The “Winner Tips & Tricks ” series covers practical workflows and techniques shared by winners from the “2022 Animation At Work Contest”. To let users see the full spectrum of the Cartoon Animator pipeline, we are introducing projects that received attention and credit from the community. Let’s now take a look at “Ninja” to see how Ronny Gomez worked his magic with Reallusion Cartoon Animator (CTA).
About Ronny Gomez
Ronny Gomez is a composer and music producer specializing in music for video games and cartoons. He is also the Director of Music for PowerUp Kids and a music composer for the Cartoon Network, Sony, Google, Nickelodeon, and Hasbro, among others. His love for video games and animation has not only led him to compose music but also to learn Cartoon Animator. In 2020, his PowerUp Kids video entry: “Color by Color” won third place in the YouTuber category for the Reallusion Animation At Work contest of that year.
Why choose this entry topic?
I chose this topic because, since I was a child, I have been fascinated by classic Super Nintendo and arcade games as well as anime and cartoons. In addition to this, I have always liked traditional martial arts, so I put all of these interests together, put them in a blender, and out came “Ninja”.
Why choose Cartoon Animator?
Pre-rigged characters and facial animations are, in my opinion, the two crucial areas that CTA dominates. As a 3D animator, I can confidently say that these aforementioned facets take a lot of time in production. CTA makes the turnaround twice as fast with results that can compete with other software. User-friendliness and large, clear user interfaces are a must for me, and CTA provides it in spades.
How I did it with CTA
Step 1: Character Creation & Rigging
As for the creation of the characters, I first made some sketches on paper, then when I’m satisfied with the results, I turn them into vector drawings with Affinity Designer and mount the rigs from the templates provided by Reallusion.
Step 2: Character Customization (Facial, Hands)
First, I reused the face of one of the characters that came with Cartoon Animator. I make modifications to the eyes, face, and eyebrows. For the hands, I chose to use the ones that CTA4 comes with.
Step 3: Character Animation (Facial, Lipsync, sprite)
For the lip sync, I used the automatic function, and once ready, I manually corrected the synchronization of the details. For the sprite animation, I imported the first image of the sequence and then added the missing sprites in Composer and Sprite Editor mode. Then I animate them in the timeline.
Step 4: Scenes creation & composition
For the scenes, I was looking for something minimal, simple, and with a composition that looked cinematic.
Step 5: Camera setting
My aim was the cinematic use of cameras especially paired up with the 3D depth of the tunnel scene at the end.
This year, we are accepting new submissions from June 8th to August 13 (PST). Partnering with XP PEN, Magix, and Affinity, we have prepared a total value of $15,000 in cash and prizes! So get your entries prepared, and good luck on winning!
With a decade of hands-on experience as an animation director and expertise in 3ds Max, Maya, Motion Builder and Unreal Engine, Alireza Fattahi has executed numerous projects, delivering content across diverse media platforms. His expertise lie in creating realtime environments, directing and utilizing advanced lighting and cinematography techniques that bring life to realistic cinematic animations for games, advertisements and TV shows.
He started his journey as an architect renderer using 3ds Max and V-ray. However, he soon realized that it wasn’t enough for him. So, he began working on short-animated personal projects using the same workflows. Simultaneously, he explored Maya for rigging and animations and created several short animations and advertisements for local TV channels. During this time, he gathered a few friends with different areas of expertise and together, they formed a team of five professional animators. Their team was able to create an entire TV series in just six months, thanks to their efficiency and speed.
However, they needed new solutions and software to continue improving their workflow, and the biggest bottleneck they faced was rendering. To overcome this, they quickly adopted new real-time workflows using primarily Unreal Engine. Their second breakthrough was in the animation department, where they discovered iCloneand its impressive set of tools for editing and combining motion captures, a vast library of ready-made motions, and fantastic ways of creating automated animations. Currently, they have several projects at hand, including a fan-made Batman short animation, several advertisements, and their greatest passion: a cinematic animation for a new game.
“Many indie and small teams that do not have an army of animators and technical artists to brute-force through every problem with complex software. iClone and Unreal Engine give us the opportunity to compete with much larger studios in terms of the scale and quality of our projects, mainly cinematic teasers for games, and more.”
Alireza Fattahi – Unreal Animation Director and CG Artist
Q: Hello Mehran, and welcome to the Reallusion Feature stories! Its nice to have you here. Kindly introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your Batman short-animations and your cinematic animation for a new game.
Hello! I am pleased to be here and grateful for the opportunity. My name is Alireza (Mehran) Fattahi, and I am an animation director and CG artist with a specialization in cinematography and rendering. I am also responsible for CG supervising and technical directing for most of my projects.
After several years of working on various commercial projects, I decided to pursue a lifetime passion project of mine. As a child, I grew up loving Batman and it’s cinematic world and stories. Therefore, it was natural for me to choose this as the theme for my cinematic animations.
Initially, I decided to create only a short teaser, all by myself with no budget, using new and fast software solutions without traditional pipelines. After receiving positive feedback from numerous CG artists, I decided to expand the project into a full 5-minute short animation. To achieve this, I collaborated with a group of highly skilled friends from various departments, again utilizing new and fast software solutions such as iClone and Unreal Engine.
