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Adobe vs Toon Boom

Flash vs Toonboom

There’s a war brewing in the animation software world and Cartoon Brew is right in the thick of it. In fact, I only became aware of the no-holds-barred battle in the past few months because two of our biggest advertisers have been the dueling companies: Adobe and Toon Boom. The latter is currently making a serious run to overtake Adobe Flash as the preferred software package for 2D digital animators. Toon Boom’s new Animate software has an animator-friendly set of features and more importantly, it’s price-competitive with Flash. This isn’t a new development. We spoke of the animation community’s increasing dissatisfaction with Flash last January when Mucha Lucha creators Eddie Mort and Lili Chin announced they were switching to Toon Boom software.

Australian animator Adam Phillips, of Bitey Castle fame, has reviewed the new packages from both companies–Toon Boom Animate and Flash CS4–and approves of both, though he’s more enthusiastic about Toon Boom Animate:

[Toon Boom] Animate is definitely an exciting release for animators who are frustrated with the animation limitations of Flash. It’s also the most intuitive of their fantastic animation programs to date and it’s priced very competitively. Packed with animator-friendly tools, is based entirely on traditional animation workflow (with all the benefits of digital animation) and has a library of effects that will put your work way ahead of the average web animator.

Phillips’ verdict on Flash CS4:

If you’re sticking with Flash and you decide to upgrade to Flash CS4, I think you’ll be blown away by it. There are a few persistent gripes, such as masking, audio, video format export, brush sizes & shapes, colour management and the Timeline. However, certain new features have thrilled the shit outta me! They include armatures (Inverse Kinematics), 3D movieclip translate/scale/rotate, the Motion Editor (an amazing, kickarse version of the old Custom Ease window), Spray Brush (which can spray movieclips all over the Stage – perfect for say, millions of flowers in a meadow, animated swaying in the breeze) and completely new motion tween model.

It’s no coincidence that industry website Cold Hard Flash recently hosted three launch events in LA, NY and Toronto celebrating the release of Toon Boom Animate. Not to mention the site’s primary advertising spots are taken up by Toon Boom. The bottom line is that this competition between software makers should lead to more powerful and efficient packages for the animation community. Hopefully both software makers will continue to use Cartoon Brew as a battleground for spreading their message. We could use the few extra bucks.

Would be interesting to hear some animator perspectives in the comments–who’s switching to Toon Boom and who’s sticking with Flash? Speak up.

  • Katella Gate

    Technical reviews of animation software like this make for very welcome reading. If there are any animators with experience with one or both programs, please comment – this is something those of us outside the studio don’t get to hear about too often objectively.

  • Ian M

    I downloaded the PLE of Animate right when it was released and tinkered around with it a little bit. I use Harmony/Digital Pro at work, and Animate is missing some of it’s essential features that would make it worlds above Flash (namely the Network view and the depth of the module library). There’s definitely things I prefer in it over Flash, so it’s nice to see some competition, but if I were to buy any program I think I’d try to amass the additional money and just buy Digital Pro.

  • I played with a demo of Toon Boom at Siggraph last year and was really impressed by it’s features. Looks like it was made with the animator in mind.
    Used to use flash ages ago, sounds like it’s gotten a lot better recently.

    Personally I still love After Effects

  • Tony

    A studio that I work at, which I will not name, just recently had a demo of the animate software. The owners of our studio have been looking to switch over to toonbooms softwares over adobes. Havent really decided yet but from the demo and our extensive use of flash at the studio for both traditional animation and flash style animation we liked a lot that we saw in the toon boom ANIMATE software. lots of things that we suggested they add to the program so hopefully they will work on that.

  • I stick to photoshop and after effects. Vectors just don’t do it for me, my hand gets lost in the math.

  • Shawn

    Wow…Toon Boom vs. Flash. I guess I’m biased towards TB because I’m so much more experienced in it, but I’ve never liked animating in Flash at all. I think it’s set up wrong to really have the easy workflow that TB has. For traditional animation, I’ve always had to make weird cheats and work arounds, or program my own short cuts to make working with it easier. I haven’t read much about Animate, but as long as it feels the same as drawing in TB Pro, I’ll be pleased. And if it retains any portion of the module network, that would put it way above Flash in my opinion.

  • If Flash is the “preferred software package for 2D digital animators” then we are all in trouble. Like Daniel C stated above, photoshop and after effects run circles around the ugly, flat, and stale look of Flash(Superjail excluded of course)

  • I tell you what: give a guy like me (animator/director), who’s never worked in either program before (well, I’ve worked in Flash MX 2004 years ago but it was for one miniscule item – i didn’t dig it) and let me decide which is better. You gotta appeal to the newbies in this debate, right?

