Skip to main content

Character Mashup - Making the Most of Your G3 Cartoon Animator Characters

Character Mashups using WTH Animation Characters in Cartoon Animator.

One of the often overlooked strengths of Cartoon Animator is how easy it is to make new characters simply by mixing and matching elements from existing characters you already own. This ability is possible because of the standardized G3 Human template.

Note that it is also possible to mix and match G1 and G2 character elements with themselves but, generally you can't mix G1 with G2 elements or G1 and G2 elements with G3 character elements. There are some exceptions but for the least amount of quirks and frustration, I'll be demonstrating mixing and matching G3 character elements only.

For best results, mix and match characters elements from the same or similar character range (i.e. those that have the same or similar artwork styles). This will usually help ensure most elements are positioned correctly without the need for too much adjustment.

The Simplest Method

Want to give a character a new outfit or create another character wearing the same outfit? Just swap heads. As shown in the image below it's as simple as placing a character on the stage, saving the head to the Custom > Actor > Heads folder, then putting another character on the stage that you want to replace the head on. 

Swapping heads is the simplest way to create new characters or change a character's outfit. For best results use characters with the same or similar art styles.
Swapping heads is the simplest way to create new characters or change
a character's outfit. For best results use characters with the same or
similar art styles. Fred Fallen and Ranger Fred Characters by WTH Animation.

The Character Composer

The next level of mashing up your G3 characters into new variations is to open your character into Cartoon Animator's Character Composer. Here you can save and swap hair, facial features, hands, and add props and other accessories.

Be aware that the Character Composer will show you content intended for G1 and G2 characters that mostly likely won't be compatible with your G3 character (to the point where attempting to add them may crash the program), however if you stick with G3 content you should be okay.

Character Body Mashups

For G3 Characters only hands can be saved and swapped on the Body Tab in the Character Composer.
For G3 Characters only hands can be
saved and swapped on the Body Tab
in the Character Composer.

In terms of the character body, the main switch you can make is with hands. There are various sets of sprite hands to choose from and you can swap out sprite hands for bone hands. 

Save hand sets to your custom hands folder if you want to add them to another character (You'll know what features can be saved out by selecting one of your custom folders. If the '+' button becomes active that feature can be saved and swapped).

Character Face Mashups G3 Standard and G3-360

The Character Composer will let you mix and match G3 Standard Head components and G3-360 Head Components to varying degrees of success. For the most trouble free, predictable results don't mix G3 standard head and G3-360 head components, and stick to characters facing the same angle and within the same set of character art styles.

Before mashing up facial components for characters from a developer's series you may need to open a few in the Character Composer and save out the features you want to swap onto other characters
Before mashing up facial components for
characters from a developer's series you
may need to open a few in the Character
Composer and save out the features you
want to swap onto other characters.

For example, for this article I'm demonstrating with WTH Animation's Cast & Crew series of characters. All of them use the same standard body/head base and bone placement so, in theory, I should be able to mix and match features with little to no tweaking for scale or placement.

A simple method to see how things are going with your face mashup is to use the Modify > Face Calibration tool to see if a feature is working. If it doesn't just click the undo button (or make adjustments if it just needs minor tweaks).

Scale and resize things by selecting the bone of a part you want to change and adjust the handles on the edge of the blue square. You can also scale, resize, and adjust a sprite's position on the bone using the sprite editor tool (this will change the sprite without affecting the bone).

Incidentally if you are mashing up characters from a marketplace developer like WTH Animation you may have to bring a few characters into the Character Composer first, and save out their facial features to your Custom > Head tab content folders. That way you'll have the components ready to swap whenever you need them.

Just like with the Body tab you'll be able to see which features you can save to which folders through the '+' button becoming active.

Adding Props and Layer Adjusting

In this image I've added a shoulder bag prop to my character and moved it down the layer list so the left arm and hand will remain in front of the bag.
In this image I've added a shoulder bag prop
to my character and moved it down the layer
list so the left arm and hand will remain in
front of the bag.

If you want a prop to become a part of your character (i.e. is saved with the character) and be on the correct layer in relation to the rest of your character (e.g. a prop held in the characters leading hand so it appears behind the hand but in front of the body) then you need to add it in the Character Composer.

