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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.
Now there may come a time when you'll want to mix and match animation methods. You'll want some parts of the character to be animated using the Puppet tool, and other parts to be animated using hierarchies, and separate objects; that sort of thing. So let's go ahead and take a look at how to mix and match hierarchies with the Puppet tool. In this case, I've got this character, and I'm going to replace his left leg with a puppeted leg. So I'm going to go ahead and zoom in so we can get little bit of a closer look here, and let's just take a look at what we have.
I am going to scroll down to the bottom of my layers here, and you'll see that I have a Left Thigh, a Left Shin, and a Left Shoe. So those are the three objects that I normally have, but I'm going to replace the shin and the thigh with this one object, which is called Leg. First thing I want to do is just go ahead and move that leg into place, so kind of just match it up to where the old leg is, and then I'm going to take this Left Shin and Thigh, and let's just go ahead and hide those, so we don't see them.
Now the only thing there is my Left Leg. Now this doesn't have any sort of hierarchy on it right now, but as you can see with the other leg, the right leg, I've got the shoe as the master. This is so that the feet can stay in place. So I'm going to do the same thing here. I'm going to select my Left Leg, and make the Left Shoe its parent. Now I can move the leg, but I can't bend the knee at all, because there is really no deformation.
I'm going to actually have to add the Puppet tool to create that deformation. I'm going to select the Leg, hit the Puppet tool, place one pin at the hip, one pin at the knee, and then that last pin somewhere around the ankle. And once I do that, now I have the ability to puppet it. So all I have to do is go into my Puppet Effects, select the Puppet tool, and I can move that.
This is kind of cool, because now I can move my foot all the way over here, and just using my Puppet pins, I can connect it in that way. One of the things, though, you have to be aware of is that when you start moving the character like this -- and actually let's go ahead and zoom out here, so you can kind of see this -- so you can actually get kind of some nice posing by doing this sort of method. You get a nice squashy, stretchy type of animation. But when you start doing this, what happens is that you're actually starting to move the actual leg outside of the bounding box that creates the character, so you have to be very careful to kind of keep one point kind of anchored to the rest of the character.
So, for example, if I were to move this, then I'm actually moving all of these Puppet points here, and so I could easily get this moved off of the original positioning that it was at. So this is just something that you need to be aware of: that these Puppet pins can actually move things off of the hierarchy. Another way you can do it is by using what's called a precomposition. So we're going to do this other leg very quickly using what's called a precomposition. I am going to select my Right Leg and Right Shin, and I want to do the same thing for this leg that I have for the other one.
On this other one, I took a whole separate layer, and replaced the original shin and thigh. In this case, I'm just going to use what I have. I'm going to use the Right Thigh, and the Right Shin, and I'm just going to combine them into what's called the precomposition, and use that for the Puppet tool. I'm going to select both of them, go into Layer, and we're going to do what's called a Precompose. Now when I do that, what happens is it creates a separate composition. And in this case I'm just going to call that RIGHT LEG, and I use all caps just so that I mentally know that it's a precomposition.
And what it does is it takes both of those layers, shuttles them off into another composition called RIGHT LEG, and so I have these two parts here, but in the main composition I've got just this one RIGHT LEG. Now I can still use the Puppet tool on that. I am going to just go ahead and select my Puppet Pin tool, and let's go ahead and put one at the hip, one at the knee, and another one at the ankle.
And when I do that, I've got the exact same effect. And this is actually on two separate objects. When you are doing precompositions like this, it actually has this one leg, but notice how it precomps to the size of the original composition. So sometimes this can make selecting more difficult. So, for example, I want to select the torso, or the arm, or the leg, that's easy, but once I get into selecting down here, I'm selecting that whole composition.
Now one way to get around this is by shrinking down the size of that original precomposition. If I want to -- you can see, when I Fit this, you've got all this white space -- if I want to, I can scale down my composition, so that it just fits that. Or the other way is to just draw a new leg, which I think is a little bit more efficient. But in any event, this is a great way to use the Puppet tool along with a parented type of character.
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