Skip to main content

Mannequin: 2D Anime Character Avatar Generator For Illustrations, VTuber, Animation, and Game Development Projects

Mia and the Tourist Avatars created in Mannequin 2D Anime Character Generator. Background created with Leonardo.ai
Mia and the Tourist Avatars created in Mannequin 2D Anime Character Generator.
Background created with Leonardo.ai

Readers of Animation and Video Life will know I love a character creator app. Specifically a 2D character creator app that I can use as a source for rigging animated characters in Reallusion's Cartoon Animator Software.

In the course of exploring VTuber rigging and puppeteering software I came across Mannequin, a downloadable, 2D Anime character portrait generator that is specifically intended for VTubers and Game developers to utilize for creating their characters.

While there is a free version of Mannequin, for a very low cost, one time payment, you can purchase the pro version which contains the most critical feature, The ability to export your characters as an optimized .PSD file for use with Adobe's Character Animator CC, .XFL for use with Adobe Animate, or an .SVG file (if you want the resolution independence of vectors).

Both .PSD or .SVG files can be opened in any software that supports those formats which means you can adapt the output for Cartoon Animator. More on that later.


What Does Mannequin Do?

Mannequin's Primary Hairstyle selector.
Mannequin's Primary Hairstyle selector. In addition
to the 53 styles here other selectors let you add things
like bangs, fringes, and more.

Essentially Mannequin is a character image generator not unlike a paper doll maker. Select a gender, body type, fine tune the proportions, then start mixing and matching features from hundreds (maybe even thousands) of template images. Everything from eye shape through to clothing can be customized to a point.

Once you're happy with your character you can use the template poses and facial expressions, along with an imported background image to create 2D still images you can export and use anywhere.

If you're a VTuber (Virtual YouTuber) Mannequin can export in the .INX format needed for Inochi2D Creator where you can export your rig for use in Inochi2D Session. Notably you can do this with the free version of Mannequin. You'll find a tutorial video here.

As previously mentioned Mannequin will also export to .PSD, .SVG, and XFL formats as well.


Using Mannequin with Cartoon Animator

I have no doubt you could use the .SVG character export as a source file for a front facing G3-SVG character in Cartoon Animator. However I opened my character's SVG file in Inkscape and saw how dense it was in folders and layers I slowly closed the file and backed away... for now.

I don't think the SVG file is particularly optimized for animation or using the character as a base for a character rig. It seems more like it's included for those occasions where you may want an extremely high quality still image.

The PSD file optimized for Adobe Character Animator CC on the other hand has a lot of sprites that you can just directly transfer over to a Cartoon Animator G3-PSD front facing template.

Mannequin TET Avatar being transferred into a G3-PSD template for Cartoon Animator using Krita.
Mannequin exports its PSD file into a single character folder that you can easily copy over
to a Cartoon Animator, front facing G3-PSD Human template. In the image above I've
copied over the character folder into the G3-PSD template, turned off the RL_Image folder
so I could work on positioning all the bones first. From here I'll start moving all the sprites
from the Character folder into the template folders.

Note that you can't just take the PSD file and import it directly into Cartoon Animator. The file has the wrong layer structure and Cartoon Animator would likely have a fit and tell you all the sprites are missing if it even processed the file at all.

You manually must copy the sprites out of Mannequin's template and place them in the correct folders of a G3-PSD template before importing that template in.

Don't forget to manually do all the bone placements too.

It's not a straight one to one transfer of sprites either. You will have to figure out which folders you want to place limb and torso sprites in and you may need to do some clean up at the joints.

You'll also have some work to do adapting the eye and mouth sprites too. However, at least with the mouth you get a lot of the mouth sprites you need, pre-made in the Mannequin template.

Finally, you'll only get one hand sprite image. You'll have to adapt that to either making your own set of hand sprites or using it as a base for bone hands.


Mannequin's Anime Style

While I like Anime and Manga I'm not particularly well versed in the nuances of the art style. However Mannequin's Anime Art Style seems to have something of a uniqueness to it that I haven't seen elsewhere.  To me it has a rounder, friendlier, and almost conservative vibe to it.

TET and Mia Avatars in a scene created inside Mannequin.
Mannequin will only let you edit one character at a time. To create this image I first created
my TET avatar (right), exported him as a PNG image with the city background.
I then open Mia (left) in Mannequin and added TET and his background as a
background image. Only Mia is editable in the above image.

