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Rigging and Animating 2D Characters in After Effects
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Released Sep 1, 2012
Dan Gies

Guest Tutor

Dan Gies
In this After Effects tutorial we will learn how to assemble, rig, and animate a richly detailed and dynamic character inside of After Effects. Throughout these lessons we will see just how powerful After Effects can be when doing advanced character animation. We will venture well beyond the basic paper cutout style of character animation that is often associated with this approach by breaking down the steps required to assemble, rig and animate a richly detailed and dynamic character inside of After Effects. We will start out by reviewing the Photoshop file used to paint the character's layers and quickly move into After Effects where we will begin rigging the character using the puppet tool, null objects, nested compositions, basic expressions, Duik Tools for Inverse Kinematics and FreeForm Pro for the 3D head. By the end of this series you will have a thorough understanding of the many processes behind bringing a layered Photoshop character to life within After Effects.
Introduction and project overview
1

Introduction and project overview

 
00:53
Examining the character's in Photoshop
2

Examining the character's in Photoshop

 
08:02
From Photoshop to After Effects
3

From Photoshop to After Effects

 
09:37
Organizing your composition
4

Organizing your composition

 
10:27
Creating arm bones with the Puppet tool
5

Creating arm bones with the Puppet tool

 
10:27
Refining the arm and making cloth cuffs
6

Refining the arm and making cloth cuffs

 
10:04
Copying one arm rig to the other
7

Copying one arm rig to the other

 
10:49
Downloading Duik Tools
8

Downloading Duik Tools

 
03:20
Rigging a basic cutout character
9

Rigging a basic cutout character

 
10:59
Attaching the arms to the shoulders
10

Attaching the arms to the shoulders

 
09:24
Rigging the cuffs to respond realistically
11

Rigging the cuffs to respond realistically

 
11:27
Controlling hand poses
12

Controlling hand poses

 
07:51
Rigging the shirt collar
13

Rigging the shirt collar

 
10:20
Rigging the neck
14

Rigging the neck

 
11:11
Overview of working with the head
15

Overview of working with the head

 
07:02
Placing pins in the face
16

Placing pins in the face

 
10:07
Refining the mesh of the face
17

Refining the mesh of the face

 
11:33
Building sliders for facial expressions
18

Building sliders for facial expressions

 
10:34
Working on teeth and eye brows
19

Working on teeth and eye brows

 
09:51
Making the eyebrows react
20

Making the eyebrows react

 
11:17
Tightening the facial expressions
21

Tightening the facial expressions

 
10:54
Rigging the lips
22

Rigging the lips

 
09:51
Adding more expression sliders
23

Adding more expression sliders

 
09:26
Creating a dynamic jaw
24

Creating a dynamic jaw

 
09:46
Making a bouncy nose
25

Making a bouncy nose

 
11:44
Making the nose sniff
26

Making the nose sniff

 
07:39
Facial wrinkles
27

Facial wrinkles

 
10:51
Cheek wrinkles
28

Cheek wrinkles

 
08:34
Mouth wrinkles
29

Mouth wrinkles

 
06:11
Fixing unwanted distortions
30

Fixing unwanted distortions

 
08:59
Tweaking the face
31

Tweaking the face

 
10:09
Rigging the tongue
32

Rigging the tongue

 
12:51
Working with animated layer masks
33

Working with animated layer masks

 
12:05
Refining the blink layer mask
34

Refining the blink layer mask

 
10:22
Directing the character's gaze
35

Directing the character's gaze

 
08:01
Adding new eye poses
36

Adding new eye poses

 
09:12
Shading the first eye
37

Shading the first eye

 
12:25
Finishing the eye poses
38

Finishing the eye poses

 
10:38
Importing the new eye poses
39

Importing the new eye poses

 
10:12
Adjusting the eyebrows to work
40

Adjusting the eyebrows to work

 
05:31
Fixing shading issues
41

Fixing shading issues

 
08:13
Animating the eyelids dynamically
42

Animating the eyelids dynamically

 
12:13
Making the blinks more real
43

Making the blinks more real

 
09:38
Refining the mouth and lips
44

Refining the mouth and lips

 
08:52
Troubleshooting puppet meshes
45

Troubleshooting puppet meshes

 
04:49
Transferring the face controls
46

Transferring the face controls

 
10:53
Finishing the face control transfer
47

Finishing the face control transfer

 
09:00
Adding more controls to the body
48

Adding more controls to the body

 
07:25
Adjusting the collar
49

Adjusting the collar

 
10:17
Rigging a collar
50

Rigging a collar

 
09:21
Making the character breathe
51

Making the character breathe

 
12:37
Setting up for FreeForm Pro
52

Setting up for FreeForm Pro

 
09:45
Reviewing the scene hierarchy
53

Reviewing the scene hierarchy

 
10:25
Making a 3D head
54

Making a 3D head

 
10:25
Animating displacement maps
55

Animating displacement maps

 
12:29
Linking the 3D spaces
56

Linking the 3D spaces

 
11:17
Controlling 3D head rotations
57

Controlling 3D head rotations

 
10:01
Controlling the teeth and tongue
58

Controlling the teeth and tongue

 
08:36
Connecting identical nulls
59

Connecting identical nulls

 
04:33
Finishing up the facial controls
60

Finishing up the facial controls

 
10:10
Constructing the set
61

Constructing the set

 
10:00
Adding reflections to the glass
62

Adding reflections to the glass

 
10:13
Putting the character in the scene
63

Putting the character in the scene

 
07:48
Finish building the set
64

Finish building the set

 
08:59
The properties of point lights
65

The properties of point lights

 
07:48
Troubleshooting the shadows
66

Troubleshooting the shadows

 
11:30
Casting shadows on the wall
67

Casting shadows on the wall

 
12:34
Adding dirt to the glass
68

Adding dirt to the glass

 
09:11
Animating the camera
69

Animating the camera

 
11:09
Finishing touches on the set lighting
70

Finishing touches on the set lighting

 
03:26
Adding markers to the soundtrack
71

Adding markers to the soundtrack

 
05:25
Animating breathing
72

Animating breathing

 
12:24
Managing your system memory
73

Managing your system memory

 
10:37
Continue animating
74

Continue animating

 
11:05
Refining the facial rig
75

Refining the facial rig

 
09:11
Animating the rest of the neck
76

Animating the rest of the neck

 
12:13
Animate the nose
77

Animate the nose

 
11:29
Animating the torso
78

Animating the torso

 
05:40
Animating 3D head rotations
79

Animating 3D head rotations

 
05:20
Adjusting the upper lip
80

Adjusting the upper lip

 
04:07
Faking a stop motion look
81

Faking a stop motion look

 
07:11
Setting up motion blur
82

Setting up motion blur

 
04:21
Fixing an animated mask glitch
83

Fixing an animated mask glitch

 
03:59
Discussing the finished animation
84

Discussing the finished animation

 
01:24