Q: You mentioned that you have been a long time user of Maya and Motion Builder for your animation projects. Please share with us why you decided to transition into real-time animation software like iClone and Unreal Engine? What advantages do these new tools bring and what cost savings do you see?
Yes, the reduction in iteration time, instant feedback, user-friendly interface, and intuitive nature of this new technology are very appealing to work with. This solution is like a breath of fresh air for many indie and small teams that do not have an army of animators and technical artists to brute-force through every problem with complex software. iClone and Unreal Engine give us the opportunity to compete with much larger studios in terms of the scale and quality of our projects, mainly cinematic teasers for games, and more.
With tools like Character Creator and MetaHuman Creator, we can even accomplish the impossible task of natural animated faces that were once only achievable by certain big productions a few years ago. This is like a dream come true and opens up new possibilities for smaller studios and individuals.
Q: iClone has developed into a full-fledged production suite with many powerful features that now provide an alternative to Motion Builder. Can you name some of the most used features you are using for mocap cleanup and animation in general?
The release of iClone 8 has definitely caught the attention of many experienced CG artists. Suddenly, all the powerful tools of more established software are available with the ease and intuitiveness of modern technology. At first, I couldn’t believe that with just a few simple clicks I could have a fully automated rig that works with every tool and asset in iClone. No more characterizing every character and every animation pack, which used to be a headache due to issues with scale and mixing motions, etc.
” The release of iClone 8 has definitely caught the attention of many experienced CG artists. Suddenly, all the powerful tools of more established software are available with the ease and intuitiveness of modern technology. At first, I couldn’t believe that with just a few simple clicks I could have a fully automated rig that works with every tool and asset in iClone. No more characterizing every character and every animation pack, which used to be a headache due to issues with scale and mixing motions, etc. “
Alireza Fattahi – Unreal Animation Director and CG Artist
With iClone, we also have a set of awesome motion mixing and cleanup solutions that are incredibly easy to use. The automated animation tools like Motion Director/ Nav points for -walking Animations-, along with a vast library of Reallusion motion captures like the Hand-to-Hand Combat content pack are useful additions too.
All of these features make the iClone 8 a powerful tool that saves time and effort while delivering high-quality animations. When comparing the iClone suite to software like Maya and Motion Builder, the most impressive aspects are:
The best-in-business auto-rigging and characterization solutions.
The ability to direct captured motions in any direction and path, with ease.
Mostly flawless matching of every animation clip from every source, to previous, or next motion.
Robust automated tools to correct motions in regard to noise, clipping, and other issues.
Q: As a seasoned director and CG artist, what advice would you give to other Motion Builder and Maya users that are looking to switch to real-time software to streamline their productions?
I urge every artist to try out iClone in at least one of their projects. This software not only has every tool you need to complete your tasks, but I guarantee that you will also love their friendly and intuitive approach to complex tasks.
In terms of rendering, you will appreciate the real-time feedback of Unreal Engine and the incredible set of features that tools like MetaHuman and Quixel bring to your projects. And I believe that this new pipeline is capable of achieving the impossible by allowing us to create high-budget looking animations with a fraction of the cost and manpower. As it opens up new possibilities for small teams and independent artists, giving them the opportunity to create impressive animations that can compete with those produced by larger studios. So, take the leap and try out iClone with Unreal Engine. You won’t regret it!
A Renaissance in the Matrimony of Animation Editing and Hybrid Dance
Niels Bosch of Het Nieuwe Kader & Tpose.com
Hello, I’m Niels, the Creative Producer at Het Nieuwe Kadar and Tpose.com. In 2016, alongside Berko Mulder, we founded our company as a green screen studio fueled by our passion for 3D animation and visual effects. Since then, we have evolved into a reputable agency with a dedicated team of over a dozen professionals, delivering top-notch content to the industry.
In addition to content creation, our company’s core passions reside in interactive games and apps, virtual production, and motion capture. Reflecting our relentless pursuit of innovation, we proudly launched Tpose.com in 2023, a dedicated venture that encompasses everything and anything related to motion capture and 3D characters. To further elevate our operations, we recently bid farewell to our old 1900s studio and embraced the dawn of a new era in our freshly built, state-of-the-art offices. This move not only enhances the studio experience for our esteemed clients but also cultivates an environment for our talented staff to thrive in.
Popularizing Hybrid Dance via 3D Digitization
Introdans is a prestigious Dutch dance company with a rich heritage of seamlessly blending classical ballet, modern dance, and contemporary choreography. With a history spanning over five decades, the dance company is now seeking to revitalize its website and recruit new dance members. To help them accomplish this, we decided to use motion capture technology on one of their accomplished dancers, infusing a contemporary vibe into their time-honored tradition.