    Adobe? Toon Boom? C’mon – I’m at your service.

  • I’ve been steadily using both Flash CS3 and Toon Boom Studio (and their predecessors) for the past few years and I still can’t decide which one to stick to.

    I actually end up using both for various tasks. The main gripes I’ve had have had to do with the brushes.

    For instance Toon Boom’s brushes are quite nice, like ink brushes. Whereas Flash tends to have vector-y, almost geometric brush strokes, TB’s brushes have a nice varying line thickness. But a snag is that the preview brush strokes are aliased, so one has to export to see the actual smooth brush strokes.

    There’s no such problem with Flash. The preview brushes are smooth (sometimes too smooth!). But when you zoom in, the brush size changes! This is very irritating.

    Another problem with Toon Boom is the peg system. Although the rest of the application is quite intuitive, I find the peg system harder to understand and use than Flash’s symbol-based tweening.

    And of course, Toon Boom has the advantage of a virtual camera which Flash doesn’t have.

    I haven’t used the new versions, so it’ll be interesting to see how they’ve all evolved. Ultimately, I guess one could invest in both. Since they’re both based on SWFs, I tend to switch from one to the other for different needs.

    I don’t think animator’s should get drawn into these corporate battles – it’s like the Mac vs PC debate. It’s about dividing and conquering. The only thing we should be loyal to is ourselves and our needs. I use everything from ArtRage, Photoshop, After Effects, Flash, Toon Boom and now even TVPaint based on my requirements.

    More options is more power!

  • Mike

    I’m in school for 2D animation and i’ve been using both flash and toon boom..not the Animate program, but tb digital pro… toon boom really does have a better work flow. flash is amazingly awkward for me to work in efficiently. but as someone stated, flash has a certain stale look, but digital pro also has its own look. When vectorizing scans, the line quality gets all mushy.. maybe its my settings, but i can’t seem to find anything that works better. overall though, Toon boom is vastly superior in my book

  • MattSullivan

    We use Toon Boom Storyboard over at The Cleveland Show. It’s an absoloutly AMAZING program…i can’t imagine doing boards by hand ever again. Especially with a CINTIQ. One can only hope the makers of Cintiq would lower their prices so more artists could experience these two amazing technologies together.

    I also have and use Toon Boom Studio, and am testing TB Animate. Both have the same responsive controls as SB PRO. The peg controls can be a little confusing at first, but it’s all relatively easy to use.

    Simply put I like it better than flash…and the interactive multiplane camera is really cool.

  • charles

    I’ve tried both. I dont like flash cause everything made in flash is looks similar (unless youre really good at it). I dont really like toon boom that much cause ive been spoiled by the total control capabilities of after effects and photoshop. If photoshop had an onion skin option and better script to export layers to files id never use flash or toon boom.

  • I have/use both Flash and ToonBoom, although I’m not up to date on either version.

    I fell in love with Flash years ago when I hooked up a wacom tablet and found I could make fabulous classic toon-like inking lines in Flash with it’s pressure sensitive brushes. The ability to script complex interactivity in Flash is huge although difficult to explain to people who are purely animators.

    ToonBoom seems more like a niche product to me. The classic animation “X-sheet” interface probably did a lot to win over experienced animators, and fact that they included the animation-disc-like ability to instantly rotate your work to any arbitrary angle shows that someone who really understood the physical task of drawing was on the development team. Toonboom can export it’s projects as a FLA file with all the layers still separate (unlike a SWF) so that makes for perfect integration with the powers of Flash when I need them.

  • MattSullivan

    I gotta agree with Charles. I wish I didnt have to learn a new program every few years. Photoshop is the one program I’ve always used. You CAN change layer opacity…but it’s not automatic like ToonBoom.

  • I’ve used Flash, After Effects, Toon Boom Studio 4.0, and Digital Pro. Digital Pro, while powerful, is not my cup of tea. I much prefer Flash coupled with After Effects, but I can see why a big studio might choose Digital Pro… especially for scanning, vectorizing and coloring. Toon Boom Studio (version 4.0 at least) is, in my opinion, pretty worthless. Haven’t used Toon Boom Animate yet, but if it’s anything like Toon Boom Studio and/or Digital Pro (presumably yes), I think I’ll pass.

    More details on the pros and cons of each package…


    Pros: Simple to use, bare bones, good clean vector line quality if that’s what you’re going for, good importing options, scripting capabilities for interactivity.

    Cons: Limited exporting options (in CS3 at least), bare bones.

    Remarks: It’s simple, and it works. The fact that it’s bare bones is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s certainly very easy to learn. Some additional features would be nice, but at the end of the day, if you know how to animate, you can use it to create quality animation. Coupled with After Effects, it’s as powerful as it needs to be.


