Second part of the Happy Summer postcard tutorial! Time to animate a crab!
Hello everyone, this is Nilabh and welcome to part two of the happy summer animated greeting. So as you can see, I have copied and pasted the crab from a design into a separate Illustrator file, and now let us separate the layers. Now what we will have to do is, we'll have to separate the upper part and the lower part of the leg, which is the thigh and the calf part of the crabs leg, into two separate layers, so we can animate them separately. Alright? So generally speaking, we will be separating the layers so that we get separate control. So you may notice that I have created this whole arm, all the leg, the upper and lower part as one single shape. So I will have to split them into two, to make them accessible for animation, separately OK? To do that, we can go to the submenu of the eraser tool and select the knife tool. You'll just have to click and drag from where you want to separate the shape. All right? And we can do this for all the other legs as well. Now what we'll have to do is combine this circle shape and the forearm, into one single shape. All right, to do that you will have to go to the pathfinder tool which is somewhere here. We can also do that with the new shape builder tool which is available in the new version of Illustrator CC, OK, but that is maybe not available in the previous versions. Alright, so let's just continue with the pathfinder tool. We will have to have these two shapes in two different layers so we'll be able to animate them separately. All right. Also take care that the small circle is attached to the upper part of the leg which is closer, so that it moves with it. All right. now let's put all these separate objects, all the legs, all the different parts of it's body, into separate layers. For his eyes, we'll need to combine this stem, which is holding the eyeball and this socket, together. OK. You can keep the eye white separately and the pupil separate. So, our crab is ready. Everything on separate layers that we want to animate, which is the body, the legs. All the legs in two parts so we can have a pivot on the knees and bend them. His arms and body, forearms and this greeting, in one separate layer. OK, so let's just save this file and move on to animation. OK guys, so let us import the crab character file from Illustrator into After Effects. We'll do it the same way that we did for our previous design. You can just double-click in the project window or you can go to: file> import file. We had created a separate file for the crab, so let's just import that. Select composition>retain layer size and import it. So you will notice that this composition is ready, and we already have all the separate layers that we will need to animate. OK, so now, character animation is a little bit complex and a bit more difficult than the normal object animation. You'll have to think about many factors that comes in while animating a character. All right, as opposed to just a simple object. So we need to think of this crab character as a little funny guy who comes in holding the sign, holding the happy summer greeting for you. And he will pause in between have a funny blink, and then walk out of the screen. All right. We'll have to perfectly capture the humor of his actions, OK? And I intend to make a loop of that animation, so we'll be able to export it as a gif animation. OK. So you can now see here, that we have the greeting and the arms in one layer. They will not move that much because it should be readable. The body is there. And then for each arm or legs, there are two parts: arm 01 and arm 02. So we can then have a pivot on the joints, and then rotate the arms based on that pivot. OK? I'll just show you an example here. Let's just select this leg. So, whenever you select an object in After Effects, any shape or any object, the pivot of that object, the anchor point, is exactly in the middle of your selection. OK, so if you rotate, just hit R. Press R on your keyboard. And if you rotate, it will rotate it through that anchor point. Now we will move that anchor point to the position that we want that object to move from. To do this there's a simple tool here: pan behind anchor point tool. Or you can simply press Y on your keyboard, then select the anchor, and bring it here. Now if you rotate, it will rotate from exactly the point we wanted to, OK? And you can go on and do this, animate the other legs using the same fashion. Now here we can select this leg, this is leg 01-a. And this is leg 01. So this leg, this part of the leg moves. Actually is moving from the middle but we don't want that, we have these small circles. So let's select the pan behind tool or the Anchor Point tool and bring our anchor point here. You can do this manually or you can use many scripts available which will snap your anchor point into the corners or the edges of your selection. Some scripts are free but some you'll have to buy. But they're surely helpful. For now let's just drag this wherever we want it to. All right, so this is how it's going to move. OK, I just noticed that it's a little bit off, so let's fix that. OK, this looks much better. So, now when we move the first part of our leg, his calf, the lower part of his leg, is just sitting there. So we need to parent that part of his leg to the first part, OK? his thigh. So, to do this, there is a simple button here, a little spiral button in front of the layer name, here. And you can click on it and drag. And when you drag it, there comes a whip, you'll be able to see, you just have to drag it, and drop it on the first part of the leg. So this part of the leg, the lower part, is now parented to the upper part of the leg. OK? So when you move this, you will notice that the second part comes with it. And when you move this, it animates on its own. OK, so this is a simple procedure that we need to do for all the legs, all right? So let's go ahead and set the anchor points for other legs as well. OK for the eyes there's not much of animation. He will just be blinking his eyes, and for that we have the eye white separate, and the pupil as a separate layer. For the blink to work we have to scale the eye white, hit