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Creating Animated Characters in After Effects
Illustration by John Hersey

Controlling blinks using opacity


From:

Creating Animated Characters in After Effects

with George Maestri

Video: Controlling blinks using opacity

Let's go ahead and finish our blinks. At this point, we have the blinks moving with the head turn. So I have three sets of lids here. Let's go ahead and zoom in, and see where we are at. I have got three sets of lids. So let's turn these all off. I have LIDS 03, which is one-third closed; LIDS 02, two-thirds closed; LIDS 01, completely closed. Now, I want to control these with a slider, so that they turn on and off.
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  1. 1m 49s
    1. Welcome
      1m 17s
    2. Using the exercise files
      32s
  2. 27m 15s
    1. Creating characters in Illustrator
      5m 51s
    2. Creating characters in Photoshop
      7m 9s
    3. Designing joints
      3m 40s
    4. Drawing mouths
      2m 12s
    5. Drawing hands and eyelids
      2m 48s
    6. Importing Illustrator files into After Effects
      3m 26s
    7. Importing Photoshop files into After Effects
      2m 9s
  3. 7m 51s
    1. Drawing in After Effects
      3m 57s
    2. Copying paths from Illustrator
      2m 19s
    3. Animating shapes
      1m 35s
  4. 21m 9s
    1. Understanding how layer hierarchies work
      3m 58s
    2. Understanding the importance of the pivot point
      5m 42s
    3. Assembling the upper body
      4m 47s
    4. Creating leg hierarchies for efficient walks
      4m 27s
    5. Organizing scenes with null layers
      2m 15s
  5. 22m 26s
    1. Adding puppet pins to a character
      6m 51s
    2. Controlling mesh density
      2m 15s
    3. Creating overlap pins
      4m 43s
    4. Creating starch pins
      3m 1s
    5. Using the Puppet tool with hierarchies
      5m 36s
  6. 19m 7s
    1. Replacement animation using time remapping
      6m 47s
    2. Mouth replacement
      6m 6s
    3. Creating blinks
      6m 14s
  7. 27m 23s
    1. Creating a head turn: Head shape
      6m 45s
    2. Creating a head turn: Ears
      8m 7s
    3. Creating a head turn: Facial features
      6m 41s
    4. Creating a head turn: Hair shape
      5m 50s
  8. 1h 3m
    1. The basics of expressions: Controlling the wrist
      5m 20s
    2. Moving hands from front to back with expressions
      9m 2s
    3. Using expressions to control pupils
      7m 44s
    4. Creating a master control node with Expression Controls
      6m 30s
    5. Creating blinks that move with a head turn
      9m 28s
    6. Controlling blinks using opacity
      6m 34s
    7. Attaching mouth shapes to a slider
      3m 39s
    8. Creating mouths that move with a head turn
      8m 31s
    9. Working with absolute values
      6m 12s
  9. 14m 28s
    1. Setting up null objects as bones
      5m 39s
    2. Attaching puppet pins to bones
      4m 57s
    3. Strategies for parenting legs and feet
      3m 52s
  10. 28m 32s
    1. Setting up a scene for animation
      6m 3s
    2. Blocking out the shot
      11m 0s
    3. Animating dialogue
      5m 39s
    4. Animating blinks
      5m 50s
  11. 18s
    1. Goodbye
      18s

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Creating Animated Characters in After Effects
3h 53m Intermediate Sep 08, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Learn to create and animate highly controllable characters using After Effects. In this course, author George Maestri covers every step on the way, from designing the characters in Photoshop or Illustrator, or drawing them straight from After Effects; assembling characters with hierarchies; making realistic deformations with the Puppet tool; automating rigs with expressions; creating realistic head turns; and showing advanced techniques such as using null objects as bones. Finally, the course shows how to perform a basic animation with the character and ensure the rig works correctly.

Topics include:
  • Importing Illustrator or Photoshop files into After Effects
  • Animating shapes
  • Organizing scenes with null layers
  • Working with the Puppet tool
  • Creating replacement animation using time remapping
  • Automating head turns
  • Creating a master control node with Expression Controls effects
  • Setting up a scene for animation
  • Animating dialogue
Subjects:
3D + Animation Character Animation
Software:
After Effects
Author:
George Maestri

Controlling blinks using opacity

Let's go ahead and finish our blinks. At this point, we have the blinks moving with the head turn. So I have three sets of lids here. Let's go ahead and zoom in, and see where we are at. I have got three sets of lids. So let's turn these all off. I have LIDS 03, which is one-third closed; LIDS 02, two-thirds closed; LIDS 01, completely closed. Now, I want to control these with a slider, so that they turn on and off.