    Pros: Ability to apply alpha to brushes. Coloring toolset. Good exporting options.

    Cons: Needlessly complicated and gratuitously tied to a pencil on paper workflow. Lots of useless or marginally useful features (e.g. texture brush, which looks HORRIBLE). Non-standard interface and keyboard shortcuts (the shortcuts aren’t even similar to those of Digital Pro, making you wonder if this program was created in a vacuum). Setting and holding keys is cumbersome and counter-intuitive. Can’t save versions. You have to save a whole new project each time (which often results in a privileges-related error in Windows). Poor eraser tool. The cursor gives you no indication of how big the eraser tip is. You have to lay down a stroke to see how close you are to the line you’re trying to erase. And erasing a portion of your line reshapes the remainder of the line. It recalculates the vector! Why?

    Remarks: Don’t bother.


    Pros: Ability to apply alpha to brushes. Very powerful coloring toolset. Motion path tools. 3D camera. Lots of bells and whistles, including node-based compositing system. Good exporting options. Good for vectoring scanned drawings.

    Cons: Needlessly complicated and gratuitously tied to a pencil on paper workflow. Lots of useless or marginally useful features. Non-standard interface and keyboard shortcuts (as stated above, the shortcuts aren’t even similar to those of Toon Studio Pro). Somewhat unstable… crashes unexpectedly. Expensive.

    Remarks: I’d rather composite in After Effects.

  • Eddie Mort

    We’re using Animate…seems much simpler (and affordable) than the previous versions (Solo/Harmony/Digital Pro)

  • I’ve been animating in Toon Boom Harmony for the last 2 or 3 years. I also animate in Flash.

    Toon Boom is hands down the winner. It’s geared towards animators. Flash isn’t, & never has been. People use so many tricks to get Flash to work for them that it’s become normal to use the program backwards to be able to get it to do what you want.

    Entire studios run Flash instead of Toon Boom Harmony only because A) it’s much cheaper B) Toon Boom has a pretty steep learning curve.

    Haven’t tried this new Animate software, but if it’s anything like Harmony AND as cheap as Flash then there’s no good reason why any studio shouldn’t adopt it.

    Oh and by the way, both companies seem to think that Inverse Kinematics is some sort of god-send animation tool & they both use that to advertise their software. Anyone ever seen any GOOD animation using this? I’ve never used it, it takes too long to set up & makes your animation look stiff.

  • I’ve used both but, as far as I can see, Flash is (or was) the lesser of two evils. That may have changed with the recent updates. ToonBoom were doing a big push where I am back about two years ago when two local studios were about to start projects. I ended up in the studio that went with Flash. The other went with ToonBoom, and they had no end of trouble.

    Now, as far as I know, a large part of that was with the storyboarding programme, which they ended up dropping. But the animation was slower, with far more technical hitches and animators had a harder time with the interface, which seemed to be far from user-friendly. I wasn’t animating in Flash at that point so was just an observer to both. The Flash animators knew where they were at and just slogged through it.

    I must admit the project done in ToonBoom looked pretty damn good, but it ended up missing deadlines and animators had a lot of late nights. The Flash production didn’t.

    As an observer doing traditional animation at the time, I was pretty horrified by the ToonBoom presentations. It had one major advantage – the glue feature, which patched those joins beautifully. And I liked the use of 3D planes. But almost every other feature was pitched more to the producers (or I guess lazy animators) – they were pitched for speed of production, not quality in any shape or form.

    I’ve often said that, when it comes to broadcast, Flash is a producer’s tool, not and animator’s one. This seemed to be even more true for ToonBoom.

    I turned to the Dark Side and now animate in Flash. It’s the tool of the Devil of course. But I suspect that, due to Flash’s web focus, ToonBoom will be the first to try to cut animators out of the whole process completely. They know their customers are producers. They aim for volume. Animators are merely a tolerated annoyance in that process but the less need for them, the better.

  • I agree with Ian M, spend the extra couple of bucks for Digital Pro over Animate, especially if you own a Cintiq. It has good brushes like in Photoshop while Animate doesn’t. I have been using Digital Pro for almost a year now and love it. Storyboard Pro worked great for a short I am helping out on. Animate seems better than Flash will ever be, your too damn limited in Flash. Flash was NEVER meant for animation, it was for the web. The only way Flash is decent is if you get a bunch of plug-ins from Trick-or-Script. When you want to make some websites look good, use Flash. When you want to make a feature or a short, use Toonboom.

    But in the end it doesn’t matter what software you use, just make a good enjoyable film.

