Creating Animated Characters in After Effects
Illustration by John Hersey

Creating Animated Characters in After Effects

with George Maestri

Video: Creating starch pins

When using the Puppet tool, there may be times when you'll need to control the shape of the character's body parts. Typically, when you move a Puppet pin, it will just in-between everything; a lot of times you will get very flowing shapes. Now, there are times when you want the character shapes to be a little bit more rigid, and that's where we can use the Starch tool. So let's take a look at this character here. I'm going to go ahead and select his layer, and go into that Puppet tool, and let's go ahead and take a look at the arm.
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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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Watch the Online Video Course 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
Subject:
3D + Animation
Software:
After Effects
Author:
George Maestri

Creating starch pins

When using the Puppet tool, there may be times when you'll need to control the shape of the character's body parts. Typically, when you move a Puppet pin, it will just in-between everything; a lot of times you will get very flowing shapes. Now, there are times when you want the character shapes to be a little bit more rigid, and that's where we can use the Starch tool. So let's take a look at this character here. I'm going to go ahead and select his layer, and go into that Puppet tool, and let's go ahead and take a look at the arm.

So I am going to zoom in to the left arm. I am just going to select this Puppet pin at the left wrist, and go ahead and move it. When you move it, you notice how the in-between is very curvy. It's almost like rubber hose animation. It's not like a real joint, which bends very sharply at the elbow. Well, we can correct this using the Starch tool. So let's go ahead and undo this, and put that wrist back to normal. Let's go ahead and find the Starch tool here.

So we've got Puppet Starch tool. Let's go ahead and select that, and it's kind of like a little spray can. So I am going to go ahead and add that Puppet pin somewhere towards the base of the hand. Now, once I have that, you'll notice how in the Mesh, we have our Deform pins, but we also now have a category for Stiffness. This is very similar to the Overlap pins that we have. So we have an additional Starch pin. Now, notice how that Starch pin is Red.

The important thing about this is the Amount, and the Extent. Again, we can change the position of this, but we also can change the Amount, which is how much does this affect surrounding triangles, or surrounding parts of the character, and the Extent to which it works. The big number here is the Extent. So if I increase this -- let's go ahead and just type in 100 -- notice how now this Puppet pin is affecting this area.

Well, we actually want it to affect almost to the elbow, so let's go ahead and type in a bigger number. Let's say type in, say, 250. Now, what this does is it covers the entire hand, and most of the forearm, but it leaves a little bit of area around the elbow, so that it can bend. Now once we have that, we can start working with it, so all I have to do is select this pin, and now when you move, notice how this is a much sharper joint. That's because all this upper part of the forearm is starched.

In other words, it's very stiff. It doesn't bend, and it won't give you that rubber hose effect. So as you can see, the Starch tool is very good for making more realistic joints, particularly ones that are controlled by bones. So you'll probably be using these most in the arms and legs; also the head is a very good place to be using the Starch tool.

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