Live2D Cubism

Live2D Cubism is a system that allows you to animate 2D images, such as the character sprites in a visual novel. These images are drawn in a series of layers - for example, a layer for pupils and irises, a layer for the whites of the eyes, a layer for the eyebrows, and so on.

The Live2D software lets you associate meshes with each of these layers, and then specify how the meshes are deformed (the shape of each mesh is changed) as the parameters are adjusted. The Live2D software lets you create motion files that determine how these parameters are adjusted over time, and expression files that determine expressions.

Ren'Py's Live2D integration involves taking the files that Live2D produces, and using them to define animations that can be displayed in Ren'Py. Ren'Py processes the motions and expressions to determine the values of the parameters. This is passed to the Cubism SDK for Native, which gives Ren'Py back a list of meshes to show. Ren'Py then renders these meshes, and the result is a Live2D character on the screen.

Ren'Py supports Live2D animations in the Cubism 3 and Cubism 4 formats. It supports the playback of expressions and motions.


Live2D is not supported on the web platform.

Installing Live2D on iOS requires copying the static libraries into your iOS project by hand.

Installing Live2D

Before you can use Live2D, you'll need to download and install the Cubism SDK for Native, found on the Live2D website. Please note that you may need to purchase a license to use Live2D if your business makes more than a certain amount of money a year.

Once you've downloaded Live2D, you can install it from the Ren'Py launcher. To install, go to "preferences", then click "Install libraries". Place the file in the Ren'Py SDK directory, which can be accessed using the button in the bottom right of the install libraries screen. Then click "Install Live2D Cubism SDK for Native". After a short amount of time, Live2D will be installed.

Defining Animations

Live2D animations are defined using the Live2D displayable and the image statement:

Live2D(filename, zoom=None, top=0.0, base=1.0, height=1.0, alias={}, loop=False, fade=None, seamless=None, attribute_function=None, attribute_filter=None, update_function=None, **properties)

This displayable displays a Live2D animation.


This may either be a model3.json file defining a Live2D animation, or a directory containing that animation. In the latter case, the last component of the directory is taken, and has .model3.json appended to find the file.

For example, "Resources/Hiyori" and "Resources/Hiyori/Hiyori.model3.json" are equivalent.


If not None, a zoom factor that is applied. This takes precedence over top and base.


The top of the image, for sizing purposes. This is a fraction of the image, with 0.0 being the top and 1.0 the bottom.


The bottom of the image, for sizing purposes. This is a fraction of the image, with 0.0 being the top and 1.0 being the bottom. This also becomes the default value of yanchor.


The height that the image is scaled to. This is a fraction of the virtual height of the screen.


True if the final motion should be looped, False otherwise.


A dictionary mapping aliases to the motions or expressions they alias.


True if motion fading should be enabled, False if motion fading should not be enabled, and None to use the value of _live2d_fade.


If not None, this should be a list of names of nonexclusive expressions. Expressions default to being exlcusive, with only one beign shown at a time. If listed here, any number of nonexclusive expressions can be shown, in addition to one exclusive expression.


This determines if seamless looping should be used. Seamless looping avoids fading between loops of a single motion. This may be True to enable seamless looping all the time, False to dispable it all the time, or a set of motions to be looped.


The default amount of time that is spending fading into our out of a motion or expression. This defaults to 1.0, per Live2D, which might mean that fades happen unexpectedly. Set this to 0.0 to ensure that fading is only done when it is explicitly requested.


If not None, this is a function that takes a tuple of attributes, and returns a second tuple of attributes. This can be used to replace attributes for the purpose of display only - the attributes it returns are not used when showing an image. It should ensure that at most one attribute corresponding to an expression is given.


If not None, this is a function that takes a tuple of attributes, and returns a second tuple of attributes. This is usually used to filter out nonexclusice attributes that conflict with each other. The attributes are ordered such that more recently requested attributes come first, meaning that in the case of a conflict, the first attribute should win.


If not None, this is a function that is called when the animation is rendered after updating parameters by the current motion and expressions. The function is called with two arguments:

  • The Live2D object.

  • The shown timebase, in seconds.

This function is used to dynamically change parameters using the blend_parameter method of the passed Live2D object. The function should return a delay, in seconds, after which it will be called again, or None to be called again at the start of the next interaction. The function is also called whenever the displayable is re-rendered.

The difference between attribute_function and attribute_filter is that the former is generally used to compute replacement - the presence of two attributes means one should be replaced by a third. The latter is used to resolve conflicts between attributes, like having a group of attributes where only one is valid.

Only filename should be given positionally, and all other arguments should be given as keyword arguments.

The values of alias, fade, nonexclusive, seamless, default_fade, attribute_function, attribute_filter and update_function are shared between all Live2D objects that share filename, such that these only need to be supplied once as part of the first Live2D object to use filename.

blend_parameter(name, blend, value, weight=1.0)

This method blends the current value of the parameter with value This has no effect outside of update_function.


