Join Tony Ross for an in-depth discussion in this video Character rigging, part of Harmony to Unity: Animate 2D Characters.
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- [Instructor] When it comes to character rigging in Toon Boom Harmony there are many advantages, especially with cutout characters. Now if you're not familiar with working in Harmony I want to take a moment and give you a brief overview of the rigging process. So we have our character Nikki here and I'm using the file O3_character_rigging. Now one of the first things I wanna do is I wanna make sure the pivot point is set up correctly for each of the pieces.
So if I select my transform tool, I can see, as soon as I click on this, we have this little dot in the center and that is our pivot point. So to do a quick demo of how we would rig this character I just wanna do this arm. So the first thing I would do is go over to my Advanced Animation tools and select rotate and if you don't see your advanced animation tools you'll simply go to Windows, come down to Toolbars and select Advanced Animation.
So now that I have my rotate tool, I'm going to move the pivot point right up to the shoulder. And the way you can think of the pivot point is if you have a thumbtack that is sitting in a piece of paper, wherever you place that thumbtack is where that piece of paper is going to rotate from. So without changing tools, I'll simply come down and select our next layer which is our front forearm and I'll move the pivot point right to the elbow and grab the hand and I'll move the pivot point right to the wrist.
And I'm gonna scroll down a little bit because I'm also going to do the mouth. The eye, just wanna set the pivot point right at the corner of the eye. The hair front. The head. We'll set this right at the neck there.
And we'll also do the hair back. Now after we've set the pivot points, the next thing we would do is build up our parent child hierarchy. Now the way this works is if I select the front arm here, I'm gonna go to my transform tool. You can see that this is our upper arm and I can rotate that back and forth.
And what I wanna do now is grab the forearm and I'm gonna click and push this directly under the upper arm until you see that little thin line there. And so now if I select the upper arm, you'll notice that it selected both the upper arm and the lower arm. So if I rotate this, they are now together. So I'm gonna undo that real quick. Command Z, control Z on PC.
And I'm now gonna select the hand and I'll make the forearm the parent of the hand. So the way this works, if I select the upper arm, I have the entire arm there including the hand or I can select the forearm and just have the forearm and the hand and last but not least I can also just select the hand.
Now there are keyboard shortcuts to do this, you can simply press the letter B to move up the hierarchy and you would press shift B to move down the hierarchy. In addition to parenting, there is also nudging items backward and forward in Z axis. So this is what I want to show you with the head.
I'm going to expand my timeline view here a little bit and zoom in on the head. So what I want to have happen, I want the eyes and the mouth to be parented to the head and I also want the hair to be parented to the head. So what I'll do is I'll select the mouth, hold down my shift key, select the eye, the front of the hair, and I'm gonna click and drag these directly under the head and make sure I see that little thin line because I want the head to be the parent of these different layers.
Okay, so we now have this working so if I select the head I can rotate all of the different pieces and I've left out the back of the hair so I need to make sure that's parented as well. Now I'm gonna move these, just in the layers, so they're in order but if you look at our camera view we can no longer see the eye and the mouth and everything.
The layers seem to be mismatched. So what we're gonna do now is nudge these forward. So simply select the mouth layer and I'll make sure the camera view is active, if you can see this little thin red line around the camera view, I'll then hold down my option key, alt on PC, and I'm gonna press the down arrow on my keyboard and just press this once, and even though this is on a lower layer, it's moving that artwork forward on the Z axis.
The way you can look at it is the keyboard shortcut it's holding down option, or alt on PC, and instead of thinking of the down arrow think of the arrow that's pointing toward you, so you're bringing the artwork toward you. So I'm gonna do the same thing with the eye and again I have to make sure the camera view is active when this happens so I'll press my option key, alt on PC, and press my down arrow and do the same thing with the back hair and the last hair here, we're gonna leave that where it is.
So I can now collapse that hierarchy and I'll do the same with the upper arm. So now if I click on the head I can rotate all of those pieces at once. So whether you're rigging something as simple as an arm or something more involved like we did with the head and moving items backward and forward on the Z axis, following these simple steps can help you create a strong cutout character or puppet.
- Setting up the scene
- Drawing substitutions
- Using bone deformers
- Prepping files for Unity
- Exporting sprite sheets
- Importing your characters in Unity