We had the pleasure of recording Alberto, an exceptionally talented professional dancer, in our studio. To capture his movements, we utilized the cutting-edge motion-capture suit from Xsens and the Quantum Metagloves, a state-of-the-art motion-capture glove, from Manus. During the session, we documented a variety of dances, swiftly retargeting them to a 3D template character using iClone. Subsequently, we generated individual videos of each dance, allowing Introdans to select their favorites. The entire shoot, including preparation, spanned approximately half a day, while the overall production lasted around 2 weeks. This collaborative endeavor was achieved with fluid coordination and adaptability, resulting in an outcome that both parties took immense pride in.
iClone as a Crucial Element
For animation editing, I collaborated with my colleague Tim de Haan, who played a pivotal role. By referencing Reallusion’s free iClone motion editing tutorials to supplement his industry expertise, Tim was able to establish a feasible production pipeline. With the latest features in iClone added to the mix, our workflow was further optimized, resulting in substantial time savings.
We designed and developed a captivating character specifically for the Introdans webpage, utilizing the powerful tools of Character Creator 4. With a straightforward process, we seamlessly transferred the character to iClone. Thanks to the integrated motion profiles, importing the Xsens data into iClone became a breeze. However, given the variance in body proportions between the dancer and our character, some animation refinement was necessary. Fortunately, iClone proved to be an invaluable asset in this regard. Without further ado… allow us to present some remarkable case studies:
Motion layers proved to be indispensable in resolving mesh penetration. By leveraging motion layers, we were able to precisely position the arms and legs, effectively eliminating any intersection with adjacent geometry.
The utilization of distinct animation layers provided a clear project overview. Applying the same principle, we also implemented posture correction to make movement more natural.
iClone proved to be highly advantageous in seamlessly incorporating foot contact into the movements. This was effortlessly achieved by accurately positioning the hips at the appropriate height, allowing the inverse kinematics to naturally bend the knees and firmly plant the feet on the floor.
To achieve a smooth rolling motion of the feet over the ground, we utilized the Curve Editor to identify and address any erratic keys. By smoothing out these keys, we were able to achieve a much more appealing result. The implementation of footstep stabilization proved to be immensely helpful in resolving any hovering motion. This had a significant positive impact on the final outcome, and we found it effortless to make any necessary adjustments along the way.
The dance stage was created in Maya and Unreal Engine 5 by Jurre. To achieve ultra-realistic textures, Substance Painter was utilized. As the final touch to enhance the realism, the built-in Unreal 5 virtual camera, combined with an iPad Pro, was employed.
We are thrilled to present this remarkable animation editing pipeline to you. If you would like to explore more of our work or collaborate with our talented team for your projects, please don’t hesitate to connect with us by using the links below!
At Tpose, our flagship service is the Remote Motion Capture Shoot, enabling clients to direct and review their motion capture data on our custom-made platform. This gives our international clients the ability to direct their motion capture shoots without having to fly out to us, keeping cost and travel time manageable and redirecting budgets to where they are needed most: creativity.
Our clientele includes renowned fashion icons such as Karl Lagerfeld and Cara Delevingne, as well as esteemed motion capture industry players like Manus and Xsens. We invite you to explore more about our business through the links below and discover the possibilities.
Using the Dynamic Wrinkle System on a Caricature of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lifelike Grand Moff Tarkin of Star Wars
John’s background and education are in the traditional visual effects pipeline, mainly as a Compositor. Over the years, he has had the opportunity to work at visual effects studios such as Rhythm & Hues, along with game companies such as Sony Playstation (SCEA) in cinematic compositing. While he enjoyed those studio experiences, he found a greater love in passing along what he has learned and has taught in the college education sector in Southern California for over 12 years, including the Academy of Art University.
He still takes on some freelance and consulting work but was bitten by the “real-time” bug back when he saw a beta version of iClone 6 demoed at Siggraph years ago — and has been entranced by their possibilities and integration with other tools, such as Unreal, ever since. John is also co-founder of the YouTube channel AsArt and also runs a tutorial-based channel, Johnny HowTo. He would love for you to stop by and join him on his adventures!
Reallusion’s Dynamic Wrinkle system
Just like how the eyes are the “windows to the soul”, expression-driven wrinkles can reveal a persons’ emotions, and at times, their thoughts. When it comes to 3D animation, incorporating dynamic wrinkles may fall short of improving a poorly executed animation, but will certainly enhance the character’s presence. Picture an old woman recounting a story: the expressiveness of her creased brows allude to years of experience and, subconsciously, the tell-tale signs from her furrows captivate and lull as she speaks. On the other hand, the fast and tense wrinkles that appear on the bridge of the nose and around the mouth of a snarling man alerts us to potential danger and keeps us on our toes.
Apply Realistic Dynamic Wrinkles on the Character.
Having digital characters act to this degree is no easy task due to the need for sophisticated technologies; Technologies that have historically been reserved for high-end digital film and commercial characters, and utilized by a few AAA game titles on occasion. Regardless of use-case, budget remains the deciding factor because having expression-driven wrinkles is just too prohibitive in terms of time and effort required to create the underlying systems.
Then came Reallusion with their groundbreaking approach to real-time wrinkles. Having done the heavy lifting, Reallusion’s solution is at the ready to add an extra level of immersion to any digital actor — and it’s only a click or two away. For both realistic and stylized characters, there is really no reason not to take advantage of this new technology, and it’s a feature I have been eager to get my hands on for quite some time.
