Fast Cartoon Design with Character Creator 3: Face and Body Animation without Rigging
A 3D instructor shares his findings in creating and animating cartoon characters without requiring rigging through the use of Reallusion’s Character Creator and iClone.
Luis Duarte is a freelance character designer, concept artist, and 3D instructor at LibelStudios.com.
From a young age, Luis studied fine arts – a hobby he has always loved. Once he completed his technical career in Graphic Design, Luis endeavoured to discover new technical workflows which allowed him to stand out at Libel Studios.
In this article, Luis shares his experiences in exploring new technologies while providing a walkthrough on fast cartoon character design using Character Creator 3, ZBrush, Substance Painter and iClone for real-time animation.
Transition from Traditional to Real-time Technology
We are aware that generating a portfolio character involves a process that is not necessarily short. Working with modeling in its different applications, texturing, rigging and rendering, requires time if what you are looking for is a clean and pleasant job.
However, specialized tools such as Character Creator (CC) make it possible to shorten development times by almost 35%. By taking advantage of its automatic rigging system, we can start from a base avatar that can be deformed countless times which we can update with poses and facial gestures, in real-time, starting from the first creative stroke.
And best of all, it doesn’t affect my original workflow; that is, I can sculpt the model in ZBrush, or even add accessories in Blender or 3ds Max, thanks to its compatibility with other programs. However if the purpose is to animate the character, then we can bring it to iClone and generate beautiful, very professional animations in just a few clicks.
Let me share with you the process of creating a cartoon style character using this fabulous working method.
Step 1: Head & Body Morph Creation
This video gives you an overview of how to generate a stylized character base with Character Creator, to later shape sculpt, color paint and texture in ZBrush. The final steps involve returning to Character Creator to save the head and body morphs for future use.
Before designing a 3D character, I usually plan for the primary looks in various angles, this reference design saves me loads of time when modeling in 3D.
The image on the left is the prototyping mesh generated from Character Creator, while the right image is my final sculpted mesh in ZBrush.
Step 2: Conformable Hair Generation
This video introduces how to build a conformable 3D hair for Character Creator, which includes creating the hair mesh in ZBrush, generating UV in Maya, and texture painting in Substance Painter.
Here we can see how I can quickly make the ZBrush hair mesh conformable to any head shape for Character Creator.
Step 3: Conformable Clothes Creation
Other than the modeling process in ZBrush, this part includes more tricks such as using the CC Pose Editor to do a skin-rig check, and using the Skin Weight Editor to refine 3D clothes for posing and animation.
The next image below shows my workflow on creating pants, starting from duplicating the original character’s lower body mesh, applying Dynamesh / ZRemesher for sculpting wrinkles and details of fabric, to eventually retopologizing in MAYA for an optimized quad mesh.
Activate the Skin Weight Editor, and select the bone to confirm which group is influenced.
Step 4: Real-time Face & Body Animation in iClone
The final part introduces how fast it is to import this character into iClone, to check face and body animations, and generate a fast test render.
Once in iClone, you can puppet your character, or drive movements via facial and body mocap devices. The animation below is simply made by applying motion files from the motion library.
See my full tutorial article in the Reallusion Blog.
Download a free trial of Character Creator 3, and iClone 7.
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