Is Live2D Hard to Learn?


Is Live2D Hard to Learn?

Is Live2D Hard to Learn? No, it's not!
  • Learning Live2D is surprisingly easy, even if you do not have background in drawing or animation. With dedicated effort, you can get the basics within a week.
  • While it’s easy to pick up with the right approach, but mastering it can take years due to its various components. I will share my own learning experience with you after working on Live2D rigging commissions for more than 3 years.

I did a poll on Reddit in r/Live2D to ask other Live2D riggers if learning Live2D is difficult.

Here are the results:

Reddit Poll - Is Live2D Hard to Learn?

From a pool of 85 voters:

  • 3 find it very easy to learn.
  • 7 find it easy to learn.
  • 39 find it moderately challenging to learn.
  • 33 find it hard to learn.
  • 3 find it very hard to learn.

This aligns with my initial expectations, with the majority perceiving it as moderately challenging. Nevertheless, the 33 individuals who find it hard to learn surprised me.

In my opinion, the difficulty was moderate, closer to being easy. I managed to learn and make my first Live2D model with full body and different animations in just one month. However, it appears other riggers view it as moderately challenging, leaning towards difficult. I’ll elaborate on my reasoning below.

What is Live2D?

To understand if Live2D is difficult to learn, it’s important to first know what Live2D actually is.

Live2D is an animation technique that enables artists to take 2D illustrations and bring them to life by adding dynamic movements and expressions. This is widely used in various fields, including gaming, virtual YouTubing (VTubing), interactive applications, and more.

Live2D is NOT EQUAL to Live2D Cubism!

Live2D Cubism is NOT EQUAL to Live2D

Many people often equate Live2D with Live2D Cubism, but that’s a misconception.

Live2D is the animation technique, while Live2D Cubism represents the software used for creating Live2D animation. This distinction is pivotal because understanding Live2D involves mastering both the technique and the tools.

Note that alternatives like Spine 2D or DragonBones can also used to create Live2D animation.

Components of Learning Live2D: A Breakdown

When it comes to answering the question “Is Live2D Hard to Learn?” people often associate it solely with the difficulty of learning the tools used to create Live2D animations. However, drawing from my learning experience, there are a few other crucial components that also require attention. We will need to break down the components involved in learning Live2D.

1. Learning Live2D Processes

  • Overview:

This involves understanding the process of Live2D animation, from dissecting an image into various parts (head, body, limbs), assembling them using an armature skeletal structure, rigging moving parts to parameters, and generating animations by manipulating these parameters in real-time.

  • Ease of Learning: ★☆☆☆☆ (Very Easy, 1/5).

The theoretical concept and the workflow is easy to understand. I grasped the concept within a few days after watching several tutorial videos.

  • Time Estimate to Learn:

Within a few days for a fundamental understanding.

2. Learning Animation Principles

  • Overview:

Understanding animation principles, such as The 12 Principles of Animation, is essential. Challenges may arise in aspects like perspective and timing, especially for individual without artistic background.

New learners of Live2D often overlook the comprehension of animation principles. However, it is a crucial aspect that significantly enhances the quality of your animations.

Nevertheless, there are still some differences between Live2D animation and traditional animation. Certain traditional animation principles may not be obvious or utilized in Live2D animation and vice versa.

  • Ease of Learning: ★★☆☆☆ (Easy, 2/5).

Understanding the fundamental and theoretical aspect of animation is simple, but you need to practice to apply it. I studied The Animator’s Survival Kit in two weeks. However, it took me a few months to apply the concepts in Live2D animations.

  • Time Estimate to Learn:

Within a week for a basic grasp, lifelong for mastery.

3. Learning to Process Live2D Illustrations

Live2D Illustration separation - Arihs Texture Atlas
  • Overview:

To rig an illustration for Live2D animation, you must ensure that the image is properly separated. This step holds significant importance in the creation of a compelling Live2D animation. Learning how to separate or cut images is important. Knowing how to use image editing tools like Photoshop is necessary for this task.

  • Ease of Learning: ★★★☆☆ (Moderate, 3/5).

To understand how to separate an image, you need knowledge of Live2D process, animation principles, and software. Understanding how to separate things is simple, but actually doing it can be tedious and time-consuming. You also need to be skilled with tools like Photoshop to cut them accurately.

I quickly learned how to separate layers and use Photoshop. However, it took a while to actually separate the image into layers, 1 week to be exact.

  • Time Estimate to Learn:

Within 2 weeks to gain understanding, as it requires knowledge from other components.

