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Here’s Where To Download OpenToonz, Studio Ghibli’s Free Animation Software

OpenToonz, the open source version of the Toonz animation software used by Studio Ghibli, was released to the public this weekend. If you want to get your hands on the software, OpenToonz can be officially downloaded at Github.io.

The robust 2D animation software suite, which has also been used in the production of TV series like Steven Universe and Futurama and theatrical features including Anastasia and Balto, was made open source through a partnership between Italian developer Digital Video and Japanese company Dwango. Its release is a game changer for 2D animation production that could rewrite the future of the art form, possibly leading to a major increase in drawn animation production, while forcing software developers like Adobe and Toonboom to scramble and find ways to distinguish their 2D animation software from a powerful, free alternative.

In releasing the software, Dwango has made clear on their site that the open source software license allows it to be used free of charge for both commercial and non-commercial projects, and that developers may modify its source code freely under the terms of the simple and liberal New BSD License.

Along with the main software package, Dwango also released an effects development kit for advanced image processing like lighting and distortion effects, as well as GTS, a scanning tool developed by Studio Ghibli that allows for efficient scanning of sequentially numbered drawings. Dwango says it expects the open source community to find new ways to build out the software with the “aim to develop a new platform for connecting the academic research into frontline animation production.”

OpenToonz has already generated tremendous interest from the animation community. A user forum launched in the past 24 hours already boasts hundreds of discussions, while a development forum is launching deeper discussions of how to build out the software.

Animators have also launched unofficial resource guides like this one on Tumblr and have started posting basic video tutorials:

The general consensus seems to be that while there’s some clunkiness that needs to be smoothed out, the program is incredibly powerful and includes the full feature set used by Studio Ghibli in the production of films like The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, The Secret World of Arrietty, and Spirited Away. “This is some serious in-depth 2d animation software,” wrote a user on the Foundry forum. “I have been looking for more traditional animation software with X-sheet functionality – THIS IS IT!”

Another artist who tried out the software wrote on Tumblr, “I think I might still prefer OpenToonz to Toonboom. Once I get it working without crashing constantly, it’s gonna be one god damn powerful program.”

If you’ve downloaded Toonz, share your feedback in our comments.


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  • Haven’t had any crashes on my end yet, though from what has came out, much of OpenToonz is based on Toonz Harlequin 7.1 with some tweaks here and there (no doubt thanks to Studio Ghibli). One person who did this tutorial noticed how the interface had default shortcuts hat were stripped out of the OpenToonz version and shows how to restore them.
    https://vimeo.com/160517233

  • Nicholas John “Nick” Pozega

    As an aspiring animator in training, here is my personal assessment of the program so far; it’s definitely off to a good start and I think it will change things for Indy animation in the long run, since it offers a lot of great tools and options for animators at no charge, but there’s still room for improvement. There are some features I wish I could do in it (or do better in it), like loading a lot of frames of pictures in order at once like I can with the Monkeyjam pencil test software–for some reason, when OpenToonz goes to select something from a folder, the images are scrambled out of order for no clear reason, so I have to add them in one frame at a time. I also wish there was a reverse play option (or, if there is one, make it more clear where it is). It has a “thrown to the wolves” learning curve since tutorials aren’t that common yet, and the manual hasn’t been translated to English yet.

    And the way to export videos from it isn’t clear at all, but I was able to learn how to do it! First you need the “Render” menu tab which is located in either the “PItEdit” or “XSheet” tabs (I used the XSheet tab). Now click the “Output Settings” Now there is both the “Camera Settings” where you can edit things like your canvas size but ignore that for now and go for the “File Settings” part. Next to the Name slot go right to the file format, there is a drop down that you can use to change to many file formats, such as AVI (many are image formats, but there are movie formats). Now change the file format to avi/mov, go back into the Render tab, and click “Render” in it (right under the Output Settings). Your new movie file should be in the OpenToonz “Output” folder (in the “Sandbox” folder) in the local disc drive if you installed it there! Phew!

    Another cool feature of OpenToonz is that you can draw over multiple layers thanks to the different cel levels! One thing I’ve always wanted to be able to do is show a video breaking down the basic shapes and arcs of movement in old cartoons, and this makes it possible! You can even shut off the animation level so you can see the other cel column you drew on its own in motion–I tried it out on a clip from a Van Beuren Tom & Jerry cartoon, “Jolly Fish” (1932)! Now I just have to learn how to get the shapes and arc movements represented in a single image, with the animation scene moving along with it…

    Fortunately, it’s open source software, so I’m sure more refined versions of it will pop up over time! Overall, i’m very happy with it so far!

    • A Couple of Things

      Hey, just a couple of things. On the Mac version, I can’t access the render tab, even when I click on PltEdit or XSheet.

      But I did find a way to import a series of images all at once, rather than one at a time. It’s kind of weird. Put your image files in a single folder, and rename them b.0001 – b.00xx (however many frames your scene is) Click and drag the first frame in your folder onto the camera area, and the program will automatically import the entire sequence. This should work for both tif and png files!