The Dynamic Wrinkle system was first announced as a late lifecycle update for iClone 7. That didn’t end up happening, but what has now arrived in iClone 8 and Character Creator 4 is absolutely worth the delay. Simply click a few buttons and your actor is given dynamic wrinkles. On top of that, the wrinkle parameters can be adjusted and tweaked to be as subtle or pronounced as you want. My first foray involved taking a few of my premade characters and running them through the painless setup process in Character Creator. The fact that it worked well with realistic and stylized characters was a pleasant surprise.
My hands-on experience with Dynamic Wrinkles
“Uncle Arnie” is my caricature of Arnold Schwarzenegger: He’s not quite as fit as he once was, but still has the underlying musculature that made him a household name. He’s still bombastic and expressive however, which makes him the perfect test candidate for Reallusion’s new wrinkle system.
My initial creation process used several pipeline features of Character Creator. That includes exporting a base mesh into the Wrap software, re-importing, combining with a CC body preset, and then the extensive reworking of both the head and body via morphs and other tools. While it took some time, it also worked perfectly for what I needed. Arnie being an older file, a quick conversion of the facial profile was also required, which was a single-click effort on my part. Finally, I enabled dynamic wrinkles… and that was it!
On the spur of the moment, I decided to use him for a quick one-minute opening for our channel’s video (AsArt on YouTube) covering the new wrinkle system. It involved some quick face motion capture using an iPhone Xs combined with some equally quick lighting, camera work, and subtle hand animations. The final render came straight out of iClone 8. Even without much polish, the near-instant results were quite pleasing. I would eventually use the legacy wrinkle set from the Wrinkle Essentials content pack to age Arnie even more — he’s seen some rough times, after all! All of this was as easy as pie to deploy, literally just drag and drops!
Eventually the intent is for Uncle Arnie alongside my caricature of Sylvester Stallone in a “Beavis and Butthead-esque” online series titled “Arnie & Stone”. When I get to it, Stone will surely be getting the wrinkle treatment as well!
Applying Dynamic Wrinkles on Realistic Characters
Having tested the wrinkle system on stylized characters, I decided to test it on realistic characters. Lucky for me, I had made a digital double of Grand Moff Tarkin for another AsArt video that showcased the digitization process of an existing actor. For those of you who are not as nerdy as myself, Grand Moff Tarkin is Darth Vader’s boss in Star Wars: A New Hope, played by Peter Cushing, an actor with a uniquely gaunt physique.
(Left: Dynamic wrinkle is off. Right: Dynamic wrinkle is on.)
Tarkin’s wrinkle integration was even easier, as his facial profile didn’t even need to be converted. I simply activated the checkbox, adjusted a few sliders, and that was it! Since he has a much paler complexion, I enjoyed the look of the reddening skin tones as the wrinkles activated, making his performance more immersive and believable like how real skin reacts when it expands and contracts. Also, since he’s a much older character, I used a more saggy wrinkle profile, even though he looked just fine with the default profile.
The Dynamic Wrinkle system is the real deal of vital tools that artists can’t do without. And it’s ultra-simple to use. I plan on making some slight adjustments to the some of the wrinkles positions to adhere to the character’s distinct skin textures, but, with the already-dynamic nature of the wrinkles, it’s actually pretty difficult to even notice they don’t perfectly line up — that is, unless you’re the one doing the animation!
(Left: Dynamic wrinkle is off. Right: Dynamic wrinkle is on.)
Reallusion has partnered with Maxon to develop an innovative approach on character posing that was years in the making. We are now pleased to announce the Character Creator (CC) to ZBrush Posing pipeline as the ultimate fruition of this collaboration.
The ZBrush Posing pipeline greatly streamlines the character posing workflow. Thanks to the auto-rigging tool (CC AccuRIG) that works with ZBrush subtools containing both soft and hard surfaces, you can perform custom pose editing with HumanIK and hand gesture controls in just minutes. All details sculpted in ZBrush are preserved through the intuitive GoZ and subdivision workflow, while the Reallusion motion and mocap ecosystem offers boundless pose possibilities.
The free Pose Tools plugin allows you to build and manage your personal library, refine individual poses, and switch between poses with a single click. Experience the excitement of creating limitless poses with CC at your fingertips — Download the pipeline tools below and unleash a multitude of ZBrush poses with Character Creator today.
See the feature highlights of the CC-to-ZB Posing pipeline :
Auto-rigging for ZBrush Characters that works with individual subtools. – Multi-mesh models can be auto-rigged with automatic skin weighting in the seamless CC-ZBrush roundtrip.
Limitless pose possibilities from motion clips and mocap sequences.
Custom pose editing with HumanIK and hand gesture controls.
Hard/soft surface treatment and nuanced accessory management
Powerful & Flexible Pose Management. – Free ZBrush plugin for character artists.
