The article “Using iClone 8 with Vicon to Recreate the Iconic ‘I Am Your Father’ Scene from ‘Empire'” was recently published on the website Befores and Afters.
Luis Cepeda from Quitasueño Studios in Dominican Republic, provides a detailed step-by-step guide on how his studio recreated the iconic “I Am Your Father” scene from the movie “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back.”
Quitasueño Studios is the first studio specialized in film productions in the Dominican Republic, they offer consulting on everything related to projects (Pre Production, Production and Post Production). The studio has completed over 35 feature films and other different scale productions.
Now Quitasueño Studios opens its brand-new motion capture theatre. A facility with a system that seamlessly integrates in its pipeline iClone 8, Character Creator, Unreal Engine, Vicon, Faceware and Rokoko, as well as many other software allowing Quitasueño Studio to capture +6 actors at the same time, saving time and effort for their clients.
In this showcase they start by introducing iClone 8 and Vicon, two professional animation and motion capture programs. They explain how they combined the two programs to bring the famous scene to life. The article provides a thorough explanation of the various stages involved in creating the scene, including setting up the Vicon system, calibrating the cameras, capturing the motion data, and using iClone 8 to animate the characters.
They break down the technical aspects of the process, explaining them in an easy-to-understand manner. And the accompanying images and videos help to further illustrate the steps involved in creating the scene. The article concludes by showcasing the final product and discussing some of the challenges faced during the creation process.
Overall, the showcase provides a comprehensive guide for anyone interested in using iClone 8 and Viconoptical motion capture to create their own professional motion-captured scenes, providing a clear and detailed guide making it easy for directors, cinematographers, animators and CG artists to learn how to create their own motion picture scenes with iClone and Character Creator.
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 enhance your scenes visually using reflective surfaces in iClone 8.
The new features of iClone 8 includes a Mirror Plane Shader that simulates realistic reflective surfaces that can be applied to mirrors, televisions, floors or windows. You can define the mirror shape by Opacity texture, and adjust the strength and clarity of the mirror reflection with the Material Settings.
Let’s get to it.
Already, I have a character in my scene which I’ve set up with lights placed at different Interior furniture. The goal here is to create reflective surfaces like the mirror and also make the floor reflective.
So the first thing you do is you click on PLANE. I’ve already imported a Plane to the scene and set it up here. (Fig 1.0)
Go to modify.
Under Modify, go to TextureSettings. (Fig 3.0)
Here, you see the Shader Type is already on PBR. We want to change it to ReflectionSurface as shown in Fig 4.0 below.
So once you click on ReflectionSurface, boom! It starts reflecting as shown below in Fig 5.0. Now you can see the mirror and the characters reflection through it. It’s as easy and straightforward as that.
You can also tweak or modify the mirror.
This can be achieved by changing the Opacity of the mirror. You can put a different type of Opacity just so it doesn’t look too clean or sharp.
Once you play with the Opacity you can put a different Material or Texture to make the mirror look like glass. If you play it you see it’s still reflecting. (Fig 8.0)
You can also modify it further by using Diffusecolor, Reflectionstrength, Reflectionblur etc… but on this particular mirror surface, you don’t need the reflection to be blurred.
Another easy way to create a plane with reflection is to go to Create, then ReflectionSurface. Once you click on it you should see a ReflectionSurface in the scene right there. (Fig 10.0)
Next, resize the ReflectionSurface to the shape or size of the object you want it on as in this case the mirror as shown below. Or you can reshape it to what you prefer and place it wherever you want.
That’s another easy method that is quite straightforward. We can delete it for now since we already have the reflectivesurface we previously placed.
Next thing we are going to work on is the Floor. As you can see we just have a basic floor. What we want to do right now is try to make it more reflective.
You might think it’s already reflecting from the image shown below but not quite. It’s only reflecting the light in the scene and has more to do with the roughness of the floor material. (Fig 12.0)
Same as before, click on the floor or the plane on the ground.
Go to modify. (Fig 14.0)
I have my textures already set under modify. So go to ShaderType under texturesetting.Click on PBR then go to reflectionsurface again. (Fig 15.0)
As you can see below, it’s already reflecting but in this case you can see its more blur because I tried making it blur so it doesn’t have a water or glass feel. It needs to look like a marble floor.
How I did that is I went to the ModifyPanel and under Shadersettings I played with the ReflectionStrength. (Fig 17.0)
Just as mentioned, you can increase or reduce the ReflectionStrength using the slider highlighted in Fig 18.0 below.
You can pick a value of maybe say 47.
You can also increase the Reflectionblur from 47 but it shouldn’t be too blurry, but it really just depends on what you’re looking for. I don’t want it to be too sharp so it doesn’t look like a glass or mirror hence the selected value.
We can also change the DiffuseColor too.
I made it darker but you can make it brighter. I just decided to make it a little bit darker as that’s how you get this particular reflection created in the scene below. (Fig 19.0)
Finally, let’s review and see all the effects we have added:
The character is reflecting, everything in the scene is reflecting from the furniture to the ceiling, and the good thing is that you can still see that the material/texture of the floor is still there. From the final scene render, through the camera view I created, you can see that both the mirror and the floor are now reflective.
So this is how you create reflections in iClone 8 to enhance the visuals in your scene. It really gives it more life and realism and makes the whole project more interesting.
