From playtime to profit – how I turned my animation hobby into a profitable business

Turning my passion into a full-time job.

Garry Pye has been drawing cartoons all his life. Despite no formal artistic education, he went from hobbyist to full-time animator after discovering Reallusion and their 2D animation software six years ago. 

I have been drawing cartoons ever since I was old enough to hold a pencil. I am a self-taught artist, illustrator and animator who specialises in creating characters, backgrounds and prop content. I started working as a content developer in my spare time, and this has turned into a full-time business. I now have over 1,400 assets available online, which I sell to animators around the world.

From the age of 17, I worked with my father in our family trophy store – for 31 years, in fact. But my true passion was drawing cartoons. And I dreamed of one day being able to do that as my full time job. 

In this article, I’m going to share with you how Cartoon Animator (formally CrazyTalk Animator) helped me to jump from working in that trophy store to creating a profit-making, successful full-time online business. 

Garry Pye in his studio (Image credit: Garry Pye)

Discovering animation

Since I was a child, all I’ve ever done is draw – learning from great fantasy artists like Boris Vallejo and Frank Frazetta, and the incredible comic artists of MAD magazine like Mort Drucker and Jack Davis. I mimicked their styles until eventually I developed my own. 

I always had a fascination with 2D animation, and although I experimented many times with it, I did not have the skills or patience required for traditional frame-by-frame cell animation. Then I came across a piece of software called CrazyTalk Animator, which promised aspiring animators the opportunity to produce professional results without the tedious frame-by-frame work. 

Discovering this software changed my career. After installing it, in a matter of hours I was making things move. About 3 months later, I was creating funny short animated videos (such as the one below) to entertain my friends. 

I soon realised this tool could really help businesses of all types to be able to immediately tell a story, or demo their concept for business or education purposes.

Building a Business

Very quickly, I started to sell my art in Reallusions 2D Marketplace, and have continued to do that for the last 6 years – adding more and more characters, backgrounds and props. Eventually, I opened my own Theme Store on the Reallusion site, and even began representing other artists’ work. 

In my 31-year career working in my family trophy business, I learned many of the skills I would need to turn my hobby into a successful new career. I learned how to operate a business on a day-to-day basis, from marketing and advertising to sales and manufacturing, and also taught myself software skills including Photoshop and CorelDraw. And, of course, customer relations and communications – which in my opinion are the most vital skills for business owner. 

I look at where I was with CrazyTalk Animator 6 years ago compared with where I am today, and it demonstrates something truly wonderful about this software: it grows with you. The software guides you through those early days of basic animation, so that as your confidence and skills grow, you become more comfortable exploring the more professional tools within, and your animations become more polished as a result. 

One of Garry Pye’s animations (Image credit: Garry Pye)

Collaborating with developers and becoming a Reallusion community manager

As my digital content business grew, my hobby not only became my full-time job, but I also opened my own market store to sell my creations and also help other artists like me to get into world of digital creation.

I believe there are many more artists like me out there – talented designers and artists who struggle between work and their passion. That’s why I recently officially became a Reallusion Spokesman and Community Manager. I want to share my true passion with others, and help more artists to succeed.

Two Theme Stores: Reallusion Content Store & 2D Marketplace 

Garry Pye’s ‘Little Mates’ (Image credit: Garry Pye)

Reallusion offers several different areas on the website for developers to sell and promote their products, from hobbyists to professionals. 

The first step in becoming a content developer was to sell my characters, props and backgrounds in the 2D Marketplace, a wonderful platform for artists at any skill level. The Marketplace allows you to load any content at no cost, and you make a healthy commission from each sale. Reallusion provides you with the templates you need for marketing, but the look and design of your marketing is entirely in your control. I still load all of my new content to the Marketplace today and it’s a fantastic site for being seen by potential customers. 

Once my catalogue of content had grown in size, I was invited to join the Reallusion Content Store which has the advantage of being controlled by Reallusion itself, including all marketing, which is extensive. The secret to both the Marketplace and the Content Store was to remain relevant and current, creating and uploading new content on a regular basis so the audience I was building would return to see what new content was on offer.Advertisement

Then I was invited to open my own Theme Store on the Reallusion site, which meant that my store was now featured on the main page, giving me considerable more exposure on the site and once again building on my brand. By this time I had a large following of loyal customers that had been accumulated through each level of the sites platforms, from Marketplace to Content Store and finally to Theme Store, where I now represent other artists and help promote their work. 

