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Grouping and working with hierarchies

From: Animated Character Design with Illustrator

Video: Grouping and working with hierarchies

When you're ready to output your animation, you need to check your layers to make sure that the grouping and hierarchy structure is going to work and After Effects. I'm just going to close some of these panels by double-clicking on their labels and that will close them up, give me a bit more space for my layers panel. And here, you'll see how I've constructed one of my files for animation in After Effects. There's my original file that I traced. I have his bottom layer, which consists of his legs. He's sitting down.

Grouping and working with hierarchies

When you're ready to output your animation, you need to check your layers to make sure that the grouping and hierarchy structure is going to work and After Effects. I'm just going to close some of these panels by double-clicking on their labels and that will close them up, give me a bit more space for my layers panel. And here, you'll see how I've constructed one of my files for animation in After Effects. There's my original file that I traced. I have his bottom layer, which consists of his legs. He's sitting down.

Now, they're not really going to animate. He's going to be sitting and his top half is going to animate. So, then I have his left arm, his neck, his body. Now, the reason I've got the neck and the body separately is I want the neck to move backwards and forwards and move the head backwards and forwards. So, I need the neck to be on a separate layer. And this is the kind of thing that you need to think about when setting up your layers for animation. Do I want the neck to move? Okay, if you do want the neck to move, then do it on a separate layer.

Then I've got the upper arm. Now, in this situation, I want the upper arm to move separately from the lower arm. So, what I might want to do is get the upper arm doing this kind of thing, moving up and down. While the lower arm, which is this one, they also move independently. So, let's just select that one and it will be doing this kind of thing, hammering. Okay? And you'll see it's very important that I can move that separately from the upper arm.

So, you start to think about which areas you want to move together. If I wanted the hammer to move separately from the hand, I would have done it on a separate layer. But I don't really need to. All I needed to do was group the hammer so it's in the single group so it can be selected. And to do that, you just select the individual pieces of the group and you go to Object > Group. Okay? And that groups them together so I can now select the object as a single layer. Now you have to be careful with grouping. If you group an item that was behind another item, and one of the items was in front of the other item, it might move one of the items that you want to be in the back, into the front, if that makes sense.

So, if that happens, you need to undo. If you ungroup, that's not going to change anything. You need to undo and undo until you get back to the stage you were at before. So, in this case, I can't really move that in front of the hand layer. Those kind of things determine whether you're going to group items or not. Then we have the head layer. Now, the head layer doesn't look very nice on it's own. But that's because I wanted all of the other elements on the head to be animatable individually. So, I wanted to be able to animate the eyes and the pupils. I wanted to be able to take the pupils, and to move them backwards and forwards to make them look at the screen.

If I just hide the selection Cmd+H or Ctrl+H on the PC, you can see that I can make the eyes look around, make them look up, make them look down. So, again I'm thinking about what I want to do in terms of animation. The mouth, I may want to scale the mouth for example, to give him a facial expression. So, I might want to make him go, oh my goodness, and then close his mouth again. Or, I might want to make him talk, so I've got the mouth on a separate layer. Then we've got the eyebrows. Now, if I want to make him look surprised, I may want to make the eyebrows go up and down.

The hair, now the hair normally wouldn't move you would think but by creating the hair a tiny little bit of movement on the hair, as he moves backwards and forwards, it creates a really nice effect, just a more fluid effect. His glasses, again, I may want to move them up and down a little bit, as he's hammering. And also, his ears. If there's a noise happening, just making his ears twitch a little bit, actually accentuates the noise for the viewer. So have a little think about how you want to structure the animation before saving from Illustrator, because it's much more difficult to come back to Illustrator and make changes once you're animating in After Effects.

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Animated Character Design with Illustrator

29 video lessons · 3611 viewers

Angie Taylor
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