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From Ideas to Illustrations: Onoma AI’s TooToon Redefines Webtoon Production with Generative AI

Onoma (official site) is an AI company presenting its first AI-powered service called TooToon at CES 2024. TooToon is a webtoon creation tool, and if you don’t know what webtoons are, they are a form of digital comics or graphic novels that are specifically created for online platforms or mobile apps. The term “webtoon” is a portmanteau of “web” and “cartoon.” What distinguishes webtoons from traditional comics is their unique format, often presented in a vertical scrolling style.

Just like producing comics or manga, creating a webtoon is incredibly time-consuming and it looks like most of that time is spent in storyboarding as the creators work on the visual structure of the story. It might be counter-intuitive if you know nothing about this, but once the storyboarding (rough drawings) is done, adding the final details does not take that long.

As such, TooToon focuses on accelerating that aspect of the work, thanks to generative AI. This starts with the high-level idea generation, synopsis, and storyboard done by the AI, based on user inputs, whether text prompts or images. For example, the creator could draw stick figures or 3d mannequin figures and upload these as 2D images. From there, the AI takes over and does the heavy lifting.

The Tontoon service lets creators upload multiple views of their characters as a reference for the AI, which can later re-create them under any angle and position. Apparently, as few as 30 images would be enough to create a reference character.

As you can imagine, using generative AI in this context could deliver an incredible boost in productivity for current webtoon creators. But this could open the door to even more people into the webtoon universe. Why? Because you could conceptually have great story ideas but little drawing talent. Hire someone to create the character references, or use Onoma AI’s asset store, once and use the AI to generate future drawings.

Sure, it’s not that easy to produce a commercial-grade webtoon, but this could attract many people and spark new passions.

From a business standpoint, Onoma AI deploys TonToon as a SaaS, so we’re talking about a recurring income source. Just like TV Shows, webtoon creators need to churn new episodes and once they have started, it’s easy to imagine they’ll stay invested to preserve the workflow and style of their work.

Onoma AI has not revealed pricing yet. Now, they are working closely with top webtoon creators to determine the final public pricing. Just as a reference, the company estimates that its tool saved as much as 30% to 40% of work during one of the test projects.

From the demo that I’ve seen, the workflow made a lot of sense. I used to draw Mangas and I could see how TonToon could save an enormous amount of time. And I have a sense this is just the beginning. Generative AI offers a lot more opportunities not only for storyboarding but also for final rendering, allowing different styles. I can’t wait to see webtoons created with this tool.

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