The making of Tabatha Veazie – Animated 2D portrait – part 3

After all the preparation work I did the last two days, it’s now time for the fun part. Did I say fun? I meant the hardest and most tedious part, but also the most rewarding in the end!

Other parts: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Yesterday I set up all the texture parts with their deformers, making sure they are in the right hierarchy and also in the right draw order [like stacked objects in Illustrator]. If you did not properly name your drawing layers before, using this program will force you to become very organized, otherwise it’s simply impossible to keep track of what and where everything is. You’re going to have to switch between all the different layers, a lot.

With everything set up, I can start working on the movements I want Tabatha to be able to make. With live2D you have many possibilities, but I chose to limit the movements of Herald’s portraits somewhat because of the detailed painting style my portraits are in. I did this mainly to reduce the uncanny valley feeling these kind of animations can sometimes give you if they move too much.

By far, setting up the head movement takes the longest and is the hardest to get right, so naturally I chose to start with that. Things are going to look very weird and well…deformed for a while.

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Starting with the head turn on the X axis, I set up how many keyframes I want, and then on each keyframe placing, deforming and tweaking every facial feature until it looks right. It’s at this phase that I learned that being a meticulous perfectionist can actually be a good thing. Also, lots of patience! It really comes down to tiny details, if only a small thing is off your animation will look weird. So you have to be hyper aware of every detail and how it’s moving and deforming along the grid.

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After the X axis head turn started to look somewhat decent, I quickly did the eye rotation, which is easy to do in comparison. I start with the X axis again, then after that is set up, adding the keyframes to the Y axis and linking it to the X. Thus you get this fun 9 point keyframe square.

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It’s alive!

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This phase takes the longest time, so there will be no update tomorrow. I will return coming Friday with some more fun and freaky looking gifs, as I continue to add movement to her!