1. A Liberating Posing Workflow
The Character Creator (CC) Pose Tools for ZBrush seamlessly integrates with ZBrush layers, facilitating CC’s automated rigging, posing, and real-time updates across all subtools. Alongside pose management, it allows intricate detailing of character designs at high resolutions, letting you refine poses with precision.
2. Auto Rig ZBrush Characters
Rig Multi-mesh Models : Parsing Hard and Soft Surfaces
Rigging ZBrush characters with multiple subtools is no longer a challenge. With AccuRIG, joint positions are accurately placed, and naturalistic skin weights are applied to soft surfaces. Hard surfaces are automatically attached to the nearest bones, ensuring solid integrity. The flexibility to manually fine-tune bone placement, adjust skin weights, and modify bone attachments is readily accessible at all times.
Automatic Skin Weighting and Bone Placement
The animation quality of a rigged character is highly dependent on the proper skin-weight assignments related to its governing bones. AccuRIG mimics the weight-paint patterns of professional riggers for natural articulation of the body joints.
3. Roundtrip Character Design with GoZ
Design Evolution : Iterative Design
With the innovative GoZ roundtrip design, artists can effortlessly refine a character’s body shape while maintaining the integrity of its mesh flow and vertex count. GoZ enables the seamless reapplication of poses, eliminating the need to recreate the character rig. >> Learn more
With the ability to add and interchange accessories, a single model can transform into a diverse collection of unique figures. These accessories can be quickly applied to any body part and synchronized with their counterparts using GoZ. The gallery in Character Creator serves as a centralized hub for managing a wide range of accessories across characters, enabling the attachment of weapons to the hands and the strategic placement of armor parts.
Accurate Physics Simulation
Whether elevating the cinematic presence of super heroes with flowing capes or choreographed dancers with gracefully twirling ribbons, physics simulation is imperative in creating a sense of believability. By eliminating the need for sculpting fabric wrinkles and folds, physics can establish natural cloth formations, ready for artistic refinement.
4. Powerful Posing
Motion to Unlimited Poses : Thematic Poses from the Motion Library
Unlock a world of unlimited poses with our thematic motion library where each frame of animation becomes a potential source for unique poses. Character Creator offers an extensive collection of free animations and poses to inspire creative choices. Additionally, ActorCore provides access to thousands of premium mocap animations and meticulously hand-keyed, stylistic motions, all thoughtfully organized into distinct categories.
Human IK & Gesture Controls
Experience the unparalleled ease of creating natural poses with the renowned HumanIK editor, à la Maya and MotionBuilder. Maintain impeccable character balance while adjusting root movement or lean the body when dragging a limb. A comprehensive collection of gesture control gizmos and a gesture library are also provided, saving countless hours of meticulous finger tweaking.
Go beyond adjusting silhouettes and dive into the exquisite details of each pose, like sculpting flexed muscle and intricate wrinkles. These changes will be recorded exclusively for the current pose, without spilling into other poses.
5. Powerful Pose Management
Updating subtools while adding or switching layers in ZBrush involves significant work. However, Pose Tools can directly receive poses from Character Creator, efficiently manage the pose library, and automatically update all subtools when transitioning between poses. Finally, say goodbye to the tedious process of manual updates!
ZBrush models can be resized to match the scale conventions in Character Creator, a crucial initial step towards achieving accurate auto-rigging and posing compatibility between these two programs.
Freely traverse the subdivision levels of all subtools. Increase or decrease the subdivision levels or apply the highest or lowest subdivision level all at once.
Utilize Detail Layers to embellish character design. These overlaid effects can be applied to all poses managed by Pose Tools, providing a versatile and efficient way to enhance the character’s appearance.
With ZBrush Pose Tools, designers have the freedom to effortlessly manage and refine multiple poses for the same character. Switching between poses is just a click away — the ultimate in convenience and flexibility! >> Free Download
ZBrush Layers to Poses
To make the most of ZBrush Pose Tools, start by importing existing poses from ZBrush layers. There is the option to import all layers or selectively import hidden layers. These converted layers are labeled with “ccPose_” to maintain synchronization between ZBrush layers and the pose library.
The process of updating subtools while adding or switching layers in ZBrush can be quite elaborate. On the other hand, Pose Tools offer a seamless solution by effortlessly transferring and managing poses. Moreover, it automatically refreshes subtools when necessary, streamlining the workflow.
Easily Add New Poses
Create new poses with just one click to enable layer recording for all subtools involved. This feature integrates ZBrush mask posing and modifications from the Transpose Master.
Edit & Refine Poses
Enhance each pose by adding muscle and wrinkle details. These changes will be recorded exclusively for the current pose, without spilling into other poses.
Katherine Dellimore is a 2D digital animator from the UK who specializes in making animated videos and tutorials on YouTube. Many of her followers know her as “KDSKETCH” or “KD” for short. Her YouTube channel focuses on the creation of 2D animation while she elaborates on the process for character design, storyboarding, and various tips for aspiring animators.
In this video, KD showcases the advantages of integrating free form deformation (FFD) into 2D character animation for bringing objects to life. Using tools like Blender Grease Pencil and Affinity Designer, KD expertly designs an intricate Asian-style deity, magical balls, and other simple-style characters. Not only does she apply FFD effects, but she also incorporates spring bones into certain parts of the character.
