- Introduction – What are vector images?
- List new features of CTA5 – Vector art, Free Form Deformation (FFD)
- Spring Bones
- 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
- Spring Bones
- 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!
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