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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.
When using the Puppet tool, there are times when you need to control the quality of the character's deformation, and we can do that by using the Mesh. So let me show you what I mean here. I'm going to go ahead and zoom in to this character, and let's go ahead and select him. You'll notice we have a number of different puppet pins. If I select the Puppet Effect, I can get to those. Let's go ahead and move his arm all the way down here, and when we do that you'll notice there's a bit of a stair- step kind of effect there, and that's because of how After Effects calculates the deformation.
So if I go over here and just click on the Puppet tool, and make sure I have Show Mesh, what happens is you can see how it's triangulating this mesh, and how it's creating that stair-step effect. What we have, basically, is we have too few triangles. We need more detail in order to have less of that stair-step effect. So we can do that in one of two ways. One is when you initially create your Puppet Effect, you can actually type in the number of triangles, but because I've already applied that, I can change it down here in the Effect.
So I'm going to go into my Puppet Effect here, open up Mesh 1, and you'll see we have number of triangles; right now it's 350. Let's go ahead and, say, make it 900. So I'm going to hit 900; hit Enter. It may take a little bit to recalculate, and once it does, it should show up again. If you increase this by a lot, and the character is deforming, it may take a little while for this to take effect, depending on the speed of your computer. Don't bail out; give it time to calculate, but once it's calculated, it should be fairly quick.
So now, once I have this, you can see I've got a much smoother deformation. Once I move my character, you'll see my deformations move a lot more smoothly. When you create the Puppet Effect, or even afterwards, pay attention to your Mesh Density to get the best effect.
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