All Stars – My latest series of characters created with Cartoon Animator 4

(Image credit: Garry Pye)

As well as making standalone characters, I knew from the beginning of my work as a content developer that I wanted to make series of characters as well, so that animators would have a range of characters to choose from, all with the same distinct and recognisable style. 

For the All Stars I chose a vector style of design, with no black outline, which I felt was more suitable to the needs of media presenters for corporate training videos and slideshows (my target audience for this series). The characters are cartoony, but still based on normal human proportions. Fun, but professional. 

I would certainly have been able to create the All Stars in CrazyTalk Animator 3, however Cartoon Animator 4 gave me several distinct advantages. The main one was that with CTA4, I am able to add additional layers to the face, meaning that for the first time you could create things like hair that has multiple levels, each of which can either be visible or invisible to change a characters hair style, or even animate the hair sections using the Deform function. Moustaches and facial hair could now be easily turned on or off without having to have them built in to the nose sprite, making sprite selection much easier.  Advertisement

In addition, the new G3 360 Degree Heads allow much more natural movement for character animation. I did not incorporate the full arc of movement with these characters heads with The Bendies, which was a design choice. And the option is always there should I choose to expand the characters style and incorporate it later.

Reallusion reveals new SkinGen for Character Creator

Reallusion follows up the success of Headshot, the game changer for rapid digital double character creation AI, with a look at the forthcoming release of SkinGen. The Digital Human workflow evolves in this sneak peek of SkinGen, a new plugin for Character Creator and the next component of the Reallusion digital human creation system.

LampBlack: Voice Actors turn game developers with character creator 3 and unreal engine

Lucas Gilberston & Carol-Anne Day

Lucas Gilberton & Carol-Ann Day

We’re Lucas and Carol-Anne. We’re voice actors, musicians, and visual artists, with a passion for compelling narrative video games. 

Our claim to 15 minutes of fame was doing voice work for anime like Gundam cartoons, some versions of Dragonball and Lucas was Zero in the Mega Man X franchise in the early 2000’s.

Our powers combined, we’re the Hermit Collective! And we’re making Lampblack. Lampblack is a third person narrative adventure with behavioural, cerebral, and philosophical puzzles. It’s a game that demands mindful exploration, attention to details, and an astute understanding of behavior. All of this is packaged in a beautiful and surreal world.

And that’s where Reallusion came in. The characters are very important in a story and game such as this, and we needed to have stunning characters brought to life in a believable way that could elicit an emotional response from our audience. And that’s what we’ve got! So that’s us! Thanks for being here! We love you.

With Character Creator 3 we cannot only flesh out our core cast, but we can create dozens if not hundreds of iterated characters for an entire village or city. This enables us to make an entire world in an attractive amount of time. Before, we’ve spent over a year making one three minute hand drawn animation. Now, we can accomplish in days what previously took years.

Lucas Gilberston – Game Developer

Reallusion Receives Epic MegaGrant Award

Indies Rise with Real-time Digital Human Revolution

Reallusion, developers of Character Creator and iClone, proudly announce the honor of an Epic MegaGrant award from Epic Games. Reallusion iClone is used by independent  developers and Unreal Engine users to create, animate and deploy characters for games, films and virtual production. The prestigious MegaGrant is a massive accolade for iClone as it demonstrates the shared interest Reallusion and Epic have with the independent development community. Thanks to Epic MegaGrants, Reallusion now provides a complete character creation and animation pipeline to Unreal Engine for indies and studios of every size to realize digital humans.

The fusion of iClone with Unreal Engine produces a unique combination of features that extend the power of iClone tools directly into UE4. Indie developers, game studios and all users of Unreal Engine can now experience the power of these essential iClone features; character generation with Character Creator and Headshot, a massive motion library with UE4 – compatible motions, mocap full-body, face and hands with a myriad of devices, Face/Body animation editing, all of which can be sent to Unreal Engine with One-click transfer and Auto Setup.

