How to Add Layers

Just like with traditional animation, Harmony uses layers to keep elements such as characters, backgrounds and props separate from each other, allowing you to animate them independently.

When you create a new scene, your scene will have a default layer named Drawing, in which you can immediately start drawing.

Layers can be selected and managed in the Timeline view. A scene can have as many layers as needed. When your scene has several layers, layers higher in the list appear over lower layers.

Types of Drawing Layers

Harmony supports two types of drawing layers, each with their own advantages and limitations:

  • Vector Layers: Vector drawings are made of points and curves that compose the contours of the shapes of the artwork, along with the colour or textures these shapes are filled with. Hence, the artwork in vector layers can be scaled up and zoomed in without losing quality, unless they contain a texture.
  • When drawing on a vector layer, each drawing stroke and pencil line is a separate object which can be manipulated individually. You can select single drawing strokes, then move them around and transform them, even if drawing strokes were applied over them. Additionally, because drawing strokes are made of points and curves, it is possible to edit their shape, making it easy to make corrections and changes to your artwork.

  • Bitmap Layers: Bitmap drawings are composed of a grid of pixels, which are small points that each have a single solid colour. Bitmap drawing tools allow you to lay on brush strokes onto a single flat canvas, and to tweak your artwork by the pixel if needed.
  • When you draw on a bitmap layer, each brush or pencil stroke is composited into the canvas, so it remains a single drawing that can only be painted or erased upon, but which does not allow you to tweak individual parts of it.

    Bitmap artwork can only be scaled up or zoomed in on as much as their pixel density allows without losing picture quality. By default, bitmap artwork has a pixel density of 100%, which is only enough to display the artwork without zooming in on it or scaling it up, otherwise Harmony must generate new pixels within the artwork, which is liable to make it look blurry or pixelated.

    Hence, you might want to set the required pixel density for your bitmap artwork, based on whether you'll need to zoom on it or scale it up, before you start drawing on a bitmap layer.

NOTE Since vector layers are editable and scalable, it is recommended to start off using vector layers while getting familiarized with Harmony. The default drawing layer in a new scene is a vector layer.

Art Layers

By default, each drawing layer actually has two art layers: The Line Art layer and the Colour Art layer. You can use these layers to keep the line art and colours in your drawings separate.

At the right of the Camera and Drawing view, you can control which art layer you are working on and whether only the current art layer or both art layers are displayed.

By default, the Line Art layer is selected. So if you start drawing right away, you will be drawing in your drawing layer's Line Art layer, unless you select the Colour Art layer first.

Using different art layers for your line art and colour art is entirely optional. If you like, you can use the Line Art layer for both your line art and colour art.

NOTE You can also enable extra Art Layers: The Overlay and Underlay Art layers. The Overlay Art layer is typically used for annotations and the Underlay Art layer is typically used for rough sketches. To enable them, check the Support Overlay and Underlay Arts option in the Advanced tab of the Preferences dialog, which can be accessed by selecting Edit (Windows/Linux) or Harmony Premium (macOS) > Preferences in the top menu.

Renaming Layers

In a new scene, there is only one layer created by default, named Drawing. In traditional animation, it is common to name animation layers with single letters (A, B, C, etc.) and layout layers with acronyms (BG for background, OL for overlay, etc). So you can start off your scene by giving your first layer an appropriate name.

Adding Layers

Deleting Layers

Reordering Layers

Grouping Layers

Grouping layers allows you to keep your scene structure organized.

Additionally, you can put several layers inside a group with a composite, then add an effect on this group to apply that effect on all the layers inside the group.

Hiding and Showing Layers

You can temporarily hide layers so that they do not clutter the Camera view while you are working on other layers.

Locking and Unlocking Layers

You can temporarily lock layers. Locked layers can still be edited in the Timeline or Xsheet view, but you cannot select them, draw them or manipulate them in the Camera view. This can be useful to avoid accidentally selecting or drawing over your backgrounds, overlays, props or characters you are not currently working on.