For now, let's just work with LIDS 03, and then we will come back to these. So I am going to go ahead and turn these off, and let's just play with this lid. Now, the easiest way to turn these on and off is to play with opacity. If I open up the LIDS 03 layer, you'll see I have an Opacity control. Now, if I turn that completely off, it disappears; turn it completely on, it's there. So let's go ahead and tie this value to a slider. I am going to scroll up here to my HEAD CONTROL layer, and let's add in that slider.

So I am going to go Effect > Expression Controls > Slider Control, and it adds a new slider under our HEAD TURN slider. So just go ahead and right-click, rename this, and we are going to call it BLINK. You'll see we have a slider for that. Now if I scroll down here, we also need to add an expression to Opacity. So I am going to select Opacity on LIDS 03, Add Expression. Now, what is this expression? Well, we need to set a range on this BLINK slider for the opacity to turn on and off.

So what I am going to do here is that when this BLINK slider is at 0, everything is off. The eyes are wide open. When the slider is anywhere from 1 to 10, the first lid is on. When it's anywhere from 11 to 20, the second lid is on, and so on. So every 10 units, a successive lid turns on. So we can do this -- first thing we need to do is we need to get the value of that slider into our Opacity channel. So I am just going to use my Pick Whip, drag up to the top here, and just highlight my BLINK slider.

When I do that, it just adds that slider in. If I run the slider, you can see I can actually use that as an Opacity control. But that's not really what I want to do. We'll make sure this is at 0 here, and let's go ahead and add in the rest of expression to make this conditional. So I am going to go ahead and open up this window, so I have room to type, click in there. So first thing we need to do is we need to place the value of that slider into a variable. I am just going to use the letter a for my variable.

You can use any variable name you want. So a is going to equal the value of that slider, which is really what all of this means. Then at the end of that, I am going to put a semicolon, which again just says this is the end of a command, and we have a new command coming. At this point I need to enter the test. In other words, I need to test what a is equal to in order to determine whether or not I want to turn on my opacity, or keep it off. So I am going to use what's called an if Statement.

So I am going to type "if", and then I need to add in a condition. Well, what is the condition? Well, I want a to be greater than 0, because 0 is off, and a to be less than or equal to 10. So I have two conditions that need to be met. So I'm going to add in two parentheses, because I am going to have a double condition here, so I need two parentheses. The first one is, is a greater than 0? So, if a is greater than 0, and, so two ampersands, another parenthesis, a is less than or equal to 10, and then close all of my parentheses, so that would be two parentheses.

So if a is greater than 0 and a is less than 10, then the value is 100. Anything else, type in the word else, 0. So let's go through this one more time. If a is greater than 0, and a is less than or equal to 10, then opacity is 100. If not, opacity is 0. So click outside of this, hopefully you won't get an error, and now we should have a slider that turns it on and off. So if I turn this above 1, there we go! It turns on.

Once it goes above 10, it turns off again. So now we have the magic expression that we can use for all the other lids. So I am going to go ahead and turn on LIDS 02, and instead of doing all of this typing, let's go ahead and select this expression, right-click, Copy, and then I'm going to open up LIDS 02, open up Transform > Opacity, make sure Opacity is selected, Add Expression, and then all you have to do is right-click and Paste.

Now, if I open this up you will see it's added in the exact same expression. But this is the second one in the sequence, so I don't want it to go from 0 to 10; I want it to go from 10 to 20. So all I have to do is just type in a is greater than 10 and less than or equal to 20 and that should work. Let's try this. Scroll up to my BLINK slider. There we go! Off between 1 and 10, 10 to 20; perfect! We can do the same thing for the last one.

Scroll down to LIDS 01; make sure that's visible, go down to Opacity, add in the expression, right-click, Paste. Okay, for this one -- last one was 10 to 20. This one would be 20 to 30. Now, you can use this for lids, but you can use this for almost any sort of replacement animation. So now I've got a slider that blinks my eyes, and eyes that can turn with the head while blinking.

Really all we have done is just animated the opacity, and just did a test on that slider using an if statement. So you can use this for anything. You can also use this for mouths. You would have more expressions, but it would work pretty much the same for any sort of replacement animation.

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