Illustrator and 2d game artist Aïda de Ridder showed how she animates her amazing characters in 2d.
Heya, I am Aïda de Ridder and I hail from the Netherlands. Born and raised by liberal artistic parents in Amsterdam, I was probably doomed to a creative career from the start. I started drawing because my dad wouldn’t draw me the stuff I demanded of him.
I am a 2D artist who loves drawing characters, but more than an Illustrator I am someone who is passionate about multimedia and putting my skills to use in visual storytelling projects. I’ve worked together with VJ’s to provide visuals for concerts, and i’ve worked on Interactive theatre in the past.
I started out with scanned lineart and Photoshop [aw yiss airbrush and lens flares], but at some point the PC’s I worked on became too crappy to handle the software and I resorted to lightweight drawing software. I worked with Open Canvas for a while and later switched to PaintTool SAI. But lately I have been working more in Photoshop again and loving it!
I have a very straight forward approach to drawing, not using a lot of fancy bells and whistles. Half of the tools in Photoshop are still a mystery to me [I’ve only just recently started using masks] but part of the fun is always learning new ways to do things!
Live2D models can be compared to building a 3D character with a rig. You build a 2D model with rigged ranges of motion, and then animate those. It’s very suitable for interactive projects where you can control characters via game triggers or dialogue systems.
Live2D provides a way for you to key deformed texture meshes. Every keyframe, or parameter in this case, is set by hand, Live2D blends between them like most digital animation tools. So creating that 3D effect really relies on your own ability to properly place all the different parts. But since you are not constrained by a 3D model, you still retain all the benefits of 2D art!
My interest in animation really helped me to then animate my character rigs. I’m still learning, and hope to get even better in the future. My next challenges will be combining frame by frame lip sync animation to my models, and perhaps experimenting with squash and stretch deformers. It’s all very exciting to me so I will probably be doing this for a long time!
Does your approach require a more modular way of thinking in the editor?
That’s correct! Every part of the model has it’s own range of motion. Eyes, mouth, eyebrows, hair etc. The same goes for limbs, hand changes and body movement. It’s up to you how many parts you want to be able to animate. This way you can create really complex models with a wide range of expressions and movement, really allowing it to come alive once animated.
Using the Approach in Games
When we started our company Wispfire, we wanted to play to our strengths. While we decided to make a 3D narrative game, my strength is 2D art and we wanted to put emphasis on that. Since we wanted a strong connection to the characters, the original plan was to use static 2D character portraits overlayed on top of the 3D world, like in popular Japanese narrative games.
While doing my first tests with static portraits and manually painting in every different expression, I stumbled upon Japanese animation software specifically made for animating portraits. My research quickly lead to Live2D Cubism, which at that time was the only one of such software that had been translated to English.
After some first tests and finding out that I could make it work with my style, I just went for it! It really helped us to bring an extra level of relatability to the characters and we’ve had pretty much nothing but positive feedback on it. It was a perfect way to combine my passion for 2D art and animation and I think it shows that I had a lot of fun bringing the characters of Herald to life!
You can find out about Herald here.
Since I had to produce a large number of portraits on my own for Herald, I cut down on time by focusing my work on facial features and expressions. Body movement was very minimal. Once I had settled into a workflow, production of a rigged model took between 3 to 5 days excluding painting the portrait itself.
I think I spent perhaps two weeks on doing all the animations, which could be luckily used across all models. Since this was the first time I was doing a large number of animations like this, it probably took me longer than someone who’d be a more traditionally trained animator.