Guidelines for Importing Rigs or Assets from Adobe Flash / Animate

Before you can consider exporting your rig from Adobe Flash / Animate and importing it into Harmony, but you must first make sure it conforms to the guidelines below so that it is imported as accurately as possible.

To import Flash / Animate rigs and assets into Harmony, you must first export it to an intermediary format. Because of the fundamental differences between Adobe Flash / Animate and Toon Boom Harmony, as well as the required complexity of supporting every feature that is common to both applications, some features cannot be imported into Harmony.

Artwork Limitations

You might first want to learn about the limitations to importing artwork and effects exported from Adobe Flash / Animate. When you use the plug-in to export your rig into an intermediary format, each part of the rig is exported as a SWF file so that it can be imported into Harmony. Therefore, importing a rig from Adobe Flash / Animate is subject to the same limitations as importing SWF files into Harmony. To read about those limitations, see About Importing Flash / Animate (.swf) Movies

Feature Limitations

The following features can be included in your Flash project, but they will not be imported into Harmony:

  • Timeline
    • Folders
    • Guide layers
    • Locked layers
    • Disabled layers
  • Library
    • Actionscript Linkage
    • Embedded Fonts


Structure Limitations

One thing that is imported to understand is the differences in how rigs in Flash / Animate and in Harmony are structured, and what those differences imply.

In Flash / Animate, a rig’s hierarchy is defined with symbols. A rig is generally contained inside a symbol, inside which there are layers each containing a symbol for each major part of the rig that can be animated, and inside each of these symbols are smaller parts of the rig that can be animated independently, and such until you reach the end of the hierarchy where you find a layer containing the artwork that represents a small part of the rig.

In Harmony, this kind of hierarchical structure is composed of pegs and element layers. This has the following limitations:

  • While Flash / Animate allows you to switch between symbols from one frame to the next, allowing you to change part of your rig’s structure in the middle of a scene, this is not possible in Harmony. Pegs and layers in a Harmony scene exist throughout the entire scene.
  • Symbols can just be placed in a layer among other artwork, which blurs the line between elements that contain artwork and elements used to structure your rig. In Harmony, pegs are used to structure your rig, and elements are used to contain artwork. Pegs and element layers are both nodes in your scene’s node system. They can be connected to each other, but they cannot be included in one another.

Structure Rules

To make sure your rigs can be exported to Harmony without any issue, its structure should conform to the following rules:

  • Layers at the scene level (the root of the project) should only contain one symbol each. They should not contain any free artwork elements such as shapes, lines, groups, drawing objects and bitmap images. All of the artwork for your rigs and assets should be contained within symbols.
  • As far as the Export to Harmony extension is concerned, each layer in your Flash / Animate project can serve one of the following purposes, depending on the content of their first frame:
    • Symbol layer: If a layer contains a single symbol in its first frame, it will be considered a “symbol” layer and be used as a structuring element in the rig. This means that if this layer has several keyframes, only this specific symbol must be in all those other keyframes. Any other symbol or any free artwork in subsequent keyframes will be ignored.
    • Artwork layer: If a layer contains artwork (or is empty) in its first frame, it will be considered an “artwork” layer. It will be imported as an element layer in Harmony, and each of its keyframes will be imported as a different drawing in that layer. If one of its later keyframes contains a symbol, that symbol will be converted to vector artwork and its structure will be ignored.
  • Each symbol in your structure should ideally serve one of the following two purposes:

    • Symbol symbol: A symbol that only contains symbol layers.
    • Artwork symbol: A symbol that only contains artwork layers.

    This is because a symbol containing other symbols is merely exported as a peg connected to other pegs, whereas a symbol containing only artwork layers is exported as a peg and a single drawing element.

    In case where a symbol contains both, the extension will attempt to export it as reliably as it can, but it may incur issues in the order of visual elements. Some visual elements that were meant to be kept separate may be flattened together, and shapes that are filled with a semi-transparent colour may clip artwork that was underneath them.

