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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.
Once you've imported your character in from Photoshop, or Illustrator, you need to tie all the parts together, and this is called hierarchies. Now, you may be familiar with them from your previous work in After Effects, but let's go over some of the basics as they apply to characters. Now, I have two compositions in this file: one is called Gus_00; the other one is Gus_01. So I am going to double-click on Gus_ 00, and this is pretty much how it would come in from Photoshop, or whatever.
It comes in kind of as a flat file; nothing is connected together. So, for example, if I were to select the Torso and move it, nothing else would move with it. Or I could do the same for any other part. For example, the hair, or maybe more importantly, something like the face. You'd want all of the facial features to move along with that part. Now, we can do that by creating what are called hierarchies. If we double-click on Gus_01, that will bring up a composition that is tied together.
So let's just take a look at how this works. If I select the Torso, and move it, everything moves along with it. If I were to select, for example, the Bicep of this character, and move it, you can see that just the arm moves together. Now, if I select the Rotate tool, and rotate that upper arm, you can see how the hand moves, and this actually gives more of a realistic look. You could even do the same for the head. Now, the way this works is by tying these together using hierarchies or parenting.
So in the Composition window, each one of these parts is connected to another part. Let me show you how this works in Gus_00. So I am going to go ahead and double- click on this again, and you can see that if we scroll down, all of these Parents are listed as None. In other words, nothing is connected to anything else. There are no parents and children. So if we wanted to create something like this, we could do that very easily using some simple After Effects tools.
So what I am going to do is select my Zoom tool, and let's just go ahead and connect up his arm, and see how that works. So I am going to go ahead and drag, and just kind of zoom in so we can take a closer look at it, and then I'm going to select the different parts. So, for example, let's say I wanted the forearm to move with the bicep. This is the left side of the character. So I scroll down until I find Left Forearm and Left Bicep. I want the Bicep to be the master, so I want the Forearm to be connected.
So I can do this in one of two ways. I can select this little Pick Whip, and just go ahead and drag that to Bicep, and notice how this changes in this little pulldown menu. The other way is to simply just select it from the pulldown menu, which it already is. Now, once I have that selected, when I go ahead and rotate that Bicep, the Forearm is now connected to it. It's parented to the Bicep, and it all works together.
We can do this for the rest of the parts. So, for example, if I select the Cuff, I could link the Cuff to the Forearm, and if I select the Hand, I can also link the Hand to the Cuff. And again, I'm just doing this using the pulldown menu; you can do it either way. Once I have this all together, I can move that part of the character all at once. So as you can see, parenting and hierarchies are very important. So let's go ahead and take a step back, and actually set this up from scratch starting in the next lesson.
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