S on the keyboard. Uncheck the constrain proportions and change the scale. So it works, but the pupil remains outside the eye white. OK. There's a little trick to do this. Just duplicate the eye white layer, pressing Ctrl+D on the keyboard. You will get an "eye-R-white 02" layer. Just put this above the pupil layer. And now while selecting the pupil layer, you can go to this tab, second line of tab in front of the layer. So you'll get the masking options for that, and select: alpha>matt> eye-R-white 02. Now what is happening is, the pupil layer is being masked by the eye-R-white 02 layer. So if you move this, you can see that it has created a mask for the pupil to work. So now we have two eye whites. And to make this simply work, you'll just parent the second one to the first, and when we hit S and scale the first one, the blink works perfectly. All right, so this is a very simple trick, and let's just do it for his left eye as well. You can also hide the unwanted layers, like this is already hidden, so you can shy guide them as we had done before. OK, so i think our rig is now complete, it was very simple right? We just had to set the anchor point for all our legs and set the blinks. So let's just start animating. OK, so I'll just shy guide the layers that I don't want. And these green layers are the layers for his leg, so there's much sorted out. So, basically I will animate this character walking in place, like a loop, like a walk cycle. And then later on we will animate his transition, the position from screen right to left. All right? For our animation to look convincing ,we actually need to know how crabs walk. So pull out some references, watch some videos if you can, to study how a crab walks. It doesn't have to be perfect to the real life, as this is a cartoon we can take our own cartoon liberty to do that, and experiment with the animation. OK, so now let's get started. The simple way to set keys on any object is, I'll just show you. Press R on the keyboard to bring out the rotation values for the leg. We'll have to make poses for a leg. So if, let's say this is the first pose. And on the next pose it's reaching out, like this. And you can see that there is a little clock icon in front of the names and properties, and we can click on it to set a key, and press + or - on the keyboard to zoom in and out in the timeline. And then, after a few frames, let's say after four frames, you can set another key, where it will come back to its original position. Suppose it's that way, and set the key. And then bring this inside a little, the third pose. So look, this is not final. It's not the final animation, but consider this as a one-step, OK? And when I go to the timeline and hit Space bar or 0, you can see that this, this animation plays. And you can do this for all the legs as well, and make it work together cohesively to seem like he's walking. OK, this is easier said than done, but we'll get there. To know where the ground levels are, we have to have some guides, telling us the level of the ground. So, just press Ctrl+R on the keyboard and bring the guidelines, the rulers, just like Illustrator, and drag it down. We can zero out our animation, just delete the keys. And before moving into animation we can set the ground levels. Bring in more guides if you want, and see where the ground controls are, OK? So this leg would have a guide here, and it will not go below it, like deep into the ground, or float above it, so that will be our reference point for the touch to the ground. Now I have animated his first leg, and I will just explain the mechanics to you. We have these two controls: one where the leg is joined to the body, and the second one is his knee, right here. So this is very simple, I have made his first pose and keyed both the layers. then it comes halfway, and when it comes halfway, this upper part of the leg moves upwards to maintain the ground position. OK, not penetrating into it. And then, it comes in for the third pose, and it lifts up in the air, and then reaches out to the ground, stomping on the ground, and the animation continues. So, at the 16th frame, like the first and the 16 frame is the same, so it loops perfectly, and you can see the animation working. So I think this is working. Let's do it for the other legs as well, and make our animation. OK guys, so we have animated or crab setting keys on all the legs. I'll just hide the rulers and the guides, and you can check out the animation. OK, so he's walking in place right now, we haven't offset him. Let us do that while we are actually into our scene, we'll offset the position, making him go from left to right, all right? So this is very simple, we may need to copy all of these frames and loop it. Copy and paste it further to make the duration as much as we want. I'll just show you other layers as well, select all the layers and press U to bring out the animated properties. You can see that there are many key frames here. You can press U back again to hide them. So as I said, we may need to copy that animation and paste it further in the timeline, to make the walk duration longer, to match how we want it in the scene. And also will be animating the blinks, right inside the scene itself, because we will get a better idea at where exactly he's stopping to blink, OK? All right, so here we have a composition as we had animated earlier. Now we need to bring our crab animation file, After Effects file. Just double-click on the project window and import that saved file, just double click on it and the folder will come in. Double-click on the composition itself, and you will see that the crab that we animated is right there. Just click the composition and drag it into our scene. All right, so here it is. And you can place it in the scene at the position you want. All right? Just bring that layer behind the foliage layer, so he will come in for the bit and walk out. But it would really help if we make the layer 3D, OK? So to get that parallax working better to him as well. So i'll just click on the little cube here and make the layer 3D. And now we can move in 3D space. OK, just hit C and you will get the unified camera tool. OK so I have repeated the mistake that I did