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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.
So now I've gone through the rest of character and added in the whole left side, so I have a series of nulls that are connected to the puppet pins on the left leg, and everything should be connected together. So if I zoom in to these legs, you can see that if I select, for example, the knee, the knee deforms properly. I have got the toes working. So every puppet pin is now connected to a null object. Now if I wanted to, I could just stop right here, and just start animating, but let's take advantage of the fact that we have all of these null objects, and use parenting and hierarchies to connect the character together even better, so we can have easier animation.
So the first thing I want to start with is the upper body. So if I take a look at this, I've got my Torso here, and right now it's not even connected, so we should connect that to the hips, and we can do that easily just by doing some parenting. So I'm going to go ahead and select my Right Hip, and my LEFT HIP, and then just with my Parenting menu here, I'm going to tie those both to the Torso. So now these are children of the Torso, so when I move my Torso, my legs move with it, and this is pretty cool.
So now my character is kind of connected. I'm still getting that distortion. Now, another place that you might want to use some hierarchies is down here where the feet are. So if, for example, right now if I move my ankle my toe stays in place, but typically I want to move the whole foot as an object. So I can go down here and select my RIGHT TOE, and if I wanted to, I can just use my Pick Whip, connect it to the RIGHT ANKLE, and now my foot should move as one object. So now, because this is a child of the RIGHT ANKLE, they both move together. And I could do that again for the LEFT TOE and the LEFT ANKLE.
Now when you do this, the last one that we want to work on is the knees, so I have my upper body, and that's moving, and I have my lower body, in other words, my feet, and those are moving, but what about the knees? Well, if you wanted to, you could go really deep into expressions, and do some sort of inverse kinematics system, but we're not going to get in that right now. One easy way to do it is just to connect the knee either to the upper or the lower body, or you could just leave them so that they kind of go free, and just animate them however you feel.
One of the things I like to do is just connect the knee to the ankle, in other words, the knee to the foot, so that way when I move the ankle, it's not too bad of an effect. It looks pretty good. So if I did that, for example, on the right leg as well, that would work pretty well. And the other thing is, you want to make sure that all of this moves with our master nodes, so right now I've got my Torso and everything moving, but my feet are connected. So I'm going to take my RIGHT ANKLE, and my LEFT ANKLE, and connect those up to Null 1, which is my master node here.
So now once I have them connected to Null 1, then I can move my entire character, but the last thing I need to do is connect that knee, so I'm going to connect my RIGHT KNEE to my RIGHT ANKLE, and we should be okay. There we go. So now we have a character that pretty much moves in place, and if I want, I can move the upper body separately, and the legs, and the knees, and if I want to get a knee bend, all I have to do is just move these out. So, those are just some strategies. You can certainly parent, and arrange this however you want, but the great thing is that you have the freedom to do that, which you wouldn't have with just puppet pins alone.
So go ahead and play with this, find some hierarchies that work for you, and at this point, the character is pretty much ready to animate.
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