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Diving Back Into Crazy Talk Animator 2 Character Creation (Part 2)

JAC
Once again it's been a while since I posted to this blog because... well... life happens and it's been tough to get back on track and into creation mode. Fortunately I haven't been totally non-productive and this post is to get you up to speed on where my CTA2 G2, JAC character is at, that I began documenting in part 1 of this series of posts.

Last time I'd drawn my seven final character view sketches ready for importing into DrawPlus for 'inking' and coloring.


Maybe it's my lack of knowledge with how to use DrawPlus properly, but I just don't find that software any good for free hand drawing vector lines - which is the look I want for my animated characters.

Manga Studio however is superb for 'inking' in my vector lines but unfortunately can't export images in a vector format. So I had to look for some kind of compromise. I knew DrawPlus has a trace feature for turning bitmap drawings into vector art so I decided to explore that option. Thus I began my inking in Manga Studio concentrating mainly on the zero angle view (i.e. the front view).

'Inking' JAC (i.e. converting sketchy drawn lines to
hand drawn-like vector lines). The zero angle upper
left was my main focus for this stage.

The purpose of inking is not just to get clean vector lines but to also draw each body part onto its own layer so it can be traced independently.

'Inked' components pulled apart in Manga Studio ready
for export and then importing into DrawPlus.

The problem I was having is that, thus far I could never get DrawPlus to do an accurate trace of anything more complex than a simple icon style logo. DrawPlus' own documentation of its trace function doesn't clearly explain what all the settings are for so it took some experimentation before I realized that a dramatic increase in the Resample Scale setting was all that was needed to give me an almost perfect trace.

Left: DrawPlus trace with the default settings.
Right: Trace with the Resample scale increased dramatically.
(Click to enlarge this image so you can really see the difference)

Once I sorted the trace out it meant I could easily retain my hand drawn outlines and use DrawPlus to colour my character. One thing I will say is that DrawPlus is great for colouring vector art.

JAC's body parts coloured in DrawPlus. No need to colour
parts on the right that can be mirrored from those on the left.

After colouring the next step was to transfer all the character body components into the DrawPlus CTA2, G2 Character template. It's taken me a long time to become comfortable with using the DrawPlus Character Template. This time I finally worked out the naming structure and how to replace the original body parts with my custom character parts without falling into a renaming nightmare of confusion.

JAC, zero view, positioned in the DrawPlus CTA2, G2 template.

From there it's a simple process to import the template into CrazyTalk Animator 2. Obviously at the moment I only have the Zero angle view of my character but I can safely say it looks like something I drew rather than a bunch of sterile looking shapes cobbled together to look kind of like one of my characters.

The finished zero angle view of JAC in CrazyTalk
Animator 2's character composer.

Thus far I have done a really rough test animation with just the zero view of JAC. I've included a still from that animation below. Only a still because the actual animation doesn't look that great with just the one angle.

JAC making one of his familiar leaps.

From here I need to get my motivation up to complete the other six views to get a pose-able character. Then it's the long trudge through creating all the different facial expressions and hand/paw positions.

Overall I am much happier with how this character is looking. The style looks like my drawing style. I am excited by the prospect of getting the character finished. It's just that right now that prospect is quite a long way off in terms of the actual work required.

I'll keep you posted with a new part to this series once I've made significant progress.

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