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Video Transcript

Welcome to the tutorial How To Animate a Cut-out Character. In this tutorial, I'm going to show you how to animate a cut-out character using the Animation Tools from the Animation Tools Toolbar as well as the Timeline View. If you recall from our previous tutorial, most of the top half of our character has been rigged with deformers, whereas the bottom half was rigged using the hierarchical system of the cut-out style. In this tutorial, I'm mostly going to be working with the bottom half of our character for that reason. In addition, in the Network View, I arranged the modules so that you could see the hips and the two legs clearly, so that as we're working in the Timeline View, you can simultaneously see what's occurring in the Network View. To begin, be sure that the Animate button is depressed and by default it always is. Then select the Transform Tool from the Animation Tools Toolbar by either clicking on its icon here or by using the keyboard shortcut [Shift] + [T]. Then in the Timeline, make sure your character layer is collapsed. If it looks like this, it's uncollapsed. But if it looks like this, then it's been collapsed. Also be sure that your red playhead is on Frame #1 or the first frame that you would like to start on. Then in the Camera View, you can select the body parts that you need to reposition your drawing into the first pose.

Just for the sake of creating a different first pose, I'm going to reposition the legs so that they're slightly closer together like that. Then you should drag the red playhead across to the frame where you would like to create your next pose. You can also turn on the Show Onion Skin option if you'd like to. Then in the Camera View, with the Transform Tool still selected, create your next pose. Then if we grab our playhead here and we drag it back and forth, you can see that the software has created what we call the interpolated movements in between the first two key frames, otherwise known as the drawings in between the two key frames. Let me just select the leg again so that I can show you something. Within the Onion Skinning, there are two things that are good to know, first of all, that the number of representations of the selected body part that you see here correspond to the number of frames that are within the range of the Onion Skin. Once again, the range is selected by this blue line with the little triangular tabs at the end and because we can only go back as far as Frame #1 from Frame #10, we know that nine Onion Skin drawings are represented here. In order to be able to distinguish between the drawings, the drawings that are further away appear paler, so the palest representation of the leg is on Frame #1, whereas the darkest representation is the drawing on the frame just prior. You saw that when I selected the foot in the Camera View using the Transform Tool, its drawing was also selected in the Network View. However, when I used the keyboard shortcut [B] to move up the hierarchy, first its peg was selected, then the shin peg was selected and then the thigh peg was selected. We know that the thigh peg moves the pegs and the drawings for the shin and the foot. However, if I were just to click on the foot and then use the [Shift] key to click on the shin and the thigh, and make a movement, that position information has still been transferred to the pegs and does not exist on the drawing. We can take a look at that by going into our character layers.

Let's uncollapse our layer and actually, let's select the thigh again here in the Camera View and then click back on the Timeline View to put the focus back around the Timeline, so this red line. Then click on the Centre on Selection button. As you can see, we're brought right away to the Hero_Thigh_R drawing layer. However, what we really want to look at is the hero's right thigh peg layer, which is the one right here. If you notice, on the drawing layer, there are no little black squares or black lines, which of course indicate key frames and interpolated movements. However, we do see those things here on the peg. You'll notice that there are no key frames for the shin and the foot on Frame #1. This is because when we set our starting position, we made the movement from the thigh peg and in fact, by making movements to the shin and foot on the second key frame, I ultimately changed their starting position. Another thing I wanted to show you is that if we scroll up, you'll see that there are a few key frames, so these little red boxes or these little white boxes, which I believe were from setting the bones and the curves from the deformation rig. However, if we continue to scroll up, you'll see that for the most part, there aren't many key frames here on the first frame. Usually it's a good idea to lock your first position in place for all the body parts by putting a key frame on the first frame for all of those layers. For example, if we go back down to our thigh, you'll notice that if I select just the shin and then make a movement, you'll notice that no interpolation was created. Let's undo that. But if I go back to the first frame, collapse my entire character, select the first frame of that layer and then click on this button here, the Add Key Frame button, you'll notice that the key frame went from white with a black outline to solid black. That white with a black outline, like I mentioned, shows you that there are deformation key frames in this row somewhere, even if not on the topmost layer or sometimes, if you see a smaller black key frame, it indicates that there are key frames on the sub layers but not on the main layer and the Hero_Master peg being that layer.

