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How to Import Vector Images into Reallusion's Cartoon Animator (without Adobe Flash) and Apply Render Styles

How to Import Vector Images into Reallusion's Cartoon Animator without Adobe Flash Video Tutorial.

Reallusion's Cartoon Animator 4 used to feature vector images more prominently for character and prop creation back when it was launched as CrazyTalk Animator 2. So much so that they built into the application a Render Styles system that made it easy to recolor vector images if you took the extra steps to create vector color groupings for G2 vector characters and props.

Unfortunately G2 Vector characters weren't the success story Reallusion hoped for, proving to be too difficult for the average user to make, and they also required Adobe Flash (now Animate CC) for which many users weren't willing to invest in a subscription.

Since then CrazyTalk Animator 3, and now Cartoon Animator 4, have focused more on high resolution bitmaps to create quality characters and props, however the Render Styles system and support for vector images still remains.

Reallusion Not Interested in SVG Support?

The only vector file supported by Cartoon Animator is Adobe's SWF format which isn't widely supported outside of Adobe apps, and even less so now that the file format was phased out as a web standard at the end of 2020. 

I've been asking Reallusion to add support for the more universal vector SVG format (that most vector illustration apps support) for years with no suggestion it might happen. It doesn't seem like they're planning to add this any time soon. Which is a shame because the Render Styles system is extremely useful and time saving (and you can actually make G3 characters from vector images if you're willing to import sprites manually, one at a time, in the character composer).

To get around the problem of SWF format only, I've scoured the internet for a file converter that can convert an SVG file to an SWF file. There are a few apps that claim to do this but their SWF output isn't compatible with CA4 - often creating an image that appears invisible when imported.

One App That Can Convert to SWF

Fortunately I found one old, freeware, app that can convert from WMF (Windows standard vector file format) to SWF extremely well (if you can get it working - more on that later). It's not SVG but most vector drawing apps (including the free app I use, Inkscape) can export illustrations as WMF files since it's a format that has been around for years.

Kvec by KK Software, as mentioned is freeware. The Windows version has both a graphical user interface (GUI) and a command line version. Other versions for Mac and Linux are command line only. I highly recommend using the GUI Windows version, if you can get it running - even through an emulator on a Mac or Linux - as it is the simplest option, and you'll be able to experiment with other Kvec functions (like trace bitmaps and export them as vector images).

If the GUI Version Fails, the Command Line Version Should Work

The Windows GUI version worked without any issues on my laptop however, on my desktop PC, while it installed fine, it would not open any images. Instead I'd get an exception error. At first I thought it might be because I don't have Adobe Flash installed on my desktop - my laptop has an old version of Flash installed - but the command line version worked perfectly on my desktop PC... so I guess it's not the lack of Flash?

Using the command line version of Kvec is not difficult, but it does require a bit more setup, and is not as elegant as just opening a file you want to convert, converting it, and then saving it out.

How to Import Vector Images and Add Render Styles - Free Video Tutorial

Below I've created a free video tutorial that shows you how to export vector images from Inkscape as WMF files, convert them to SWF with Kvec using both the Windows GUI and Command line versions of the app. Then I show just how simple it is to make your vector images compatible with Cartoon Animator's Render Styles system.

This tutorial is also available from my Art Time Gumroad Store as a paid download (and can be purchased from the store box at the end of this post) in which you get the video below and all the image files I used in the tutorial, including my finished Render Style prop.

 I've included all versions of Kvec for your convenience (also just in case the Kvec website disappears as it looks very unsupported due to it being an old app). You're not paying for Kvec. Download it free from their website if you'd prefer.

Cartoon Animator's Render Style system is a real time saver. Particularly how it makes recoloring vector props so much easier when you want to mix and match props from different scenes. In Cartoon Animator if you see a prop or character with 'RS' in the top corner of its icon in the Content Manager that stands for 'Render Style' compatible.

Render Styles gives you the flexibility to do things like create day and night versions of the same scene without having to export everything to Photoshop for recoloring. Not to mention having perfectly sharp props that don't pixelate no matter how far you zoom in on them for a close up.

Start Making Vector Images for Cartoon Animator with Inkscape

If you're new to vector drawing, or want to get started, on my Animation and Video Life blog I reviewed two excellent beginner courses on how to use Inkscape to create Cartoon Backgrounds and Characters here, no drawing skills required. I actually used these courses to learn Inkscape's vector drawing basics myself.

If you found this tutorial useful please be sure to leave a comment and let me know. I appreciate all feedback, especially constructive criticism or high praise ;-)

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