Join Chris Meyer for an in-depth discussion in this video Puppet overlaps, part of After Effects Hidden Gems.
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- This hidden gem is all about getting a little bit more control when taking advantage of the After Effects Puppet Tool. Now, for those of you who are not familiar with Puppet, you start with a layer that already has alpha channel or has been cut out, or you can use a mask to cut out your layer. And then you start using pins to decide where to anchor your character and where to distort it. For example, I might anchor the balls of the feet in place, then add a pin to where the head joins the neck and start stretching the character that way.
You can animate the location of these pins to create animations. I'll put him back to a resting position, add another pin to the wrist, and start having fun stretching this way. The way the Puppet Tool is pulling this off is, underneath the hood, it has created a mesh that follows the outline or alpha channel of your underlying image and breaks it up into little triangles. This mesh is what it uses to go ahead and do a mesh warp on your underlying image. I'll turn that off for now. Problems creep up when you start distorting your character to overlap itself.
For example, if I pull this arm down across this thigh, You'll see some ambiguity about whether or not the arm is in front of or behind that thigh. Well, the way to fix that is to take advantage of something known as the overlap pin. I'll switch my tools to Puppet Overlap, I'll see an outline of the original undistorted character, and now I can start placing additional pins that define whether those particular triangles are in front of or behind the other triangles in this mesh.
I'll place a pin on the thigh here. It only covers a small area. I can add more pins, or better, increase its extent to say I need to include the entire thigh here. Then I can control how much in front that set of triangles are. I can put them behind the forearm or in front of the forearm. And you can see where this color changes to reflect: is it in front or behind? Let's put it clearly in front for now. Let's say that I keep distorting this character even more to the point where, now, I'm crossing the shin as well.
And maybe I want the arm to go behind the thigh, but in front of the shin, as if it's contorting itself. Well, to do that, I go back to the Overlap tool, put another pin down here on the calf, it already has a pretty good extent, and say those triangles should be behind the other triangles. If I deselect my layer, you can now see how, clearly, the arm goes behind the thigh, but in front of the shin. Another feature of the overlap pins is that you can actually animate whether or not they're in front or behind.
So you can create animations where, on one pass, you pull the arm in front of the leg, pull the arm out of the way, keyframe the in-front value, and then, on the next animation move, it goes on the other side of the leg. Gives you a lot of control to really start bending what used to be a flat piece of artwork in front of and behind itself to create these contortions.
- Setting the vertex point
- Creating swarms of object
- Replacing layers without losing effects and animation
- Simplifying projects
- Hiding layers
- And more…