Live2D - A Basic Guide for Beginners

Live2D - A Basic Guide for Beginners

Live2D - A Basic Guide for Beginners

Virtual YouTubers, or VTubers, have emerged as a captivating and innovative trend in the ever-evolving realm of content creation. These digital personas, brought to life through virtual avatars, have taken the online world by storm, captivating audiences with their interactive and entertaining content. 


Have you ever thought that behind the magic of these endearing characters always lies a lot of work? Setting up a studio, defining goals and a content plan, choosing a preferable platform, and finding your voice – so much effort goes behind the scenes. However, the most important and exciting part of the character's birth is the virtual avatar creation. In this article, we delve into the world of Live2D - a software that lies behind plenty of avatars, and explore why it has become the go-to choice for countless VTubers. Keep on reading and unravel the secrets that make Live2D an exceptional tool!

What is Live2D

Live2D is a software used to create 2D animations of characters with a sense of depth and dynamic movement. In essence, Live2D avatars are composed of various layered parts that can be individually manipulated to create the character's expressions. These range from basic components like body, face, and hair to more intricate elements like eyelashes, eyebrows, mouth, and even different sections of hair, each capable of unique movements. The number of layers, each connected to a skeleton, depends on how the Live2D character is intended to behave. In combination with real-time motion capture, Live2D can track and even synchronize lip movements, making it perfectly suitable for VTubing.

Often compared to 3D animation, Live2D capabilities differ considerably based on the fundamental principle and, therefore, creation speed! With 3D, you must construct a full-blown new model based on your illustration, but Live2D saves you from all this fuss by using the original image straight away.


Lots of awesome stuff made with Live2D starts from traditional 2D art. Whether it's a visual novel or a famous illustration, 2D artists and fans appreciate Live2D's ability to maintain the authenticity of the original artwork. It's a win-win for everyone who loves the charm of classic 2D art but wants to bring it to life in a fresh way.

How to Use Live2D

  • Prepare your original illustration in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, PaintToolSAI, or any other drawing software you prefer. Use layers to separate the parts you want to move.

  • Load the PSD data into Live2D.

  • Examine Live2D editing tools! Try Deformer to play with angles and facial expressions and register complex transformations with Motion Parameter. 

  • Once your character is finalized, it's time to create the animations. First, define the timeline's keyframes, then check out other features to make more animated expressions. 

  • Save your animation as a GIF, video file, or image sequence.

  • Now you're ready to add your model to streaming software and one step closer to your Vtuber career!

What Makes Live2D Perfect for VTubers?

  • Consistency across platforms: Live2D ensures seamlessly applied consistent quality across diverse media platforms, and it's a step forward from times when displaying a character led to a broken image.

  • Compatibility with endless applications: The software supports a wide range of apps, including game engines, mobile applications, and other communication platforms. 

  • Cost-effectiveness: Various licensing options based on user needs and financial capabilities.

  • The simplicity of the process: Flexible and relatively straightforward editing strategy pushes more and more people to start a Vtuber career, enabling plenty of possibilities for creative expression. For example, it eliminates the necessity for creating a full-scale 3D model or frame-by-frame animation by utilizing interconnected and layered components from illustration. 

  • Layered animation: Each character's element can be separately animated thanks to using layered parts, making movements more natural and fluid. 

  • Real-time dynamic expressions: Smiling, winking, or even shedding tears – the character can convey emotions and reactions that resonate with the audience, making the interaction more engaging. Live2D ensures that your character can adapt to different scenarios and unexpected audience requests. 

  • Preserving artistic style: Live2D retains the original design's essence without redrawing every new pose or expression.

Live2D Cons

Overall, the disadvantages of Live2D are contextual and depend on each creator's specific needs and preferences. While it may not fulfill every animation requirement, Live2D rightfully remains the most popular tool for Vtubing despite the following shortcomings:


  • 360° Rotation Challenge: Currently, there is no official support for a complete 360° rotation of characters. Performing turns can be especially challenging for complex images at huge angles.

  • Resource Intensity: Live2D animations can be resource-intensive when used in real-time applications. Running Live2D characters on lower-end devices or in resource-constrained environments may lead to performance issues.

  • Artistic Constraints: The character's movement depends on the original 2D artwork's design and layers. Artists may face limitations in specific actions or expressions, especially if the original art wasn't designed with Live2D in mind.

  • Realism Limitations: Live2D's strengths lie in stylized and anime-like character animations, which are perfect for VTubers. For creators seeking hyper-realistic or highly detailed animations, Live2D might not be the ideal solution.

Live2D Free vs Pro

Live2D offers two versions of their software, both available for MacOS and Windows, and you can test Live2D Pro yourself to understand if it's worth purchasing because you're free to download the trial version for 42 days! Once the trial period is over, the software will automatically switch to the Free plan, but you can always consider purchasing a license to enjoy Live2D fully. Well, let's briefly look at key similarities and differences between Free and Pro!

Pricing: As the name suggests, the Free version is available at no cost, and Live2D Pro has a $15 monthly, $100 annual, and $260 3-year plan. You can learn more about the intricacies of pricing and discounts here.


Modeling: Pro has no limits in texture files per model, motion parameters, blend shape deformation parameters, number of parts, and ArtPath. The Free version allows you to have 1 texture file per model, 30 motion parameters, 3 blend shape deformations, 30 elements of a character, and 3 artpath alterations. To add more, Pro unlocks many features, such as model resizing, multiview, unifying the parameter structure for different objects, presets, and much more!


Animation: Pro version, again, has almost no limitations, while the Free offers 3-frame step animation for ArtMesh objects, 1280x720 px output for images and videos, and a few other restrictions that can be found in the comparison on the Live2D site.


Commercial use: Only small-scale enterprises or general users may choose the Free plan for commercial purposes. 

Summing up

In the ever-expanding landscape of virtual content creation, Live2D deserves to be in the limelight, reaffirming its status as an excellent software for VTubers. As the VTubing phenomenon continues to soar, Live2D's development ensures that creators have access to the latest features and improvements, further enhancing the animation experience and keeping it relevant. Are you ready to bring your creative visions to life? Start your Vtubing journey with Live2D! 

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