Virtual entertainers, also known as Vtubers, are having a moment right now, and it’s largely because the barriers standing in the way of making a digital avatar are lower than ever. You can, if you’d like, commission a professional to make a Vtubing model for you for hundreds or a few thousand dollars. Or, you can download some software and do it yourself — completely free of charge.
Over the holidays, Steam saw the release of VRoid Studio, a program that lets you create 3D models of humanoid characters. You can use your creations in games like VR Chat, or you can adopt them as avatars for streaming. The program allows for both commercial and non-commercial use, which is great, because it means that you don’t have to worry about some other entity owning your creation.
“You don’t need to be artistic to use the program,” one top review on the Steam store page reads. “You can use hair to make accessories likes horns, wings, tails, glasses, earrings, etc. With enough practice and skill you can make very creative models.” The store description also notes that you have a lot of flexibility with making facial expressions. Reviews do note, however, that the program is demanding and may lag unless you’re using a top-of-the-line rig. Still, given the price tag, it’s hard to complain.
While this program has technically been available prior to this release, being on Steam — the largest PC gaming distribution platform in the world — will undoubtedly work wonders in bringing Vtubing to an even larger audience. Already, the community tab for VRoid Studio is full of people showing off their new avatars, like the one on the top of this post, where Steam user Juliet-Veil unveiled an anime version of their fursona. The community is also full of people asking for help navigating the program, as many have never worked with a resource like this before. With such tools becoming more ubiquitous and user-friendly, 2021 will likely see the Vtubing wave grow to new heights.