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Create Edgy Animations with Comicgen's Comic Creator and Reallusion's Cartoon Animator

A selection of Comicgen Characters.
A selection of Comicgen Characters.
Readers of Animation and Video Life will know I'm always on the look out for any kind of free character creator tool. 

While Comicgen Comic Creator isn't exactly the best character creator it caught my eye because it's completely free to use, and the available character designs really lend themselves to that edgy, limited style animation that has somewhat influenced mainstream animated shows of late.

ComicGen's Comic Creator

Comicgen's Character Creator.
Comicgen's Character Creator.
Comicgen was created by the team at Gramener, a data, science consulting and A.I. service that likes to present their findings as 'data stories' sometimes in the form of a comic. However, drawing not being a strong skill, they decided to make a tool that could provide them with characters they could just export into their own comic panels.

That's how Comicgen was born. Interestingly, if you have drawing skills, Gramener will pay you to create characters for their app (if they approve you). All characters and other content are either public domain (Creative Commons License CC0) or Creative Commons by 4.0 (attribution required) and can be used commercially. So keep that in mind if you plan on submitting your work.

Back to creating an animation... while Comicgen gives plenty of options for customizing their various characters in different poses, it's not the kind of character generator to use for achieving a real person's likeness (unless you want a US President, then there are some specific options).

I created the grey-suited character you see here, being the closest I could get to my TET Avatar character. Also, the shrug pose is the closest I could find to a front facing 'A' pose that I needed.

Comicgen exports characters as an SVG vector file or PNG. I recommend exporting as an SVG then exporting that image from your preferred vector application (I used Inkscape) as a higher resolution PNG file. Comicgen's native 500px x 600px PNG export is too low for animation unless you're never planning to zoom the camera in on them.

Rigging in Cartoon Animator 4

Rigging the character in Cartoon Animator 4 using the one sprite method.
Rigging the character in Cartoon Animator 4
using the One Sprite Method.
To rig my character in Cartoon Animator 4 I used my Fastest Way to Rig a Character in Cartoon Animator, The One Sprite Method approach. 

This involves deleting all the sprites in a G3-Dummy character (with bone hands), in the Character Composer, and replacing the hip sprite with your full character sprite image from Comicgen.

From there you readjust all the bones to match your image, then add a morph-based head using the same sprite image.

Once that's done, line the morph-based  head up on the rig and mask out the head on the body sprite using the mask tool.

This rigging process results in a very bendy, noodle-like, character, so you may want to further refine it by creating arms and legs with elbow and knee joints respectively. Which I show how to do in my tutorial Three Ways to Improve the One Sprite Rig.

My Really Bad Demo Animation (It's Bad!)

I debated whether I even wanted to show my demo animation because the actual animation is just so bad. Admittedly I threw it together very quickly but I didn't have time to do something better. I'm just going to own it and say, even mediocre animators like myself have really bad days. (Garry Pye's Studio background does help to make this look better than it is though).


The character's face works really well, but I don't know why he's constantly shaking his head like he does. Possibly because I used a combination of facial puppetry (first) with a premade talking motion, added second, for the whole body. I feel like the key frames from the face puppet motions may be fighting with the head key frames of the full body talk motion.

On top of that my one sprite rig looked really bad with the premade talk action. I tried to improve it with a quick fix of adding forearm sprites so the body wouldn't warp so much but it didn't really work, and I ended up with some really unexpected movements (that I try to hide with close ups).

If you are going to give these Comicgen characters a try I would highly recommend either sticking to talking head style animations with limited body movement (rig the characters as G3 freebone characters), or making the extra effort to properly add those character rig improvements of fully jointed arm and leg sprites. My quick fix attempt really didn't work.

While my animation doesn't do Comicgen's character justice, I would like to revisit this unique character generator, and create something more along the lines of the 'edgy' concept I had in mind. If you feel so inspired I'd love to see your creations too.

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