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Quickly Create a CrazyTalk Animator G3 Character From Original Art

See how I turn this free
CrazyTalk Animator 3 Character.
Creating a character rig from original art can seem like a daunting task in CrazyTalk Animator 3. Especially if, all you really want to do is put together a quick animation with characters you may never even use again.

Here's how to rig a CrazyTalk Animator 3, G3 human character, with the fewest components, whilst still being compatible with G3 character motions, and having a face capable of lip syncing and character expressions.

You should be able to do this in under an hour - assuming you have your artwork ready to go.

The process is even quicker if you have the Pipeline edition of CTA3 and take advantage of the supplied Photoshop templates and import feature. If you have the Pro edition you'll have to import your character art sprites in manually to one of the G3, Human, Dummy Templates.

In my example I'll be using this Casual Girl character (pictured) from VectorCharacters.net - a great source of free characters you can use in any project, including commercial.

Note that I'm assuming you have some experience using CTA3's character composer. This post isn't intended  to be a detailed, step by step tutorial.

Artwork Preparation


The first step is to break your character artwork up into six components; Head, Torso, Left Arm, Left Leg, Right Arm, Right Leg. If you're using one of the CTA3 Photoshop templates, there are two to choose from depending on the orientation of your character, Human_Side_Simple_Template.PSD or Human_Front_Simple_Template.PSD. I used the former for this character.

Each of the body parts need to be on their own layer in your image file and arranged to match the pose of the dummy character. In the template you'll need to put each image layer within its corresponding image folder; RArm, LArm, Head, RThigh, LThigh, Hip (be sure to delete the existing dummy image from the hip folder).

Left: Character separated into six body parts.
Right: Character assembled with bone points positioned.

For my character I copied the full image to each of the corresponding folders then edited out every part of the image not relevant to that body part. I also had to do some work straightening out the characters arms, removing her backpack and finishing off the top of the legs and arms so they still look attached correctly to the character when they start moving around.

In the template you'll then need to position all the bone markers to their corresponding body points. If you're not using the template and importing your body parts directly into CTA3 you'll position your bone points in the next stage.
Create New G3 Free
Bone Actor Button.

Importing the Character into CTA3


If you have the Photoshop template, just import this in using the Create New Character button. This will open up the character composer and you'll see your
character all rigged with bones in place. You may like to adjust the wire frame settings on the sprites to a finer setting to get smoother distortions when the arms and legs bend.

Adjusting the wire frame to a finer setting.
Make sure 'Affect All Layers' is ticked.
If you don't have the template you'll need to export each component as a transparent PNG file. Then, inside CTA3 drag out the appropriate G3, Human, Dummy Template onto the stage, open that character in the Character Composer. You'll need to import each body part into the template and use the bone editor to position all the bones.

Creating an Animated Face


Morph based heads has been a feature of CTA since version 1. Generally it's a feature used to create talking photographs but can also be used to bring your original cartoon artwork to life too. Morph heads include a range of comic style eyes and mouths that can save you a lot of drawing time, even with the greatly enhanced G3 character faces that require fewer images than their G2 counterparts.

To get started just select the head sprite in the Character Composer then select the 'Convert to Morph-based head' option on the Create Head Button (or from the FaceEditor drop down menu).

Then just run through the morph based head creation process. It'll take a little bit of trial and error to get the semi 3D nature of this style of head looking good but generally it does work quite well and will allow your 2D character to turn their head slightly.

Morph-based Head Fitting Editor.

Once complete, you'll have an animated head but the eyes and mouth won't particularly look great.

Replacing the Eyes and Mouth


There are several options for
eyes and mouths that work
well with cartoon style art.
Back in the Character composer, go into the character component library for eyes and mouths for morph based heads. You'll see a number of them in comic styles. Choose what looks best for your character.

Once you have what you like you can then go into the eye and mouth editors respectively and further refine their appearance, such as making the pupils bigger or smaller, adding/removing makeup, adding/removing eyelashes, adjusting the width, height and position of teeth etc.

The Finished Character


Once you've finalised the face your character is done. The body can take full advantage of G3 motions, whilst the face can either be manually keyframed or animated using the face puppeting feature.

This style of character is great for minor characters that require some animation but you don't want to spend hours on, or if you need a character in a hurry for a tight deadline (maybe you're creating fast parody animations about the news of the day).

