Ever since VTubing made its way from Japan to the western world, the industry has been steadily growing in popularity. It’s no wonder—streaming with a VTuber model is not only fun, it allows for numerous benefits (expression and anonymity to name a few). However, obtaining a VTuber model is easier said than done. In this blog post, we’ll show you a variety of different places you can buy VTuber avatars no matter your budget.
Premade Model Sites
Perhaps the least common route, purchasing a premade VTuber model from a reputable site is actually a great way to go. Generally, there are two types of models you can purchase: low cost “general” models, which the artist can sell again and again (i.e., anyone can use) or high cost models that you can “adopt” (the model will belong to you only). Below, we’ll show you some examples from a Japanese website called Nizima.
Example of an “Adoptable” Model on Nizima
In the model above, you can see 1/1 残り (“nokori” means “remaining” in Japanese). Also, note the price of the model is roughly $300 or $600 USD (at the current exchange rate). The lower price point will get you “locked” files (meaning you can’t make changes to the model). If you purchase the higher price option, you will receive the original files. This avatar is an example of an adoptable model that will be yours and yours alone if you purchase it.
Example of a “General” Model on Nizima
The model shown above is a general, “free-use” model that multiple people can download. Note the low price point (less than $23 USD with the current exchange rate), making this a perfect model for VTuber beginners. Despite the low price, you can customize this model in a variety of different ways, from hair and dress color to collar type and more.
One of the sites offering a robust selection of 2D VTuber models is Nizima. Nizima isn’t widely known in the VTubing sphere, mostly likely because the website caters to Japanese customers. They offer some English support, including a buying guide. Nizima has a ton of cute models that are of the typical anime style popular among VTubers (as expected of a Japanese site). You can also find incredible deals on Nizima, with kawaii animal avatars under $5 USD. If you’re looking for a great 2D VTuber model that won’t break your budget, Nizima is the place for you.
Another site that caters to Japanese customers but offers an incredible array of VTuber models for sale is Booth. While Nizima offers 2D avatars, Booth has a variety of 3D avatars and accessories for you to choose from. Many of the models run between 4000 and 7000 yen ($30 to $50 USD with the current exchange rate) which is a great price for a high quality 3D model. Like Nizima, the site offers limited English support. If you take a little time and familiarize yourself with either site, you’re sure to find a great model that fits your style.
If you’d rather stick to English-only sites (understandably), there are a few options out there. Etsy, known and loved for its handmade and vintage items, also offers digital assets including VTuber avatars and accessories. You can also commission artists for custom models. You won’t find quite as many offerings as Nizima or Booth, but you can still find interesting, well-made VTuber models from a variety of price points.
A fully customized VTuber model commissioned from a skilled artist is pretty much the end goal for most VTubers. However, this usually costs thousands of dollars, and for good reason. Not only does illustrating a model take an incredible amount of time and skill, the model needs to be rigged to move in design software like Live2D or Blender (which is equally time consuming and difficult).
Before you whip out your credit card, we highly recommend starting with a low cost (or DIY) model for a number of reasons. First, you don’t want to invest a lot of money before you know if you even like VTubing in the first place. Second, there’s certain risks that come with purchasing art online from a person (rather than an established business). Scammers and art thieves are well aware of the popularity of VTubing and have infiltrated the community as a result.
We recommend commissioning a VTuber model after you’ve spent some time streaming and have saved up the necessary funds. A fully customized VTuber model is a great goal to work towards and your community can help you get there through subs, donations, purchasing your merch, and more. Once you are able to commission an artist, only do so after thoroughly researching the artist and reading their TOS (terms of service). You can check out our guide on how to commission an artist to learn more.
Where to Purchase Commissioned Models
Though you can commission artists through sites like Twitter, Instagram, Fiverr, Twitch, and more, you can also do so through an artist’s personal website. Start looking for an artist by checking out the VTuber community on Twitter and Reddit, as well as by noting which artist’s your favorite VTubers use (this info should be listed somewhere on their profile). Note that for 2D models, some artists do both the VTuber art and the rigging, while others only do one or the other. The more time you put into your research, the higher your chances are of finding a skilled, trustworthy artist.
Pixiv is a Japanese site that is similar to DeviantArt. You’ll find thousands of Japanese artists posting high quality work and some of them are willing to take commissions.
If artists on Pixiv are open to commissions, they usually do so through Skeb. Skeb is a secure commission platform catering to Japanese artists and customers. Recognizing the popularity of Japanese art in the west, they have a guide for English customers. They even offer built-in translator software to help you commission the Japanese VTuber artist of your dreams, even if they don’t speak English. In general, you will find that Japanese artists charge less than western ones, possibly due to Japan’s lower cost of living or the fierce competition that comes with being raised in the anime and manga capital of the world.
Author’s Note: If you see an artist who you think is undercharging, it’s not advised to ask them to charge you more or try to force a tip on them. Though your motives are noble, haggling and tip culture don’t exist in Japan and you’ll likely just confuse the artist.
Many people are turning to Fiverr for all sorts of commissioned projects, including VTuber models. Fiverr is a digital marketplace where novice and professional freelancers alike can advertise their services (website design, illustration, translation, etc.). If you commission an artist to create your VTuber model on Fiverr, you’ll receive some buyer protection (as opposed to commissioning through a social media site like Twitter). Be sure to thoroughly read the seller’s description and reviews before purchasing and don’t hesitate to contact the seller first if you have questions.
Many budding VTubers decide to make their own model, which is the most cost-effective option. Though it’s certainly not an easy process, making your own avatar can be incredibly rewarding. We have a detailed guide on how to make a 3D avatar with VRoid Studio, which is one of the most popular softwares for creating models. VRoid Studio does a lot of the work for you, so you don’t need to be a skilled artist to make a basic model.
If you’re looking to create your own 2D avatar, you’ll need to draw it by hand in a digital drawing software like Procreate, Clip Studio Paint, etc. You’ll have to put the parts you want to move (eyes for blinking, hair for swishing, etc.) on separate layers. Finally, you’ll need to rig your model using rigging software, the most popular of which is Live2D. Though Live2D and digital art in general have steep learning curves, YouTube has many helpful tutorials. With practice and persistence, anyone can learn to make their own 2D VTuber model (yes, even if you think you have no artistic talent).
Hopefully we’ve given you some good information for where you can buy, commission, or DIY a VTuber model. Though Japanese websites like Nizima, Booth, and Skeb may be tricky to navigate at first, they’re treasure troves filled with high-quality, affordable VTuber avatars. There are also many skilled western artists you can commission directly, but you’ll need to search through VTuber resources on Reddit and Twitter to find your perfect match. Lastly, if you’re interested in creating your own model, there are several programs you can use, depending on whether you want to go the 2D or 3D route. Good luck on your VTubing journey!