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- Setting up layers for the head
- Animating blinks
- Fine-tuning expressions
- Fixing layering issues
- Adding expressions to the animation
Skill Level Intermediate
Now that we have the clock rotation for the head completed, let's see about fixing things. Like what happens if you notice something that catches your eye, or you think, oh I think I can do better than that; it can be really intimidating. I know it frightens a lot of people when they see these massive columns of keyframes. Where do you begin? Well, we've set this up in such a way and so cleanly that it really makes it possible to go in and alter things and improve them. So here's the basic head rotation, and I've noticed a couple of things. First of all, this layer down here is no point, Layer 3, let's get rid of that.
So we're clean again. So rotate through this, the neck is moving, it really shouldn't and most of these heads I would intend to happen from one static neck position. So let's simply keep the first frame, select everything that follows and delete them. And if you scrub through now you will notice some points where maybe things stick out, like right here the skin is on top of the hair, that's not good. So let's correct that, and we correct that by basically following the original workflow that we used to do the previous keyframes.
So hit F6 at the end so that our Timeline symbol ends where it begins. And the first frame that we did next was the 12 o'clock up position, so hit F6 to keyframe that, and again, here at the other end. And the next frame that we did was a 6 o'clock, so F6 here, and then the 3 o'clock, and this is where the first problem is visible. So let's hit F6 to keyframe that. Make sure it's not padlocked. Switch off Snap to Objects and grab that point and pull it in, that's it.
Let's go to the 9 o'clock. That's the next one that we worked on. And oops! And notice that I'm not moving these points at the bottom, I'm just moving the curve, and occasionally the upper lines up here. And let's just padlock all these upper layers just to be on the safe side, and you might want to fine-tune these curves, just not to let too much air open between the hair and the neck. And then we simply go through the rest of the in-betweens and just select them, the curves where you think it's too thick or too thin.
Watching out for little points that's stick out. Too much there. Great, that's it. That was a simple one. Let me show you another one that's catching my eye, and that's the upper hair here which is great for the first half, it's moving fine here, but then when we create the 9 o'clock position it moves too far to that side, so that has to be corrected. So how do we do that? And again, so many keyframes here. Let's go to the hair top level and we're going to delete the 7 o'clock and the 8 o'clock position.
Actually I think the quickest way of doing this rather than deleting these, remember these little red flags telling that there are shape hints on this level? So there may be shape hinting issues that will popup, but we know they are there. So let's just go to the 9 o'clock position, and in this case I'm going to hold down the Shift key and the Right Arrow key and click it one, two, three, four times. Let's try four, and on the in-between frame beside it once, and then on the keyframe on the other side, let's move that over once and let's see how that looks.
Now you're going to see spinning happen but I am really more worried about the mass of that hair, and does the overall position of it look right, and I think it's looking better. So let's fix the shape hints and we'll have a better idea, Ctrl+Shift+H and remove any extra hints that are added when we add that shape hint. And then fix these. Oops! It's really annoying when Flash is supersensitive about selecting things and selects the wrong object for you.
Go to the next frame. And we were selecting two A's and two C's because of course, the shape hints from the previous keyframe are also in need of adjusting. So we have the shape hints that start here and end here, and the shape hints start here and end here, that's why you're seeing two sets, and this is hopefully the last one.
Okay, now let's look at that. I'm going to go through this frame-by- frame to make sure there's no weirdness. I think we're getting away with it. Okay, the next step is one more level of complexity up and that's to change the eyes. If you look at the eyes, if you remember when we built the eyes, we didn't really do anything exotic with the shape of the eyes. They look a little bit flat, so let's break that apart and do something more interesting with them.
So I'm going to unpadlock all of the eye layers and then just delete the secondary keys, the one and the two, and also the nose for this as well. Because I want the nose and the eyes to travel together, they are kind of the unit. Okay, so now we go to the first of the big moves, the 12 o'clock position when he is looking up. Let's go in a little close on that. And maybe we can move that nose up a little bit more.
Let's unpadlock the nose, move it up, and the same thing with the eyebrow. Just select both of the eyebrows. I'm holding down the Shift key and the Arrow key. Move it up let's say one, two or three clicks. And let's go in a little tighter, and I'm going to use the Free Transform tool on this and just skew that shape down a little, so there is a slight change of geometry on it. Let's see what that looks like. Now as you can see by having the skin space opening up between the eye and the bottom side of the eyebrow, it really helps to sell the idea that there is a big change in the model, so that's excellent.