A string giving the name of the parameter to change.


One of "Add", "Multiply" or "Overwrite". The blend kind that will be used.


A float giving the value that will be blended in.


A float between 0.0 and 1.0, the weight by which the new value will change the current value.

blend_opacity(name, blend, value, weight=1.0)

This method blends the current value of the part opacity with value This has no effect outside of update_function.


Name of parameter to change defined for this model.


One of "Add", "Multiply" or "Overwrite". The blend kind that will be used.


A float giving the opacity value that will be blended in.


A float between 0.0 and 1.0, the weight by which the new value will change the current value.

There is a config variable that can help in debugging what motions and expressions were loaded from .model3.json files:

define config.log_live2d_loading = False

If True, loaded path and used motions and expressions will be written to log.txt on start.

Live2D displayables should be assigned to an image statement:

image hiyori = Live2D("Resources/Hiyori", base=.6)

It's also possible to define attributes, and this is very useful when defining different zooms and scaling factors.

image hiyori close = Live2D("Resources/Hiyori", base=.6)
image hiyori far = Live2D("Resources/Hiyori", base=.9)

Keep in mind that the user's hardware may be unable to init Live2D, and in that case a single call to Live2D() will keep the entire project from loading. The same happens in the case of a game distributed in a web version. If your game should be able to work even without Live2D, you could use a wrapper or workaround, for example:

init python:
    def MyLive2D(*args, fallback=Placeholder(text="no live2d"), **kwargs):
        if renpy.has_live2d():
            return Live2D(*args, **kwargs)
            return fallback

image kobayashi = MyLive2D(...)
image eileen moving = MyLive2D(..., fallback="eileen happy")

Using Animations

The usual way to display a Live2D image is to display it using the show statement. In addition to any attributes added as part of the image statement, the names of expressions and motions can be used.

Some examples are:

show natori exp_00 mtn_01
show hiyori m10
show hiyori m10 m01

These use the default names found in the Cubism SDK sample names. The names of the motions and expressions are taken from the Live2D files, then forced to lower case, and if they begin with the name of the model3.json file (without directories or extensions), followed by an underscore, then that prefix is removed. (For example, "Hiyori_Motion01" becomes just motion01.)

At most one exclusive expression can be used, and any number of nonexclusive expressions and motions can be given. When more than one motion is given, the motions are played in order, and the final motion is looped if loop is True. This makes it possible for a motion to be played, followed by an idle animation. Each motion can only appear once, unless multiple aliases for that motion are created.

There are two special attributes null and still. The null attribute means that no exclusive expression file should be applied, giving the character's default expression. The still motion stops all motion.

Nonexclusive expressions persist until removed with attribute negation:

show hiyori -wave


Many Live2D models are defined at high resolutions, at least in the internal coordinate system that the models use. To compensate for this, Ren'Py includes two ways to scale down the Live2D model.

The first is the zoom argument. This can directly set the zoom factor of the model. If zoom is used, then the other scaling parameters are ignored.

Otherwise, the top, base, and height arguments are used. The first two specify two lines, relative to the top and bottom of the image. (As elsewhere in Ren'Py, 0.0 is the top and 1.0 is the bottom.) When these arguments are used, two things happen:

  • The image is scaled so that the area between top and base takes up height, where height is a fraction of the screen.

  • The anchor is adjusted so that base will be placed at the bottom of the screen.

When figuring out how to scale a Live2D animation, what I do first is adjust the base parameter until the right part of the animation is lined up with the bottom of the screen. Then:

  • If the image is too big, reduce height until it's the right size.

  • If the image is too small, increase top to reduce the amount of blank space above the animation.

Motion Fading

Ren'Py's support for Live2D includes motion fading. Normally, when Ren'Py changes from one animation to another, the transition is abrupt - one animation is stopped, and the other starts. If a transition occurs, both animations are played at the same time.

Live2D supports a different model, in which the old animation can be smoothly faded into the new one, but interpolating the parameters. Think of this like a character moving their arms into position, rather than dissolving from one position to another.

Motion fading is controlled with the fade argument. If it's true, motion fading is used, and if it's false, then abrupt changes occur. If None, motion fading is controlled by the _live2d_fade variable:

_live2d_fade = True

If true, Live2D animations use motion fading. If False, animations are transitioned abruptly.


The alias parameter lets you specify your own names for the motions that would otherwise be automatically defined. For example, one could do:

image hiyori = Live2D("Resources/Hiyori", base=.6, aliases={"idle" : "m01"})

To be able to use:

show hiyori idle

Instead of:

show hiyori m01

Loop and Image Prediction

Ren'Py's Live2D support can loop the final animation if the loop parameter is set to True. If the animation is being looped, it is important to add greater than .2 second pauses that Ren'Py can exploit to perform expensive image prediction. (This may not be necessary if image prediction and loading can happen at other times.)



Returns True if Live2d is supported on the current platform, and False otherwise.