I hope this tutorial was straightforward and I hope you can use this to make more beautiful and realistic scenes in your projects using iClone 8.
As a newcomer to the 2D Marketplace, Loopie Animate has leapt on the scene and mad a big splash with new animation loops that can be used as motion backgrounds for 2D animations.
Adding more and more practical animated packs at a rapid pace, Loopie Animate sat down with Reallusion to discuss the idea behind this innovative content and what plans are being made for the future.
Q: Greetings and welcome to the 2D Marketplace. Having been a Cartoon Animator user for a while, but only recently becoming a developer for CTA, can you tell us about yourself and your background?
From a young age I always loved to draw, but had never ventured into animation. My journey with Cartoon Animator started almost 2 years ago in December 2020, initially to create simple animated educational resources – as I am a ESL teacher.
Recently I have made the transition to create animated scenes and props for Cartoon Animator users. Teaching myself techniques to use animated scenes within Cartoon Animator, it all started when I wanted to speed up my workflow, to see how one of my characters would appear in a scene without using the export or pipeline feature to After Effects. To my surprise I successfully had a working animated scene in Cartoon Animator after a few hours. At this moment I thought to myself that other cartoon animator and iClone users could benefit from this. The great thing about this is that the user still has the option to export the scene as a video file to edit in their video editor of choice if they prefer.
Q: You discovered you were able to create videos of animated loops and then import them into Cartoon Animator to use as motion backgrounds. Why did you choose Cartoon Animator for your 2D Animation content?
It is the ease of use, unlike other software packages I have tried, secondly it is great value for money, not subscription based. Plus it is packed full of high quality characters, assets and features to create a professional product. Another reason I chose to use Cartoon Animator is the amount of readily available body and face motions you have access to. I needed a fast workflow, so to manually keyframe each character was not conducive to my workflow. Cartoon Animator gives the automated option, or the option to customize, which appealed to me.
“It is the ease of use, unlike other software packages I have tried, secondly it is great value for money, not subscription based. Plus it is packed full of high quality characters, assets and features to create a professional product. Another reason I chose to use Cartoon Animator is the amount of readily available body and face motions you have access to. “
Loopie Animate – Cartoon Animator users
Q: Do you have a particular style or design that you prefer working with?
I like to create both cartoon and realistic style scene settings, whether that be a summer, winter, city, or space scene. My content tends to lean to motion based scenes. I think there are a lot of animated characters out there, but there is a lack of animated backgrounds for these characters. Growing up with 80’s cartoons and retro video games there was a great deal of motion which kept my eyes peeled. That has inspired me somewhat to come up with what I create. Motion is the key, it gives the viewer/user an immersive experience.
Q: You have produced a lot of content in such a short time, so you must be having fun. Is the process of creating your content enjoyable and easy?
I find the process of creating characters for Cartoon Animator very smooth. I love the fact that Photopea and After Effects are linked to Cartoon Animator, because without these it would be very time-consuming. The pipeline allows you to go back and forth to edit, and change colours very smoothly. I always like to add expressions to my characters and using the facial puppet tool for customization is fairly a quick process, as Cartoon Animator has a large range of facial emotions to choose from.
I would say once you have become familiar with the Cartoon Animator user interface, it is really simple to use. For me I learn what I need to know for that particular project, so there is no pressure in knowing every feature.
“I would say once you have become familiar with the Cartoon Animator user interface, it is really simple to use. For me I learn what I need to know for that particular project, so there is no pressure in knowing every feature.”
Loopie Animate – Cartoon Animator users
Q: What features of Cartoon Animator do you make the most use of when creating your content? And what are some of your favourite CTA features and tools?
The ability to easily apply a vast range of motions to any character, is one of the main features which beats other cartoon animator packages. Collect clip is also a great feature, because you can build your own set of motions and apply them to other characters… saving heaps of time.
Morph head feature is also a great tool. If time is not on your side you can quickly set up an animated face without the need to draw individual facial features.
Being able to instantly apply 3D animations onto 2D characters, depending on the angle of the character is a practical tool to. This is advanced stuff for 2D animators which I have not seen featured with any other 2D software package. That’s not all! I also added my own motion capture data to my characters using a free mocap software. Although I had to do a lot of cleaning up to get a decent loop, it was worth the time and effort, and once again it shows Cartoon Animator’s capabilities.
And finally I can’t forget the audio sync feature which gives me the ability to create stories, adverts, shorts, and even edit the phonemes to convey a seamless piece.
Q: Now that you have become a content developer for the 2D Marketplace, what advice would you have for other artists and animators who are considering the marketplace for their art?
My advice for potential Reallusion developers is to make sure their product is of high quality, and ask yourself “is it content which I would use”? Can it speed up the animator’s workflow? Is it something original, well it should be, because you are in the field of creation.
If you haven’t already, then join the Cartoon AnimatorFacebook groups, display your work, pose questions to 2D Community Manager Garry Pye, and other helpful guys and girls in the group who are sure to give you good and honest feedback.
Q: So what can we expect to see from you in the future?
I plan to upload more 2D/3D animated scenes from different angles with additional props to the 2D Marketplace, to give animators an opportunity to create cartoons within Cartoon Animator.
