Game Development TutorialsGame Art

How to Animate a Running Dinosaur from a 2D Image with Skeletal Animation for Game Engines


Welcome to the tutorial on learning how to animate a dinosaur character with Creature. Creature is the advanced 2D Skeletal + Mesh Animation Tool for Games, Film and other forms of Animated Media. In this tutorial, we will learn how to animate a living, breathing and running Raptor dinosaur in Creature from a single 2D image atlas!

Animating with Creature

Creature makes animation easy. The most powerful concept behind Creature are its Procedural Animation Motors. Creature allows you to very easily animate complex motion like Walk Cycles, Hair blowing in the wind and fluttering cloth literally within minutes as opposed to other software which requires you to draw the animation out frame by frame. This means even people without any animation experience can jump in and start producing high quality animations right away! Here are some examples of what Creature can animate:

The Source Dinosaur Image

We will be using this amazing image of a UtahRaptor by Fred Wierum ( Fred_Wierum#/media/File:Utahraptor_Restoration.png). This is licensed as  CC BY-SA 4.0. Here is the Dinosaur image:

First, we split up the image using a software like Gimp or Photoshop into separate body parts:

With that, we will now begin the exciting process of animating this character in Creature!

Mesh + Rig Creation

To start off, we will create a new Creature Project from a Single Image. This image is the dinosaur atlas image we made above. After it is brought in, each body part is automatically converted into a mesh in Creature. This means we convert the representation of each body part into a collection of triangles. Everything is rendered as a triangle in a game engine so a mesh structure makes sense for rendering.

With Meshing done, we enter the Rigging Phase. This is where we put the different body part meshes together into a complete dinosaur and construct the skeleton as well.

First, we put the meshes together:

Next, the skeleton/bones get constructed:

Finally, the bones are weighted to the mesh to make them deform with the skeleton as it moves:

To learn more about this process in detail, please watch this full video tutorial on the Rigging Process in Creature:

Also, if you need a quick introductory tutorial on how to get started with Creature, watch this tutorial:

Animating the Dinosaur

Once we have the character rigged up, we can begin the exciting process of actually animating the dinosaur! The first thing we are going to do is to keyframe the basic run cycle of a single leg animation for the dinosaur. What we are going to do is to animate 1 single run cycle, then use the powerful Custom Cycle Motor of Creature to capture that animation cycle. After that is done, we will then install the Custom Cycle Motor on the legs of the dinosaur in a different animation clip. It will then playback and cycle the originally captured leg motion for us to use, allowing us to very easily generate running motion without too much effort!

First, we keyframe the basic leg motion for one cycle for both legs and capture them into the Custom Cycle Motor:

After that, we will create a brand new Animation Clip and install the Custom Cycle Motor onto both of those legs. To understand how this whole process works in detail, please watch this video tutorial here. It takes you through the process of animating with Custom Cycle Motors for a running Fox, a process very similar to animating this dinosaur:

Bringing the Dinosaur to Life with Secondary Motion

You have a running dinosaur with legs moving about which looks pretty cool. However what it is missing is dynamic secondary motion. By that, I mean it doesn’t feel alive. The way to make animated characters come alive is to add in secondary motion. This is basically animation like dangling tails, flesh that reacts to motion, muscle activation etc. Sounds complicated? Not really! With Creature secondary motion simply involves installing a bunch of Physics Motors onto the bones or mesh of your character and you are done! Creature will take care of the rest and automatically animate the natural physics responses of the character for you as it is driven by the primary running gait.

Watch this tutorial to learn more about how to easily add convincing secondary motion to your character. The techniques in this video are the ones used for the animated dinosaur:

And with that, we have a running, living, breathing Utahraptor dinosaur animated from a static, still image! Here is a video of the entire process for you to enjoy:

The next step obviously is to bring the character into your favorite Game Engine. Creature supports most major Game Engines ( Unity, UE4, Godot Engine 3, PhaserJS, PixiJS, Cocos2d-x etc. ) Head on over to the Creature Github page for more info:


I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on bringing a dinosaur to life via the Creature Animation Tool. As always, please check out the Creature youtube channel here for more information.


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Home of Creature, the automated Skeletal and Mesh Animation Tool.

One Comment

  1. I can’t describe the nerdy joy it brings me to see feathered dinosaurs finally starting to proliferate in pop culture. So sad that it’s taken this long for the public to accept what has been known for years to be true. Nice work.

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