How to animate a Jumping Reindeer in After Effects

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In this video tutorial we'll create a character rig for animation using puppet pin tools and a free plugin called DUIK in After Effects. We'll use a character made in Illustrator and take it into After Effects for animation. The workflow will help us understand the process of creating bones and controls for our character, just like a puppet, so we can move its arms or legs for basic keyframe animation. It's a step by step guide which, although is a little complex, can be comfortably followed by any beginner as well. So, let’s get started!

Hello everyone this is Nilabh and in this tutorial I'm going to show you how to rig a character in After Effects using the puppet tools and a simple plug-in called D U I K, or "duik" if you must, so you can create some animations like this. Let's go ahead and jump right into the design of a character. So here it is we have I've created separate shapes very basic shapes for this design to make it simpler to animate and rig, okay? All these body parts are very simple, circular shapes and here is the colored version of the deer that I have created. I painted this in Photoshop to get the idea of what colors I want, then took it into illustrator and we can you can just go ahead and make these basic shapes. Also created the background with the trees and snow in his feet so they want some move in a loop that we create for the deer. Just make sure that the tree on the left side and the tree on the right side is the same. Same with the snow patch so that when we repeat the design in a loop it would, you know animate without any glitches. I also downloaded a brush of from the web a stroke brush for illustrator you can get many brushes for free so that I can have this, you know, stylistic painted edges like Ihad in Photoshop to give it a already Illustrated feel you know so I have that on the trees and the design as well so before we take our design in after effects you can go ahead and download these 2i k1500 do equipped in plug-in you can just Google it and you'll find out in this web page you have a Windows Mac and installers and zip archive which can support feel free to donate them because its own wonderful plugin for update which we are going to use for animation as well now let's go into after effects go to composition and new composition use whatever you want for your animation with the frame rate you want like... and press ok now we can go and import of file that we had created in Illustrator and select the AI file make sure you select composition retain layer size before importing so that all the last we have created in Illustrator are exactly the same when it went to come inside updated pics now you can see that all the body parts that we are going to begin animate them separately are on separately as this is very important that you do this in illustrate so now go ahead and select his body layer is dummy and go to window open the DuIk plug-in it opens in a separate window you can see that there are many tabs for making animation everything that we just have to walk on the rigging part right now okay select the body part check that the anchor point is in the center go to controller and create. Now this will create a controller another object which basically does nothing right now you will get a layer the controller up about the stack layer stack to connect the body to the controller select the body and select this little swirl icon and drag it on top of that controller so what this will do is this will parent the body part to that controller so that when you move the control the body moves with it in this way we have created our first controller on our DuIk now let us go ahead and make our and advanced skeleton rig bones and everything on our front leg of the deer. Check the first box after that icon to isolate the leg so that it easier for us to understand its basic shape without distracting. Go to the puppet pin tool up in the toolbar you can keep the mess check on and then click on the imaginary joints for that leg these are pins which we will manipulate now if you select the layer and press U you will see that the three pins are created you will have to rename them because are the same names will not work if we do it on other legs as well so named them accordingly, you can name them A B Cfor the joints like I have just renamed it as front left leg F K F like FBF like F C so that I can distinguish between other legs when I create the pins for them. You can go ahead and unclick the mesh you didn't we don't need it right now let's go ahead and create bones for all those joints we have created so here's the layer you can just click on the bone part and you'll see that one more layer is created select the other one click on the bones like the c1 a nd click on the bone so now all three red dots are created and three layers are represented as bones if you move any one of them here is the magic you are now able to manipulate the lower part of the deer's leg so now we will need to create a nd IK inverse kinematics and explain that in a bit we need to have a controller which will move the leg as a whole ok now select the most bottom part go to the controller and create a control like we did for the body another layer is created just bring it on top of those three red dots that list so the controller doesn't do anything right now you have to create a hierarchy ok so just select the B, the bottom part and patented 2a and then see 2b so that when we move the A part, the upper part of the leg of a B and C should follow that motion and same for the C to B ok now select the controller ok to make an Iklet us select C the bottom part of the controller is be an A and then the controller again now our go-to ik and then just say create. This will create an IK now if you move the controller you see that we are able to move the whole leg with the same controller now if you feel that the band is on the wrong side just click on this clockwise walks to change that, we can see that our leg is already ready for animation now when we move our the body of the deer it most separate it doesn't move as a whole with the leg to fix that let's just parent the A bone to the center of the body to controller now when we moved the body you can see that it moves as a whole and this is what we want to do for all the other legs as well also do the same with the tail the neck the head and is scarf in his neck also let me show you the same process on his back front leg as well because I know it is a little bit confusing before that we'll just hide this layers just click on the little alien buttons in front of them and then on top in the minimize well so that they disappear from our last tag I just took clean up the space little that solo out our leg going to pop in tool and create the three joints you can turn on the mesh to preview how much area is selected that is created the three pins press you on the keyboard and rename the pins as we did before make sure you name them perfectly so it is clear for you when managing too many layers later on in the project. So now I