As well as that, I am excited to use the new vector animation tools in CTA5. I admit starting out, a lot of my characters were raster based and therefore not good for close ups, so the vector element is a game changer for those zoom in shots or explainer videos. I have animated vector elements in other software suites, but Cartoon Animator 5 has added spring and bounce which in turn will add to the dynamism and potentially speed up my workflow.
Q: How have you found your time working with Cartoon Animator and learning to use all the tools and features?
I can honestly say that the learning curve for me was quick. Oh yes, I made loads of mistakes at the beginning but that quickly showed what not to do. Also I find that there is a great deal of tutorials on YouTube to assist me should I run into any difficulties. And that fact there is a 2D Marketplace full of ready made assets if I don’t have time to create an asset.
Q: You always seem to be working on something new and exciting. What projects have you most recently been working on?
I have recently started a YouTube channel promoting Physical Education for schools, mainly using Cartoon Animator to produce the bulk of the content. I am very happy with the results and will continue to push the boundaries of Cartoon Animator in this genre.
I have also set up a page for any user who wishes to purchase the scenes in MOV and MP4 formats.
List new features of CTA5 – Vector art, Free Form Deformation (FFD)
What is vector art? Vector vs Raster.
What vector software can be used to create CTA5 characters
Benefits of vector art.
Basic flow of creating a vector character.
Learning character build folders – RLBone human, RLBone Head, RLImage.
Rules to follow when creating characters.
Exporting SVG for CTA5
Free Form Deformation (FFD)
G’day! My name is Garry Pye and I am the 2D Community Manager for Reallusion. In addition, I have been a content developer for Cartoon Animators 2D Marketplace for the past nine years. I would like to introduce you to the 2D animation software Cartoon Animator 5, which delivers a new set of amazing and practical tools that will help you to create professional 2D animation faster and easier than ever before.
In addition to the abilities you are already familiar with in Cartoon Animator, version 5 now has object Free Form Deformation (FFD), Spring Bones and most importantly, the ability to create characters using vector software. Each of these new features will enhance your animated projects in all new ways, and when mixed with the powerful tools you already use, Cartoon Animator 5 is about to take your 2D animation to a whole new level.
In this article, I am going to take you on a tour of some of the new tools and features Cartoon Animator has to offer.
Vector Based Character Design
Cartoon Animator 5 introduces the ability to design and build your characters as vector art in your favourite drawing software, including Adobe Illustrator, CorelDraw, Affinity Designer, Photopea and Inkscape.
So what is vector art? Unlike raster art which is made up of pixels that can blur when enlarged or zoomed, vector graphics are created from geometric shapes like points, lines, curves and polygons, which means you can enlarge them indefinitely without any loss of quality and without any annoying feathering around the edge of your art. So you can zoom in as close as you want to a character and never worry about losing quality.
With a drawing tablet like my XP-Pen 24 Pro, you can still free draw your art, but as vectors, you have the ability to make instant changes to shape and colour, meaning changes to your design can be made spontaneously, as opposed to working with raster images which need to be completely redrawn.
And the best news is, creating vector characters for Cartoon Animator 5 is easy, provided you keep in mind a few important rules.
As you are creating your new vector character, you are going to want to make sure all your colour environment is RGB mode. This way, users will have the chance to change the colour of individual parts of your character like skin, hair and clothing, directly inside Cartoon Animator 5, adding more value to your content.
As you build your character, remember to group all your body parts like arms, legs and torso for easy management, and name them the same as the corresponding body part in the Cartoon Animator 5 character template, so that you can import your finished character straight in to CTA.
Have fun drawing your most creative ideas, just be sure to keep all your parts grouped together so you can match them up with the character template and have them work in CTA5. Now once your character is designed and all your parts are grouped correctly, it’s time to assemble your character using the bones that will control movement. And the number one rule here is ‘make sure your layers are named correctly’. You have three main folders that make up a character build, and they are RLBoneHuman: RLBoneHead: and RLImage: And it’s worth taking a closer look at these to see just what they do.
First, the RLBoneHuman: folder contains all the pivot points for the bones of the body and you can position these any way you want to create your own unique skeletons for your characters.
Next is the RLBoneHead: folder containing the pivot points for the individual parts that make up the face. These are important because they determine how the head rotates for your 360 Head movement.
And finally we have the RLImage: folder which contains all the actual drawn parts of the face and body. Everything in here needs to be layered in the correct order so all your characters face and body parts appear in front or behind each other as required.
Now you have your character all drawn up, with its bone points in place and all your layers in the correct order. It’s time to send it in to Cartoon Animator 5 and bring it to life!
Now you are going to export your new character as an SVG file, which is your Scalable Vector Graphic. Make sure your Compatibility is set to 1.1 and your Styling Options are set to Presentation and you can export your character.
Move across to Cartoon Animator 5 and drop your SVG file in to Stage Mode and your character will appear! Now you only need to set up your 360 Head movement and your character is complete.
So that’s it. That’s how easy it is to create your own custom vector characters for Cartoon Animator 5. But there are a couple of other really clever new things Cartoon Animator 5 can do with your characters, and I am going to show you now.
Object Free Form Deformation (FFD)
New to Cartoon Animator 5 is Object Free Form Deformation (FFD). This is the ability to apply squash and stretch to your character to exaggerate movement and give your characters the feeling of being more flexible. And it’s really easy to apply.
