make up an animation. In a project, you may have several scenes that make up the completed story.


In OpenToonz, projects are set up differently than in other programs. Instead of having a “Project file” that contains everything for your project there is a “Project folder”. This allows you to easily find your different project resources if you want to use something for multiple projects. It’s actually a great feature but it does take a little getting used to.

  1. The Sandbox - the default project when you first open OpenToonz for the first time (this is intended for experimentation purposes, not for serious work)
  2. Active Project - the current open project, denoted by a red circle in the File Browser (by default the last active project will be selected whenever you open OpenToonz)
  3. Inactive Projects - any projects that are not currently open
When you are starting in OpenToonz, the Sandbox is selected as the project folder. The Sandbox is a testing environment intended for experimentation purposes. In class, whenever you are working on animation exercises or a quest (your digital animation, hand drawn animation or etc.), you should be working in a project you have created - not the Sandbox.
The default project locations are stored inside of the “Stuff” folder which can be accessed from Applications in Finder. It is highly recommended that you set a new project location to "Documents" and keep your projects stored there. This will make your projects and project resources easier to access. Revisit the "Workspace" page under the "Customize" tab for directions.
  1. With the Startup Popup:
    1. Go to Help → "Startup Popup..."
    2. Select "New Project"
    3. Select the project location (yourusername/Documents)
    4. Give your project a name
    5. Press "Ok"
    6. Back in the Startup Popup, give your first scene for the project a name
    7. Adjust scene setting as necessary
    8. Select "Create Scene"
  2. Through the Menu:
    1. In the program menu, go to File and select “New Project” (File → New Project)
    2. Type in your new project name
    3. Select "Ok"
The last active project will be opened whenever you open OpenToonz. This means you don’t need to open the current project you are working on. This workflow was developed to help animators in a studio setting, who might work on one project for multiple years. However, if you are working on different projects at the same time (which you will be in this class), you need to be able to change the active project.
  1. Using the Startup Popup (recommended)
    1. Go to Help → "Startup Popup..."
    2. In the dropdown menu next under "Choose Project", select the project you would like to switch to
  2. Select the scene you would like to load for this project or create a new scene
  3. Using the File Browser
    1. In OpenToonz, select the Browser Room
    2. On the left of the “File Browser”, find the project folder you want to open (inside of the project root)
    3. Click on the empty circle icon next to the folder name (the dot will turn red when the project is active)
This assumes that you have installed OpenToonz on your home computer. It is free and available for multiple operating systems at OpenToonz on Github. After installing OpenToonz at home, make sure your preferences are the same as what you have at school. Revisit the "Workspace" page under the "Customize" tab for Recommended Preferences.
  1. Download your most recent, zipped, active project folder from Google Drive or your thumb drive
  2. For Mac’s only (skip to step III for a PC):
    1. In Finder, open your downloads folder and drag the file from Downloads folder (or your thumb drive) and place it inside the projects folder (Documents/OpenToonz)
    2. You could also copy and paste the .zip file into the correct location
    3. Double-click on the .zip file and the folder should uncompress/open
  3. For PC’s only (skip to step IV for a Mac):
    1. In Windows Explorer (the file manager not the browser), go to the downloads folder
    2. Select the .zip file and drag it into the projects folder (located inside the Stuff folder you saved in a specific location) or copy & paste the file
    3. Right-click on the .zip file —> Extract All
  4. In OpenToonz, use the startup pop-up to select your project and load the desired scene


A scene is a discrete segment of your animation/story. It is usually an event, action, or conversation that takes place at a single time and in a single place.

The Startup Popup displays upon opening OpenToonz. It can also be accessed from the menu (Help → Startup Popup...) or the shortcut Alt-S. When creating a new scene, the only settings that must be set are the project and the scene name. The other settings can be adjusted but it is not necessary.
  1. Choose the Project from the dropdown menu if necessary (the current or last opened project are selected by default)
  2. Choose a descriptive scene name
  3. Leave the "Save In" location set to the default
  4. Use the default size/resolution settings unless you have specific size requirements
    1. If you have specific size requirements, use the camera presets or
    2. manually adjust the size and resolution
  5. Change unit to pixel - only if preferred
  6. Leave "Frame Rate" set to the standard 24fps
  7. Select "Create Scene"
  1. From the topmost menu, select File → “New Scene” (if you have just opened the program a new, empty scene is created by default so you can skip to the next step)
  2. It is important to save the scene before starting to work with the scene, so back in the program menu, select File → “Save Scene” or CMD-S
    1. Type a name for your scene in the bottom then choose “Save”
    2. You could change the scene location but for backup purposes, it is best to leave it in the default location
Scenes can be changed through:
  1. The Startup Pop-up
  2. The program menu: File → Load Scene
  3. The shortcut CMD-L

If you try to load a scene from a different project, you will be asked if you want to change projects or import the scene to the current project.