Traditionally the uniqueness of 2D art and comics has been difficult – if not impossible – to render properly in 3D. The Japanese company Cybernoids wants to change all that with Live2D.
Why 2D and comics don’t work in 3D
The typical style of comics and traditional hand drawn 2D animations are generally very hard to accomplish in the 3D animation packages of today. Especially within Japanese anime but also in western style animations such as Mickey Mouse’s ears (no matter which way Mickey looks the ears are flat towards the viewer). The “suneo” hairstyle common in anime is another example that would be near impossible to recreate correctly in a normal 3D animation.
The technique is still evolving and currently lends itself mainly to dialog type of games where movement is limited. But the goal for Cybernoids of course is to get to a point where characters can be rendered fully in a 3D space for more advanced games and animated movies.
Video of Shizuku from Shizuku Talk, one of many dialog style apps created with Live2D available for the iPhone and Android phones.
Live2D consists of tools for both content creation and animation; Live2D Modeler and Live2D Animator.
With Live2D Modeler you create data models that you later bring to life in Live2D Animator. Modeler allows you to work with 2D illustrations as you would in for example Adobe Illustrator. The goal is not to create 3D models and render them in a way to mimic traditional 2D cel style animations as you would in a 3D tool like Autodesk’s Maya or Maxon’s Cinema4D but in fact to draw in 2D and be able to animate your characters in as easily as you would in real 3D animation tool.
What differs Live2D Modeler from a normal drawing tool is the addition of parameters that define how objects and vectors belong together and deform. Much like a rig when modelling in 3D. The parameters can control how lines and objects deform, bend, grow or shrink when moved or comes to life. You can control things like eye and lip movement and other facial expressions.
Live2D Animator is where you bring your models to life with tools that resemble their a likes in 3D animation packages. Working on the timeline with the models created in Live2D Modeler it’s easy to accomplish authentic 2D animations that would take much longer if done by hand in a traditional frame-by-frame manner. And since Live2D uses vectorized graphics there’s no degradation when exporting your work.
- Live2D – Info about Live2D. You can register and download free versions of both Live2D Modeler and Animator here.
- Cybernoids Co. – Cybernoids company site. Some info available in English.
- Apps and games – List of currently available games and smart phone apps (mainly iPhone and Android).
- Shizuku Talk – Chat style app available for the iPhone and Android