2D Animations, Animations, OpenToonz

OpenToonz – Helpful Tips I’ve Learned

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There are many wonderful 2D animation applications out there including Adobe Animate (previously Adobe Flash) and Toon Boom Harmony to name a few. PaintSAI and Krita are not to be bypassed either for creating animations. But I have settled on a completely free beginning 2D animation software known as OpenToonz that I spoke about here.


OpenToonz is a program created for 2D animators and can be used for all animation purposes. That includes personal and commercial projects. It is also open-source which means if you’re a tech-savvy developer, you are free to modify the source code to fit your needs.


And the Cost?


The best part! It is completely free of charge. No penalties, no strings attached, no drama whatsoever. And I felt that this was the perfect animation program to use since I am really a beginner in the world of 2D animation.


I have used Adobe Animate and Toon Boom Harmony before and while I like both of them, OpenToonz is a lot easier for me to use (I suppose because it’s free lol). Contrary to many others, I actually found the learning curve of Adobe Animate to be a lot more difficult than the learning curve in Toon Boom.

With using OpenToonz, I found the learning curve to be similar to that of Toon Boom. So if Toon Boom is difficult for you… OpenToonz may not be that simple either, but still give it a try. It’s a free software, you really have nothing to lose.


So hop on over to OpenToonz and give their software a try!


Unless! You want to know more about the learning curve… then in that case!

Stay tuned. 🙂

** I just want to note that this is NOT a super detailed post about how to get started in OpenToonz and explaining to you the entire UI. There are many helpful videos (this one being a particular favorite of mine) that will help you through the very basics. This is just a compiled list of things that I have learned that were hard for me to learn in the beginning and I hope it helps you too. **




I don’t know if there is a simpler way to do this, but I have found that you can’t… actually create a new folder IN OpenToonz. OpenToonz automatically saves your project in it’s “sandbox”. So, if you wanted to have your project saved in a customized folder, you would have to create the folder on your computer.

By that I mean right-click on your desktop screen, create a new folder and name it what you want it to be, and save it. THEN when you get into OpenToonz, you can choose the folder in OpenToonz and save your project there.



Columns, Levels, and Scenes were kind of a different adjustment for me than it was in Toon Boom. I hadn’t worked in Toon Boom very long but I do remember that in Toon Boom, you worked on layers. And I’ll get into WHY this is so important in my next tip.

But in OpenToonz, that is a bit different. OpenToonz is actually separated a lot deeper than just columns, levels and scenes. It is also separated into palettes, cells, and more and overall it is to give you ultimate control of your animation workflow. But for someone new like me, it is incredibly confusing.

From what I understand, scenes are the entire UI of that specific project. Columns is right beneath that and are the “layers” for your scene. They help you organize different pieces of your animations. So say you wanted to animate a dog barking and on a bird flying across the scene. In column 1, you animate your dog barking and in column 2, you animate your bird flying. Generally the same idea with any animating software.

Then levels are supposedly each “frame” of the animation.


That is how I understand that and if anyone cares to elaborate, please do so in the comments section. 🙂



This hurt my heart. I worked for nearly 5 hours trying to make an animation because I was so excited to use it! I saved the file as I am accustomed to saving across so many different platforms. File >> Save Scene. Finished right?


Imagine how incredibly disheartened and depressed I was to open it the next day and find that the entire animation was BLANK.


Columns. Levels. And SCENES.

Oh my…

The reason why I focused on that as my second point is because it is INCREDIBLY important to this third point. In order to ensure that my entire animation stays intact, I save an average of 3 times each time I save. And I do it in this order:

First, File >> Save All Levels
Second, File >> Save Scene
Third, File >> Save All

There is also a way to save your palettes, but at this point in time I don’t really use different colors so I don’t have a palette to save. But should you ever get that option, save that as well.



OpenToonz did not come with the ability to render my animation to an actual video. For me (not saying this is across the board), OpenToonz automatically rendered my animation as separate still images. To fix that, I hopped on Youtube! And found this wonderful man:



If for any reason you cannot view this video, or it is far into the future and this video is no longer available, basically, this is what he did:

  1. Download at this link: http://ffmpeg.org/download.html (click on the platform you are using and make sure to select the correct operating system)
    1. To find operating system, go to My Computer (or This Computer), right-click on drive C (or your main hard drive) and go to Properties, and it should show you what your system is under System Type.
  2. Select your operating system and click download FFmpeg
  3. When it’s finished downloading, go to your Downloads folder on your computer and find the “FFmpeg…” folder. Right-click on it and extract all to wherever you want it to go (or, leave it in your downloads folder). The guy in the video moved it to his “Documents” folder.
  4. In OpenToonz, go to File >> Preferences >> Import/Export. Where you see “FFmpeg Path:”, click on the “” and find and select your extracted FFmpeg folder.
  5. Shut down OpenToonz (be sure to SAVE is you were working on anything!) and reload the program.
  6. Go to File >> Output Settings and under “File Settings”, in the “Name” row, make sure the output chosen is mp4.
  7. Go to File >> Render (or File >> Fast Render to MP4 works too).


And that’s it! That’s all I have. Again, I am still quite the beginner with using OpenToonz and, animation software in general. But since the learning curve was quite weird to me, I thought it’d be helpful to share some of my tips with what I’m learning with you.


And hey, just for kicks. Check out this animation I did using OpenToonz!



Or, you could just make a flipbook instead. 🙂 Have a wonderful day everyone!


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