To showcase the layering of the background, KD utilizes the highly accurate 3D Camera System, providing an immersive experience. The end result is a creative and unique animation, made possible by the abundance of quick-and-easy presets available in Cartoon Animator.
KD is renowned for her meticulous attention to detail and her ability to explain software features and tips in an easily understandable manner. If you aspire to become an animator, this video is an absolute must-watch!
Hi, I’m Benjamin Sokomba Dazhi and I welcome you to this iClone 8 (iC8) tutorial where we are going to talk about how to apply iClone 8 Motion Blur to your action animations in order to give them a more energetic and cinematic look.
The new features of iClone 8 Motion Blur effects provide a solution for streaking or blurring objects in motion to simulate speed. This is a must-have effect to help you create more believable animations which can be be adjusted for intensity and blending frames. Motion Blur Effects can be used for moving object or backgrounds, but in this tutorial we will use it on a character.
Let’s get to it.
To star, I’ve got my entire scene set up with Light and a character already in place. I’ve also put a fast paced fight motion in the character. Now the first thing we are going to do here is go to the Visual tab by the left. (Fig 1.0)
Under Visual, you’ll see a panel called Motion Blur.
Tick the Motion Blur. (Fig 3.0)
Now you’ll see that there are different parameters here. (Fig 4.0)
We have Intensity which is by default on 50 .
Then we have the Frame Blend. (Fig. 6.0)
The Frame Blend is on zero by default, but you can make the value less or more as shown in Fig 7.0.
So now that we have already ticked the Motion Blur, we are going to play it to see how it looks. You can see the Motion Blur is obvious in the scene and you can see the effect in real-time as shown below.
Next, if you want to reduce the Intensity of the Motion Blur, you just go to the parameter slider as shown in Fig 9.0 below and take it lower or higher.
Let’s try it on a lower value say 20 and see the effect. You can see it’s there but it’s not too much, so it’s kind of balanced. (Fig 10.0)
However if you want it to be more obvious in the scene then you can just increase the value.
Now let’s increase the value to say 70. You can see that 70 is way too much as shown in Fig 12.0 below.
Hence, we should reduce the value to 50 which is the default value. In Fig 13.0, this gives a more balanced effect.
You can go a little lower with the value as well, say 25.
It looks much better now. (Fig 15.0) Based on your preference you may either stick to 25, or you can go back to 50 as the default. Here I’m going to work with 25 in this tutorial.
Next, there’s a feature called Frame Blend and the value is either 0 or 1.
The Frame Blend has this ghosting effect that you can use if you want to achieve a “dreamy” type of look. It just depends on the type of visuals you’re trying to create. (Fig. 17.0)
Now, you can also drag the slider to the middle, in order to reduce the ghosting effect as shown below. (Fig 18.0)
The ghosting effect can come in handy when creating visuals depending on what you’re trying to achieve. So I’m going to leave it at 0 as I prefer just the Botion Blur effect I already created.
I played the animation from the Camera View and you can see the Motion Blur in real-time. You can play with the parameters too and work on the effect you hope to achieve.
This is pretty straight forward and it’s something you can create out of the box by working with the different Intensity levels of the Motion Blur.
Finally, there’s also a feature which is the Reset Motion Blur for a switch effect on the camera. This may be used when you want the Motion Blur to always reset when there’s a Camera Wwitch. That is another way to work with Motion Blur. This is shown in Fig 21.0 below.
Salutations to my fellow animators and animation fans around the world! My name is Jop, and three years ago, I embarked on a journey to master the craft of animation. My tool of choice is Cartoon Animator, especially its latest edition, CTA5. If you have a chance to check out its features, you’ll notice that it is chock-full of awesome features, which I have also explored in my short animation.
Storyboarding with Photoshop
It all begins with an idea, which I jot down using keywords and sketches on my iPad. Once my thoughts are captured, I create all my panels in Photoshop. This saves me a lot of time and allows me to visualize what visuals or action sequences work best for my story. My storyboards are usually loose and sketchy, often featuring stick figures instead of detailed characters. As long as they serve the purpose of establishing the story, they don’t have to be perfect. The initial steps of creating an animation aren’t very different from those of a painter or sculptor, that is starting out with the broad strokes before splitting hairs.
Creating Background Art
To set the stage for my story, I envisioned a desolate desert landscape, a place where you wouldn’t want your car to break down. Starting with a basic horizon line in my initial sketch, I gradually added layers to create a sense of depth and dimension. With Cartoon Animator 5, I was able to layer the mountains and ground planes to give the scene more visual interest and enhance the dynamic camera movements in my animation.
To populate the scene, I drew various reusable props such as loose rocks, cacti, and skulls, which I scattered strategically in different backgrounds throughout the story. Not only did these props save me time, but they also helped maintain visual consistency and continuity between scenes.
