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Creating leg hierarchies for efficient walks

From: Creating Animated Characters in After Effects

Video: Creating leg hierarchies for efficient walks

Now let's take a look at the lower body, and how to set up the legs and feet in a hierarchy. Now, the legs and feet are a little bit different, because the character does need to keep his feet on the ground, and if we link everything together, that might not be so easy. Let me show you what I mean. Here we have our character, and we've got separate joints for the thigh, the shin, and the foot. Now let me go ahead and scroll down here so we can see these in the layers. So, for example, if I take my Left and Right Thigh, link them to the Torso, and take my Right Shin, link it to the Thigh, Right Shoe to the Shin, and do the same on the other side.

Creating leg hierarchies for efficient walks

Now let's take a look at the lower body, and how to set up the legs and feet in a hierarchy. Now, the legs and feet are a little bit different, because the character does need to keep his feet on the ground, and if we link everything together, that might not be so easy. Let me show you what I mean. Here we have our character, and we've got separate joints for the thigh, the shin, and the foot. Now let me go ahead and scroll down here so we can see these in the layers. So, for example, if I take my Left and Right Thigh, link them to the Torso, and take my Right Shin, link it to the Thigh, Right Shoe to the Shin, and do the same on the other side.

Let's just take the Left Shin, link it to the Left Thigh, and take the Left Shoe, and parent it to the Left Shin. Now I have everything together, and the character moves together. But here's the problem is that if you want to move the body, then the feet will also move with it, so it's going to make it very hard for the character to keep his feet on the ground. Now, one easy way to get past this is to just select Left and Right thigh, and unlink them, so that way when I rotate the body, the legs stay still, and I can still rotate the legs and have those all together.

Now, this is one way for keeping the feet on the ground, but the big problem with this is that when you go to actually animate that foot in a walk, you're going to be starting with the upper thigh. So in other words, the top of the hierarchy is going to be at the hip, and that's going to make it hard to keep the feet, which are at the other end of that chain, on the ground. So another way to do this is to -- let's go ahead and zoom in here, so we can see this a little bit better -- is to reverse the hierarchy.

So right now I have this as the top of the chain; so the foot is connected to the shin, the shin is connected to the thigh. If we do this differently, we can actually reverse this, and that means making the foot the master, and then the shin and the thigh the children of the feet, and that allows you to keep the feet exactly where you want them. One way to do this is to basically flip everything on its head. If I want to, I can take the shin, and I would actually go ahead and move the pivot point down to the ankle.

So I'm going to be pivoting this at the other side, and I'm going to do the same for the thigh. So I'm going to go ahead and just do this roughly here. I'm going to position this pivot point at the knee rather than at the hip. Then I'm going to go ahead and select the Left Thigh and parent it to the Shin. Now, it's not going to allow me to do that, because I've already got this parented, so you can't have a circular sort of parenting here. So now, once I have the pivot points arranged, I need to unlink everything.

So I'm going to go to the Shin and select its parent as None, and go to the Shoe and do the same thing. So now everything is free, and I can recreate this hierarchy. So I'm going to take the Left Shin; drag it to the Left Shoe. So, now when I move the shoe, the shin moves with it. And we can do the same with the thigh. So I'm going to take that Left Thigh and link it to the Shin. So now, instead of going top-down, we're going to go bottom-up.

So now I can move this and my feet will stay in place. When I go to animate this character -- I'm going to zoom out a little bit here -- I can, for example, position the body; let's say I wanted to move the body down and bend the knees, then all I have to do here is select these, and just rotate them to match. Now, some of this is dependent upon how you design the character, but for this particular character, it's not bad, and in this case, the foot actually is staying on the ground.

So it really depends on how you want to animate your scene, and what your requirements are for each individual scene, but just know that you don't have to stick with the top-down hierarchy. You can rearrange and recreate your hierarchies to make animation a little bit more efficient.

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This video is part of

Image for Creating Animated Characters in After Effects
Creating Animated Characters in After Effects

46 video lessons · 15495 viewers

George Maestri
Author

 
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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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