Once you have animated your characters, you can apply Free Form Deformation. On your characters Timeline, you will see a tab named FFD. Open this track and this is where you will see the Free Form Deformation as it is applied. Select your character and open the Free Form Deformation menu. Now you will see a bounding box surrounding your character. You can move each of these points to affect the squash and stretch to your character and manually keyframe its movement, or you can apply one of the preset deformations. You can rotate, shift, scale and adjust the strength of the deformation to get your animation just the way you want and give your characters a more exaggerated, cartoony performance.
Another new feature for Cartoon Animator 5 are Spring Bones. Think of Spring Bones as being able to automatically apply physics and gravity to your characters body parts. In the past, if you had a character with long flowing hair, when you applied a motion, the hair would still remain static. You could use the Deform tool and keyframe movement, but that process took a considerable amount of time.
Not any more.
Now, with Cartoon Animator 5’s Spring Bones, character parts can move freely, as the Spring Bones will automatically control their movement. There is no keyframing involved. Nothing you have to do. Just apply the Spring Bones and watch your character move like never before.
And the best part is, adding Spring Bones is so easy! Spring Bones are going to change the way your characters move in the most amazing, dynamic way.
With your character open in Composer Mode, open the Bone Editor. Select the bone pivot point you want to apply your Spring Bones to. Now add new bones starting from this point. You can do this to any face or body part. Then open the Spring Bone Editor, create a new group and assign the bone to that group. When you do, you will see all the bones attach to this bone are added to the group and they will all change colour. Now click Preview and watch as your hair moves naturally on its own when you move the characters head.
How good is that! No more tedious keyframing. No more unnatural, stiff movement. You can apply Spring Bones to any face or body part. Anything that you want to move naturally. Hair, clothing, tails, trunks. Turn anything in to a wobbly, jelly like substance in seconds. And then control the strength of the Spring Bones bounce, speed, gravity and more and Cartoon Animator 5 will automatically animate it all for you.
So there you have it. Just some of the new features and tools of Cartoon Animator 5. Tools that are designed to enhance your characters performance through natural, automated movement, like squash and stretch, as well free flowing movement with Spring Bones. Techniques applied in the traditional 12 principles of animation, as well as vector art that will give your final 2D animations a higher quality output for professionals.
Cartoon Animator is already powerful animation software designed with both the beginner and professional in mind. With version 5 we have added new features that will bring your characters to life in exciting new ways!
José Vaz, also known by his internet moniker Zez, is a freelance 2D animator and director based in Porto, Portugal. With over ten years of remote work experience, he leads a small team at Toma Creators in producing animated explainers and music videos. In addition to commercial projects, Zez creates personal projects in the form of animated series, podcasts, video games, and comics. His specialty is 2D animation, and he finds enjoyment in realizing his ideas with an artistic composition that has been carefully curated.
The team at Toma Creators create explainer videos for various industries and serve clients that offer goods and services worldwide. The showcased screenshots demonstrate the company’s ability to tell succinct stories in under a minute. The person in charge of the upcoming project began using Cartoon Animator (CTA) to bring it to life and eventually utilized CTA for the first time in the production of a short film named “Walter Precipitous,” after receiving the project brief.
The following is an interview of José and Toma Creator’s about their work on Walter Preciptous.
Q:Greetings, José. Congratulations on being the inaugural 2D participant in the Reallusion Pitch & Produce program. Firstly, can you tell us a little about your character, Walter Precipitous, and walk us through his 2D character creation process?
Walter is a water molecule that transforms between solid, liquid, and gas states. However, we primarily see him as a big-headed droplet. After discovering CTA’s 360 head rotation tutorial, which featured an angry bird-like character, I knew CTA would be the perfect software to make Walter come alive. My 2D character designs are heavily influenced by Cartoon Network, and I quickly drew sketches of the characters that were inspired by its shows. Using Procreate on my iPad, I drew the characters in a neutral position with all the necessary facial features for the film. Later, in Photoshop, I added colors and prepared the models for CTA.
The story contains many emotional scenes, prompting me to create two sets of mouth syllables conveying sadness 😔 and happiness 😃. In CTA, Crystal’s character was animated as a green screen body, with the intricate texture added in post-production using After Effects. I must say, the creation of characters in Cartoon Animator was both enjoyable and efficient. Once character models were complete, animating them was a breath of fresh air.
Q: Thank you for sharing your experience! Could you please provide further details on your typical creation workflow with Cartoon Animator and other tools?
Typically, I draw my characters using Procreate and add carefully selected colors in Photoshop. Once character creation is finished, I bring the models to Cartoon Animator for animation. In “Walter Precipitous”, there were several lip-sync sequences that would have stumped most facial animators. I’m just so grateful that Cartoon Animator simplified the process and made facial and lip-sync animation more manageable using their intuitive built-in functions.
Once I complete the character animations, I bring them into After Effects, a software that I’m already familiar and comfortable with. After Effects is where I add most of the background images and handle post-production. This is also where I add textures to some of the characters, and I’m thrilled to see how my past experiences have had an impact on the vividness of the characters.
Q: In what ways did Cartoon Animator 5 contribute to enhancing the animation’s liveliness for this project?
Cartoon Animator is a fantastic software for both indie and professional animators. With the latest update of Cartoon Animator 5, we were able to incorporate many new features, allowing us to give Walter and Crystal more personality. One of the new features we used was the FFD effectfor secondary animations. This feature allows us to squash and stretch the characters to create intricate effects reminiscent of classic animation. In my story, Walter is portrayed as a bubbly character with a dream to explore the world. The FFD effect was a game-changer, helping us animate Walter with attitude and create more cartoony motions.
