Sep 07, 2011

I'm looking for suggestions on avatar creation software. The one I was using previously is now charging a royalty based on gross project revenue, which is a non-starter for me.

Anyone have any suggestions?



13 Replies
Jeanette Brooks

Hello Sean

Tom did a great blog post on avatars recently: http://www.articulate.com/rapid-elearning/you-may-already-own-the-tools-to-create-simple-e-learning-avatars/ The post covers a free avatar-creation software product that comes with Dell computers. So if you have a Dell, this is definitely worth checking out!

There are also some interesting suggestions for both still & animated avatars in this thread.

Xtranormal might have what you need, too... here's a screencast that Laura, another Articulate user, created awhile back: //www.screenr.com/Pt

Steve Flowers

I'm not a huge fan of the traditional avatar application in eLearning (moving mouths and flailing arms cost credibility points). But done right I can tolerate them and I'll use them in courses under duress:)

Here's a pretty good presentation on avatars, specifically focused on the uncanny valley. He presents the series using a bunch of different tools. 


You might get more flexibility from a tool like DAZ 3D (free but the content costs a little $$), Poser, or iClone. These have a much higher learning curve than the easier to use tools like Codebaby. But the costs are significantly lower if you can negotiate the learning curve and you'll have far higher flexibility over the long term.




One of the cool things about iClone is it's "render free". Meaning you don't need to render the results. It's like a real-time game. You control the character and cameras using a base set of controls with options for more detailed fine controls. It can get complicated, but it's easy to pick up. 

If you're feeling adventurous you could try some of the tools available in the Unreal Toolkit or the Valve equivalents built for machinima. These characters are licensed, but could be fun to play with:


You'll recognize that guy if you have played Team Fortress 2. 

There are lots of options. A search for Machinima might also reveal some gems.

Garry Hargreaves

Hi Guys,

I just thought I'd add to what Steve and others have already mentioned by about building Avatars.

RE: Avatar: Movie 1 - Attached is a very quick example of using CrazyTalk 7 Pro

and another example using PopVideo and WidgetCast from Reallusion with Transparent background

Hope it helps



Garry Hargreaves

RE: Avatar: Movie 2

Another very quick example of using iClone5 Pro also from Reallusion for 3D for Avatars.

All characters can be posed with IK (Inverses kinematics) – royalty free.

Some things to consider along with the content, does the Avatars add or distract from the learning. Are you going to use:

·         2D using a cartoon

·         2D via animated Photographs,

·         3D Avatars or robot?

·         Real Live Actor?

·         Are you going to use a transparent background?

·         Is it going to be a 2D/3D full body shot or just head/shoulders?

·         Are you going to use a virtual stage….etc




Garry Hargreaves

Happy to help, Bruce.....I think

Of course it doesn’t only have to be for an Avatar(s) – these tools can form part of and add another dimension to your SL content.  For example, I have completed a 3D skeleton bending over picking up a box the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way for Manual Handling eLearning.  Any angle, any zoom, closeups of any part of the backbone.  These characters can be infinitely customised and Poser and DAZ can do the same thing.  BTW DAZ4 is free.

Hope it helps you with your next SL project

Cheers Garry

Bruce Graham

I guess the issue, or at least the way that I am thinking is that, so far, I have never had a need for these characters. In terms of company culture they do not really "fit" with anyone I deal with, so far, (although ironically there is now one new customer who may fit the bill...).

I would agree that with manual handling, (as an example), they would be a superb addition. I can see that I could, for example, use some of these avatars in a course about appraisal technique, having some scenarios demonstrating different ways to appraise, however, I keep on coming back to the "norm", seeing avatars and animation like this as a bit of a sideshow, certainly in the world in which I operate.

Looking at what I do, perhaps there are those where there's no culture "fit", and those on the start of their eLearning journey. Perhaps that second audience are the ones that could be convinced to move to this world?

I need to think more about this - thanks for starting the thought process.


Bruce Graham

OK....so here's another 2 x questions - now that I have read this entire post again, and now understand what the "Uncanny Valley" actually is....

1> Why are Banraku puppets so far up the "likeness" scale - I would say they are highly "familiar", but terribly "un-lifelike".

2> If I were to build an appraisal scenario (as above), in order to escape the Valley, would it be better to have 2 x completely un-lifelike characters (perhaps a shark interviewing a goldfish...), in order to escape the "valley" trap, so that the content was familiar, but the characters were humorous/interesting, and helped maintain some interest?

I can see that soon we are going to need an animation SIG on the forum....  !


Garry Hargreaves

Hi Bruce, 

I understand about the cultural fit. It certainly does not fit all enterprises.  I think any Occupational Health and Safety process suites animation tools and pretty much any dangerous situation for humans. The operation of small intricate devices like inside a cylinder head at the time of combustion or the operation of a guillotine and the consequences of not operating them correctly.  Animation tools are just another tool at our disposal.



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