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Join Chad Perkins as he breaks down the process of creating, rigging, and animating the arm of a character in an opening title sequence in Adobe After Effects—a task traditionally performed using rigging or skeleton tools available in 3D programs. Instead, this short course shows animators how to use a combination of layers, parenting, and expressions in After Effects to create a similar effect. The course also covers parenting the arm component, picking up objects with the arm, and obscuring objects.
So, in the last tutorial we actually made this arm out of shape layers, and now we're going to talk about parenting. Now another thing we did in the last movie that was very important--I recommend you check it out if you haven't already-- is we've got the anchor point in the right spot, which is important for parenting. This video is intended for those that are new to the concept of parenting. If you're know about parenting, skip this; go to the next movie on using expression controllers. Basically, parenting allows you to control multiple layers with just one layer, and the parenting relationship controls four attributes and four attributes only, and that is scale, position, rotation, and anchor points.
Now the way this works is we have these shapes here, a bunch of different random shapes, and all they are and all After Effect sees them as are just rectangles and triangles, and that's it. We want to use this as an arm. So when I move this upper arm we want the rest of the arm to follow suit. Now we don't want the same power going to other direction. So if I were to move this thumb, for example, we don't want the whole arm moving, just the thumb. So, we would want this little thumb here to be what they call a child of this part of there thumb, so that when this part of the thumb moves, this part of the thumb moves as well, but this part of the thumb can move independently. So this will be a child of this.
So, basically what I'm going to do is I'm going to select the child layer--you always start with a child layer--and then I'm going to make sure the Parent column is showing here in the Timeline panel. If it's not, you could right-click, go to Columns, and then choose Parent. I believe you can also choose Shift+F4 and that will hide that and make it reappear. So, I'm going to select the thumb 2 layer. I'm going to drag the pick whip for the parent to thumb 1. And now when I select thumb 1, hit R for rotation, and I rotate this around, you could see that thumb 2 is going along for the ride, and we have this cool little working thumb here.
Now I could also go to thumb 2 and hit rotation, and you'll see that thumb 2 rotates independently still. So the way that the parent-child relationship works is that the child can still have its autonomy--it could whatever it wants to do--but as soon as the parent does something with one of those for attributes for the position, anchor point, rotation, and scale, then the child has to follow suit. So, we want to do is make this thumb 1, is what I'm calling this layer--and actually all of the ones, so I could actually Shift+Click these if I want to, so all of these ones here--and I could use the pick whip again if I want to or I could just use the dropdown if I so choose, and with all of this layers selected, I could just choose palm, because I want the palm to be that parent of all the ones.
And actually I should have chosen thumb 1-- use the pick whip and drag it to palm here. So, select palm, hit rotation, and now when I rotate the palm all of those ones go along for the ride as well. So you are starting to see the beginnings of a hand here. Now I want pinky 2 to be parented to pinky 1 and ring 2 to be the child of ring 1, middle 2 to go to middle 1, and index 2 to go to index 1.
And finally, what we need to do is we need to parent the palm that seems to be the child of the forearm, and the forearm needs to be the child of the upper arm. And now we have the upper arm being the great grandpa, as it were, for all of these layers, and so on and so forth down the road. So, now if go to upper arm and we hit R to reveal the Rotation property and adjust this, you can see the whole arm going along for the ride, but then if we just go to the forearm, hit R for Rotation, and rotate just that, then you could see that the upper arm doesn't move, but everything below in the hierarchy does.
So that's all we need to do, as far as parenting goes, for this little arm rigging. In the movie we're going to look at the world of expression controllers. Now if you're new to the world of expressions, or even if you're familiar with expressions, you should know the expression controllers are very easy to use. You don't have to know any math or any kind of programming or anything like that to make them work. But it's going to allow us to open and close this hand with just the touch of a slider, so it's a very handy thing to know, so check this out. And we'll see you in the next movie.
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