Discover how to illustrate or photograph the elements, combine them in the proper layers in Photoshop, and rig your puppet in order to create a useable puppet.
- The best way to get started is to download some of Adobe's free puppets. So when you're in Character Animator, go to your Start tab. And they have four of them posted here, and if you click on See More, you'll be able to get a lot more. And they list underneath the different things that they already have preset. So I would definitely start with Blank Face and Chloe. So let's go ahead and take a look at those really quick.
So for every character, there's a master folder called +Character. Plus means that it can move independently without warping anything else around it. Of course, that's the main character. Within that, you're going to have Head and Body. Now this sample, Blank Face, doesn't have a body, so you'll just see this folder called Head. And within Head, you're going to have the different elements, and all of these are named exactly the way the software wants it named. So you're going to have to copy this exactly.
So one of the things we recommend is for your first couple puppets, go ahead and just open this file, redraw on this layer, and then everything is named. And you can practice and play with it this way. So I can always turn off the left eyebrow. You'll notice the eyebrow on the right that went off even though I clicked on Left Eyebrow. The way they name it is it's the character's left, okay? So this says +Left Eyebrow 'cause when you raise your eyebrow, it shouldn't warp your eye or your nose or your mouth or the shape of your head.
So the plus, again, makes it independent. So the eyebrows are going to be independent. The eyes, you have independent eyes, Left Eye and Right Eye. Now each eye is broken into a minimum of three pieces. So you've got the eyeball, which is the background of your eye, and the pupil, which is the part that focuses. Now the reason that Left Pupil has a plus in front of it is because your pupil needs to be able to move around without warping the eye around it.
As you're looking around, it'll look around with you. And then Blink. The software automatically will turn off the rest of the eye layers just for when it blinks, and then it will turn off the blink, and those will come back up. Now all of this could be much more detailed, meaning more layers, but this is the basic state you started. And then you'll see then there's the mouth and the face background. Let's skip Mouth for a second. So Face Background is the shape of the head. Everything sits on that.
And it could also have a nose. This is a very simple one, so there's no nose. Now the Mouth folder has 14 different layers in it. They don't have to be in this order but they do have to be named this way. So Neutral is always going to be the default. So when you set up and you finish everything, they have that be the only mouth that actually has the eyeball on. The others will still work automatically, and it'll turn off Neutral. So then you've got Smile, Surprised, Ah, D, E, F, L, M, the closed mouth, O, R, S, Uh, and W-Oo.
Okay. So these are main different phonemes or visemes that the software has set up. They work really well. And play with it. Have some fun. Save it off as a new name, and import this in and start playing with your puppet. Now, when you want to get a little more complicated, you can open up the Chloe, and notice that now the Right Eyebrow, it still has a plus in front of it, but it's in a folder. So the reason is, so they give her a normal eyebrow, an angry eyebrow, and a worried eyebrow.
So you can have multiple different versions, and what you would do is Normal would be the default, and then you could trigger Angry or Worried with keystrokes. Same thing with the eyes. Just like before, she has a nose that's on a separate layer but she also has a body. So if we collapse this, like I had mentioned before, you have a Head folder and a Body folder. Now on the samples, there's an instructional guide, and what that is is it just gives you a little information on the bottom.
You're going to want to actually delete that layer completely, not just turn it off, but never have any extraneous things that you're not actually using, no backgrounds, 'cause your puppet won't work properly. Any layer that's in there, even if it's turned off, the puppet is going to assume that it's part of the structure of the character and it won't work right. So in this case, Zoe's got a right arm, and her right arm is, got a sleeve, which is separate, and then she's got her hands, which are separate.
And the Hand folder is because she's got, turn off the default, so she's got that one hand, and she's got that kind of pointing, and that type of pointing. So she can switch off different hands, again with keyboard triggers. And then the left arm also has various hands and defaults. And then underneath the arms and hands is her default body.
