What happens when you take the merits of both 2-D and 3-D animation and combine them to make a new hybrid form of animation technology? Unfathomable as it may seem, that’s precisely the type of technology that Japanese company Live2D is in the midst of developing. Their latest achievement, known as “Live2D Euclid,” is software that is able to transform your 2-D drawings into a 3-D reality while still retaining the look and details of a pen and paper illustration. In other words, it looks like “a hand-drawn picture that will move in the way you want it to.”

Still confused? Check out the introductory video after the jump to see this new technology that is revolutionizing the way we animate characters in anime and video games!

Japanese company Live2D has been developing this groundbreaking form of technology since 2006. Their CG animation software is currently employed in various forms of media, including television anime series and video games. Last year, the company pushed the limits of modern technology by creating a program that could track a person’s facial expressions in real time and transfer the data onto the face of a 2-D character. Unfortunately, the program was only able to track movement 30 to 40 degrees to the left and right of the on-screen character. This time, however, Live2D is taking their work to the next level–by creating software that allows for 360 degrees of unlimited movement!

▼A designer working on Live2D Euclid


Let’s back up a moment and go over the basics of this technology one more time. The following cartoons taken from Live2D’s official English-language site should serve nicely as a crash course:






Next, let’s see the process in action by taking a look at how a 2-D character is transformed into a 360-degree, freely movable 3-D character:

▼In the process of building a virtual 2-D model


▼You can move your cursor around to watch the character move in real time.


▼Here’s an example of the previously mentioned layering technique utilized in Live2D Euclid.


▼The beauty of this technology is that you can view your character in crisp detail from a variety of different angles, even when she’s drawing a sword.


▼Live2D’s representative director explaining the basics


▼It’s also possible to use the Live2D-generated animation in combination with a head-mounted display (HMD).


▼This side-by-side comparison shows just how different the development process is when using Live2D Euclid vs. regular 3-D animation software.


As previously stated, the original charm of the 2-D character is not lost when working in Live2D Euclid–the 3-D model will retain the flat-looking, illustrative style that is often lost when creating 3-D models.

Take a look at the following comparisons which illustrate how minuscule character details such as individual strands of hair are much more faithfully preserved when using the Live2D Euclid technology as opposed to regular 3-D animation technology:


▼Live2D: keeping the cuteness to the max!


You can watch the full explanatory video below.

Since Live2D is always working to improve their hybrid form of technology, it’s easy to forget just how impressive their existing achievements already are. We’re looking forward to seeing what new upgrades the company will release in the future, as well as what media platforms will utilize their amazing technology.

Sources: Gigazine, Live2D
Images: YouTube (diginfonewsjapan)