Mixed Content

The best way to structure a rig in Flash / Animate for export to Harmony is by following these rules:

  • A layer should either:
    • Contain one or several keyframes of raw artwork.
    • Contain a single symbol and nothing else. The symbol can be exposed on one or several keyframes in the layer as needed.
  • A symbol should either:
    • Contain one or several artwork layers without any symbol layer.
    • Contain one or several symbol layers but no artwork layer.

In any case where mixed content is present, Harmony may handle the situation intelligently, or there may be issue such as missing artwork, merged artwork or visual elements laid in the wrong order.

The following tables give a detailed description of how different types of content is processed by Harmony:

Mixed Content Inside a Keyframe

Rule Description
Shapes, Lines, Drawing Objects

Shapes, lines, drawing objects and groups containing such elements are all considered artwork by Harmony, and can be mixed together without issue.

Groups Grouped shapes, lines and drawing objects will be imported as grouped artwork in Harmony.

In the first frame of a layer, if any symbol is present within a keyframe that also contains shapes, lines, drawing objects or groups, each symbol will be separated from the remainder of the artwork and imported as a separate layer, and all of the remaining artwork will be imported combined into a single layer, with its own parent peg, as if it was a symbol of its own.

In Harmony, the peg and drawing layers for symbols are named after their respective symbols. The raw artwork will be named after its parent symbol, followed by a number if needed.

IMPORTANTThis rule only applies to the first frame of the layer.
Grouped Symbols Symbols inside groups will be taken out of their group and imported as separate layers. If the group also contains artwork, that artwork will be imported as grouped artwork, in the same layer as the other artwork in the keyframe.

Mixed Content Within a Single Layer

Rule Description
First Frame

A layer in Flash / Animate can be understood as either one of two types, depending on the content of its first frame:

  • Symbol layer: If the first frame in the layer contains a single symbol, then this layer is a symbol layer. It should only contain this symbol on each one of its keyframes and nothing else. If any of its subsequent keyframes contain a different symbol or raw artwork, those keyframes will not be imported.
  • Artwork layer: If the first frame in the layer contains raw artwork, or is empty, then this layer will be imported as an artwork layer. The layer will be imported as an element in Harmony, and every keyframe in this layer will be imported as a separate drawing inside this element. If symbols are included in subsequent keyframes, they will be imported as single drawings in that element as well.

As stated in the previous table, a layer containing several symbols in its first frame will be imported as several layers into Harmony. This rule does not apply for symbols in subsequent keyframes.

Multiple Symbols on Different Keyframes

If a layer contains a symbol on its first keyframe, then that layer will be processed as a “symbol” layer, this means that every subsequent keyframe on this layer must contain that same symbol. If any later keyframe contains a different


then that symbol must be used on ever subsequent keyframe in the timeline. several symbols on different keyframes, only the symbols on the first frame of the layer will be imported. Likewise, if a layer contains a symbol on its first keyframe, and raw artwork on subsequent keyframes, only the keyframes with the symbol exposed at the first frame will be exported.

This is because of a fundamental difference between Flash / Animate and Harmony. Using symbols to structure a rig allows you to change your rig’s structure within the same scene, from one frame to the next. The symbol structure of your Flash / Animate rig is reconstituted in Harmony using pegs and drawing layers, the structure of which cannot change in the middle of a scene.

Symbols alongside Groups

If a single keyframe contains both symbols and groups, each symbol will be imported as separate layers in Harmony. The groups will be combined together and imported as a single element, separate from the symbols.

Elements generated from symbols are named after the symbol they are based from. Since the groups were not created from a symbol, their respective element will be named after their parent symbol followed by a number as appropriate. For example, a group inside a symbol named HEAD would be named HEAD_1.

