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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.
When using the Puppet tool, there are times when you may want to have one part of the character move in front of, or behind, other parts of the character, and this is where the Overlap tool comes in handy. Now we've got our basic character, and I have the Puppet tool already assigned. Now before we actually get into the Overlap tool, let me just show you a little bit about how this is working here. So I'm going to go ahead and zoom in to the foot, because that's actually a really good place to demonstrate this.
So I'm going to take my Selection tool, and I'm going to just go ahead and grab the Ankle, so I will Shift select, and grab the Toe as well. So I want these two Puppet pins selected, and then I'm just going to go ahead and move this. Notice how when it moves in front of this other leg, it actually is moving in front of it. Now, what if we wanted that foot to pass behind? We can do that by using the Overlap pin. We can find it here: we can see Puppet Pin tool, Puppet Overlap tool, and that's what we want.
Now when you select this, a Puppet pin tool comes up with a little bit of extra, just to tell you it's the Overlap tool. Those are supposed to be layers. And so let's go ahead and just click on this foot to give it the pin. Now when you actually add the pin in, you'll notice that in the Puppet Effect, it actually adds in another category. So we have Deform, which are all the regular pins, but now we've also added in one called Overlap, and those are for the Overlap pins.
So in this case we've created one Overlap pin called Overlap 1, and there are three variables that we can use. One is the actual position of the pin. The next one is whether it's in front or behind. So this is a percentage, basically. So 0 is kind of flat, and anything that is negative is behind, and anything that's positive is in front. Now, these are just relative numbers; just as long as one part of the character's value is in front or behind, it'll work.
And the next one is very important: it's called the Extent. It's how much does this pin affect the mesh, and right now you can see that it's just this little white area is effected. So if we want, we actually want to probably get the entire shoe, so I'm going to go ahead and start expanding this to a much bigger number, and what I want to do is get the entire lower leg. The number that probably will work will be somewhere above 200; let's just go ahead and type in 250 just to be sure, and what that does is it gets the entire foot, and most of the lower leg.
Once we have this, we can go to our Selection tool, and just select the actual Puppet pins to deform. Now these are actually Deform Puppet pins, here in this category here. So let's go ahead and move these so that this foot is over the opposite leg, and how we control whether it's in front of or behind is by using this In Front command. You can see as soon as soon as it gets below 0, it pops behind. That's because by default any pixel in the object is going to be at 0.
Go ahead and just put this at a negative number, say -15. It's not really important what the number is; it just has to be less than the pixels in front of it. Now any time this moves it will move behind. If we want, we can also animate this. So, for example, if I wanted to, I could animate this foot so that it goes behind at this point, and then move that foot back out, and then if I wanted to I could move it again and make it go in front, but I need to animate the In Front variable.
So what I want to do here is when it's behind, I want to make sure that I add a keyframe for In Front, and then maybe even move that out a little bit here, so that it's in front all the way to the point where it moves away from that foot. And then here I want to actually bring that variable forward. So just as long as it is in front, say here, just give it a number, say even positive 15 would be a good number. Now what we've got is it's moving behind, and now it's moving in front.
You can do that for any part of your character's body, but the Puppet Overlap tool can be very handy, particularly when you're rigging a character using a lot of different Puppet pins.
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