Ben 10 Alien Force and Toon Creator

Ben 10, Alien Force fans have been able to create their own Ben 10 cartoons via Cartoon Network Asia's GoAnimate powered Toon Creator for some time now. (Note that if you're a fan of the cartoon Chowder you can also make Chowder cartoons too).

I'm not a particular fan of Ben 10 Alien Force. In fact the show used to annoy me as I always seemed to catch the end of it when I was regularly watching Batman, The Brave and the Bold on Saturday mornings. However I do like the way the characters are drawn in that more mature, some-what Anime influenced, style.

I had heard that Toon Creator was only accessable to people in Asia so, being in Australia, I wasn't sure if I could even open a free account in order to use the site. Thankfully I could. I'm not sure if it's still limited to certain geographic regions? The best way to find out is to simply try and sign up.

If you've used GoAnimate's Studio (or even DomoAnimate's Studio) then you'll be right at home in Toon Creator. Everything is virtually the same and you'll have no trouble finding your way around.

I'm not that familiar with the characters of Ben 10 Alien Force but with a bit of research I discovered that Ben (in the green jacket) is the groups leader and has the ability to change into various powerful aliens through a watch like device known as the Omnitrix.

Gwen is Ben's Cousin who has the power to manipulate natural energy - not sure how she got these powers though?

Kevin (in black) is a former nemesis of Ben who has reformed. Half alien and half human Kevin can turn his body into any solid substance he touches. He also has a secret crush on Gwen.

With that bit of information the following animation is my very first Ben 10 Alien Force effort:

Ben Makes Dinner by etourist

Like it? Create your own at Toon Creator. It's free and fun!

Ordinarily I'd give you some behind the scenes information about my animations but with this there's really not much left to tell. Instead I'll give you my thoughts on Cartoon Network's Toon Creator.

It's important to note that Toon Creator is firmly targeted at kids in their early teens and younger. Unfortunately because of that it's heavily monitored and controlled almost to the point of stifling creativity. Your cartoons will be checked for appropriateness before going public.

Strangly enough on Toon Creator the 'fart' joke is inappropriate (as I discovered on my second animation, Something in the Air below.

Something In The Air by etourist

Like it? Create your own at Toon Creator. It's free and fun!

See the original version here. Yet on DomoAnimate (also targeted at the same age groups) farts are a key part of Domo's character.

I can certainly understand the need for keeping the content 'kid safe' but in order to do it, just like DomoAnimate, the site won't let you upload custom anything. Top that off with no audio samples being provided from the actual Ben 10 Alien Force cartoons and no other themes you can mix with Ben 10 and Toon Creator is very limiting indeed.

On the flip side, being so limited does encourage users to be really creative with the props and backgrounds they have. Often people will use props in really unexpected ways.

Unfortunately the sound effects and music available to use in your animation aren't quite so flexible in finding creative alternative uses. You either have to settle for lame sound effects or just make the best of what you can with a music track.

You'll notice in my third animation, Time, below the same lame crashing sound that I used in Ben Makes Dinner for an explosion noise.

Time by etourist

Like it? Create your own at Toon Creator. It's free and fun!

My final comment about the site is... why oh why can you not comment on animations or user profiles like you can with GoAnimate? It's enormously difficult to connect with other people who use Toon Creator however if you find your way to the Toon Creator Forum, you'll find a pretty healthy community.

I just don't understand. If they have a forum, why can't they allow you to comment on animation and user profile pages?

All up, you'd have to be a die hard Ben 10 Alien Force (or Chowder) fan to stick with Toon Creator. It's the only place you can make your own cartoons with those themes. However if you're just interested in mixing things up and making a wide range of animations with many themes - including your own custom work - GoAnimate would probably suit you better.

Domkun: Sneep Watching with Mr Usaji

The fact that you can't upload any custom props, characters, backgrounds... uh... let's face it, custom anything onto Domo Animate has given rise to a fairly unique work around.

Domo Animate members have been using the existing props, which they combine to create new characters. Despite the fact that these new 'custom' characters are very tricky to animate it hasn't stopped their popularity.

Not wanting to be left out I thought I'd try to create my own unique character and see if I could animate it enough to seperate it from the static, background props.

What I came up with was the 'Sneep'. Something of a cross between a sheep and an anteater - basically a sheep with a snozzle (nose).

Sneep Watching (New Ending) by etourist

Like it? Create your own at DomoNation.com. It's free and fun!

The Sneep in my animation is made from a cloud (body), two sets of antenae (legs and feet), hair (head), Horn (tail) and two cyclops eyes. A sneep is easy enough to animate if you just want to turn it's head or dip it's tail, however it becomes much harder if you want the whole animal to walk.

The only way you can make the entire character move is to animate each component seperately. Relatively easy if you want everything to move in a straight line but near impossible once you start trying to move things along curved lines. Hence I didn't even try.

Creating your own custom characters from the available props on Domo Animate presents an interesting challenge both technically and for the imagination. Well worth a try if you're looking for something different to do with your Domo animations.

Domokun GoAnimate Complaints Department

My original GoAnimate Complaints Department animation is one of my most popular with in excess of ten thousand views since its release and spawning five follow up animations in the series. Many of the follow up animations are also some of my most viewed.

In the original episode and at least one of the follow ups Domo makes an appearance as a motionless custom prop (and audio) which occasionally fools some viewers into thinking I was able to animate the Domo character from my GoAnimate account. As most people know the only place you can make your own Domo animations is DomoAnimate.

