Cloning and Duplicating Layers

At times, you will need to create a large group of characters such as a crowd, school of fish or flock of birds. You can do this by cloning or duplicating a layer. The difference between cloning and duplicating is that a clone uses the same drawings for all layers. A duplicated layer is simply an independent copy.

If you want to maintain the ability to modify drawings and propagate the changes through all layers, you should clone your layer. If you simply want to copy your layers and be able to modify your drawings without affecting the original layer, use the duplicate option.

Cloning Layers

A cloned layer is linked to the original element directory. If a drawing is modified in the original or cloned layer, both will be updated. However, cloned layers can have different timings.

In the Timeline view, the left part of the layer is a node, same as in the Node view. These nodes are linked to columns. The right part of the Timeline view corresponds to the Xsheet column. These columns can contain drawing exposures or value keyframes. One node can be linked to several columns; one drawing column and several parameter columns (rotation, position, scale, pivot, etc.).

Toon Boom Harmony Drawing, Column and Drawing Element Concept Illustration

When cloning layers, you have the ability to clone the drawings and the corresponding columns (timing) or only the drawings. If you choose to clone the drawings and timing, your node will be linked to the same element folder, as well as the same drawing and function columns. Therefore, if you change the drawing exposure or keyframe on one layer, all cloned layers will be updated.

You may want to create a large group of characters reusing the same animation, but want to slightly offset the timing so they're not dancing or walking quite on the same beat. For example, if you create a walk-cycle for a soldier and want to use it for an entire army, you may want to have 50 layers with 50 different drawing exposures to produce a slight difference in the timing. If you copy your layers and drawings 50 times over, it will create a heavier scene. It is better to clone the 50 layers with only their drawings without linking to the same timing (function and exposure columns).

Duplicating Layers

You can duplicate a layer to have a copy of the drawings that are independent from the original ones, as well as an independent timing (exposure). When you need the drawings to be modified independently, you will want to duplicate the layer instead of cloning it.