The Spring Effect enables new physics possibilities. I used the Spring Editor to animate an otter with bounciness and tail motion. Pre-set animations are available and can be added to character bones for testing. Reallusion provides free tutorials with sample animations, and playing with tested secondary animations can improve final results. The ability to use vector graphic files was important for me because many of my illustrations were vector files in the first place. Cartoon Animator 5 allows users to import vector graphics from other online libraries or obtain them from Reallusion’s free, embedded vector characters.
Q: Could you describe your communication and coordination process with your team for this project? Additionally, do you face any difficulties when collaborating remotely on team projects?
Effective communication is crucial for success, especially in larger projects. Having worked together on various projects for a few years, I am familiar with Mariana’s and Andre’s capabilities and workflow, which can be surprising and innovative. Toblerusse, the Canadian creator and producer, was easy to work with and gave us creative freedom. Although we all live in Porto, Portugal, we worked remotely, which was natural for us. To promote good communication, it helps to work with nice colleagues and be supportive. Our collaboration on this project was inspiring, and remote work created new opportunities for teamwork that weren’t available before.
Q: We’re delighted that your team successfully completed and delivered an excellent project. Can you share your future plans for the Walter Precipitous Project?
The team had a great time working on Walter Precipitous and is continuing with the creation of more educational content. To keep things organized, a landing page called Walter Teaches Kids has been established, featuring upcoming material such as water and science videos, a regularly updated YouTube channel, and aTeachers Pay Teachers profile. Backed by remarkable synergy, the team looks forward to introducing new characters and short films.
My name is Frank Zwick, I am a 3D artist from Germany with over 30 years experience in the 3d industry.
Since 2015 I offer a 3D scanning service, specialized in full body scanning. Anyone who has been involved in character rigging knows how much know-how, time and work it takes to get good results.
To rig 3D scans of humans takes even a little more effort. Most of the time there is no exact symmetry to use, the fingers are often not separated from each other, as well as the critical areas. ( e.g. in the neck where the clothing collar merges with the skin) Hours of aligning local rotation axes combined with the tedious process of painting skinweights are a thing of the past since AutoRigging software has been around.
Unfortunately, the results were not always as good as expected, due to the reasons already mentioned, which is why I did not use AutoRigging software for my 3D scans. With AccuRig, Reallusion is launching a free auto rigging software with great features, which will attract attention in this area. With AccuRig it is now possible to transform a static 3D scan into a living 4D scan in just five simple steps, but with sufficient control over the rig. The ability to easily adjust and fine-tune the position of the body joints in an iterative process is almost always necessary for 3D scans of people.
“With AccuRig it is now possible to transform a static 3D scan into a living 4D scan in just five simple steps, but with sufficient control over the rig.”
Frank Zwick – Dipl. Designer (FH) für elektronische Medien
The same applies to the joints of the fingers. AccuRig delivers surprisingly good skinweights even under difficult conditions like in this example with non-separated fingers. In addition, the PoseOffset offers the possibility of retargeting even while the animation is playing. If the result is satisfying you can export it as FBX and pass it to other 3D applications or you can pass the character to ActorCore. There you can choose from a large library of motion capture data and transfer the motion data per click to the CharacterRig and evaluate it in the Real-time viewer from all sides.
For example, in ArchViz one often wishes for people in a certain pose to liven up the 3D scene, but of course you don’t have any suitable ready-posed 3D scans in the archive on your hard disk – with AccuRig it is now easier than ever to bring static 3D scans into the desired pose. All you need is a single 3D scan of a human in T or A pose to get started. After completing the five simple steps in AccuRig , countless poses can now be taken by the character as desired. So easily one A Pose Model becomes multiple models to populate architectural visualizations.
This is just another benefit besides the actual goal of bringing the static people scan from 3D to 4D. An animated People Scan naturally attracts more attention and you get a better impression of the character, compared to a static unnatural A Pose or T Pose with which characters are usually presented.
AccuRig is for me the best free autorigging tool I have used so far. Fast, easy to use, but enough control over the autorigging process to get the best out of it, and the best part is you have fun doing it.
AccuRig makes it easy for all 3D modeling artists to enter the next dimension – the 4D community will grow quickly. Please try it out for yourself and I wish you happy rigging!
My name is Piero Varda and I’m a filmmaker based in Lima, Peru with more than 15 years of experience in the advertisement and movie industry. I originally started as an editor but then moved on to cinematography. I’m now co-founder and creative director at La Escena Virtual, a virtual production company that provides virtual production services. We mainly work with LED wall technology and Unreal Engine. We create photorealistic 3D environments and track real cameras to virtual ones for FX purposes.
As part of our work, we recently started to upgrade and focus on real-time and motion capture workflows. Our main goal is to migrate into a full real-time production company. La Escena Virtual has also recently begun using Reallusion, primarily with iClone and Character Creator. Additionally, we use different Reallusion plugins and animation bundles as a hub for character creation and mocap animation.
Before we started our company, I wrote and filmed a sci-fi live action movie project called “The Within” that is deeply inspired by Andean mythology and sacred practices. Today La Escena Virtual uses the project to test techniques and pipelines as it’s a fantasy series that includes FX scenes with opportunities for digital doubles.