      • you can’t find the render tab because on mac, the menus are not dependent on what tab you are in. Render is under File. If you ever can’t find something in the menus, search through the help menu and it will show you where it is.

        • A Couple of Things

          Ahh, okay, I found it. The only problem is, I can’t seem to find how to export and render my animation as a video file. I can only seem to render a series of still images. Is there anything I’m missing?

          • dmac

            if you’re stuck, you can load up blender, load each image sequentially and then export it that way

  • slowtiger

    I wonder how many of all the artists who only now start animating because “this is the tool we’ve been waiting for” give up when they don’t find the “make a Ghibli film” button in the software.

  • Mac Version is Buggy

    I think that OpenToonz certainly has a lot of potential, but I have encountered a lot of bugs in Version 1.0. I am using the Mac version, and I can’t speak for the people who have used it on Windows. I also think that the default interface could probably be reworked a bit.

    I like how the X-Sheet is set up, changing the timing by clicking and dragging works quite nicely. This is really a program for importing scanned drawings. Animating with a graphics tablet really does feel like a secondary feature for this software. And I’m okay with that.

    Right now, I just have to wait for some of the bugs to be fixed before this can become my primary animation tool, however.

    And hopefully, the next update will support display settings for monitors with retina display. Despite the fact that you can export 4K images, the interface is actually at a lower resolution than most of the other software that I use.

  • Nice. I look forward to trying this out. I’m really glad the license allows for commercial use, that was worrying me a bit there (even though I don’t do commercial animation, I know there are many that do, and who knows, I may some day and want to use this! ;) )

  • Terence M

    Does anyone know if Toonz has been used on a cut out animation based show?

    • Joseph Archer

      I know that south park has used PowerAnimator – now Maya.

  • Floyd Bishop

    If you’re getting a crash on startup (like I was), do a search for a file called “lvcod64.dll”. Rename that file, and the program should run normally.

  • Robert S

    I want to use it, but it crashes on startup. I tried searching for that lvcod64.dll file, but I don’t have it. I hope they can fix that startup problem soon. I really want to give this software a go! :)

  • ituri

    I will appreciate this open source software even more, as my relationship with ToonBoom has soured considerably. I’ve been sitting on a useless copy of ToonBoom for lack of an ID number/code, after having been using the software for years already. ToonBoom sent me incredibly complicated instructions that MAYBE would restore my software to working order, but after months of back and forth I’ve yet to decipher their hieroglyphic-laden instructions. For what was a paid LIFETIME code, I’ve been left with a useless brick on my desktop. Can’t wait to adapt to Ghibli’s software! I can finally get to MAKING stuff again!

    • marti386

      Exactly. The whole “license” thing with Toon Boom is a real turn off.

  • darliegoddess .

    Thanks Amid . You rock!

  • LLama

    Where do I go to download this… Ive tried everything that I can but it just brings me to ad tabs…

  • Jeffrey Thrash

    As an animation student, I’m curious as to how useful learning open-source software is at this moment. Most of the job descriptions I see ask for knowledge in industry-standard software like ToonBoom, Maya, Photoshop, etc., of course, but I’ve also learned the industry moves at a fast enough pace that I should never get complacent and learn as many alternative programs as possible while still being good at the “industry standard,” so I think open-source software is at least useful for extra learning. Also, open-source software is a no-brainer when it comes to personal projects where I make no money. I guess what I mean is, would my Blender/Krita/Gimp skills come in handy at a studio or a freelance gig, or would it be better to just focus mostly on proprietary software and hope OpenToonz eventually changes people’s perception of free software (I learn proprietary software at school and open-source software in my free time, in case you were wondering)?

    • This is a very good question. First off professional studios typically shy away from free software for many reasons. The first is lack of professional support. OpenToonz has a high end software that is used studios already, so that support is there. Would a studio use OpenToonz, probably not, but they would use Harlequin which is the pro version of Toonz. This move should help install a user base for them which in the end is the name of the game. You need warm bodies to fill seats and actively execute work. Now if a studio has a pipeline in place with Harmony or Flash this will hardly make them want to change that pipeline since they will have to hire new staff or train their staff on a new platform. So adoption of openToonz at other studios will take time. Now if you want to apply with a studio that’s already using it great! But I will warn you that its mostly used in Asia and mostly used as composite system. Most of the studios using it are still on a paper-based 2D pipe. So if you want to be an animator there you are better off being a better animator. If you want to use Toonz then you will be a compositor.

      OpenToonz also has another adoption issue, while its great and free, a studio will prefer to buy their premium support software, how much is it per seat? Is there a benefit to change their system to another system? What is their support like? When you are running a business you want to be able to call the software company and ask for help, the money spent on the software ensures that should an issue come up you can have someone at your beckon-call to solve the issue.

