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Rigging hierarchies in After Effects

From: 2D Character Animation

Video: Rigging hierarchies in After Effects

Once you have created your character, you will need to set it up in an animation program and get it ready to animate. Now, there are a number of different animation programs but let's look at a few as an example. We are going to go ahead and look at After Effects in this lesson and we are going to take this bear that was created in Photoshop and go ahead and get him rigged and set up within After Effects. Let's go ahead and open up After Effects. So we are going to go File > Import File and then we are going to select Bear.

Rigging hierarchies in After Effects

Once you have created your character, you will need to set it up in an animation program and get it ready to animate. Now, there are a number of different animation programs but let's look at a few as an example. We are going to go ahead and look at After Effects in this lesson and we are going to take this bear that was created in Photoshop and go ahead and get him rigged and set up within After Effects. Let's go ahead and open up After Effects. So we are going to go File > Import File and then we are going to select Bear.

Now we can here select it as cropped layers, which is what we want to do, but in some versions of After Effects if you click through this menu, you can also do the same thing here. We want to import the composition as cropped layers and click off Live Photoshop 3D. Hit OK and what this does is it will bring in the file. You double-click on this one bear and this is basically what we had in our Photoshop file. It also brings all the layers of the Photoshop file into this sub-directory here where we have each individual part and then on top of that it's created this composition which has everything arranged exactly the way that it was arranged in the Photoshop file including all of these additional parts such as these little snouts and all that sort of stuff.

So, we can go ahead and take these and get rid of them because all we want to work with right now is just the main character, the bear. So I am going to go ahead and select all of these Lids and just delete them. Select the snouts, except for this one called Snout Closed, which is the one here in the center of his face, and then scroll down here and select these three hands here and then just go ahead and delete those. Now when I am deleting them, I am just deleting them out of the composition. I am not deleting them out of the entire project.

Now once we have this cleaned up, it's just a matter of linking everything together. We're going to link the hand to the forearm, to the upper arm and then link that to the chest and so on. So we are just going to tie everything together using After Effects' Hierarchy function. So I am going to start off with this hand. In fact, I am going to zoom in here so we can see this a little bit better. Before I start working with this I want to see this so I am going to clear out the belly and the chest.

I am just going to hide those and then we are just going to play with the hand and the arm. Now one thing about the hand is you will notice that it's defaulted to the pivot point at the center and we really want the hand to rotate around the wrist. So we can do that by using this Pan Behind tool and just taking this pivot point and setting it right around the center of where the wrist is and we can just do a little test here in order to make sure that it's rotating at about the right level. In fact it's a little bit high here. We can just tweak this.

This is just really a fine-tuning thing. Once you have got it, you are good to go. So that looks pretty good, okay and now that we have the pivot point in the right place, all we have to do is link the hand to the forearm using the Hierarchy function. So all I have to do is click on this little squiggle here and then just highlight the forearm and let go. I can also use the list here if I want to. I can just link it here using the forearm and now once I select the forearm, you will notice that now the hand moves with the forearm.

This is pretty cool. So we can just do the same thing for this other part here. We have just used the Pan Behind tool and again, just move that pivot point up so it's pretty much at the center of this circular joint area here and then once we have got that, we just do a little dry run test. Make sure that that arm is rotating at about the right level and that's fine and then once we have that, we can link this forearm to the upper arm. Now that I have the upper arm, again I can just position that pivot point right there at the shoulder.

Let's go ahead and see how that works. Looks pretty good and in fact at this point, I really do want to turn on the chest and the belly so we can see how this all works together. Looks pretty good and then all I have to do is take this right-upper arm and then link it to the chest. Then I can go up to the chest and link it to the belly. So, let's go ahead and fit this in the window and you can see now how when I have all of this together, his whole right side of his body is all linked together.

Now, I don't want to have to go through the whole thing but let's go ahead and just open up the one that we finished. So we are going to go ahead and open up the project called Bear. Now, once I have that you will see how everything is tied together. All I really have to do is select this Rotate tool and you can see how the arm is tied together and how we have got the head pretty much in place and we have got the body all working together. So as you can see when you have everything tied together in a hierarchy, you can animate it a lot more efficiently.