Symbols alongside Shapes, Lines or Drawing Objects If a single keyframe contains both symbols and either shapes, lines or drawing objects.
Symbols and Drawing Objects/Shapes on the Same Layer

If there are symbols and drawing objects/shapes sharing the same layer, the symbols will be separated from them and all the drawing objects/shapes will be kept together. Drawing objects and shapes cannot be separated. In Harmony, the symbols will have their own Drawing node and the drawing objects/shapes will share the same Drawing node. Since only symbols can have a name, its name is propagated to the Drawing node and peg.

Drawing objects and shapes, however, can't do this. Drawing objects and shapes will receive the name of the MovieClip followed by an underscore and an appropriate number. For example, if you have a group inside a symbol called HEAD, the group will be named HEAD_1 if there is already a Drawing node that was created with the same name.

Groups and Drawing Objects or Shapes on the Same Layer

In order to have groups and drawing objects/shapes on the same layer, these elements must first be inside a symbol. Groups and drawing objects/shapes sharing the same layer in Flash will be exported as one Drawing node. This Drawing node will contain both drawing objects and shapes, and receive the name of the symbol in which they are contained.

Mixed Content Within a Symbol

Content Process

Symbols and Artwork

It is recommended to, as much as possible, keep the content of each symbol homogeneous. In other words, a symbol should, ideally, either only contain layers with symbols, making it a hierarchy symbol, or only contain layers with artwork, making it an artwork symbol.

When symbols with mixed content are present in a rig, Harmony will try to preserve the rig’s structure and appearance, but may not always succeed. Some of the problems that can occur are:

  • The order or arrangement of visual elements may get mixed up.
  • Some layers that were meant to be separate may be merged together.
  • Semi-transparent artwork may be flattened against solid artwork.


To be able to import Adobe Flash / Animate rigs into Harmony, you must first export them from Adboe Flash / Animate to an intermediary format using an extension that is packaged with Harmony. Because the extension uses a legacy extension format for Adobe software, the method for installing the extension depends on your version of Flash / Animate. For more information, see Installing the Export to Harmony Extension for Adobe Flash / Animate.

Once the extension is properly installed, you can export your character rig from the Commands menu in Adobe Flash / Animate—see Exporting Rigs and Assets from Adobe Flash / Animate.


To import the intermediary files exported from Adobe Flash / Animate, you must use a script that is packaged with Harmony. This script has a visual user interface and does not require any knowledge of scripting to use, it only requires you finding and adding the function to your Scripting toolbar—see Accessing the Flash Import Script.

Exporting your rig creates a directory containing one SWF file for each layer in your rig, as well as a file named export.json, which contains the data for your rig’s structure. This is the file to import into Harmony. The script will use it to generate a Harmony template containing your character rig, then import it into your Harmony scene. The template will be saved in a folder named stage.tpl inside the export folder.

Your rig will be imported into your scene with a structure like follows:

  • Each symbol will have its own peg, which will contain the symbol’s coordinates in the original Flash / Animate scene, including the position of their respective pivots.
  • If a symbol contains three or more nested symbols, the elements corresponding to those nested symbols will be composited together using a Composite node.
  • The registration point of the symbol in Flash / Animate will corresponds to the centre of the drawing space in Harmony. Therefore, the position of all drawings inside symbols will correspond to their position when imported in Harmony.

  • The imported node system is connected to the Composite of the scene, which contains the Write and Display nodes.
  • The colour values will be imported, but a palette will not be generated on the spot. Instead, Harmony will be detect that the imported elements’ colours do not correspond to any colour swatch in your palettes, and will prompt you to generate a recovery palette.
  • The recovery palette for your rig will contain one swatch for each different colour in your rig. This means that if several parts of your rigs use the same colour, only one swatch will be created for all of these parts.
  • If there are masks in your Flash project, they will reconstructed in Harmony using Cutter effects. If several symbols use the same mask layer, they will be composited together using a Composite node, and that Composite node will be connected to the cutter effect.