  • slowtiger

    None of them. If I want to animate frame-by-frame, I’m (nearly) completely happy with TVPaint now – bitmap-based. If I want to do cut-outs, or 2D vector puppets, then I use the cheap but reliable Anime Studio. The latter has a feature which Flash and TB still lack (AFAIK): bones not only rotate shapes, but bend the connecting lines.

    I’ve learned the old Animo in 1994 when one GB of RAM was luxury and one licence about 25.000 DM, not affordable for an independant animator. Now I can get both a bitmap (TVPaint for 950 €) and a vector application (Anime Studo for 199$) and spend the rest of the money (which rest?) for a Cintiq.

    I use Flash only for interactive stuff or if something must be size optimized vectors for web use – or for motion graphics where the mechanical look is the style. But (vector) characters I prefer to do in Anime Studio.

  • @slowtiger: yes, TVPaint looks good for non-vector work. Haven’t used it yet, but I plan on it soon. What do you think of the interface? I only messed with it for a few minutes and found the interface a bit hard to get used to. But the look of the strokes is very nice.

  • Sam Filstrup

    Interesting I wasn’t aware there was even another software out their like Flash. Though I have little experience in Flash I’m glad Toonboom has a free version I can give a go around with.

  • Ian

    @ charles: as of CS3, Photoshop has an animation timeline with onion skinning.

    I’ve always been in awe of people who can stand the Flash environment for more than a few minutes. It seems to me that Flash has always been more suited to website development than actual animation. TBA looks like it was developed specifically for animation, to bad my mac is not compatible…

  • I have been using Flash to make digital animation for years. I’ve tried to switch to Toonboom more than once, I’ve even participated in a training program from the developers themselves to learn the software properly, but this only confirmed my impression that Toonboom is one of the most cumbersome animation softwares in the market (haven’t tried the new version yet).

    When I animate, specially characters, I’m not worried if the brushes will look nice or if I have a 3D camera for compositing. There is just one thing that needs to work well: instant realtime playback. I want to draw a new frame, play the animation and see if it works in that moment. In my opinion, this is the most powerful contribution that computers have brought to the animation world by far. The ability to play in realtime and experiment, make a little adjustment and try again. My machine is far from powerful, but Flash allows me to do it nice and easy, no render times, no switching windows. Toonboom doesn’t. When the animation is done I can ink and paint it wherever I feel like, even in Painter.

    Instant realtime playback: the day any other software out there allows me to do the same thing with the same speed, I will start to think about switching.

  • For vector animation, Anime Studio has been way out in front for at least 3 years. Anyone who’s used 3D IK will much prefer the bones in Anime Studio. The way you can control deformations by points tagged to bones is very nice. There is a simplified 3D camera and other good tools. The timeline could use more development.

    ToonBoom is best as an asset management tool. My biggest gripe with ToonBoom, however, is that the color fill tool leaves lots of unfilled corners. The spline (line) tools could also use some work for speed’s sake.

    Flash is colossally overpriced, even with the new features.

  • It would be silly and professionally crippling if one program was preferred over the other. I was introduced to Toon Boom this year and I can tell you, it comes with it’s own frustrations. There’s an ease to Flash that’s not in Toon Boom, and yet there’s mounds of detail oriented features in Toon Boom that would crush a project in Flash. Both have their odd bugs, and yet I’ve done good work in both.

  • As a mostly self-taught artist who’s just dabbling into animation, I’m starting to prefer Animate over Flash. I don’t really mind that it’s tied to a traditional workflow (hell, I’m finally understanding the concept of exposure sheets because of it) and, for my present needs, I find it a more flexible, robust animation tool, and one I can keep learning before I can pony up the cash to buy. But, like Jessica Plummer says upthread, it’s not the only tool I’d like to use (that’s why I’m also trying to learn Blender, After Effects, and even a bit of Processing.)

  • We just finished our short (www.paultjeendedraak.nl) and we animated the characters in Flash with Cintiqs. We where looking at other programs (Mirage, Toonboom, etc etc) to animate it in but Flash’s simple time line and instant playback still had us hooked and we didnt really have time to learn other packages. But in the end it doesnt matter what package u use its how good is your drawing/animation. Though Flash’s drawing tools are terrible at best we would like see development in this area.

    The best solution i would want to see is program the combines Alias Sketchbook Pro with a Flash’s timeline and interface.

  • I’m hoping to get Toon Boom Studio for Christmas, and I am excited to experiment with it. I think Flash will always look like Flash. Toon Boom has a lot of features that can be useful for achieving a more classic style.

