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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.
Blinks are another place where replacement animation comes in handy, so let me show you some of the techniques for animating blinks. Now, when you animate blinks, you need to decide whether you're going to do them one eye at a time, or both eyes at a time. So do you want a separate slider for the left and the right side, or do you want just one slider that blinks both eyes? Since both eyes are a little more complex, let's go ahead and do that. So we're going to actually animate this so that one slider controls both eyes. And you can apply the same process for left and right if you want to do it that way.
The big thing with doing blinks on the left and right side is that you need to make sure that the blinks line up. So I have closed, two-thirds open, one-third open, and so on. So I'm going to take each of these, and I'm going to go ahead and lay it over the eye; make sure that I have that completely over, because really what you want to do is you need to match that spacing of the eye here. And in fact, I may zoom in a little bit more here, just to make sure; yeah, that's fine.
And then I'm going to make sure I have everything lined up here as well. I'm actually going to go ahead and turn off the Lid 1s, which are the completely closed shapes. So I'm going to go here in Left Lid 1, Right Lid 1, and I'm just going to turn those off, so that way I have better room to adjust these. So what I'm doing here is I'm actually adjusting the positioning before I go into the precomp, which is a little bit different than how we did it with these other techniques.
So I'm going to go ahead and take the two-thirds eye close, and make sure that I have each one of these aligned pretty closely here. And then I'm going to turn off my Lid 2s, and then grab each of my Lid 3s, which are the one-third open, and make sure I have those in place as well. So if I use my visibility here, I can turn them on and off. You can actually almost animate the blink here.
And so, for each one of these, I'm making sure that it's aligned perfectly. Now once it is, I can select all six of these, and then create my precomp. So I'm going to go into layer > Pre-compose. Let's call this BLINKS, hit OK. And then we have the composition here; double-click on it to go into it, and these are my blinks. Now, they're already aligned correctly, so I don't need to change the positioning.
All I need to do in this case is just crop down, and create the animation. So I'm going to crop it down by using region of interest, and again, just draw a little box around each of these; Composition > Crop Comp to Region of Interest. In this case, I don't have six shapes; I actually have three. So it's basically, we're going to have two lids on each frame. For my composition length, I'm going to do Composition Settings, I'm going to do 3, plus 1 for no eye at all, so I'm going to actually do 4 frames.
Then select all of these and scale them down. Now when I sequence layers, I have to sequence them three at a time for this. So I'm going to go ahead and select Lid 1 through Lid 3, right-click over these, Keyframe Assistant > Sequence layers. Hit OK. Now what this does is it creates the open eye shape, and then it creates a blank one. And then I'm going to do the same for the right side. So again, right-click, Keyframe Assistant > Sequence layers, hit OK.
We have closed, two-thirds, one-third, completely open. Now if I want, I can flop that around. Sometimes you want it to be open first, and then close. In that case, we can just manually arrange these. I'm going to Control+Select Left Lid 01 and Right Lid 01, and move those to the back; to Frame 3. Then select Lid 01, Control+Select 02, or Alt+Select 02; move those back.
And the same for 03, and I'm actually going to move those forward. So what I did was I just reversed the order. So we're going to start off with the blank eye, and then blank. So that might make more sense in terms of how you want to order those. But regardless, when I go back over here and I zoom out, you can see that I've got my blinks right here. Now all I have to do is just move those into position and zoom in. Let's make sure I get that closed blink in position here.
Now I'm just moving my Timeline here, and let's make sure I get my blink there. I'm just kind of moving my time slider just to make sure I get those closed eyes, and those are all in position. That's great! Now all I have to do in order to actually animate this is to right-click, Time > Enable Time Remapping. And then all I have to do is delete this frame here, and now I have blinks. This is actually kind of sensitive, but all you have to do is type in the number and you have your blink.
Now with this, I've pretty much rigged this character in a very basic way. Now I have the ability to move and rotate the arms. I have the head all aligned. Now the one thing that we don't have is we don't have the MOUTHS and the BLINKS linked to the head, but that's easy. All we have to do is select both of these, and then just select the Head here. So now I've got my head ready to go, and the character is pretty much ready to animate.
We can go a lot deeper and a lot more customized with rigging, but if all you did was go this far, you could pretty much animate most characters. But we are going to go into a lot more advanced techniques in the next few chapters.
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