      As far as learning keep a temp on the industry and see what programs are getting people hired. If you want to learn open source thats great but most studios will lean more Maya/Photoshop, hell Harmony has already had an up hill battle with Flash (Animate) to get adopted and plenty of studios are still using Flash even though there are far more useful 2D systems out there.

      For freelance keep in mind that many places you work for want to have files that their teams can work from as well should you not complete your work. So they will dictate what they want you to work in.

      • Jeffrey Thrash

        Thanks for the insight. I admit I’m a tad biased toward free software, since the college I go to is expensive and I don’t have time to get another job to pay for extra software at the moment, but I’ll definitely do more research on what software the industry uses most right now. Now that I think about it, I could also use the free trials most software offer for learning.

  • Mention Ghibli or Miyazaki to animators and everyone loses their minds! Seriously its a tool its not going to make you like them or achieve what they have achieved.

  • After getting the “crash on start” thing, was able to make it work by uninstalling Matrox codec pack, so by the comments i found online, the problem seems to be about the video codecs installed rather than a specific one like “lvcod64.dll” but there is an updated version, on the github, that claims to have it fix, will try it later.

    Looks really cool and complete, besides the documentation of course…

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BDjH4J2iwlr/

  • Krita

    After visiting their official website, it appears that they will release the animation tools with an upcoming release of Krita. On the official download page, there is a note that says ‘The animation tools are currently not available with the current stable release.’ I would wait a bit.

  • thedigitalDog

    go for TVPaint, you won’t regret it !

  • David

    If you only want to animate traditionally on paper and scan your drawings in to the program to color the line art with a traditional “cel” look then OpenToonz should be adequate for you (if you can get it to stop constantly crashing like it does for me on Mac OS . Maybe if you’re on Windows it will work better ?) However, if you want the option of using BOTH traditional drawings scanned into the program AND using a rich array of digital drawing/painting tools then get TVPaint. TVPaint’s digital drawing tools are much more sophisticated than OpenToonz. If your primary drawing tool is a Wacom Intuos or Cintiq tablet , get TVPaint.

  • Eric Lee

    I’m in full agreement here. Though Krita does not yet have audio support for animation :/ Rough Animator is another really great one (Android/OSx- I want Win support!). Erin Humiston uses it occasionally.
    That said, from what I can tell OpenToonz is still at its heart a vector-based animation program. Using such a program isn’t a paperless solution as far as I’m concerned- no doubt Ghibli still does the actual animation on paper, scans it in and then uses Toonz. If anything I am hopeful this software puts pressure on TV Paint (the only other raster-based anim solution I’m aware of) to offer more affordable software.
    Until then, I’m a Krita evangelist all the way. I cannot sing the praises of that program enough!

  • ihhh

    As someone who’s only experience with animation is playing with flash, the interface is very unintuitive and hard to get a grasp on. it seems to be geared more to animators who are more used to traditional inking and painting, rather than more modern methods.

  • Jonney Shih

    This is great news, unlike 3d it’s more fragmented in the 2d animation scene,
    I hope it has Unity export support.

  • villain

    is it the same as softimage toonz from 10+ years ago? (i guess it must be, i never used it though)

  • FM Hansen

    A lot of potential but I have a lot of lag and other buggy problems in the Mac version to the point where using it is a somewhat pointless. Too bad because I can see it could be very powerful program.

  • Eric Paulsen

    Exactly. It’s not the thousand who will give up but the few who become inspired and continue that are important. Hell, I wanted to be an animator my whole life and a few uninspired stabs aside, I figure that dream is over. But somewhere there are a few people who will take to this software like fish to water and I’m rooting for them.

  • r1mk

    It’s true that the official binaries are only 64bit (windows ans mac os x) BUT you can get a Windows 7 32 bits working version if you build it yourself (I didn’t try W8).
    Sure, you’ll run into the low ram issue quickly if you plan to animate HD or moderately complex scenes but you should give it a try!

    I even get less crashes/bugs with my W7 32bit version than with the official Mac OS X (I use Yosemite).

    Now, you could even run it natively on Linux (32/64)! This branch is actively developped.

    See https://github.com/opentoonz/opentoonz/pull/51 and https://github.com/ideasman42/opentoonz/blob/linux_fix_wip/doc/how_to_build_linux.md

  • r1mk

    There is an active branch aimed at porting OpenToonz to Linux.
    You need to compile it yourself.

    Check it there: https://github.com/ideasman42/opentoonz
    Choose the branch linux_fix_wip

    Instructions to compile here: https://github.com/ideasman42/opentoonz/blob/linux_fix_wip/doc/how_to_build_linux.md

    and there : https://github.com/opentoonz/opentoonz/pull/51

  • nekosysteme

    When I open the programm, it stops working :/ Can someone help me figuring this out ?

  • Mohawke

    Synfig studio would likely be all you really need. If you just want to do small simple projects I’d suggest Pencil.