  • Katie

    I’ve worked with both Flash and Toon Boom. I learned Flash in animation school and I learned Toon Boom on the job. It’s obvious that Flash was not made for animating. It’s not intuitive and you spend most of your time trying to figure out how to twist the program to do what you want. Toon Boom is a very big program, but it’s made for animation. The learning curve can be a bit steep but at least it makes sense. The look of the final animation that comes out of Toon Boom can be much more classical as well. I can’t stand that “Flash animation” look. My only real gripe with Toon Boom when I was working with it was their tech support. They do tend to release software before it’s really ready. We spent hours on the phone with them at our studio trying to get fixes for things that should never have been a problem.

  • I do a lot of interactive/web stuff in Flash but I’m always surprised when I hear it’s actually being used in any traditional animation pipelines. For interactive stuff, Flash is the standard-bearer. But when I heard they used Flash on ‘Mucha Lucha’ I was pretty surprised. If you take lots of time and pound the heck out of it, you could use Flash for almost any style of work…but it’s not really designed to be cel-animation friendly. It’s quite painful at times. I have heard rumblings over the years that Flash is going to be adding more animation friendly features but I still don’t see it as an ideal tool for anything besides web-based stuff.

  • Chris Webb

    I have used Flash and Toon Boom. I just don’t dig vectors – it makes your cartoons look like everyone else’s.

    Let me add my voice to those who use TV Paint. It is a bitmap based program. Painting and timing animation with it is a breeze. And for IK animation, I’ll use Anime Studio. But I don’t do much IK animation – that style of animation is just too limited.

    But I still animate on a light table and scan my drawings in. No need to re-invent the wheel.

  • Let me ad that Paulo Muppet’s “Black Thin King” does not look like typical Flash at all. But his post is revealing. Paulo seems to be doing interesting things beyond Flash in regards to coloring and processing.

  • I agree with Rohit Iyer who wrote:

    “I don’t think animator’s should get drawn into these corporate battles – it’s like the Mac vs PC debate. It’s about dividing and conquering. The only thing we should be loyal to is ourselves and our needs. I use everything from ArtRage, Photoshop, After Effects, Flash, Toon Boom and now even TVPaint based on my requirements.

    More options is more power!”


    I don’t think we should necessarily get pulled in to these dogmatic Either – Or arguments . Some applications work better in certain situations than others.

    That said, if I had to choose a vector app I’d prefer to use ToonBoom over Flash any day. I have ToonBoom Studio 4.0 and I have played around with the PLE version of ToonBoom Animate and prefer both over Flash 8 (I don’t have Flash CS 3 or CS 4 , so maybe I don’t know what I’m missing ?)

    However, I don’t usually care for drawing with vector apps so count me in as another one who prefers the paperless animation application TVPaint which gives me a set of drawing tools which simulates a real pencil line, ink line, watercolor brush, etc.


  • I attended the Animate presentation here in Toronto. I wasn’t really sold that it would work better than a combination of Flash, Photoshop and After Effects. Since I have no real desire to learn something new when I’ve barely scratched the surface of the tools I know, the box will likely sit on my shelf for quite a while

  • You know, a work flow should evolve as technology evolves.

    The thing about this “battle” is that the animation industry isn’t THAT big.

    I mean yes, we’re all the independent revolution and everything but it’s not that big.
    Flash is used by a much wider range of professionals who just don’t NEED certain thing from that work flow.

  • Hey, there’s nothing wrong with Flash. It’s easy to learn, ports frames from Photoshop and Illustrator with ease and comes bundled with the Creative Suite.

    I haven’t used Toon Boom but I’ve heard both good and bad things about it. The quality of the projects I’ve seen featured on the Toon Boom site are no better or worse than those produced in Flash. This tells me that neither has any distinct advantage over the other in terms of features. It all boils down to how good the artist is.

    And not to defend Flash too much but wasn’t the gorgeous “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends” and Nina Paley’s “Sita Sings the Blues” both done using it?

  • I haven’t had much experience with ToonBoom, but I have been animating in Flash for years. Flash has a loonnggg way to go before they make it easy to animate traditionally.

  • TV Paint is a really fun piece of software and I used to use Mirage and loved it. I just hated how I had to use 3 or 4 software programs to make something happen but now that I use ToonBoom Digital Pro, I only use one. When you draw directly in Flash and other vector softwares it does all start to look the same. Digital Pro not only has bitmap brushes but vector as well. I just love the fact that if I decide to zoom in on a shot I don’t have to worry about my pixel rate or lines looking like crap.

    And again I’m not knocking TV Paint because I love the brushes, but be prepared to use and learn a bunch of programs to go along with it. Digital pro offers everything that TV Paint has (other than oil paint and watercolor) but there’s so much more you can do with DP. If your still convinced that the line quality is not the same as TV Paint, download a free trail for Digital Pro and try it for yourself. In comparison with ToonBoom Studio I would use TV Paint over that but not Digital Pro. But again do what ever that makes your studio run and make good films.