A couple of years back, regular post production meant this was a highly ambitious project which necessarily required co-producers to join in on the project to make it happen. Today, thanks to virtual production and the doors it opens for collaboration, we believe we will be able to finish The Within in house. Passionate filmmakers like ourselves have been waiting for these kinds of procedural tools, capable of working with other industry standard software to help reduce time frames and regain creative control of the film process.
“We learned that iClone and Character Creator were tools that worked seamlessly with Unreal Engine. Additionally, we eventually discovered iClone’s LIVE LINK and how it lets all the animation tools we were now using, work in conjunction with Unreal Engine — and after that we were totally hooked.”
The “Winner Tips & Tricks ” series covers practical workflows and techniques shared by winners of 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 “Biker” to see how Vivek Rai worked his magic with Reallusion Cartoon Animator (CTA).
About Vivek Rai
I was born and raised in India. Kolkata, the city where I grew up is immensely rich in literature and cultural heritage. This is where I found my passion for pencil sketching and reading comic books. My mind was completely blown away when I first saw my classmate make a flip book. For those who don’t know what a flip book is: it is a series of illustrations of an animated scene that is bound together on several papers in a sequence, to give an illusion of movement by flipping them rapidly; a common example is a bouncing ball or early Disney cartoons. This was when I realized that artwork could also be turned into animation.
The next 25 years were challenging because we moved to different places in India due to my father changing jobs—new school, new friends, and the increasing weight of academics. The academic struggle continued till I came to the USA to pursue my master’s in electrical engineering in 2008. It was only in 2011 when I earned my first paycheck and I felt that I can now ease off and revisit my old passion for art.
The memories of the awesome flip book animation from childhood were still fresh in my mind, so I bought myself an iPad and downloaded an app that allowed me to create keyframe animation. And just like that…I got into animation. Or so I thought. Because I soon realized that creating a quality keyframe animation of even one second would take a significant amount of work hours, like my first animated video on YouTube contained over 1,500 frames and close to 200 work hours as a beginner (In 2017, I started my own youtube channel by the name Saffire Animation where I would turn sequential comic book art into animation).
Although my first video on YouTube was well received by the viewers, as an animator I soon realized that keyframe animation comes with some limitations, and my job as the sole animator would be a lot easier if I could overcome these limitations. For example, if I can just rig my character for basic motions like walk/run cycle, jump, and talk, then superimpose the same rig on different characters then it will save my time in redoing the same motions repeatedly. Apart from that, I also wanted to spend less effort on creating in-betweens. My google search soon landed me on some name brands in the market but they had a monthly subscription fee and were too complicated with a huge learning curve. Reallusion’sCartoon Animator had all the features which I was looking for and so I started off with a 30-day trial version and then soon purchased it for good. I soon created a video that had an overwhelming response of 96k views on my channel in just a few weeks. Things were all set and good to go, but just one challenge remained: time management.
Now, with a full-time IT job that requires my attention from 9 am to 6 pm every day as well as being a father of a seven-year-old, comes with its own challenges. So, after dinner, cleaning up, and putting my little one to sleep I don the cape of an animator when everyone in my house is asleep. I had turned a closet in my house into my personal studio which also has a little recording space. I animate three to four hours during the night and at least two more hours in the early morning. This way, I can spend approximately five hours on my hobby. I am happy that in a world where many people complain about things not being under their control, I am able to make time for what I enjoy when and wherever I can.
Why I made “Biker”
I used to own a Ducati Monster during my early years, so the subject I chose for the 2022 Animation at Work contest is about a biker and his love for his vehicle. Keeping the video simple, I wanted to tell a short story about a biker’s passion, drive, and initiative. To keep the opening dramatic, I used a soothing track and ensured that each successive shot ups the excitement to build up anticipation for the next scene.
Usually, motorcyclists are rebellious and stand for freedom, so I added a bald eagle to the video to show its rebellious side and its high-flying attitude as a symbol of freedom that would compete with the biker. I created multiple drawings of the animal and biker that would keep the entire video dramatic. CTA has an amazing real-time synching technique with some photo editing software. I used Adobe Photoshop as the PSD editor and Procreate as the drawing app for hand-drawn scenes.
Why I chose Cartoon Animator
Cartoon Animator is an easy-to-learn software because it is designed to provide a very clear workflow and does not contain a lot of extraneous features to distract you. It’s clean, simple, and easy for beginners to use this software where no prior 2D animation experience is required. One can also use CTA to make the process of animation intuitive and non-technical. For those who are new to Reallusion’s CTA software, Reallusion holds live webinar sessions where animators can get answers to their questions.
Even though CTA is not known for creating artwork, it can work in tandem with either Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, which is the second big factor for me. One can build a character with its individual parts as separate objects in Illustrator, or on separate layers in Photoshop, and then use Character Animator to rig those pieces together into an animatable puppet. CTA has a very underestimated feature of supporting frame-by-frame animation; I learned about this feature accidentally when I prepared a sequential animation in photoshop, and I imported the frames in PSD format.
The third and most prominent factor for using CTA is the Live Performance Capture Animation tool. Here, one can use their webcam and microphone to generate live performances for their animated characters and deliver them to the audience or record the performance on the project timeline and refine it further by hand.
