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Creating Animated Characters in After Effects
Illustration by John Hersey

Creating a head turn: Facial features


From:

Creating Animated Characters in After Effects

with George Maestri

Video: Creating a head turn: Facial features

At this point, we have the head turning with, basically, the shape of the face and the ears. So let's add in the other facial features. So I am going to go to my Head subcomposition, and let's start working on these one at a time. First one I want to start with is the nose. So I am going to select the Nose layer, and make sure I turn it on so it's visible. Then I am going to go to Frame 10 and make sure that everything is centered. Then I am going to expand this and set a key for Position, Scale, and Rotation.
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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 a head turn: Facial features

At this point, we have the head turning with, basically, the shape of the face and the ears. So let's add in the other facial features. So I am going to go to my Head subcomposition, and let's start working on these one at a time. First one I want to start with is the nose. So I am going to select the Nose layer, and make sure I turn it on so it's visible. Then I am going to go to Frame 10 and make sure that everything is centered. Then I am going to expand this and set a key for Position, Scale, and Rotation.

Now, as the head turns, the nose is going to move sideways and a little bit up actually. So I am just going to go ahead and move this, and position this nose where it needs to be, and also as it moves, it's going to rotate just a bit. So I think a good number here is somewhere around 9 or 10 degrees. So let's go ahead and make this 9 degrees, and now, you can see how this just kind of gives it a little bit more sense of life.

In fact, we can probably put this over just a little bit more. So there we go! So now it looks pretty good. Okay, so now we have to do the same on the other side. So I am going to go ahead and move this over, select this Nose, and again, I am just going to see if I can make this about the same distance, and then I am going to rotate again. In this case, I rotated at 9 the other time; this is -9. So let's see how this works. You know, I really need that nose to come up a little bit on each side, so I am going to go ahead and move it up so that way it moves a little bit more on an arc.

Now remember, when heads turn, they tend to turn a little bit on an arc, so this will kind of help sell that. Maybe even bring it down just a little bit here. So now, once I have this nose, I am going to use this as the reference. I spent a lot of time on this because I wanted to make sure that this is right, because now I have a center line with which to align everything else. Now, let's go ahead and move on to the Mouth, which is the top layer here. And again, I am just going to turn this on, and let's go ahead and open this up, and make sure I am at Frame 10, and have a keyframe for Position, Rotation, and Scale.

In fact, if I want, I can align this a little bit. Again, we're going to do same thing here. We are going to just keep it centered under the nose, maybe have to rotate it, maybe scale it just a little bit. But again, that nose is my guide. So in fact, I can even use this little dot here, and kind of center that to the nose, and then rotate this, so that it kind of rotates with my character. And maybe even scale it down just a little bit, because as the character turns, the mouth is going to move away from the camera just a little bit.

So now that looks pretty good. So let's do that on the other side. So I am going to go ahead and move this over, make sure that I've got that centered under the nose, then rotate it in the other direction. Let's go ahead and scale this down just a little bit. So now, okay, so this one is a little bit off; you can see it's touching the side of the face, so let's not do it so much. So now that looks pretty good.

So again, this gives it a lot more dimension. So let's go ahead and move on to the rest of the face. Let's go ahead to the brows, the eyes, and everything else. So I am going to go ahead and select all of these, except for the hair, and turn them all on. So let's go ahead and set keyframes for all of these at 10. So I am just going to open up one of them and we are going to set Position, Rotation, and Scale. So now we have that locked down. Let's go ahead and, again, we are going to use the nose as the guide.

So first thing I want to do is just make sure I have all of these selected, and let's go to the beginning, Frame 0, and move these over. Now, one of the things you are going to realize is that as the character turns, one eye is actually going to come closer to the camera, the other eye is going to move away. So we're going to have a little bit of a scale issue that we are going to work with. So first thing I am going to do is work on the eyes on the far side, which in this case is the right one; so Right Brow, Right Pupil, Right Eye.

I'm going to go ahead and scale those down to about 90%. And Again, I want to use the edge of the nose as my guide for where these are located. So I need to move that out just a little bit. That's okay if this brow goes a little bit beyond the side of the head, because it's kind of a cartoony character. So I want to make sure that this distance between here and here looks like it's not changing too much as it goes from here to here.

So now, let's go ahead and work on the other eye, the Left Eye. So I am going to select the pupil, the eye, and the brow, and again, let's go ahead and set keyframes here for Position, Rotation, and Scale, and let's go ahead and move those down. In this case, this one is coming closer to the camera, so I am going to make it bigger. In this case I am going to bring it up to about 108%. Again, I want to make sure that we've got the same distance between these as the character goes.

So his eyes are a little closer together here. That looks pretty good. Then we can do the same on the opposite side. So again, I am going to move these over, and before I scaled those down to 90, so let's just type that in, and again, let's get that arranged. And then let's select the other eye. Let's go ahead and do that, and again, let's bring those up. I think I brought that up to 108%, so let's copy that. And again, I'm aligning these to the nose, and also maybe even the edge of the mouth.

So that's pretty good. So again, so now we've got all of our facial features animating. So all I have to do is turn the slider, and I can turn this character's head, and it looks a lot more realistic as it turns. So now we pretty much have this head turning except for the hair, and we'll do that in the next lesson.

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