2D Character Design
To rig my characters, I used Reallusion’s PSD templates, which are incredibly user-friendly and intuitive. All I had to do was swap out the default 2D character design and sprites with my own creations. If you’re just starting out with animation, I recommend studying existing examples of how the rigging templates work and how characters move their joints and facial features. Reallusion’s website has plenty of examples, and you can also find helpful videos and courses on platforms like YouTube. While it may require some time investment, it will definitely pay off in the end, as it did for me when I was a beginner at rigging.
Create Animated 2D Character
Cartoon Animator 5 has a great feature called the 360 Head and Facial Animation Set Up. If you set up your character properly in a PSD Editor beforehand, it becomes simple to use in CTA5 with these tools.
2D character animation
I then began outlining the movements by keyframing essential actions and facial expressions. The only exception was utilizing a 3D walk cycle, which makes 2D character animation in CTA5 a breeze. Here I rest easy and let the new features in CTA5 bring my 2D character to life.
Compositing in After Effects
For compositing, I relied on After Effects. I utilize various blurs with different blending modes to achieve a more cinematic look, and also apply basic color correction techniques such as saturation and color filters.
Video Editing and Sound Design
My editing process began by combining my voice-over with the storyboard panels. As I completed my animation scenes, I replaced the storyboard panels with the final animation clips. I want to give a special shout-out to my talented friends at Studio Ghibletz who helped me with their amazing voice-over and writing for my project.
I highly recommend CTA 5 for all users, for beginners and pros alike as it is an easy-to-learn and intuitive-to-use animation tool. CTA 5 includes a bunch of user-friendly features and toolsets which give me the ability to unleash my creativity without compromise. Like no other tool I tried in the past, CTA really allowed me to kick-start my dream to become an animator. I therefore am, for sure, a great fan and will keep on using it for many projects to come.
A Dev Guide to Creating Reusable Asset Library for the Reallusion Marketplace
Greetings, I’m Peter Alex and in this article I will demonstrate some advanced tricks in creating anime-style toons in Character Creator 4 (CC4). The problem I was facing is that CC’s design is focused around realistic characters; Yet, I was aiming for the imaginative style of One Piece. The areas I’ll be focusing on are the teeth, eyes, eyelashes, and skin. I’ll also be adjusting the facial profile, creating a Head Preset, and applying elements of the newly created components to another stylized character. So I encourage you to read on to equip some of the core concepts that can be expanded upon for your own projects.
To start off this tutorial, you’ll need to download and install the “CC4 Blender Pipeline Tool Plugin” for CC4. >> Download here.
Then you’ll need to download and install the “CC/iC Blender Tools” plugin for Blender. >> Download here.
Creating New Teeth
While some cartoon styles do comprise realistic teeth, I’m specifically going for a very simplified, anime style.
1. I’ll start by exporting the character using the Blender Pipeline Add-on in Character Creator.
2. Then, I’ll import the FBX file using the CC/iC Add-on in Blender.
3. With the avatar imported, I’m going to use the geometry of the original teeth to build the anime teeth. I’ll grab an edge loop from the top of the gums and extrude a simple shape for the top teeth. Then I’ll extrude and add some depth. I will then delete the top row of polygons, which will allow for easy UV unwrapping.
4. I will repeat this for the bottom teeth, then combine the teeth into one object.
Since the geometry has been extruded from the original teeth, I do not need to add vertex groups or weight maps. These teeth are also bound to the armature by default, using this method. If you create more complex teeth using another method, you will need to assign the appropriate groups and weight maps and bind it to the armature.
For the Top Teeth, the vertex group must be “CC_Base_Teeth01”.
For the Bottom Teeth, the vertex group must be “CC_Base_Teeth02”.
5. With the teeth created, export the character using the CC/iC add-on and import the FBX using the Blender Pipeline Plugin in Character Creator.
You may experience a warning during the import process, but the import should otherwise be successful.
Adjusting the Eyes
With the teeth created, I will work on the eyes. This is a simpler process than the teeth, as I’ll mostly be altering the textures. You will need an image editor for this process; If you do not have Photoshop, you can use an alternative such as Krita.
Clicking on the material channel and initiating the texture launcher will send the texture to your image editor. I will be editing the diffuse texture.
In Krita, I will be creating a very simple texture to replace the realistic version. Just a white to pink radial gradient for the sclera and a black circle for the pupil and iris. I will save the texture, which is linked to a temporary file. Unless the link is broken, saving the file in Krita will update the texture in Character Creator.
I will then manually copy this eye texture over to the other materials for the eye, as they are not linked to the saved file.
I see that this is still insufficient, due to the properties of this material, so I will adjust the Sclera brightness.
I will use this same process to create stylized eye lashes. In this case I will edit the opacity map, and use it as a reference when making the adjustments. Opacity operates on a black to white spectrum. Black is invisible, white is visible.
Creating New Skin
Next, I will simplify the skin texture. There are a few ways to do this — I will use the simplest method. Select the diffuse texture slot for the head. In the Adjust Color dialog, dial the Contrast to -100.
Copy the texture then save it in the same slot. This will be the same as importing a gray texture. Adjust the Saturation, Hue and Brightness until you achieve the desired skin tone.
