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.

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

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

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/

80 Level: Linking the Unlinkable: iClone Unreal Live Link for Animators

In this interview, Tom Jantol talked about his position as a film director and animator and shared his experience with iClone Unreal Live Link Plug-In.

Tom Jantol’s “SOMETHING CODED THIS WAY COMES” Movie trailer made with iClone Unreal Live Link:

Pablo Munoz Gomez’s Guide to Speed Up ZBrush Character Creation

This article is featured on ArtStation Magazine

Learn the new morph and pose system from Reallusion that works seamlessly with ZBrush and GoZ. 

The new Character Creator ​has the ability to connect with ZBrush using the GoZ plugin to send and receive meshes. This opens up the doors for a very powerful workflow to prototype characters with a high level of detail and with interesting and dynamic poses. You can download a free trial here.

Pablo Munoz Gomez

Character and Concept Artist

Instructor at ZBrushGuides.com

In this article, Pablo gives a walk through of his process for using Character Creator 3 (CC3) and ZBrush to produce a character concept in a pose for real-time rendering.

Unreal VR Game Developer creates NPCs with Character Creator & iClone

Myron Mortakis – Founder of Helm Systems

Myron Mortakis

Myron Mortakis is the President and founder of HELM Systems, a South Florida-based software development company, specializing in interactive and virtual reality software development.

He carries over his expertise and experience of over 13 years in structuring, organizing and directing development teams. Myron has led his company to international recognition, in the form of award nominations, mainstream world-wide online and print publications, as well as to the creation of HELM’s proprietary 3D rendering engine.

Helm systems is now developing their VR project – The SoulKeeper VR where they used Character Creator and iClone for their Unreal game project.

Reallusion’s products are an essential component in our development toolbox, as they facilitate and expedite a lot of complex processes that are involved in a character’s production cycle, without sacrificing quality.

 Myron Mortakis / President-Founder of Helm Systems

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