How I did it with CTA
Step 1: Script and Storyboard
I kept the video short around one minute with only background, SFX, and music (no dialogue). I chose background music from a general license website. Then I looked up various YouTube videos on bike drifting and created a rough layout of every scene on my timeline. Once I finalized the layout of the rough sketch, I started drawing and adding colors to my scene. Below is an image of a series of snapshots from several videos, which I laid over the music as a reference.
Step 2: Character Creation & Sketching
While going through various YouTube videos, I picked up some basic 3D biker accessories like a helmet and boots, as well as a drift animation. With some drawing skills, I laid out a character in his early 20s, wearing a helmet and riding a Ducati Monster (my first bike) using paper and pencil. Once I was confident with the results, I scanned the drawing and digitally imported it into my drawing tablet.
Before creating the animation, I like to show the drawing to my seven-year-old for a second opinion. His wanting to see more of it gives me confidence that I’m on the right track. The following are some of the rough sketches during the development stage.
Step 3: Characters & Sprite Animation
Every shot had its own set of requirements. For the shot where the lead character leaps into the air with his bike, I used different sprites of the character to create a keyframe animation in CTA. Some shots like the lead approaching his bike and the bird flapping its wings required slow motion that needed to be smooth sans the choppiness that often accompanies keyframe animation; for this reason, I used the bone-rigging feature shown below.
Step 4: Scenes Creation, Composition & Camera Setting
I used camera movements to produce dramatic tension by using the Live Camera feature in CTA. With Camera Operation set to Mouse Select mode, I used the Alt key to accelerate the switching of the cameras: Alt+LMB to pan, Alt+LMB+RMB to zoom, and Shift+MW to zoom in. I played with these controls to give some depth to my still shots, especially where the biker lands on the ground after performing a somersault. To achieve this effect, I first downloaded a clip with no camera movement and another clip with camera movement.
To convey depth to the background, I placed the props in a way that would give a parallax effect. I combined both shots in the video editing software and kept the biker in the center of the frame using the “rule of thirds”. The shaky camera effect is a technique that I also commonly use when the biker is zooming past the screen. This took me barely five minutes to produce and it delivered exactly what I wanted out of that shot.
Step 5: Sound FX
I believe that music plays the most important part to produce a dramatic effect on the scenes. So, I like to use copyright-free music from a website like EpidemicSound.com where one can download music of various moods and tones. Apart from that, I looked up some SFX (like bike roaring, brake screeching, etc.) that would give my video a professional quality.
Cartoon Animator can help me to generate satisfying results without complicating workflow. Reallusion also offers FREE online tutorials for users to access at their online portal, making self-learning possible for users like me that have to switch between day-job and nighttime hobbies. I hope with my story and demonstration of the entry workflow, more users will get inspired and start creating more 2D animations!
Hello everyone! My name is Yunji Jung (Little Gold), I live in Seoul, Korea.
I’m a 3D artist ready to jump into what I love. Sometimes I participate in game environment design, but mostly I do character modeling. Currently, I’m working as a character modeler in the game industry which I’ve always dreamed of becoming since I was a kid.
Having worked in the game industry for several years, I realized that 3D technology was evolving daily and that easy-to-use tools are rapidly entering the market.
Fortunately, I am a person who likes to explore new things. I often just scratch the surface of various tools featured on YouTube in my free time. Among them, I found Character Creator (CC) lets me work intuitively and efficiently without complicated tutorials, so I often use the tool for my work.
Part I. Winner Entry Workflow
Step 1. Finding Reference
It takes a lot of time to find references for me. It’s a very important process to gather references before starting work. Before I start working, I specifically design who my character will look like and which celebrity my character’s outfit should be inspired by.
For heads, look for references where you can find features such as front, side, 45 degrees, top, and bottom, if necessary. Next, we will decide on the material and overall feeling given by the costume. In this case, K-pop idols gave me a lot of inspiration. And Like many workers, I mainly use the PureRef program.
Step 2. Editing Face and Body
Basically, I used the body provided by CC3 as the base.
Let’s start with the head. CC3 is very convenient because you can intuitively modify the shape of the face. In particular, it is possible to manually control the deformation as you like while connecting to ZBrush with GoZ. In my case, I purchased an additional Headshot plug-in and used it, which enables more sophisticated control of the head.
Step 3. Head Corrections, Adding Hair & Dress
Modify the head more precisely. Then, before making a character pose, apply CC3’s stock hair and dress to get a feel of the character.
Step 4. Making a Character Pose
I made a character pose after putting on my hair and dress. The reason is that the body may look different when the character wears a costume and when it doesn’t, so it is to make additional modifications to the body to the look that you want when they’re dressed.
Step 5. Cloth Modeling
Now let’s make a costume. After positioning the character in CC, import the edited body into Marvelous Designer. The overall silhouette and wrinkle directions are determined in Marvelous Designer (MD).
Step 6. Adding Details in ZBrush
Add a bit more deformations, textures, and stitching in Zbrush. Use the large silhouette exactly as it was taken from the MD, but fully express the details in ZBrush that MD can’t. I added the hemlines, fine wrinkles, stitches, and fabric textures.
Step 7. Render To Texture (RTT) and Texturing
It’s not for in-game at this time, so I didn’t put a lot of effort into the topology. Also, I finished a certain amount of low poly and UV mapping for texture work. The next step is to texture the costume using Substance 3D Painter.
