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Creating Animated Characters in After Effects
Illustration by John Hersey

Creating overlap pins


From:

Creating Animated Characters in After Effects

with George Maestri

Video: Creating overlap pins

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.
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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 overlap pins

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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