New Feature: Playlist Center! Pick a topic and let our playlists guide the way.

Start learning with our library of video tutorials taught by experts. Get started

After Effects Apprentice 13: Paint, Roto, and Puppet
Illustration by John Hersey

Overview of the Puppet Pin tool


From:

After Effects Apprentice 13: Paint, Roto, and Puppet

with Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer

Video: Overview of the Puppet Pin tool

Next we're going to show you a wonderful set of distortion tools in After Effects, known incredibly as the Puppet tools. But before we do so you need to reset your workspace. It's probably at Paint right now, go ahead and set it back to Standard and select Reset "Standard" to make sure you're at a good, clean starting point. Now I'm going to go ahead and switch to my special AEA workspace which optimizes the layout for screen capture but it is very similar to Standard. If you have access to the Exercise Files that came with this lesson, go to the Comps folder and open up the Comp O4-Puppet*starter.

Watch this entire course now—plus get access to every course in the library. Each course includes high-quality videos taught by expert instructors.

Become a member
please wait ...
After Effects Apprentice 13: Paint, Roto, and Puppet
3h 11m Intermediate Dec 21, 2011 Updated Dec 12, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, Trish and Chris Meyer introduce a series of creative tools inside Adobe After Effects. The centerpiece is Paint, where Trish demonstrates how to use the Brush, Eraser, and Clone Stamp tools to draw on a layer, remove portions of it, or repeat elements around a composition. These tools can be used for artistic purposes as well as to repair problem areas in footage. Chris shows off the Puppet tools for distorting layers, and the incredible Roto Brush, introduced in After Effects CS6, which allows you to separately define foreground and background elements so that you can replace backgrounds and selectively add special effects.

The After Effects Apprentice videos on lynda.com were created by Trish and Chris Meyer and are designed to be used on their own and as a companion to their book After Effects Apprentice. We are honored to host these tutorials in the lynda.com library.

Topics include:
  • Creating, erasing, and animating brush and clone strokes
  • Using Paint to reveal a layer over time
  • Creating animated distortions to flat artwork with the Puppet tools
  • Replacing backgrounds with the Roto Brush
Subjects:
Video Motion Graphics Visual Effects
Software:
After Effects
Authors:
Chris Meyer Trish Meyer

Overview of the Puppet Pin tool

Next we're going to show you a wonderful set of distortion tools in After Effects, known incredibly as the Puppet tools. But before we do so you need to reset your workspace. It's probably at Paint right now, go ahead and set it back to Standard and select Reset "Standard" to make sure you're at a good, clean starting point. Now I'm going to go ahead and switch to my special AEA workspace which optimizes the layout for screen capture but it is very similar to Standard. If you have access to the Exercise Files that came with this lesson, go to the Comps folder and open up the Comp O4-Puppet*starter.

Now for those who're in a modern art you may recognize this as a character from a mural painting called Harlequin's Carnival, and there is lots of interesting appendages for us to tug on, bend, and distort. To perform puppet distortion you use the Puppet tools represented by this Pushpin icon along your toolbar. If you don't see your toolbar by the way it's underneath Window>Tools. I'm going to select the very first tool called the Puppet Pin tool; this is what you perform your distortion and animation with.

As soon as you select any of the Puppet tools some additional parameters will appear along the top of your toolbar. We'll discuss each of these as they come up, but for now make sure the Mesh Show is currently checked or enabled. To use the Puppet tool first make sure your Current Time Indicator is at the very start of your composition. This is because Puppet tool is different from the other tools in After Effects and that it sets keyframes the moment you start to use the tool. And more than likely you want your first keyframe to be at the start of your comp. Hover your cursor over the object you'd like to distort and you see the cursor is changed to a little pushpin.

I'm going to hover over someplace that I'd like this character to be anchored, for example maybe his ankle or his toe. Click, as soon as I do so, you'll see that his outline, his Alpha Channel has been encased by a Mesh made up of individual triangles. If you're having trouble seeing these triangles, the layer's label color actually affects the color of that Mesh. I want to pick something strong like a Purple so that you can see it more clearly. Now Puppet is actually an effect applied to a layer, and like all effects in order to see its custom user- interface you need to select the effect.

By doing so you'll now see the pin that we've placed on this guy's ankle. If you want to see the Mesh select the Mesh and now that will appear. The triangles in this Mesh determine how much resolution you have when you distort the character. More triangles cleaner distortion, but also more triangles longer render times. I personally find the default of 350 to be a bit course, it will give me kinks in many of my characters. I tend to set this to at least 500, and if I have a fast computer I will set it up to a 1000.

You see we now have a final Mesh and this will give me smoother distortions. The other interesting parameter here is Expansion. It's basically saying how far beyond the Alpha channel should After Effects draw the Mesh that encases your character. Now you might think, oh, although it's just to follow the Alpha Channels, set it down to 0. The problem with doing that is that triangles are actually just a bunch of straight line segments. If you use too few of them and have no expansion they may cut off portions of the character you're trying to outline.

If I set this to a very low number like 200, and zoom in a little bit here, you'll see that the Mesh is actually cutting off, for example, parts of his head, so that's why you need have enough triangles to get a good approximation of your character, and set the expansion a little bit bigger such as 1. The other thing that Expansion controls is how different sections of your character are bound together. If I have a higher expansion like the default of 3, you'll see that this area here with a hair in the hat gets meshed together.

Hair in the hat, these two pieces of hair and a strand off the left are now all meshed together and these guys have their own independence. If I set it too high, the whole top piece would get meshed into one. You may want this in some cases, for example this now means that this entire unit will bend as a whole. However, if I want finer control, a smaller mesh will now break this up to where the stem, these strands are now treated separately than the hat on the top strands, so Expansion also affects how finely you can control your character.

I'm going to press Shift+/ to center my Comp panel and in the next movie we'll show you how to create additional pins to distort your character.

There are currently no FAQs about After Effects Apprentice 13: Paint, Roto, and Puppet.

 
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.
Upgrade now


Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ.

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

join now Upgrade now

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.


Mark all as unwatched Cancel

Congratulations

You have completed After Effects Apprentice 13: Paint, Roto, and Puppet.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


OK
Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

Get started

Already a member?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any lynda.com page and choose Site preferencesfrom the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Are you sure you want to delete this note?

No

Notes cannot be added for locked videos.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.