Toon Boom Harmony is the industry standard for digital 2D animation. This software has been used to create some of the best animated shows on TV, including The Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers, SpongeBob, Rick and Morty, and others. Using sprites and puppeteering, you can easily create new characters and animate your stories. The tools and features are professional grade and give you plenty of control over your designs. While this is a great program for intermediate to experienced animators, the software has a steep learning curve making it difficult for beginners. This software is available for both Mac and PC.
Professional-level animation software tends to be on the expensive side and Toon Boom Harmony Advanced is no different. At the time of this review, you can pay for a monthly subscription of $58, a yearly subscription of $38 or a one-time, perpetual license of $975. While it is expensive, it’s pretty awesome that it even offers a one-time payment option as most professional-level software has turned to subscription-only payments.
The program’s bone-rigging feature makes characters' movements look natural, though you can choose to make his or her gait unnatural as well. The onion skinning feature helped us control the movement and the timing of each animation by showing the previous drawing underneath the next sketch – this helps create smoother motion. There are also animation pegs to chart the path of the character’s movement. The software automatically animates the steps between two points using either frame-by-frame or keyframe animation. We didn’t find any preloaded characters in the program; however we did find some templates by going to the resources section of Toon Boom’s website.
This software worked perfectly with our Wacom tablet, and we were able to sketch ideas directly into the program. The brush opacity and other settings are completely adjustable to make your strokes show up just like they would with paper and pencil. Toon Boom has tools for scanning in and cleaning up your work so you can use traditional paper and pencil mediums if you prefer to create that way. Many animating programs, including Adobe Animate and CrazyTalk Animator, require that you rely on external software to access certain drawing or animation tools. Toon Boom is different in that it provides all of the animation and drawing tools you could need within the program.
We were surprised and disappointed to discover that you cannot record or edit audio in this software. So, you will need to acquire an external audio program if you want your animations to include dialogue. If you’d prefer a program that features audio tools, you might be interested in MOHO Debut. In order to use Toon Boom Harmony's automatic lip-syncing feature, you can access the phoneme template - found in resources - to create all of your characters’ common mouth movements for specific sounds. Once you have drawn everything you need, the program can automatically fill in the correct mouth movements based on the sounds you import. This can save you a lot of time when animating. Another great tool is a set of camera tools, which lets you adjust the camera angles and follow subjects with the camera as you animate.
Import & Export
Toon Boom Harmony has many import and export options. You can upload your own paper drawings or digital images as more than 13 different file types. You can also export single cels and frames or whole projects in a variety of ways. These include exporting AVI and MP4 video files for television playback and uploading directly to websites such as YouTube and Facebook.
Help & Support
The company provides many resources to teach you how to use the software, including a free Quick Start Tutorial and official training videos you can purchase at an additional cost. You can also access its active user forum, knowledgebase and FAQs page, as well as a variety of manuals and tutorials. If you need additional help, customer support is available by phone or email.
It's no wonder that Toon Boom Harmony Advanced is the industry standard for 2D animation since it offers powerful animation and drawing tools. However, it doesn’t allow you to record sound so you’ll need to rely on another program to create dialogue. This is a program heavily geared towards bone rigging custom drawings, which means the animation process is difficult and takes a lot of time. It is not the best fit for anyone who simply wants to animate premade character templates.