  • Graham

    …And the freeware animation studio, Synfig, gets no praise?


    For shame… :(

  • @Graham from the Synfig site:

    “MacOS X: Taken offline, please see bug 1686495. Patches and volunteers to create new packages are welcome.”

    Maybe when that issue’s fixed. In the meantime, this thread has turned me into more interesting software! Thanks, CB readers!

  • david maas

    We are in the dark ages of digital drawn animation. No tweening assistants, 3D limited to planes in space, IK is sold as an innovation!

    In 2 years – maybe 5 – we will look back and laugh, sharing stories of models charted out on graph paper.

  • Wollo

    I’m experienced with Harmony, Digital Pro and ToonBoom Studio. Now I tried the free version of TB Animate and it seems like a more expensive version of TB Studio for me..wih some nicer Icons.
    The compositing and network feature of Digital Pro is missing totally,
    and you can do the same with the 400$ less costing Toonboom Studio.
    Maybe instead of Cut Out style.. but have you ever done this in ToonBoom?
    Its hell complicateded, I would use Anime Studio Pro for it, where you can set bones and a skeleton like in a 3D-Software.
    I have heard that Flash has that feature now too..

  • Hey, Ward! I was at the Toon Boom event in Toronto, and they were giving away 30-day license versions of the new software. If ya wanna try it out, give the dudes at Toon Boom a shout…sure they’ve got some copies left, they had like freakin’ CARTONS of ’em. Contact me through the TAIS blog, I’ll get you teh e-mail.

    As for Toon Boom Animate vs. Flash CS4, I’ll be using the Animate 30-day license to do something over my Xmas holidays, and we’re gonna be starting to work with CS4 at the dayjob developing games, so I’ll be able to see how they stack up. I’ll do a comparo post early next year. Cheers!

  • This is great that you brought something like this up Amid. I have long been a proponent of Flash, mostly because my job involves interaction with developers in game development, and ToomBoom’s interface and controls are too simplistic for my needs. The xsheet also confuses the hell outta me. I used a physical one in school about 8 years ago, but it never fit for me and didn’t work with the logic that I am used to, born and raised digital 2d animator I guess. Also Flash has JSFL and the ability to add functionality that is otherwise not in the program. This alone has made Flash more useful to me than something like Animate. I listed a few examples of JSFL’s that can help any animator on my blog, sorry for the shameless plug.


    As for Flash CS4 I have some gripes, I wanted to use it on a freelance job this past week, but in the end changing my workflow posed to be a bigger issue so i went back to my trust ol’ CS3. Overall the platform felt more solid, it was more responsive and allowed much more customization of the interface. That said my grips are with the armature tool and the motion editor. First off you can’t use either with “Classic Motion Tweens” which is annoying, also for some reason that I have yet to see, the classic motion tween has some issues.

    My process in Flash usually involves keyframing all the animation then tweening the result and then adding secondary action. The problem with the motion editor is its not exactly flash like an its not exactly AE like, you can’t for instance easily move your keys or set holds. I dunno maybe I am missing something, but it wasn’t very intuitive. All this probably just means I need a little more time with it, I am sure its fine.

    The IK tool has a big issue, I have been hoping for this tool for a while, and over all it was a huge letdown, the controls are very primitive. The placement of the bones over your asset feels very inaccurate, even if you figured out all your rotational points if you move that arm around a few times its really hard to get that arm back in its start position and make sure it looks like the original. Also you can’t easily copy the keys from your start to the end so the character starts and ends in the same pose (essential for in game animation). Flash only lets you copy the whole animation (which is basically XML code). If you can edit the code I am sure you can do this, but otherwise its also not intuitive and is still somewhat wonky.

    For now I am sticking with CS 3, at least until I can figure out what is not working in CS4.

    • Anderson Lee

      Thanks for your extensive review about TB vs Flash. Could you please give me your view on:

      Which is better for hand drawn animation, TB or Flash?

      I’ve bought a Wacom Cintiq recently and would really be interested to do hand drawn character using Cintiq interactive pen then animation them in either Flash or TB. Thanks,

  • I thought Flash were ducking out of the animation arena to focus more on their web-design and video player kind of capabilities. I guess not, those new features sound pretty nice.

  • EricB

    I’ve used Flash since the old shockwave plugin days, and Toonboom since Concerto was around. Given a choice between the two I will always go ToonBoom because it offers me the most freedom. Animate seems to have what is needed to produce most of the shows that are out there right now.