However I'm starting to digress. I don't know why it took me so long to make the connection that DomoAnimate has its own resident rabbit in Mr Usaji. He's a much more patient and peace loving kind of guy than Happy Bunny (whom of course mans - or is that rabbits - the complaints desk) so I thought this could be an opportunity for some new humor.

As with the original, The Domo Animate Complaints Department blends real, local web site issues with situations and actions unique to the various characters. Hence Hungry bear addresses the issue of not being able to say any inappropriate words on DomoAnimate (it's a kid friendly site) whilst Domo himself simply provides some comic relief with some relief of his own.

Domo Complaints Department by etourist

Like it? Create your own at DomoNation.com. It's free and fun!

Although I do like this particular animation I kind of feel Mr Usaji's personality didn't really come through as much as I'd hoped. It could almost be anyone behind the desk. If I decide to create another in the series I'll hopefully be able to bring in some responses that only Mr Usaji would make.

An Animated Introduction to TET

Do I really need to introduce an animation that is an introduction to me? Hmmm... maybe I do so perhaps a little bit of background is useful.

GoAnimate member, Cartoon King, started a trend many months ago of animators creating animations that told a few facts about the animator that perhaps people wouldn't know.

Since then quite a few GoAnimate members have created these introductory animations so I thought one for myself would be worth while.

I began making this particular animation back in July 2009 and it was where I was originally going to first feature my animated TET Head (pictured above) that I created based on my WeeMee Profile Avatar.

However creating an animation about yourself isn't nearly as fun as most of my other animations so this project fell by the wayside consistently in favor of other projects.

Finally towards the end of December 2009 it was time to bite the bullet and just finish my introductory video.

There were lots of things I could have included but in the end I tried to give people some idea of where I got my animation knowledge and skills from.

That's pretty much all you need to know. All that's left is for you to watch the video embeded below.

Introducing TET (etourist) by etourist

Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It's free and fun!

Michelle Obama in Barack Begins - Part 3

The third and probably the final installment of my political satire, Barack Begins, is finally finished.

Whilst it doesn't hurt to watch Part 1: The President and Part 2: War all you really need to know going into part 3 is that George Bush still refuses to accept that he is no longer the President.

Just as an interesting footnote, I originally released the first episode of Barack Begins on January 1, 2009 (not in February as stated in a previous blog post). Seems quite fitting to have released this episode (on GoAnimate - not in this blog) on the last day of 2009.

Part three focuses on Michelle Obama because she played a huge part (and continues to play a huge part) in Barack's election victory and his time, so far, in office. Hence I wanted to reflect that in the series by giving her a bigger role. Unfortunately, as is often the case with a beautiful women, the media tends to focus on Michelle's fashion and style.

Pt 3: Barack Begins by etourist

Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It's free and fun!

As evidenced in this blog I don't just make this stuff up - there's always some background inspiration. Back in April, 2009, I wrote in my main blog a post titled, Is Michelle Obama the New Princess Dianna?, which was a commentary on the media's obsession with what the new first lady was wearing.

In turn that post was inspired by an article by Mark Malkin from E! Online who noted that Michelle's fashion choices were affordable and were actually causing a boost in sales for the various clothing labels that Michelle wears.

That was pretty much when the idea hit me to parody the media and the public's obsession with what Michelle wears. Not only that but to try and take it to the extreme with Wal-Mart making Michelle's clothes so affordable everyone's wearing her latest outfit within hours.

However, with Michelle being anything but simply a fashion clothes horse, I could imagine her noticing this trend and secretly wanting to mess with it (I think deep down there's a little 'evil genius' in everyone!).

Thus she ponders with the idea of wearing the very affordable 'Snuggie' out in public (something of a fashion tragedy when the Snuggie was first released - you're just not supposed to wear them in public - or admit to owning one for that matter!).

My original idea - which I've mostly forgotten since I started work on this episode so long ago - was much darker. Whilst the media would still be obsessed about Michelle's clothes, George Bush would also become obsessed with what she was wearing.

I thought Michelle would probably be getting a lot of media calls asking her what she was wearing to various events but in between that, George would be making these some what creepier "What are you wearing now?" type calls. In the end that sounded a bit too creepy and I didn't really know where to go with it so that it would come across as funny?

After I came up with the idea of 'everyone wanting to wear Michelle's clothes' I was really going to take that to the extreme with some of the President's male contemporaries adopting Michelle's styles. In the scene with Hilary Clinton I was originally going to have Joe Biden walk in wearing the same outfit Hilary now wears.

I thought that would be hilarious however I realised that it would take some power away from the final scene (as by this time I'd already decided George would wear Michelle's clothes too). Plus, having Hilary send Bill to talk to George (one ex-president to another) seemed a good way to lead into those last two scenes at the Whitehouse.

It also made for a better ending as George, who has clearly already lost the plot with his insistence on him still being president, would be most likely to think wearing women's clothing is a rational idea. As opposed to Joe Biden, who would have no real reason to think wearing women's clothing is going to improve his popularity in the polls.

Finally, although this leaves the situation with George unresolved, I don't see myself writing another episode any time soon. I really don't follow American Politics enough to keep me motivated with ideas and making the connections necessary to find humor in it all.

There's still at least one idea I want to address and that is Barack Obama's ability to make any speech sound important. I swear he could read out your grocery list and you'd be saying "yeah man, I totally support you on our need for more toilet paper. You deserve a second term in office!"

That's for another time. I won't say 'never' but I will say it could be quite a while before I dabble in American Politics again.
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