Drag the prop you want to add over the bone you want it to be attached to. The bone will change color indicating it is selected so let go of the mouse button.

You'll then need to drag the item up or down the list in the Layer tab to make sure it is on he right layer in relation to everything else.

Exporting to Your Linked Graphics Editor

This is the most advanced level of character mashups short of making characters entirely from scratch. The reason you may need to export your character is to customize any feature colors e.g. hair, skin, clothing etc. or maybe you want to modify an outfit, change the shape of your character's face etc.

To export a character you need to have selected a graphics editor that Cartoon Animator is linked to in the application's preferences. Then you just click the Launch PSD Editor button. In most cases the default settings in the window that appears of Head and Body in One file and Edit Current Angle should be fine. Then click Launch.

At this point Cartoon Animator and your graphics editor will be linked. Anytime you click Save (not Save As) in your editor the changes will be saved in Cartoon Animator as well. Should they become unlinked you'll need to Save As your template from your graphics editor to somewhere you can easily locate it, and then reimport it into Cartoon Animator via the Character Composer using the Import PSD Assets button.

Here I'm using my linked PSD Graphics Editor, Krita, to change the color of my character's hair and suit.
Here I'm using my linked PSD Graphics Editor, Krita, to change
the color of my character's hair and suit.

In your graphics editor you can make almost any changes you like however you must keep the layer structure and folder names exactly the same. If you add new layers in the course of making edits be sure to merge those layers back down to the original layers before saving. Delete any folders or layers you created that are not part of the original template. Flatten any filter effects, and rasterize any vectors.

Experiment

It's worth spending the time just experimenting with the Character Composer to see how many characters you can make without ever needing to export anything to your graphics editor.

While I have recommended not mashing up different art styles that doesn't mean you shouldn't try it as you gain more confidence. Sometimes combining two art styles in a consistent way can create a whole new look. I actually combine similar art styles all the time with my own custom characters. I just don't think you should do this until you get more of a feel for how the Character Composer works.

Definitely try out some of the other Character Composer tools not mentioned such as the Mask Editor, 360 head tool and more. The more familiar you become with the Composer the easier creating character mashups becomes.


Learn The Fastest Way to Rig a Character from a single Image in Cartoon Animator with my Three Tutorial Bundle

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Pricing Animation Services - USD$10,000 Per Minute Might Not Be Enough For an Industry That's Collapsing... Wait, What?

T his post was inspired by an Amateur Animators Facebook Group , public conversation between two professional animators working at entirely different places in their careers but both with at least a decade plus of experience.  Indy Animator Versus Studio Animator The conversation  centered around an original post by an amateur animator asking if USD$115 payment for a four to five minute, frame by frame animation, was a good deal? Anyone who has done even one second of frame by frame animation should at least have some concept of how long it would take to make four to five minutes and know that $115 is definitely not a good deal for most people. However, professional animator one, who I would describe as an independent animator, running a successful content and training business, while not suggesting the deal was good, made the point that there are many factors that go into pricing and that ultimately it is for the individual to set their prices based on what they're happy to work

Inochi2D - Free Open Source 2D VTuber Avatar Rigging and Puppeteering Software (Part 1)

Inochi2D Creator - Free Open Source VTuber Software. If you've been looking for a way to live perform as a 2D cartoon avatar on camera, whether it be for a live stream or for pre-recorded content like educational videos, then VTuber software is a low cost (or even no cost) option worth looking into. In my previous post, How to Become a VTuber - 2D and 3D Software for Creating and Controlling Your Avatar , I took a brief look at the relatively new but completely free and open source Inochi2D  which I thought showed great potential for my own needs of creating a live performance character rig for my own TET Avatar that I use for all my promotional materials. While it is possible to live perform my character using Cartoon Animator itself, Reallusion's MotionLive2D capture system isn't great - with lip sync in particular. More importantly though, I can't exactly teach people how to use Cartoon Animator if I'm using Cartoon Animator to control my Avatar. What is Inochi2D

Wonder Unit Storyboarder - Free Storyboarding Software for People Who Can (or Can't) Draw