    The only big thing missing is the Network View which is in the more expensive Harmony and DigitalPro. Thats where the software distances itself from Flash and opens up new possibilities for cutout animation. If you’re looking to do more sophisticated cutout 2d rigs like on Toot & Puddle then the Network View is key. Otherwise Animate should do the trick. Don’t sweat the software’s learning curve, it’s the dropping of old habits that’s the hardest thing to do.

  • I use toonboom studio, which I sometimes use with after effects (if I had digital pro I guess I wouldn’t need to use after effects quite so often – the demo is great). Flash is very annoying and I haven’t use it since buying toonboom studio. But I guess it is better to use flash if the final job will be an interactive shockwave.

  • I’m very interested in Toon Boom Animate, although the bones feature in CS4 is so welcome in Flash. Truthfully, I still love Anime Studio 5 (also called Moho) – it’s very powerful software that’s got bones, vector and non-vector image warping, plus nice particle effects.

  • Edel

    There is a war going on, but Adobe’s real war is Vs Silverlight not Toon Boom. Over the years many animators took a liking to Flash, and Adobe ‘tacked’ on certain features for animators. The Flash world is much broader than just animating cartoons. Toon Boom Animate is for animators. I tried the demo and the brush is amazing!! By default, the brush is set to aliased and the lines look beautiful! I don’t plan on going back to Flash for this type of work (cartoon animation). I also don’t think Adobe will cater much to the animator; the war there fighting is for RIA (Rich Internet Application) dominance.

    After seeing what’s coming out of the Microsoft camp, if Adobe blinks they will be left in the dust. ActionSripters are in the thousands, C# and .net developers are in the millions.
    So if you’re an animator your better of using Toon Boom Animate.

  • carlos22

    the war is Toon boom animate vs Toon boom digital pro………flash is dead, tha fall of big flash is now

  • Josh

    As a long lasting, almost fanatically faithful Flash user, who still thinks the Symbol architecture (not pegs) was and is the real revolution in digital animation, I sincerely hope Toon Boom Animate, with its merging of the best of two worlds, will be a breakthrough.
    From the PLE version I’m trying out these day, it looks like it: Symbols + ToonBoom’s pro features = very SEXY.
    I say this especially in the wake of the great disappointment brought by Flash CS4.
    After long waiting on the part of independent animators like yours truly, who stoically bought version after version of Flash in the hope of a positive signal in their direction, Adobe ironically makes up for its nil correction of this great app’s ten- year-old defects by throwing in a couple of quaint graphic tools and a nightmarish, geeky, nerdy, IK feature nobody can use.
    Yes, it’s emotional. Version after version, Adobe may be pushing me into the arms of another lover.

  • Kurt Munro

    Can someone tell me the order of release of TB’s products?

    They seem to have 100 products that all do animation, and Animate seems to be the latest one… but why is it different to TB Studio and TB Digital Studio?

    Their products are so confusing.

  • I’ve used Adobe products for many years and they remain very powerful and versatile. But Adobe has many, many customers to please and only a small number of them do traditional or character animation. Their focus appears to be mostly on live action, and program scripting (the latter rapidly growing within all their apps).

    Toon Boom, ever since its beginning use at Disney, existed for character animators and character animation. It’s evolved tremendously from its early scan and paint days, with the Animate Pro version showing tremendous capabilities that my older morph/warp tools, or FLASH, simply cannot match. I look forward to working with this program extensively over the comming months.

    BTW, One of the main differences of Animate Pro from other TB products is it works with QT movies.

  • Zee

    The program is only as good as the animator using it. At least they both make animating affordable and accessible to everyone. When I started in animation you needed to do line tests on the Q.A.R., the huge steambeck machine, splicing equipment, the old audio readers, the super hot camera lamps, sure there is something nostalgic and romantic about the old process, but it was not something anyone could pick up and play with. In the time it would take to read the audio I could animate a whole short these days.

  • Zit

    Welp, tell ya wot, as a long time ago avid user of Infini-D, Lightwave, Macromedia Director, Elastic Reality, Adobe Illustrator / PS, and yes, USAnimation (SillyCon Graphics) and what not, and not too far ago Flash MX (2002), I have come to conclude that it should not really be a question of quantity, options-wise, in the choice of a good 2D animation proggy but rather what is provided quality-wise, as per ease of use (GUI) and fast rendering quality, all budgets and utilities considered.

    Flash, at least the version I used (and am still using on account of Flash Player compatibility), was/is its inability to render moving bitmaps as smoothly as its vector counterparts, which is a real pain considering the long ago Macromedia Director parent softee boasting a superior rendering engine. Granted, I am more into cut-out animation than on that which is based on vectors. Toons, I heard from my fellow fiend, seems to do the jawb which I have yet to confirm (told him I was alpha-beta tester, beer optional, ‘course he aint offering!).