That may also be because a lot of the character outfits lean toward the more formal, as well as the typical school uniform style clothing. Though there is a selection of fantastical clothing and accessories like various animal ears and even bat wings.

---o ---o--- o---

Overall Mannequin is one of the better Character Generators I've seen largely because of those export options that let you export editable, layered documents you can work on in other software. As opposed to most avatar generators that only export a single 2D image.

It would be great if the developer was to make different versions of these with other styles of character art (I wouldn't say no to an explainer video character generator as one example).

As mentioned Mannequin is available as a free download. If you like it and want the extra export options, it's a one time, low cost fee to upgrade.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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

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

Start Your 2D Animation Side Hustle - Sell Your Cartoon Animator Characters, Props, Scenes, and Motion Files in the Reallusion 2D/3D Marketplace

Have you thought about starting a side hustle selling your original Cartoon Animator assets in the Reallusion 2D/3D Marketplace ? In this article, the first in a series on selling in the marketplace, I'll give you an overview of what's involved, why you should give it some thought, and whether you can earn enough to quit your day job (or at least have a worthwhile side hustle). If you're an artist with any kind of drawing skills, and you're creating your own original characters, props, scenes, and even motion files for your Cartoon Animator projects, then setting up your own store in the Reallusion Marketplace should be a no brainer. You're making content already, it doesn't cost you anything to set up, and Reallusion only takes a 30% commission from each item sold. (If you think that's a lot, I'll address that further down). Don't be put off if you think your art skills aren't up to professional standards. There are plenty of artists with naïve

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

Can You Learn Reallusion's Cartoon Animator 5 for Free Using Their 137 Official YouTube Video Tutorials Sorted Into a Logical Learning Order?

Or you could just buy The Lazy Animator Beginner's Guide to Cartoon Animator . While Reallusion's Cartoon Animator is one of the easiest 2D animation studios to get up and running with quickly, learning it from all of the official, free, video tutorials can be more overwhelming than helpful. With more than 137 videos totaling more than 28 and a half hours of tutorials, spread across three generations of the software (Cartoon Animator 3 through 5) it's hard to know if what you're learning is a current or legacy feature that you either need to know or can be skipped. Many of the official tutorials only teach specific features of the software and don't relate at all to previous or later tutorials. As a result there are many features either not mentioned or are hard to find. To make your learning easier, on this page, I've collected together all of the essential, official, free video tutorials and sorted them into a learning order that makes sense. Simply start at

2D Animation Side Hustle - How to Find a Niche Market Selling Digital Characters, Props, and Background Art in the Reallusion 2D Marketplace

C ontinuing my series on your 2D Animation Side Hustle, Selling in the Reallusion 2D Marketplace , in this article I'm going to take a look at niches and why they're important to becoming a successful seller. I'll also look at some indicators, specific to the Reallusion Marketplace, that can help point you in the right direction of finding niches that are in demand. What is a Niche and Why Are They Important? In marketing terms a niche is kind of like a sub category or a section of a subject that you want to focus on. It's not the big idea with wide appeal that everybody loves, it's a smaller, more specific section of the idea that fewer people really connect with. For example, in the Reallusion 2D Marketplace, Characters are the biggest sellers. Everybody loves and wants to buy characters. They're great! That's all you need to know, characters sell the best, go make some! There are currently 4413 characters for sale in the marketplace. How will people find

Artbreeder - Using AI created Character and Background Content in your Animations

A selection of User/AI generated images from Artbreeder. If you're looking for an endless supply of 2D character and background images for your animations then Artbreeder , an online Artificial Intelligence (AI) that generates image mash-ups you can tweak as much as you like, could be the ultimate content library. What is Artbreeder? Artbreeder is free to use though there are various paid plans, that give you additional features, such as higher resolution download images or more settings to play with. All images created on the site are Public Domain (CC0 License) and can be used in commercial projects. Using Artbreeder's online app you can generate head shot portraits, full body characters, landscapes, and other scenes simply by choosing two or more existing images to mash together then, using a series of sliders, to select which traits from each image you wish to lean toward in the final image. Photo Comparison - Top is my original uploaded photo. Bottom is Artbreeder's ap