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.

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.

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.

Indie Developer uses Real-time Tech to Compete against AAA Studios

FYQD-Studio reveals the secrets behind Bright Memory: Infinite game development

A new era for game developers has dawned: small and indie game studios can now compete against triple-A studios with the support of real-time technology.

Bright Memory: Infinite, a fusion of FPS and action genres created by a solo developer at FYQD-Studio, has found success and popularity since its January 2019 launch viaEarly Access on Steam. It received an Unreal Dev Grant in 2019 and was presented by NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang at GTC China 2019.The developer, Zeng Xiancheng, lays out the behind-the-scenes story on how he achieved a spectacular looking game – with the help of Unreal Engine, NVIDIA RTX, and real-time animation tools: iClone and Character Creator.

Bright memory was presented by NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang at GTC China 2019.

Developer Zeng Xiancheng is currently working on content for Bright Memory: Infinite, which is slated for release by the end of 2020. He hopes fans continue to stay tuned for the launch. In this article, Zeng shares how he was able to produce the game all by himself with very limited budget and manpower.

FYQD-Studio Interview video:

Transforming a 2D image into a 3D character: 9 top tips

Discover how Headshot generates a 3D animated Pennywise from a photo.

(Image credit: Peter Alexander)

Film-inspired fan art is nothing new. But, as many digital artists will attest, reimagining a movie character in 3D is a huge undertaking. Until now, that is. 

Headshot plug-in for Character Creator software enables artists to quickly generate human 3D models from 2D images. In this article, digital artist Peter Alexander reveals how to take a photo of Pennywise the clown from hit horror film IT, and easily transform it into a complex 3D model using Headshot, ZBrush and Blender. 

Alexander’s guide covers everything you need to know go get started, including photo selection and preparation, using the bake, edit mesh and sculpting tools native to Character Creator 3, manually adjusting Headshot masks in Photoshop, how to fix symmetry using ZBrush, and, finally, a crash-course on creating hair with a third-party Blender add-on called Hair Tool.

Download a free trial of Headshot plug-in here, and learn how to easily create a fully animatable 3D Pennywise model from just a single 2D image.

Befores & Afters: What it Took to Visualize this Star Wars Fan Film

How Reallusion’s iClone and Character Creator helped Previs” Dark Resurrection – Keepers of the Force”

Special thanks to Ian Failes – visual effects / animation journalist / owner of vfx publication Befores & Afters for wrapping up the story!

Star Wars-inspired Dark Resurrection fan film – a series that has been watched over a million times on YouTube, that used Reallusion’s iClone and Character Creator for previs.

Director Angelo Licata’s Dark Resurrection – Keepers of the Force:

With a reduced budget, but high ambitions for this project – Angelo decided to use iClone to build a CG version of the characters which were made both in Daz3D and Character Creator.

 “Working with iClone allowed us to discard all unnecessary shots, thus defining a much smaller list of shots than the initial shooting list. It also made communication with all departments extremely simple and made actors understand the necessary actions during filming. The crew was also excited to watch the animatic, and this motivated every element of the team enormously.”

— Angelo Licata

The iClone previs:

“In one morning I understood the basics of animation in iClone and in the evening I had an approximate but extremely functional animatic. Although the environment was done with simple volumes, the movements and action mirrored exactly what I had in mind. Since then I always have a preview of the filming with iClone, especially if there were special effects or elaborate camera movements. It is an exceptional tool that allows me to solve many problems before going on set.”

— Angelo Licata

Real the full article on befores and afters : https://beforesandafters.com/2020/03/03/what-it-took-to-visualize-this-star-wars-fan-film/

HOW-TO: Generating A 3D Animated Gollum From A Single Photo

The Headshot plug-in for Reallusion’s Character Creator allows users to generate 3d animated digital humans from one photo. You can download a free trial here, and learn how to create a classic movie character like Gollum without any 3d skills.

To find out more about the process, we invited Peter Alexander to walk us through it. Alexander is a digital freelancer specialized in illustration, graphic design, and 3d modeling. He develops content assets for various digital marketplaces.

Peter Alexander

In this video and text below, Alexander explains how to create a fantasy movie character by using Headshot for Character Creator 3. He touches on how to choose a quality reference, overcome an open-mouthed reference image, choose appropriate masking features, and block proportions for the head and body using the “bake” feature. Alexander also covers the Mesh Editor tool, which can be used for a variety of purposes, and in this article will be used to customize a hair asset.

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