earlier, we should go inside the scene and make the sub-layers 3D as well, inside the composition. Now if we go back to the scene, right there. It is visible now, as it was not before. So now, we just have to move him behind that grass, in Z depth. Let's change that value, move him a little bit back. OK, so now, when you go back to the active view camera, you will see that the position and the scale is changed, and you can do it manually. We will also need to change the scale of our crab, So let's just do that, I think this is big enough. All right, and reposition it as you like. Now the walk is there, but we have animated only one loop of that walk. So after a certain point the crab stops walking. OK so we need to go inside that composition, and then highlight all the layers, and hit U on the keyboard. This will show us what properties are changed, are animated and set keys upon in After Effects. OK, so we can go back to the composition and judge roughly how much time the crab will take to come in the frame, stop and walk out, OK? So I think it's roughly three and a half seconds or something. OK, so roughly three and a half seconds. And now we have our cursor on three and a half seconds inside this composition as well. So we have to copy all of these keys, and paste it in front, to continue this animation till the desired time. OK, so you can see that I have copied a little bit extra as well. This does look like a mess, but it's very important. I've kept it about five seconds, a little bit extra. If we need it, you just have to press Ctrl+C, and then take the cursor to the last frame, and press Ctrl+V to copy it further. all right, so now I have selected all the keyframes and right click on it. Go to key frame> interpolation, and select auto bezier. What this does is, it smooths out, curves your animation. It gives it some ease in and ease out, so it will not... you're key frames will not be jerky. OK? Now, let's go back to our main composition here. Now you will notice that, it's continuously moving. So now let's animate him coming into the scene and then going out again. This is very simple, you just select the layer, hit P to bring in the position values, and set key and change the values for the x-axis so he moves from side to side. Set a key here, and we'll go to about three and a half seconds, and change the value of x and make him go to the screen left. All right, let's move him going out of the scene. Hit N to limit our time slider, so that it will play to this point itself. And let us see what we have here. OK, so it looks funny, but I think it's too fast because his legs are sliding, so we will need a little bit more time according to his animation. Let's bring that key to about five seconds. So we're stretching the time to 5 seconds, and now let's see how it looks. I think that's much better. Yes, this looks good. OK. I think we should scale him a little bit so that he's visible. OK this much is good. So now we can make him come in the middle of the scene and stop, and then blink and then go. But to do that, we have to go inside the composition and delete some of his leg animation keys, so that his legs are not continuously sliding when he has stopped. OK, so let's just do that. You can just delete the keys. Yes, so we can delete everything else, so he will pause a little bit, stop and then walk away again. So in this little window that we have got here, this little stop. We will be able to make him blink, so it's very readable. OK? So let's mark our in and out for that window, as a guide. Press B for in, and N for out. So now we know that we need to blink his eyes over here, so go to the eye white layer, hit S on the keyboard to bring the scale values, uncheck the constrain proportion, make sure that it is unchecked, and now you can change the values and set the key. A blink would usually go about 5 or 6 frames, so just set a key. Then after two frames, you can make him blink, zero out the value. Hold that value for under the two frames, OK? And just copy and paste the same one. And then after about three frames open it again, and let's see how it looks. I think it looks good, but we can reduce the timing a little bit, open it faster. And also reduce the close hold for just two frames. Yeah I think it looks better, let's just do this for the other eye. Let's see how this looks in a scene. OK, so now we have made him stop, his animation stop. But we didn't stop him as such, his displacement is still there. So let's just find the key where his legs stop moving, and key his position on the composition as well. And before he starts moving his leg again, Copy the same position, same key, over there. So if you notice, we have a little bit of a chaos going on in here. He's still sliding because there is an overshoot in the curves of the animation. So just select all the keys, right-click on it, go to key frame interpolation and select auto bezier. What this will do is flatten the curves, and have no overshoot to it. So now let's see how our scene looks, you can hit 0, and see the render. OK, that's great. OK guys, here is our final scene. You can see that the crab walks in, wishes you a happy summer and walks out. What I did with the waves, I've animated the waves as well, just a little bit of up and down. They're coming in and out, as our camera moves. For the camera, I have just pushed it in and out, and kept the first and last frame the same so it loops together. And, this is making the parallax work properly. You can definitely go ahead and animate the glitter on the ocean, the leaves moving with the wind, add some birds in the sky, and I have the foreground grass moving with the wind as well. Keep enhancing and adding bells and whistles to the scene. This is just scratching the surface of After Effects and its potential to handle 2D and 3D objects. This is more of a 2.5D kind of scene here. I hope you guys got to learn something out of this tutorial, I hope it motivated you to do something much better than this. If you have any queries or questions, do let us know in the comments. So this is it, keep designing, keep creating. This is Nilabh for Freepik.com. Thank you for watching.
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