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Using the Starch tool to control deformations


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2D Character Animation with After Effects

with Angie Taylor

Video: Using the Starch tool to control deformations

So now, the final tool that we're going to have a look at in the Puppets tools section, is the Starch tool. And we're in starch.aep if you'd like to follow along. And what I've done here is I've selected the Starch tool. And I do that by clicking and holding on the Puppet tool, and moving down to select the Puppet Starch tool. Now, what the Puppet Starch tool is good for is controlling certain areas. So, when you animate using the Puppet tool, you get this great fluid deformation happening, which is great in most cases.
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Watch the Online Video Course 2D Character Animation with After Effects
2h 35m Intermediate Feb 14, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In her career as an animator, Angie Taylor has developed some powerful techniques for creating quick but compelling 2D animation, and in this workshop she shares those secrets with you. Learn how to import layered files and paths from Adobe Illustrator into After Effects and how to animate flat vector artwork in both 2D and 3D space, and explore options for outputting your animations. The videos are short, focused, and solution-oriented, and all the project files are included so you can follow along as you go.

Topics include:
  • Best practices for importing source files
  • Sorting and interpreting footage
  • Animating using traditional layer-style animation
  • Creating a grouping structure for body parts
  • Animating with the Puppet tool
  • Creating stop-frame-style animation
  • Setting up control layers
  • Animating using time remapping
  • Exporting files for Flash
  • Making movies via the Render Queue
Subjects:
3D + Animation Video video2brain
Software:
After Effects
Author:
Angie Taylor

Using the Starch tool to control deformations

So now, the final tool that we're going to have a look at in the Puppets tools section, is the Starch tool. And we're in starch.aep if you'd like to follow along. And what I've done here is I've selected the Starch tool. And I do that by clicking and holding on the Puppet tool, and moving down to select the Puppet Starch tool. Now, what the Puppet Starch tool is good for is controlling certain areas. So, when you animate using the Puppet tool, you get this great fluid deformation happening, which is great in most cases.

But there may be some areas like the boot here, for example, that I don't want to be deforming too much. You'll see how there it's squishing together a little bit too much. Or the face. You'll notice the face is quite badly deformed, and so I may want to control how much deformation is happening, and I do that by using the Starch tool. So, with the Starch tool selected, and select your layer, and select the Puppet tool, in the timeline, you'll notice you can see an outline of your character represented here by this gray line. So, let's start with the boots.

Let's select boots and let's figure out how to control them so they are not deforming as much. What we are going to do is move to a place where we can see the deformation happening. Okay, you see that they are quite squashed there. So, what I am going to do, I'm going to click on the boot. And you'll notice that as I do, it places a highlight over this area. And the extent setting is what controls how much of the brute is controlled by the starch. And you'll notice that as I move the extent up the leg, more of the leg is frozen if you like, and, and not moving.

Now, you'll notice if I scrub through now, that leg is looking really stiff, whereas the other one is looking quite fluid. Now, I don't want quite as much of that so I'm going to move that down so it's just the bottom of the leg really that we're keeping frozen. And you can also, you know, say, okay, I want it slightly fluid but not quite as fluid as it was. So, we can bring that down to 30, and then we get a little bit of fluidity in it. We're also going to move to this boot and do the same. And if I preview that now, you'll see now that the boot doesn't deform as much, they're staying more rigid. Okay, as the rest of the body moves, and that's quite a nice amount of a distortion on there, it's an acceptable amount.

A couple of other things I'm going to do, I'm going to also add a Starch tool to the head. Now, you notice how his face gets deformed as his head stretches up further, and the neck area as well. You'll see that we're getting some pixelation here because we're deforming it a little bit too much. If I add a point to the head, you'll notice it makes the head nice and back to its original shape and size. Now, we've also got it extending down here. Let's remember the Extend setting from the boot. I'm going to bring that back down a bit so it's the head and the shoulders.

And we'll bring the amount down a little bit as well so we're getting a little bit of fluidity in there. And if I preview that, you'll see now the head is no longer deformed, the boots are no longer deformed, but everything in between is deformed. Now, another little thing I need to do there, you'll notice this slightly Overlapping area happening every now and then there. So I would also go in there, go back to my Overlap tool and just adjust that Extend setting a little bit higher there just to get rid of that. So, you jump between different tools depending on what you want to do. If I want to go back to the Starch tool, control how much of his head is being animated or deformed, I can choose that tool, select the point, and then adjust the settings.

So, we'll have a little preview of that. And there we go, with a few clicks and a few keyframes, I've created this rough animation of a dancing character. Now obviously, you could spend a lot more time tweaking the keyframes, hand adjusting it just to improve it a little bit more. And my advice would be to use the Graph Editor on these keyframes, go in there, make the adjustments you need to make, smooth out any movements that are unnecessary. You'll see there I've got an extra keyframe, I could just delete that, smooth the motion by doing that, just fine tuning the animation.

But there we go. The Puppet tool is a really good way of creating some really quick, easy, fluid motion. Now remember, you can always combine the Puppet tool with some of the other tools we've looked at. So, you may want to animate the walk cycle by animating the legs by hand, and you may want to combine that with the top half of the body that's animated with the Puppet tool. So, have a think about how you can combine these different techniques together to create some really convincing and compelling character animation.

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