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Creating Animated Characters in After Effects
Illustration by John Hersey

Creating blinks that move with a head turn


From:

Creating Animated Characters in After Effects

with George Maestri

Video: Creating blinks that move with a head turn

Now we are going to create some blinks that not only blink, but also move along with the head turn. Now, this is going to be a two step process. The first step, and this is what we are going to do here, is just to get the blinks moving with the head turn. The second step is to use expressions to tie the opacity of those blinks to a slider. So, setting up the blinks to move along with the head turn is very similar to how we animated the pupils. So let's take a look at how we are going to do this.
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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

Creating blinks that move with a head turn

Now we are going to create some blinks that not only blink, but also move along with the head turn. Now, this is going to be a two step process. The first step, and this is what we are going to do here, is just to get the blinks moving with the head turn. The second step is to use expressions to tie the opacity of those blinks to a slider. So, setting up the blinks to move along with the head turn is very similar to how we animated the pupils. So let's take a look at how we are going to do this.

I am actually going to zoom in here, so we can see what we are doing, and then in our Gus All layer here, we have our HEAD layer, and that's what we are going to be using as our master. So if we go over here, and just make sure we get into our HEAD subcomposition here, and let's make sure that this is in the middle. I want to make sure this is on Frame 10, and then we are going to start positioning our eyelids. Now if we go into Gus All layers, you will see we have a bunch of different layers here, but some of these are actually lids.

So, for example, we have Right Lid 03, which is a third closed, Right Lid 02, which is two-thirds closed, Right Lid 01, which is completely closed. And the same for the left side; we have a Left Lid 03, 02, and 01. So let's go ahead and position these on the character, and then we will go ahead and I get them to move. So let's go ahead and start with Right Lid 03. This is the one-third open eyelid, and I am going to start with this, because once we lay the other ones over it, they will obscure it.

So I just want to make sure I get this positioned over the right eye, and then once I have that, I'm going to actually turn off Visibility for that layer, so that way I can position the second one, which is Left Lid 02. Let's make sure we get that positioned properly. Turn that off, Left Lid 01, which is the completely closed, and maybe even use my arrow keys just a little bit to get that all aligned. So now, once I have those all aligned, I want to make sure that I get them all visible, and then just select them all, and we are going to link these hierarchically to the right eye, because the right eye is already animating.

So if I do that you will notice that they all move with that head turn. So I don't even have to animate them, because each eye is already animating. So let's do the same for the left side. So again, position my cursor at 10, in the middle; 03, position that, looks good; turn it off. Select 02, position it, looks good, turn it off.

01, position it, and this one does need to be fine-tuned since it covers the whole eye, and that should be good. Turn them all on; link them to the left eye. So now I have both of these animating. So now, all we have to do is a very similar process to what we did with the pupils before. I'm going to select my HEAD layer, copy and paste it, and then just delete what I don't want.

So I am going to go ahead and do an Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste, and this should give me a HEAD 2 layer. So if I double-click on this, you will see it comes up here, and you see I have all of my lids right here. Well, I want to keep those; I also want to keep my Left and Right Eye, because those are the ones that are actually controlling the animation. So let's go below the Right Eye, select everything below that, delete it. Select the Pupil that's right above the Right Eye, and select the Pupil that's above the Left Eye, and just everything between that and the Lids.

So now all I should have are the Lids and the Eyes. So if I turn off Visibility on all of this, you can see I have the Eyes as well as the Lids. Now that I have this, I can rename it. So I am going to go ahead and select HEAD 2 in my project window, and just do a Rename, and let's call these LIDS_01. And let's go ahead and make sure that LID 01 on all of these is turned on. So I am just going to go ahead and turn off everything but the LID 01 layer.

So I am only going to keep two layers on: Left Lid 01, and Right Lid 1, and there we go. So now that have this, I can just copy and paste it. Again, I am just going to use keyboard shortcuts: Command+C or Control+C, Control+V or Command+V. And then now that I have this LIDS 02, I am going to turn off LID 01, turn on LID 02, both right and left, and again, they are animating just fine. And let's go ahead and do this again.

Copy, Paste with keyboard shortcuts, double-click on it. We have got LIDS 03. So again, I am just going to go ahead and turn off LIDS 02 and keep LIDS 03. So now I have three compositions: LIDS 01 has the close lids, two-thirds closed, one-third closed; Great! Now all we have to do is go into our master composition, Gus All, and drag them in. So I am going to go ahead and select LIDS 01, 02, and 03, and just drag them below that HEAD CONTROL, and above the Pupils, because we do want these to actually be on top of the Pupils. And then let's go ahead and zoom out here a little bit.

And we need to go ahead and just position these. But if you notice, here in HEAD I still have all of these old ones that I had originally dragged on there. So let's go ahead into the HEAD subcomposition, select those lids, delete them, then go back into my Gus All, and there we go! Now I can position my lids. So again, I am going to zoom in here, and just get those positioned right over that head. So let's see if I got this right.

Okay, so that should get them pretty much positioned. So if we want, we can turn them all off, then we can see if we have everything on. Great! Now, we still need to connect the motion. If I actually take my HEAD CONTROL here, and I turn my head, you will see that the lids aren't animating yet. So we still need to create a time remap and tie it all together. So I am actually going to take this time remap -- it's kind of the easiest actually just to tie it to the original HEAD Time Remap.

So let's go ahead and actually hide everything between here and the HEAD so we can see what we are doing a little bit more. I am going to unlock these layers here, and select all the layers between the LIDS, and the HEAD, and shy them. So now I have got HEAD, LIDS, LIDS, and so on. So let's go ahead and start with LIDS 01, and I'm going to open up LIDS 01 in HEAD, and under LIDS 01, I am just going to right-click -- we have done this before -- Enable Time Remapping, then select the Time Remap, Add Expression, Pick Whip that to the Time Remap of the HEAD.

Click on this, and if we go up to my HEAD CONTROL here, you can see now that my closed eyes are turning, but I am getting a little bit of an opening at the end here. And let's go over to LIDS 01 here, and you will see that it's happening because I've got a space here in that composition. So let's go ahead and fix that for LIDS 01. Select all of these, and again, grab the end, and just pull it beyond the end of that. That's where I am getting that one to disappear there.

Okay, pull it beyond the end of that. So now, when I get my HEAD TURN, those eyes work. Great! Okay, I'm going to put my HEAD TURN back to the middle, to 10, and let's do the same for LIDS 02, and LIDS 03. So LIDS 02, select it, right-click, Time > Enable Time Remapping, select the Time Remapping > Add Expression, and Pick Whip that down to the HEAD Time Remap.

Now, another way to do this is just to copy the expression, because we are linking all of them to the HEAD Time Remap. I can just select this expression, and copy and paste it, instead of using the Pick Whip. So I just right-click, Copy, go to LIDS 03, right-click, Enable Time Remapping, select the Time Remap, Add Expression, and now just make sure this is selected, and then just hit Paste, and that should work as well. So now all of these should move with the head. Great! Now that we've got everything moving with the head, we still need to get the character blinking, so we are going to do that in the next video.

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