select the first pin for the bone second B bone and then the c1 create all the three bones so that we get these three layers parent the B to A and C to B as we did before in a hierarchy ok create a controller on the seep in and select the pin by C B A and then the controller go to IK and create 3 it is it is very simple once you get used to it ok unsold the layers and you can check the animation go ahead and parent the A bone to the body control so that it moves with the body now let us do the same thing with the deer's neck select the pin and now this time we don't need three controllers as we don't need to bend the neck in the same fashion as we did for the legs so let's just have two pins and you can see that this is the maximum motion we want for the neck control to have now go ahead and rename the pins as we did before of course make sure that it is relevant to the body part so that it's easier later on to manage the last. Create the bones and this time we don't need to create the IK for the neck so you can just go ahead and add in the be bone to the a now when you rotate the A bone the base one which is connected to the body to be follows the rotation of A ok now create a controller on the B bone bring the controller down near the bone stack the controller is not moving right moving anything right now so let us pretend to B bone to the controller so now when you move the controller the next moves with it okay we don't need to make it and IK all right now let's just add in the A bone to the center of the body alright so that when you move the body the next moves with it ok but now you can see that the top part of the neck stays at the same point so we need to parent that control, the B control to the body control as well so let's just go ahead and do it now when we moved the body the whole neck moves with it and the neck by itself moves are separately as well so this is what we want now let us do the same thing with the head but before that we will simply the eyes and smile and the nose and the antlers will move it ahead so let's just bad and all those objects to the head layer so that it is simpler for us to manage. Let's just fix that nose i'll just scale it down a little bit and move it inside I was thinking of masking it but we don't really need to do that let's just get in and parent the same with the head so now we move the head all the eyes the smile and the nose move it now let's just set the rotation anchor the anchor point of the head to where the head is joined on the neck ok let's just go to pan behind tool in a point to select the anchor and drag it back where it is joined on the next door now when you rotate the head that it is almost ready okay we will now just give that a control like we did for the body, select the head the head is go to controller and create a control. Let us scale the controller up to distinguish it from the neck controller ok already scaled it down and scale the neck controller up we need to parent the controller to the head ok the head to the controller so let's do that just check the rotation of the head if it is working with the controller or not now we need to parent the controller of the head to the controller of the neck so that when we move the body the body will move the neck and the neck will move the head with it so it will animate or move as a whole alright now if you see that if we move the body the neck and the head moves with it we have to do the same thing with the ears and the tails and the scarf simply using the same process now we have all the controllers for all the legs you can pose the character and make an animation key frames make the animation keyframes to you know give some life to the character. Now parent the scarf to the neck and the ears to the head ok also make the tail in the same fashion and the years in the same fashion as we did the leg used three pins and make an IK for them so that you'll be able to animate them in a very fluid motion and paring the base of those body parts to do part where they are connected alright? so now we have already complete with the process of puppet pins and do I plug in we can now manipulate all the body parts of idea character this is where it opens the door for breathing life into it all right you can notice that the scarf is not too much a test it would have been better if we have put them put it on the same layer as the neck was so it would move with the neck but will not be moving that neck will not be animating the leg too much right now so let's not worry about that now I'll just turn on all the layers that we have for the trees to snow and the sky and are seen a character is ready for animation just hide all the unnecessary layers and keep only the controller layers so that you get a clean workspace to begin with now animating a character is not as simple as rigging a character because you need to learn all the principles of animation but let me just try to show you a simple way you can do it ok just select the body and if you drop down on the layer you'll see that you get all the transformation rotation values you which you can keep lame set a key on and animate I simply select the layer and press P to bring down the position values ok just click on the little clock but in front of them to keep them on the selected frame now when you press you on the keyboard changed the key framed controllers are only shown ok you can zoom in and zoom out in the timeline repressing plus or minus on your keyboard so when you click on that left blog but and it sets a key on that particular frame so that it locks the position of that object of the controller in that frame. So when you move ahead and you move the object up or down front or back wherever it is ok you automatically set a key again and let's just go ahead and move the object once more like you can just copy and paste those little dots, little keyframes to loop the action you can see the characters now animated when you press 0 on your keyboard or you press the spacebar to preview the animation you can just press N on your keyboard to limit the time slider playability wherever the cursor is so that it plays only that much part of your animation so once you get the basics you can go ahead and simply set keys on every part every controller that you have created a set of people's is go ahead of course and I studied some references of how reinderr or how a deer would be prancing on what frame how much frame does it take for one leg to go from the down position to the up here you need to really study that to get into the character and of course again you can go in the graph editor to smooth out those keys the interpolation ease in and ease out which is a little bit advanced but the basic thing is that you should be able to create a simple rig for a very simple character and move it around and experiment with emotion alright. So I hope you like the way After Effects lets you create an animated character played life into a character no matter how simple it is and I hope you enjoyed this tutorial thank you so much for watching I am Nilabh and I'll be seeing you next time.
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