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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.
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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