You can animate just one part and the rest will move with it and this is one of the benefits of animating in After Effects. But no matter what animation package you use, you can see how things like hierarchies can help animation significantly.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for 2D Character Animation
2D Character Animation

73 video lessons · 22089 viewers

George Maestri
Author

 
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  1. 2m 18s
    1. Introduction
      1m 2s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 16s
  2. 48m 21s
    1. Designing characters
      3m 22s
    2. Tracing characters
      4m 32s
    3. Creating joints that work
      3m 53s
    4. Working with outlines
      4m 0s
    5. Accessorizing your characters
      2m 21s
    6. Creating parts for replacement animation
      1m 41s
    7. Rigging hierarchies in After Effects
      5m 33s
    8. Rigging replacement animation in After Effects
      5m 52s
    9. Rigging with the Puppet tool in After Effects
      3m 16s
    10. Rigging Flash characters
      5m 50s
    11. Rigging replacement animation in Flash
      4m 25s
    12. Rigging with the Bone tool in Flash
      3m 36s
  3. 55m 29s
    1. The first law of motion
      3m 3s
    2. The second law of motion
      3m 45s
    3. The third law of motion
      3m 19s
    4. Using slow in and slow out
      5m 34s
    5. Arcs and smooth motion
      5m 4s
    6. Understanding overlap and follow-through
      5m 16s
    7. Animating overlap and follow-through
      5m 46s
    8. Understanding squash and stretch
      3m 10s
    9. Animating squash and stretch
      4m 40s
    10. Squashing and stretching characters
      5m 16s
    11. Understanding weight
      3m 27s
    12. Understanding anticipation
      4m 54s
    13. Animating anticipation and weight
      2m 15s
  4. 45m 50s
    1. Internal vs. external forces
      4m 45s
    2. Bringing characters to life
      4m 57s
    3. Animating blinks
      4m 37s
    4. Animating changes in eye direction
      2m 43s
    5. Animating head turns
      8m 1s
    6. Creating a strong line of action
      4m 16s
    7. Creating strong silhouettes
      2m 19s
    8. Pose-to-pose animation: Blocking
      4m 32s
    9. Pose-to-pose animation: Animating
      4m 21s
    10. Pose-to-pose animation: Finalizing
      5m 19s
  5. 46m 53s
    1. A walk in four poses
      2m 27s
    2. Motion of the head and body
      1m 32s
    3. Walk cycles and backgrounds
      1m 40s
    4. Skeleton motion and walking
      4m 2s
    5. Animating a walk: Contact position
      3m 0s
    6. Animating a walk: The feet
      9m 10s
    7. Animating a walk: The body
      5m 19s
    8. Animating a walk: The legs
      8m 21s
    9. Animating a walk: The upper body and arms
      3m 46s
    10. Animating a walk: The head
      2m 50s
    11. Animating a walk: Squash and stretch
      4m 46s
  6. 26m 52s
    1. A run in four poses
      4m 10s
    2. Animating a run: First pose
      4m 39s
    3. Animating a run: Second pose
      3m 45s
    4. Animating a run: Third pose
      3m 27s
    5. Animating a run: Fourth pose
      5m 1s
    6. Animating a run: Upper body
      5m 50s
  7. 37m 6s
    1. The basics of dialogue animation
      4m 35s
    2. Reading tracks and assigning mouth shapes
      5m 33s
    3. Phonemes and lip-syncing
      8m 36s
    4. Animating dialogue: Animating the body
      6m 27s
    5. Animating dialogue: Assigning mouth shapes
      4m 10s
    6. Animating dialogue: Finalizing
      7m 45s
  8. 1h 27m
    1. Animating a scene
      2m 0s
    2. Setting up the scene in After Effects
      3m 2s
    3. Animating the feet in After Effects
      10m 40s
    4. Animating the legs in After Effects
      4m 21s
    5. Animating the upper body in After Effects
      9m 44s
    6. Animating the mouth and blinks in After Effects
      7m 5s
    7. Setting up the scene in Flash
      4m 6s
    8. Animating the feet in Flash
      9m 0s
    9. Animating the body in Flash
      5m 23s
    10. Animating the legs in Flash
      7m 24s
    11. Animating the hands in Flash
      11m 54s
    12. Animating the mouth in Flash
      12m 26s
  9. 33s
    1. Goodbye
      33s

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