Wonder Unit Storyboarder.  As an independent and solo animator I'm always tempted to try and skip storyboarding my animated shorts because they're usually only single scene sketch comedy type jokes. As a result I have many unfinished projects that kind of petered out due to having no clear finishing line. Storyboarding your productions, no matter how small, gives you a step by step guide of every shot that needs to be completed (no planning shots as you animate). It also allows you to create an animatic that gives you a rough preview of the finished production. In short, you shouldn't skip storyboards as they, generally, increase the chance of the project being completed. Disclaimer - I'm Not a Fan of Storyboarder Upfront, Wonder Unit's Storyboarder  is not my preferred storyboarding software. However it's completely free, has a number of very compelling featu

Dollars Mocap: Full Body Webcam Motion Capture (Including Hands and Fingers) For iClone and Cartoon Animator

Even though I should be further away from the camera Dollars Mocap MONO still does a good job of  tracking my arms, hands and fingers. Ever since I wrote my series on becoming a VTuber , discovering it was possible to do full body motion capture, including hands and fingers, with just software and a webcam, I've been on the look out for any motion capture software that can bring that functionality to Cartoon Animator. Dollars Mocap is a low cost motion capture application with a free trial that I learned about through the YouTube Channel Digital Puppets  and their test video . It can record full body, upper body, arms and hands, and facial mocap from a live video source or pre-recorded video. Investigating further, I discovered not only does Dollars Mocap have a free iClone7, iClone8 character profile file download (look for it at the bottom of the main program download page), so you can use the saved motions with iClone8, they've also got a demo video for how to convert your

Six Lip Sync Animation Tips for Cartoon Animator (That Really Apply to Any Auto Lip Syncing Application)

A nimating a character's mouth talking in any form of animation is one of the more time consuming jobs of character animation. Particularly if your project is dialogue heavy or your character has the urge to sing. Fortunately auto lip syncing in many animation software studios is becoming more common and is helping to speed up the lip syncing process. Reallusion's Cartoon Animator is no exception with a fairly good auto lip sync feature. I made a tutorial video demonstrating how to auto and manual lip sync in Cartoon Animator here . However auto lip sync is not perfect (yet) so you'll definitely find yourself manually lip syncing a character at some point. Or maybe you just prefer to manually lip sync yourself because you like that level of control. Whatever the reason here are Six tips to help improve your lip sync and to stop you getting bogged down into really small details that literally do not matter for the amount of screen time they'll get. 1. Auto Lip Sync is NO

The Ultimate Independent Animator's App and Resource List 2019-2023 - Animation and Video Life

Image created with Cartoon Animator 4. Being an independent animator is not like a studio animation job. There's so much more to do that is indirectly related to the actual task of animating. Over the years I've sought out many apps, tools, and services that can help me achieve that one single task, expressing myself through animation. Below is my Ultimate Independent Animator's Resource List for 2019-2022. It started out as a list of free or low cost apps that could help you in every stage of producing either 2D or 3D animation, and then just kind of grew from there. You may not have been looking for a Time Management App as much as you needed something to get you started in 3D animation but when those commissioned projects start coming in you'll have a head start on maximizing your time. All the apps and services on this list had to meet two main criteria: They had to be useful and relevant to an Indy Animator/artist. The base app/service had to be US$

Moho 14 Released - Still the Best 2D Animation Software for Indy Animators on a Budget

Moho 14 Released. Regular readers know I am a Reallusion, Cartoon Animator advocate through and through. Hands down I would recommend Cartoon Animator 5 first over Lost Marble's Moho 14 to anyone who is just starting in 2D animation, is a team of one, or just needs to animate as quickly as possible. However, feature for feature, Moho is, arguably, the best 2D animation software for the rest of us who can't justify a Toon Boom Harmony , or Adobe Creative Cloud subscription (and even with their applications Moho is very competitive on features). You can get started with Moho Debut for just USD$59.99 which is a cut down version of Moho Pro but it still has the most essential features needed for 2D animation. While Moho Pro is a whopping USD$399.99 (Cartoon Animator, which only has one version, is just USD$149.00) upgrades to new version numbers come down to a quarter of the price at USD$99.00. Even though Reallusion just released features like Motion Pilot Puppet Animation and