Unlike full G3 characters you won't have the ability to change hand sprites but you can get around this by creating whatever hand you need as a prop and attaching it in front of the existing hand at the appropriate moment (as one suggestion).

Below is a fairly rough demonstration of the Casual Girl character in action. It's not perfect but you get an idea of the character walking, talking (yes I know the TTS voice is awful), and a bit of facial expression at the end. Good enough for anyone who needs to create reasonably good looking characters quickly.



Comments

  1. Thanks for this wonderful tutorial of making crazy talk animator G3 character with the help of original art.This is the best tutorial so far for Animator.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You my friend have just put together one of the best overview tutorials for CTA I have seen to date. That's actually a brilliant skill you have for simplifying things. Thanks

    Brilliant tip: "I copied the full image to each of the corresponding folders then edited out every part of the image not relevant to that body part." Simple but so useful.

    How did you animate the shadow? Could you do some more tutorials - they're great !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, I'm glad you found this overview useful. Creating characters in CTA3 can seem a little complex so I thought this technique would be a great starting point for people new to the process.

      The shadow is just a transparent PNG prop I made for an entirely different purpose. I simply positioned it to follow the same path as the character then keyframed it manually to alternate the width/height.

      I will definitely do more tutorials once I start using CTA3 more regularly - which I definitely plan to in 2018.

      Delete
  3. I too would love more CTA3 tutorials from you.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Excellent text. Thank you. It would be nice to make a tutorial on this topic.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi thanks for this! Making a G3 character - When I select bones and import each sprite and put into place I hit a problem at the hands ...It wont let me do it through the layer manager - only the sprite editor - when then means there is there is no option to bind the hands where they join the forearm....also - they go into a 'group' instead of a 'layer'.....maybe thats a clue? something is really wrong with the way I'm trying to add hands...any ideas? The feet are fine

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you're adding completely separate hand sprites (detached from the forearm) then, yes you need to add them using the sprite editor because, unlike other body parts, hands can have multiple sprites, you can switch between, for different hand gestures. They are stored in groups similar to eye and mouth sprites. You should be able to position the hand sprite on the hand bone while you're in the sprite editor. Once you have the hand sprite where you want it you can bind it to the hand bone in the Layer Manager using the bind icon in the Condition column next to the hand group name.

      Delete
  6. Hi Dude, I really appreciate your reply. You helped my understand why the hands are put into a 'group' instead of a 'layer'...but - when you say to use the bind icon in the condition column - that is exactly my problem - there is no option to do that. This is the actual problem I'm having...I've made a screenshot here https://imgur.com/a/HpkOZ6k there just seems to be no way to bind the hand! Once again I really appreciate this guide you made and your reply, If you can help me find how to bind the hand I'll be so so grateful!!! Thanks, Ben

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not exactly sure why you're missing the bind icon? Every G3 character I bring into the character composer (including ones I've made) all have a bind icon for both hands.

      It's possible the dummy template you started with was faulty in some way. I would suggest bringing some of the other G3 characters that come with CA4 into the composer to see if they have the icon or not. If they do it's more likely it's your character template that's at fault. If they don't it may be a bug in in your copy of CA4.

      If you're creating your character using a Photoshop template it can be as simple as an incorrect folder name that can mess up your template. Try exporting one of Reallusion's characters to Photoshop so you can compare your template to theirs.

      It goes without saying to check that your copy of CA4 is the latest version just in case the issue is a bug that has since been fixed.

      Delete
    2. Hey buddy - I really really appreciate your reply, thanks so much. I'm using v4 pipeline edition...and yeah no bind for the hands when using the g3 dummy character. The Martha character does actually have the bind hands...but when I replace them with my hands....the switch back to her hands in most of the actions - because she has different hand positions programmed into some of the actions...maybe I can find out how to change all the hands she has in the action and do it that way. Also I have found a work around of just keeping the hands attached to the arms when I import the arm sprites...and let the program do the bending of the hands...but its not perfect so I'm not going to be happy with that in the long run. Do your hands show as 'group' in the layer manager rather than 'layer'? I think this is the source of my problem. ..and why it is different to the training video which is done on V3 I think - before the hands could have lots of bones and their own actions. Once they introduced the complex hands I think they became groups not layers. I'm not sure...just some extra info. Thanks for your suggestion of using other characters as a template and using photoshop which I havent done yet. I'll report back if I find a proper solution. thanks again for this guide and being so responsive...much respect to you!

      Delete

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