Animation movie studio taps into iClone Unreal Live Link for fast AAA Production

Uzair Zaheer Khan – Director / Producer

Uzair Zaheer Khan

A CG generalist, specializing in character animation from Vancouver film school, Uzair has 20 years of experience setting up unique pipelines. He has worked on a range of prominent projects like Discovery next world, Toyota Scion Deviants, UPS Cardboard World and Eidos Tomb Raider Legends. Uzair setup Unicorn Black Studios to produce the Emmy nominated Series – Burka Avenger, and as the Series Director and Head of Production.

Uzair is the founder of 3rd World Studios, a 3D animation studio in Islamabad, Pakistan makers of ‘Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor‘, the first animated film made using Unreal Engine. His work has received multiple international awards like the Peabody award for broadcast excellence, Gender Equality award, Monolith award for technology, Rising Star for Animation, amongst others.

3rd World Studios created a COVID-19 public service announcement in record time by using iClone 7 (animation/editing/face mocap), Unreal Engine 4 (rendering), Xsens (body mocap), and Manus (hand mocap).

With keyframing, an artist can produce anywhere from three to six seconds of finished animation per day. This iClone Unreal setup took 3rd World Studios approximately 3 to 4 hours to produce the entire 45 seconds of PSA animation

Uzair Zaheer Khan – Director / Producer

Cepheus Protocol: Open World RTS Indie Developers employ Character Creator 3 in Unreal Engine

Robert Smith – CEO / Game Director

Robert Smith

Cepheus Protocol is an independently developed top-down open world RTS inspired by XCOM, Company of Heroes, and Parasite Eve.

The team is led by CEO and Game Director Robert Smith, who leads a team of diverse individuals from various backgrounds from all around the world who are utilizing Character Creator 3 in their RTS game due to release in May 2020.

Character Creator solved a lot of problems for us creatively, as we didn’t have the character modelers needed to populate a city.”

Robert Smith – CEO / Game Director

Reallusion COVID -19 Care Program offers Home Access for Academic & Corporate Workgroups, along with a 50% Off Software for All

Reallusion Inc., 2D and 3D Real-time software developer,  is inviting everyone to use their time at home to get into animation. The Reallusion COVID-19 Care program includes free home access for Academic and Corporate Workgroups until June 30th, and a 50% discount on all Reallusion products until April 30th.

During these challenging times, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is impacting families and people around the world. Reallusion is committed to a safe and productive working environment for our communities and our employees. At Reallusion we care about our creative communities and have prepared options to help them during this time to stay home and create.

In response to many of our communities’ inquiries and immediate needs for remote access software, we are implementing a few friendly options through our COVID-19 Care Program: https://www.reallusion.com/COVID-19.html

  • Free Home Access for Academic and Corporate Workgroup licenses

Free home access for Academic and Corporate Workgroup license accounts with temporary licenses until June 30th, 2020 at no additional cost.  Existing educational institutions and corporations with workgroup licenses are eligible for the COVID-19 free software access from home to keep everyone productive.

  • 50 % OFF in the Reallusion Software Store – for Everyone

A 50% discount on all packages in the Reallusion Software Store. The discount is available through April 30th, 2020 and open to everyone (new and existing members included). Enter the 50% OFF coupon code “COVID19STAYSAFE” at checkout.

COVID-19 Care Program Reallusion user showcases:

  • Get inspired by other home studio creations and see how big things can come from small spaces.
  • View a gallery of COVID-19 themed art from users around the world.

TWO TIME WINNER OF REALLUSIONS ‘ANIMATION @ WORK’ COMPETITION TALKS ABOUT HOW HE DID IT AND WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS

Francesco Tammaccaro – 2D Animator

FRANCESCO TAMMACCARO

Hi Folks, I’m Frank, a multimedia artist from Milan (Italy). What a wonderful time to be alive for an artist! Technology is allowing us to share our art with the people we love, create connections, collaboration and friendship with like-minded people, no matter how far away they are!

I put a lot of work and love in every assets you see in my store: I build them for you, because I know you have incredible stories to tell, and I hope my art could inspire you and make your greatest ideas come to life, through a beautiful animation.

This is what inspires me to do what I do, and drives me to create better and better content every day. If you’d like to talk to me, feel free to send me a message on facebook at @franksdoodles. I’m always happy to hear from my fellow creators!

“With Cartoon Animator 4, I get stuff done!”

Francesco Tammaccaro – 2D Animator
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