So again, you can come in here and redraw whatever character you want right over top of each of these layers. It's a great way to learn. And one another thing I want to show you really quickly is those puppets are very basic, just looking straight forward, but as you've seen on some of these videos, that this character, my Grunt character, has a very smooth head turn, so he can look different directions. So Frontal is the one that we're looking at, okay? So I've got a couple hair layers, and that's for the hair that wiggles around so that I have them dangle.
And when he moves around, the eyebrows, the eyes, the mouth, and his face background, okay? The mouths, for this character, I have the entire lower chin replacement. In fact, let me turn off the body so you can see it a little bit better. So my neutral, the whole lower jaw, the smile a little bit bigger, surprised. Some of these, as I was creating them, were direct exports out of Adobe Fuse, but other ones were very close to what I needed, but I needed the mouth a little bit bigger, a little bit smaller, and I would warp it in Photoshop, and it saved me a lot of rendering time.
But that's just the front. If I wanted to character to look to one side. Okay, so now I've got Left Quarter 'cause he's looking to his left. So all the mouths are what I have here listed under 3. I'll explain that in a second. So again, I have the Right Eye, all of the elements, Left Eye, all of the elements, and all of my Mouth layers. Okay, so that's set up just like the other ones were, but I want a smooth transition from Front to Left Quarter. So what I did is I have in-betweens.
When you get into the software, you set these up as a cycle. So when we go from Front, it'll cycle through 1, through 2, and then it will land 3. So 1 and 2, they go by in a fraction of a second, so I didn't want to make all of the different mouth shapes. It's irrelevant. I only did all of the mouth shapes for the one that it lands on. So let's go back in and take a look at a couple of things for rigging. So you've got your character, all of the layers in port, and anything that had a plus in front of it in your Photoshop file will have this little crown.
Again, this means that it's independent. So I'm going to collapse some of these things in my Bob character that we were looking at when we started this video. So for instance, the right eye, got the blink, got the pupil, got the eyeball. Again, the pupil is independent, just like we had talked about. So if I want an arm to reach out to the side, well, my default arm is hanging. You see it's turned on. So if I wanted to reach out to the side, I will click over here, which is to add a trigger.
I've already done it right there. That pops up over here. What I can do is I can click on the box. In this case, I've put in R for Reach, and we'll go in and take a look at the puppet. When I click R, his hand reaches out, and when I click it again, it reaches back. So just a couple of quick things so you can see how the rigging happens in this. It's two drawings for my reach. There's one in between, and then there's one that's broken into the arm and multiple different hands.
I have other cycles, and I have a cycle like Wave, and that's multiple drawings. His arm kind of blurs 'cause it's a very fast move going up. And you can also have draggable elements. So in this case, on the hand that reaches all the way up, I clicked on this little icon, clicked in the middle of his hand, so when he waves, I can grab his hand with my mouse in real time, and I can wave it around. So when you're rigging your puppet, I find it really helpful just to make one change at a time and test it to see if it works.
So I might make an adjustment. So for instance, just a very simple, I'll turn off the nose here. I will always go and check, and once I make one or two changes, I'll go in and I'll check in my recording stage to make sure that everything is working fine 'cause if it's not, if I do like five or 10 changes, and I come and look at it, and something is really weird, oh, like I'm missing an arm right here. It didn't show up. If I only do one or two changes, it's much easier to figure out what went wrong than if I do 10 or 20 changes.
So let's go back to Rig, see if I can figure out what happened to that arm. I know I turned off the nose, so I'll turn that back on. All right. That was his right arm. Oh, and I turned off the default while I was working to look for something. So I'll turn the default back on, go back into Record to check it. Up, and the nose and the arm are back. See, because I've only done a couple changes, it was very easy to find the mistake and correct it. So if you're really methodical, the whole process of rigging is going to be much easier and faster. So in the next chapter, I'm going to cover the specifics on creating and animating different types of virtual puppets.
- Creating a list of production needs
- How the varied styles of animation impact production
- Creating usable digital puppets
- Working with drawn characters, objects, and CG characters
- Adding value to the look of your production
- Exploring various audio recording options
- Organizing files for production, backup, and transport
- Using animation cycles
- Building and editing a scene
- Troubleshooting issues
- Tricks for enhancing your production
- Post-production and delivery