Step 8. Facial Expressions & Makeup
Lastly, add an expression and edit the makeup to look like a K-pop idol with Photoshop.
Step 9. Final Polish
After the competition ended, I made additional improvements to the quality of the parts that seemed to be lacking. I edited the makeup and a little bit of the head as well as added hair and accessories to improve the overall quality.
Thank you so much!
Part II. Feature story
Q : Hi Yunji, many thanks for sharing your workflow with us. Your entry ‘A Lovely Girl’ has a very stunning character and costume design. Whether this girl is tying her bow or eating an apple, you’re good at catching delicate moments to show the character’s aesthetics.
Could you share more of your artistic thoughts behind this project? How do you decide the best angles to demonstrate a character’s unique personality?
I’ve been eager to make a pretty girl character all the time. While participating in this “A Lovely Girl” project, I realized that making a beautiful character is not as easy as I thought. However, making a pretty character is a common request in my industry, so I will continue to work on it. It was my test of whether I could complete a character of desirable qualities in two months’ time from concept to modeling and rendering.
Planning of the beauty shot and overall feel of the piece is about eighty percent complete at the beginning stages. The variety of clothing materials, hairstyles, poses, and facial expressions begin with a dummy. I find a lot of references and keep trying out dummies until the look I like comes out. CC provides a function that makes it easy to change character poses and facial expressions; it is beneficial in reducing working time.
Q : You’ve mentioned how you’ve dreamed of working in the game industry since childhood; what was the trigger for such ambition?
I have liked drawing since elementary school. Of the various fields under consideration, Game Art was a very attractive option. I liked to play games and I thought seeing the game artwork was really cool.
Because I didn’t recognize the difference between 2D and 3D at the time, I used to save the illustrations I wanted to draw on my hard drive or buy a collection of illustrations and draw along. Naturally, I majored in a related field and 3D from the age of 19. Currently, I am honored to have the opportunity to work with the artists of the illustrations I used to copy.
What are the most rewarding aspects in this line of work? What are the challenges of being a character modeler in the Korean game industry?
Character modeling is too difficult: face, hair, dress, monster, hard surface, nothing is simple. But it is also more rewarding because it is not easy. New concepts always excite me and I’m very happy when I get some satisfactory results. Being a 3D artist is an irreplaceable and attractive role.
The Korean game industry is always mindful of globalization. As a game developer and modeler, the challenge is to think about how to express more realism. For realistic expressions, Korean game companies are willing to invest in increasing their development capabilities by using next-generation engines and 3D scans, etc.
Do you think it’s beneficial to be a trilingual speaker (Korean, English, and Chinese) in the game industry in Seoul? How does this multi-cultural background influence your character creation?
It must be great to be able to speak three languages. However, most of my colleagues are Korean, so there are few opportunities to use various languages in person. Nevertheless, the ability to understand without subtitles seems not very useless because most of the tutorials in the new tools are in English, and if there is a problem, it is also convenient to be able to contact by email directly without using an interpreter.
In addition, most artists on YouTube use English. Because they are like my teacher, sometimes I feel strange and happy to understand their language. Furthermore, I can expect more opportunities in the future in this global world. 😀
Q : Sometimes you also need to participate in environment design for the game. We all know working in the game industry demands huge amounts of time and effort to deliver high-quality pieces.
How do you learn new techniques apart from your busy day job?
Before I start my day, I research and purchase sample files or pin new inspirational works and articles in the morning. I use the data that I’ve piled up when I need to. This routine is actually very helpful when working.
I look for technical deficiencies whenever necessary. Usually, I ask my colleagues or look for overseas articles and YouTube for things I don’t know. There are many ways to work inefficiently in the sea of information, but you should be able to see and choose carefully. Otherwise, I look through the thumbnails of YouTubers artists and click on the videos I am interested in.
Q : How did you know about Character Creator? In your experience, what are the merits and shortcomings of using CC to design characters?
At first, I think I saw an advertisement on the ArtStation. I was wondering if I could fix the shape of the head intuitively like it was advertised, so I downloaded it and used the trial version. The tool was simpler and easier to learn than I thought, especially in that I could use the GoZfunction to replace the base I wanted for the basic model itself, and I used the function effectively in the project: “A Lovely Girl”.
Q : “Indian Girl In Saree” looks very photorealistic while “A Lovely Girl” has some CG stylization.How did you achieve different results by using Character Creator, Marmoset Toolbag, ZBrush and 3ds Max?
As mentioned earlier, I aim to make a pretty woman; and both works have this same purpose. The photo-like look as a “due diligence” is fun to make personally, but it is also a model that would not be received well in the game market. Perhaps my goal is to mix the two.
If you look at K-pop idols these days, there are artists who look as unreal as game characters. I want to make a character that expresses details realistically but gives a cool and pretty feel. To do so, I have to look at a lot of material and study it all—I will continue to learn and study what I lack.
Q : Could you share three things that inspire you the most when you start a new project?
What inspires me the most are the K-pop idols these days. Sometimes I am ecstatic when I see artists who are prettier than 3D characters. Or I try to see a lot of well-taken pictures and well-drawn pictures. Because I think it is important to keep my eyes open to new material. In the same vein, I consciously watch sci-fi dramas on Netflix in my free time.