And don't forget to copy, Alt+Option+drag the adjusted keyframes from the first 12 o'clock position to the second. Now let's go to the 6 o'clock and that's the exact opposite. I want to push that nose down a bit further on this, and the eyebrows also. Let's bring them down a bit. And if you look at the eyebrows in outline you can really so far before the white of the eyeball begins to bulge into it. But I'm also going to move the pupils down as well.
And if you wanted to you could go in and adjust the curve or the lines of the eyebrows as well. But I think you get the general idea, and I think we can leave the--yeah, I want to keep the three quarters position pretty close to what it already is, because that's also going to work as the three-quarter view in the main turnaround. So let's not touch that. Great! So this will make a big difference. Let's click on the clock and that will help us to correct the curve, the arc motion, because what's going to happen now if you move, things are going to look really weird.
See how the mouth is sliding off to one side? That's because there is no arcs happening here, and we've created arced movements for the 1 o'clock and the 2 o'clock positions before. So we have to re-add them. Basically copy the original workflow to the T. So let's keyframe these and reactivate the clock symbol. Let's go in a little bit tighter, select that vertical stack, again, making sure that everything that we are not working on is padlocked, so we can grab just the troublesome area, and let's drop it with the top of the nose over that intersection here where the red line meets the ellipse, and now the arcs have been fixed for that.
And we repeat this process for everything that follows. And again, don't be afraid to pull the entire thing out. Again, that's great to test it, you see right, I've got everything. Pull it into the 2 o'clock. We simply go through to the four and just follow through for all the other positions. Okay, so now we've done them all, so let's test that. See if it looks good.
I'm certainly feeling a much stronger sense of movement on the face. Let me show you one last little trick that will help you with arcs, and this is very quick. I'm going to make a new layer right at the top, get it completely out of the way so it doesn't confuse you. Let's say you want to plot an arc. This is an old trick that we did back in the hand-drawn animation days, and let's say you feel that something isn't quite right and you cannot figure it out. Let's pick a really bright color like a red. Select the Brush tool and pick a decent sized brush, a round one, maybe this size, and I'm going to just pick a point, a smaller point than that, maybe here.
On this one layer on top, padlock everything else so you don't draw on them by mistake. On this one layer on top, we're going to pick for example, let's say the point of the hair here, and then I'm just going to go through to the next keyframe, the next one, and just keep plotting that. And you can even write notes on these like what frame that is, make a smaller one, maybe that's 9 so you can keep track of it; 8, 7, 6 and so forth. Now I don't expect this to appear at the top to be the most elegant arc ever seen. That gives you an idea of the kind of lines that we're following.
So what you can do then if you want to give yourself a little guide is nudge these into a more pleasing elliptical pattern. And I think the number, that one the start one, we can't do much with, so that's the 12. I'm not going to worry about this one. So let's worry about it from the 12 o'clock position to one, and so forth. And you get the idea. Now we can actually give ourselves a little guide. It's looking much more like an elliptical arc.
Padlock that and what I would do would be to go back into the hair level. Let's go in really close on this. Maybe put that into outline, it makes a little bit easier to see. And then just pick that point and we can nudge it up, maybe bring that down a bit. That will get a smoother curve. And back in the days when we used to--some people still do--and we used to do this by hand with pencil and paper. You'd see the animator's keyframes would have like hundreds of these little arc charts; one for the nose, one for the tail, one for the feet. They would be everywhere, and it worked then and it will work now.
It may look a little old- fashioned but it's very effective. And don't forget if you make a change to the 12, then it should be the same on the other side. So it's probably easier just to hit Alt+ Option and drag the 12 from there to there. Let's see what that looks like. Hopefully it hasn't messed up any shape hints, so we may have to fix a few of them. Certainly feeling a little bit smoother, and you can do that with any point on here; the point of the eyebrow, the point of the mouth, and if you're spending a lot of time to do this, you will really feel the quality, and you're going to be using this rig a lot.
So it really is in your best interests to spend a good amount of time doing this to make these motions as curved and as natural as possible. So there is no fast way of doing this, but you only have to do this once, and once you have it done, you have it done for all of your future scenes. So whether or not you actually follow these methods, well it really depends, if you are going to animate a character for ten seconds, maybe it's not worth your while. If you're going to animate a character for seven or eight minutes, yes it will be. So with that, I think we're ready to move on and to correct the little layering issues with the ears.