4. Learning Live2D Animation Tools

Live2D Tools - Live2D Cubism
  • Overview:

When delving into Live2D, a crucial aspect is mastering the tools, with Live2D Cubism being a prominent choice. Before embarking on tool mastery, it’s essential to understand your specific use case. Live2D Cubism’s popularity stems from its interactive functions, notably embraced by VTubers. When tackling the question “Is Live2D Hard to Learn?” most often, people are specifically referring to this aspect.

  • Ease of Learning: ★★★☆☆ (Moderate, 3/5).

Choosing the right tools is your initial step. But given the similarity in core processes across Live2D software, there’s less concern about making the wrong choice. Once you achieve mastery in one tool, transitioning to others becomes more seamless.

Afterwards, be sure to carefully follow a detailed tutorial/guide (very important), and you can learn the tools fast. I quickly learned Live2D Cubism in just a week or two because I’m good at understanding and mastering tools. I achieved this by following the Live2D tutorial and reading the Live2D Cubism manual.

  • Time Estimate to Learn:

Within a month for a simple Live2D model, lifelong for mastery.

5. Learning Live2D Supplementary Tools

Live2D Supplementary Tool - VTuber Studio
  • Overview: 

Live2D often integrates with other software based on your use case, such as face-tracking engines (eg. VTube Studio) or visual novel tools (Ren’Py).

  • Ease of Learning: ★★★☆☆ (Moderate, 3/5).

The ease of learning largely depends on the tools involved; in some cases, you might need a bit of knowledge in programming.

So, my first face-tracking engine was with FaceRig. It took me a couple of hours to wrap my head around it, but, oh boy, the real struggle come after that. I’m willing to bet this thing will be haunting riggers from their early days for the rest of their lives.

Anyway, let’s just sweep that trauma under the rug and move on. Plenty of better choices exist now.

  • Time Estimate to Learn:

Within a week for a basic grasp.

6. Optional – Learning to Draw Live2D Illustration

My Impeccable Drawing
  • Overview:

Being a Live2D animator doesn’t necessarily require drawing skills, making the entry barrier relatively low. However, having drawing skills can be advantageous, potentially accelerating the learning process.

From my observations, artists often excel in animating character perspectives, which is arguably the most challenging aspect to master. Without any experience in drawing, it took me nearly a year to reach a satisfactory level of rigging character perspectives. Mind you, it’s just acceptable, not extraordinary.

Drawing skills prove beneficial in the separation/cutting process, allowing for easier gap filling and redraws. Additionally, the ability to offer Live2D illustration services, handling both drawing and rigging, can significantly reduce communication time. Moreover, when you need additional assets, having drawing skills enables you to create them independently.

  • Ease of Learning:

I lack drawing skills, so I am not qualified to comment on this aspect.

  • Time Estimate to Learn:


What Affect the Learning Difficulty of Live2D?

Several factors could play a crucial role in addressing the question, “Is Live2D Hard to Learn?”

1. Context

When I began delving into Live2D around 2018, it was still a rather niche field. Not many resources were available, and even official materials like the Live2D Cubism manual had bad translations (worst than machine translation).

Learning was considerably more challenging back then. However, with the rise of VTubers, Live2D has gained much more public recognition. Now, learning resources are abundant, and everything has improved significantly, making the learning process much easier.

2. Logic vs Creativity

Live2D is not just about art and creativity; it also involves using the program and tools, making it a logical activity. Artists expecting Live2D to be purely art-driven may struggle, as logical thinking plays a prominent role.

If logical reasoning isn’t your strong suit, learning Live2D animation tools might prove challenging. People who know programming will find it easier to learn Live2D because it’s similar to logical programming.

3. Compared with 3D Rigging

In general, compared to 3D rigging, Live2D is less complex and has a simpler workflow. Individuals with 3D rigging experience who transition to 2D rigging are likely to find it easier.

4. Learning Method

This is likely the most significant factor influencing the learning difficulty, in my opinion. Learning is a blend of both science and art—there’s a whole science behind the art of learning (see what I did there!).

No one-size-fits-all approach; it’s about finding the method that suits you best. Choosing the wrong method can significantly increase the learning difficulty, and vice versa. Here are tips on how to learn Live2D and master it in 3 months.

Final verdict: Is Live2D Hard to Learn?

Personally, I perceive the difficulty of learning Live2D as moderately challenging, leaning towards easy. However, it seems other riggers see it as moderately challenging, leaning towards difficult. Having an artistic or animation background is not a prerequisite.

Once again, is Live2D hard to learn? The answer is no!

And, of course, if there’s anything I said was wrong, I’m sorry. I must’ve stupefied, please knock me out of it.

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1 thought on “Is Live2D Hard to Learn?”

  1. Pingback: How to Learn Live2D and Master It in 3 Months | ShiraLive2D

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