capsule review

Simple Flip Boom Cartoon Can Be Frustrating

At a Glance
  • Toon Boom Animation Flip Boom Cartoon

    PCWorld Rating

    Stop-motion animation doesn't get much easier--or more basic--than with Flip Boom Cartoon.

If you're new to 2D stop-motion animation, you know it's a challenge to find a program that isn't going to overwhelm you with features. Flip Boom Cartoon ($40, buy-only) keeps it very basic, so whether you're a novice or advanced artist, if you like the simplicity of turning pencil-like sketches into animation, you'll like this program.

Flip Boom includes a large clip art librar that can make your animation even more eye-grabbing.
Flip Boom Cartoon contains the usual tools you'll need to create stop-motion animation: paint brush, fill, size and rotation adjustment, and cut/copy/paste. These all work exactly like you expect them to and are simple enough to pick up without watching a tutorial, which is good because there really aren't any available, nor is there searchable help. You have to just read the manual.

The Paint Bucket tool in Flip Boom Cartoon allows you to fill a fully enclosed area or color a line. It's a little annoying if your sketching style is fluid enough that you don't close all your areas. It's also virtually impossible to achieve any shading or highlights, so if you color your art, it's going to look flat.

Flip Boom Cartoon includes a large library of clip art images that you can animate with limitations: change position, size, rotation, and color. Unfortunately, you can't import your own images to use as backgrounds or as part of your animation, but you can add objects created in Flip Boom into your own library.

You can also add library sounds to your Flip Boom Cartoon animation, or record your own, but it's tricky to sync the sounds to the animation, and there are no detail tools to do this.

To trace your art in Flip Boom Cartoon, which is the method Animation-ish ($60) teaches so well, you can set Flip Boom Cartoon to show your previous or next page to see the position of your art. However, if you choose a background from the library, you can't see your art through it, and since there are no layers this is a little frustrating. You also cannot animate your background and foreground independently, or set keyframes as you can with Animation-ish or Pencil (free, also a basic animation program). These things are all part of Toon Boom's more advanced Toon Boom Studio, a full animation suite that costs $330.

Flip Boom Cartoon's drawing area expands to fit your monitor, which can increase your drawing space considerably over Animation-ish's maximum 4 by 3 inches. But that's the only animation feature I like better in Flip Boom Cartoon.

After reviewing Animation-ish, a collaborative animation program from Toon Boom and FableVision Learning, I had pretty high expectations for Toon Boom's Flip Boom Cartoon. However, I was pretty disappointed. If you have it in your budget, consider the $60 Animation-ish instead: It's a much better stop-motion animation tool for beginners. For those who are willing to learning time for dollars, the free Pencil is a good choice: It's a basic 2D animation tool that's far superior to Flip Boom Cartoon, albeit much harder to get started and still evolving.

Flip Boom Cartoon lacks the learning aspect of Animation-ish, or the detailed controls of Pencil. Either of those is a better choice.

--Clare Brandt

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Stop-motion animation doesn't get much easier--or more basic--than with Flip Boom Cartoon.

    Pros

    • Interesting templates and clipart
    • Easy to add sound

    Cons

    • No fine detail controls
    • Only one animation track
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.