    Now, with all that said and done, I am “testing” (albeit abit late) MoHo’s 2D animation proggy which, according to my grave reviews, provides options neither present in both Flash and Toonz! And guess what: MoHo (which is now Anime Studio) is offered at a fraction of the cost of both former softwarez. SO wot’s all tha fuss about the above proggies when something cooler, less pricey… is in the werks? Sorry if I wandered abit from your publicity stunt… I won’t do it again (eyeroll).



  • Kimi

    I admit that I love Animate. I haven’t used Flash since Flash 5 and MX. I don’t like Anime Studio at all. The software is mind boggling to me. I guess in the end it all comes down to the preferences of each individual user. I admit TVPaint looks awesome but I like Corel Painter better. I could use Painter and After Effects to create animation too.

  • sabir Ahmed

    I think toon boom animate and flash both very good combination,
    but i am also learning TBA .

  • Greg Swallow

    Just got my Anime Studio 7. New features are FANTASTIC! Interface is so darn clean compared to others. Really happy with the changes since I started with MoHo. Also using PS CS4, but so much to go through for small changes, but for photreal cells that’s what you gotta do I guess. If it’s 2D animation your looking to do though, check into Anime Studio. You just can;t beat the value for your dollar.

  • Sabir Ahmed

    I like your review, I am learning toon boom animate my self.My point of view Flash cs4 also good.

  • anim

    please compare synfig with the others.

  • I’m working with toon boom animate pro(previously known as Digital pro)
    I started off with Flash and all I can say is its really dumb to compare toon boom to flash as TB is 100x better than flash, it has so many features so that the user will not have the need to go to Photoshop or After effects as everything such as effects can be done in just the software on its own, not to mention uniting the different toon boom softwares such as Storyboard pro with Animate pro!

    When workign in flash, things get so tedious, Toon Boom literally has ways to solve all the things that would give you a headache in flash such as line cutting, color management and the hierarchy systems are awesome for big projects!

    People Flash is not for the Animator, Toon Boom was specifically created for animation by people who understand the animator!

    • Anderson Lee

      Hi Ross:
      Could you please shed some light for me since I’ve recently bought a Wacom Cintiq 13HD because I am very interested in “hand drawn” animation. Since you’re so experienced in both, please tell me is TB better than Flash when I want to do hand drawn characters in Cintiq using interactive pen and then animate them in TB or Flash.

  • quest

    Can someone please explain what’s the difference between ToonBoom’s Animate Pro and Studio? Why the big price difference?
    In their site there’s no comparison and the features seem similar…

  • Siang

    i was using flash before and I was impressed by the animations created by it,but now seeing the kind of animation that can be created by Toon Boom, the simplicity
    of cartoons like the most popular “Pheneas and Ferb”,”6Teen”,”detentionair” etc I,ve grown to like Toon Boom more,not that I’m Saying they can’t be created in Flash for e.g “Kid VS Kat” but Toon boom simplicity interest me more

  • In college we did the whole Adobe (cs3 at the time). It came with a bible and that was mostly exercises for balls and candle fire…pretty disappointing considering my teacher was an art prof. years later i stumble on toonboom studio (6 i believe). it reminded me of flash enough to understand…and actually is relative to music production software as far as layout (for all you logic, flstudio, etc nerds like me).

    in one day i made 5 cartoon shorts that would have takin me much longer on flash.

    Seeing how they both have their advantages, and my views on monopolies…They should conglomerate themselves to make FLASH BOOM. This would end the war, and animators would get the best of both worlds, but thats like telling china to leave the buddhist “terrorists” alone.

    See the hilarity. look up Led Falkens youtube page and look for vitamin beard and ninja please…theres more to come as well. TOON BOOM ALL THE WAY

  • Michael Linzenmeyer

    I have been a software developer for 12+ years now. I have used flash for various things. Never art. Websites, intros and some small interactive apps that communicate with .NET. I have CS6 and I didn’t even install the Flash component of it. I am using Animate Pro, while I am still learning it, the tutorial line up for this is incredible. Flash has no such thing. Sure, there are tutorials to explain how to do various things, but nothing as complete as what Toon Boom has done to help the beginning digital animator like myself. I’ve seen comments here about Flashes “Flatness” and I agree. So far from what I’ve seen, I prefer Animate.

  • Akansha

    Can somebody tell me what features does toon boom studio 7 has compared to toon boom studio 6?
    Please i really need to know.
    Thanks in advance.

  • Tom

    I may be switching, Flash is kind of confusing with actionscript and things like that.