Copy this texture and place it in the slots for the Body, Arms, and Legs. This will create a simple foundation for your skin. If the normal maps are providing too much detail, dial down the normal intensity.
You can make further adjustments to the skin by activating the Skin Color options. I wanted to subtract some detail, so I didn’t use it initially.
I’ll make a few other adjustments before I start altering her facial profile. I will increase the scale of her Pupil and Iris. This can be done through the Morph Editor if you have the Headshot plugin, and can be done to a limited degree by manipulating the materials for the Cornea.
Adjusting Stylized Teeth
Next I’ll adjust the placement of her teeth. Although first I notice that the stylized teeth have odd normal effects. You can fix this by selecting the teeth and smoothing the normals in the Edit Normals options.
Now I will adjust the teeth by referencing the thumbnails of each major expression.
I will make additional corrections such as the placement of the eyelashes and eyeballs. Make these adjustments prior to using the facial profile editor so you don’t have to redo them.
Using the Facial Profile Editor
The next step is to modify the facial profile. But first, I will adjust the eye elements by selecting Correct Eyeblink in the Character menu. Often the eyelash will need to be manually corrected, especially for stylized characters. In addition, eyes this large present a problem since they bulge beyond the elasticity of the eyelids, causing them to clip through the geometry when the character blinks.
There are two ways to correct this problem: deform the eyeballs for the blinks or adjust their positions. For this character, I chose the latter method because the eye positions can be mirrored as opposed to deformations.
To reposition the eyes, I used the Proportion Editor and switched to Face and made sure that symmetry was disabled. When needed, I checked Show Expression to reference the current expression.
I then selected the eye bones and translated them slightly backwards and baked the expression. The eyeballs will now retreat to mitigate the clipping during the blinks. In all but extreme cases, this should resolve the issue.
Accommodating Custom Expressions
I previously created custom expressions for this character, but the teeth were not compatible with the original data. To fix this, I will dial in the expression and adjust the teeth to fit, then rebake it so that the new teeth will acquire the new data. Adjusting the teeth is surprisingly easy with the transform tools while in the Edit Mesh window.
Saving the Edits to the Eyes and Teeth
Saving an asset generally requires two steps. Select the asset you want to save and go to the designated category in the Content window and click Save. A thumbnail will be automatically generated for you based on the current camera. You can replace it with another image at any time.
Creating a Head Preset
The head consists of several components: The morph, facial profile, eyes, teeth, eyelashes, skin and material settings — and now the wrinkle settings with the latest update (I’m sure in the future it will contain even more components). Each of these components can be saved as a preset, and the Head preset unifies them.
Creating a Head preset is relatively easy. First, you must separate the body and head using the Create > Head & Body Morph Sliders command. Next, go to the content window, select your character, and click save while in the Head Morph & Skin category.
A body preset can likewise be saved, although it contains less components.
I will demonstrate the presets I’ve created on a new character. I’m going to load a demo character and use it as a base to apply the presets I just created. I’ve cleared the existing morphs, leaving the character in its default neutral state.
Any preset or accessory can be applied by double clicking or dragging the item onto the character from the Content window. The preset loads fine, although there is an obvious clash between realism and cartoon styles. Loading the body preset and stylized hair minimizes this.
All of her presets are now loaded to this demo avatar, including the facial profile, which is part of the head preset. The ability to load an entire head setup helps with mixing character designs.
Finally, I will apply the teeth and eyes to another stylized character, so I can explain the issues you may have to solve with your project. First, note that your character must have the same tier of facial profile for the custom teeth or eyes to load. For example, these teeth were created with the Extended Facial profile, so the character must have an Extended Facial profile applied for the teeth to load.
You can see that the initial alignment with this character is off, but it can be easily corrected using the transform tools in Edit Mesh. After which you can align the teeth better by comparing the position with the icons in the Facial Editor.
Using the Facial Editor to examine expressions is an important part of adjusting the facial profile. This menu allows you to go through common expression combinations and see if there are any issues, such as geometry clipping or misalignment with other assets, such as the teeth or tongue. Ideally you want the expression to match the thumbnail, and adjusting the teeth to match key expressions is an important step.
I’ve scaled down the iris size a bit, as I find them to be too dilated. Previously I had used both the sclera UV radius and the morphing options to achieve a large iris, but I can use just the Sclera UV option to decrease the Iris scale. The difference is that adjusting the UV radius impacts the texture, whereas the morphing options impact the geometry.
These teeth were aligned with the previous stylized character, so the offset was based on her teeth’s initial position. For the best results, design your teeth around the avatar’s neutral shape.
The biggest issues are with the custom expressions for this character. The rest of the expressions work well.
You can see the side-by-side comparisons here. As I mentioned, you may not need toon assets to convey a cartoon style, although I think for the anime character it would be difficult to do without.
The presets in Character Creator are extremely powerful and can be leveraged for many different styles, including cartoons. While the base avatar is designed with realism in mind, the ability to save facial profiles and import custom anatomy can push the software into other categories. Character Creator becomes powerful with every update, and I encourage content creators and artists to add this amazing software to their pipeline.