Join Owen Lowery for an in-depth discussion in this video Adding puppet pins to a morph character, part of After Effects Duik Rigging & Animation Tools.
- I'm in O-5-O-1, adding puppet pins to character. Now, rigging a character using puppet pins works a little bit differently than rigging by parenting individual body segments. I have a character design here that was created in Adobe Illustrator. It's made up of very few layers. A body pre-comp which contains its facial features, hair, the body, et cetera. I have a layer for each arm, and a layer for each leg. So, five layers altogether.
Now, to rig this character so it can bend its arms and walk and just dance like nobody's watching, I need to start by adding puppet pins to the different body parts, which will allow us to bend, distort, and morph each layer. So first, I'm gonna go up to the puppet pin tool up here, I'll select it. I'm gonna go ahead and select the left arm, and I'm gonna command-plus to just zoom in a little bit. And let's take a look, turning on and off the eyeball to make sure I'm referencing the correct arm.
And now, I need to create puppet pins. So, I'm gonna go up to the left arm here, right to the top where the shoulder meets the body, and I'll click on it. And now we have ourselves a mesh. Make sure that you have "mesh" up top here check-marked just so you can see it. Also, I like to make sure my expansion is out a bit so I know it's covering up the entire area of the alpha channel. I can actually take this down to something like 10 and it'll be just fine. Alright, so clicking that made a first puppet pin.
Now I need to make two more, one right around where the elbow will be, and one right around where the hand would be. So if I click on these and move 'em around you can see that I can distort the arm and I can actually start to animate it. But this is just gonna be a reference for creating bones for. Now, if I go down to my left arm, and hit the U key, it will show us all the different puppet pins right here and it will show us the key frames that are created for these puppet pins. Normally people would actually key frame down here to create the movement, but we're using them as a reference so I'm just gonna go ahead and delete these different key frames, and then I'm gonna continue and make puppet pins on the rest of my body parts.
So from here, I'm gonna go to the right arm, I'll just move over, let's go ahead and turn it on and off. You know what, I'm gonna turn off the eyeball on the body just so I can see exactly where the edge of the right arm is to make my first shoulder pin, I'll make that there. Go ahead and make it around the elbow and around the hand as well. Let's go ahead and move down to the left leg, there we go. Go to the top where it would connect to the body, make my first pin there, I'll make one right around where I think the knee would be, just a little higher up than the mid-section, and one for the foot.
The expansion and the mesh is the same as before, so I'll just leave that as-is. Let's go down to the right leg, do the same. Right there, there we go. And finally, I'm gonna turn the eyeball back on for the body. Un-select that, and I'm gonna make a few pins for the body. I'm gonna make one here for the head, I'm gonna make one for kinda the neck, and one for the torso right about here.
Now, I wanna make these so I can actually morph and move around the body and it look all good and cool like that. Alright let me hit command-z to put it back to exactly how it was. So, I'm gonna go ahead and select all of my body parts, shift-select them so they're selected, I'm gonna hit U to bring up all those actual puppet pins and the different key frames for them and I'll just drag and select and delete those key frames because I do not need them. Now because I'll be creating bones to reference each pin coming up, I wanna make sure each pin has a unique name so the expression doesn't actually make a single bone that references two separate pins.
Each body layer that I created pins on automatically created the pins to be puppet pin one, puppet pin two, puppet pin three, and that's the same for every single one, and that's bad for making bones and for referencing them with expression language. So, what I need to do, is go ahead and open up and make sure I have all of my puppet pins out I'm gonna open up the mesh and the deform so I can go ahead and click and select all of them. I'm gonna select every single pin and highlight it just by shift-selecting them all together.
And once I have these all selected, let me just double check that I do, that looks good, I'm gonna go ahead and use the rename tool here in the rigging toolbox. I'll click on rename, and when we look at this menu, you'll see it gives us a few options. We can rename layers, pins, or project items. Layers would be any of these layers, project items would be things in the project folder, but pins will let us rename our puppet pins. So, I'm just gonna go ahead and check-mark name on this, and I'm just gonna name it "pin" and then I'm gonna check-mark number from one.
So, now that I have all these highlighted and ready to go, I'll just click rename, and when we look at our different puppet pins, you'll see we have pin one, two, three, pin four, five, six, seven, eight, nine. So every single pin has its own unique name now. At this point if you felt so inclined, you could just parent the leg to the body and start animating your character using the puppet pins, many animators do. But mostly what we just did was create a base that Duik will be able to reference with bones and use to create inverse kinematics with just a few more steps.
- Inverse kinematics
- Character design and rigging
- Automation tools for rigging: Autorig
- IK rigging with puppet pins and bones
- Rigging with Rotation Morph and other rigging tools
- Animating a walk cycle
- Automation tools for animation
- Animation and interpolation tools
- Camera tools