Now let's uncollapse our character layer one more time and if we scroll down, you'll see that there is now a key frame on all of the peg layers, so once again, not on the drawing layer, not on this grey strip, but usually just above on its corresponding peg. Now if I go back to the thigh, so let's move to Frame #10 again, I'll select the shin actually, let's centre on selection, you'll see that key frames have been added to the first frame, as well as black lines have been added to indicate the interpolation that happened between the first set position and this new second position. The other thing I wanted to talk about was navigating up the hierarchy. You may have noticed that I used the keyboard shortcut [B] to move up the hierarchy. You can do that upwards, going from a child to a parent. In this case the foot would be the child of the shin, and the foot and the shin would be the child of the thigh. However, you can also move along the hierarchy in the opposite direction and you can do this by using the keyboard shortcut [Shift] + [B]. These commands also exist in the Top Menu under the Animation Menu. You could select either Select Child Skipping Effects or Select Parent Skipping Effects.

The next thing I'd like to talk to you about is the Animation button. If we take our red playhead and we drag it along the Timeline to, say, the 20th frame, and I think I'm also going to deselect the Show Onion Skin, and we also turn off the Animate button, and then we create some type of a movement, and let me just go from the thigh again, you'll notice that no key frames were created in the Timeline View. Let me just do something radical to really show you what this does. Say I separated the leg from the character. Let's now go to the Drawing View and turn on the Light Table. You'll see that our character looks intact. You'll also notice that the cursor is black with the white circle and the bar running through it, which means you cannot use the Transform Tool in the Drawing View. Once again, the Drawing View is to show you the drawing and the Camera View is used to show you both actually. You could use either the Animation Tools to animate in the camera, and you're viewing right now a movement that was made by an animation tool or you can use the Drawing Tools and pretend like the Drawing View doesn't exist at all, and do both your set-up for your animation in terms of the rough, the clean, the tracing, the colouring, etc. in the Camera View and then animate. Or you can use the Camera View just to animate with these tools and use the Drawing View just to draw your character. If you use the Drawing View, you can see that your character's preserved no matter what happens in the Camera View. If we undo that and we go to this key framed movement, if you go to the Drawing View once again, that key framed position is there even though we're on Frame #20 or on Frame #10. That's because we just viewed the drawing and not the drawing with the key framed interpolated movements applied. In case that wasn't clear, use the Transform Tool to make movements in the Camera, enable the Animate mode to record those movements and use the Drawing Tools to create the initial artwork for your animation.

The last thing I'd like to talk to you about is how to set the easing for multiple parameters. Let me show you what that means in plain English. If we drag this little black triangle across the Timeline to Frame #10, what we've done here is we've set the playback to just these ten frames. I don't know if you can see it, but there's another little black triangle right here. As you may notice, this movement is quite mechanical-looking. It looks very robotic. The leg is moving at an equal rate or speed from Frame #1 to Frame #10. In order to rectify this problem, what we can do is change the ease-in and ease-out for this motion. In fact, we can do it to multiple parameters, which means that we can do it for the thigh, shin and foot all at the same time. You can do this by selecting a key frame, holding down [Shift] and then selecting the last key frame in the group that you'd like to change the easing for. Then you can right-click and select Set Ease for Multiple Parameters or you can simply click on this button here in the Timeline View, which is the Set Ease for Multiple Parameters button. Then the Set Ease for Multiple Parameters dialogue box appears and what you can do is grab this little red triangle. What it is is a little handle that allows you to change the Bezier curve. Some of the options that you see here are the Filters and that allows you to change which parameters this easing will affect, so you can change the easing for the motion, rotation, scale and skew. We haven't done any morphing, so that's why that is disabled. In fact, the only movement that we did make was a rotation and we might have made a slight motion movement as well when we replaced the leg. So if we unchecked Skew and Scale, it wouldn't really make a difference. The other set of parameters we have down here are the left and right time ratios, and the left value and right value. Right now, the right values are greyed out because there is nothing on the right side of this key frame. However, let me explain to you what the time ratio and value ratios are.

The time ratio is a value that you can enter in a percentage and it's the length of time that you would like the easing to last. For example, within ten frames, if you wanted the easing to last for 30% of this total time, then you could enter that in and essentially, the easing would last for three key frames because 30% of ten is obviously three. The value is the strength of the easing and in fact, if the time ratio and the value ratio are equal, what you're going to get is that linear curve that we started out with, which is what we don't want in this case. We don't want that mechanical movement. I'm going to put that back. Then what we have are the different ways of applying this easing. You can just Apply, you can Close, which will not apply what you have here, or you could Apply Previous, which will apply this easing to our current column of key frames, and then jump backwards to the previous set of key frames, and then you can then set the easing for those frames. It just basically saves you time from closing this Set Ease for Multiple Parameters dialogue box. I'm going to Apply that and then close. Now if we drag the red playhead back and click on the Play button again, you'll see that the motion has changed. Instead of the leg moving at the same rate to get to this position, we saw that it started out really quickly and slowed down as it hit the apex of its movement. Like a pendulum, if we completed this movement and then had the leg come back down, it would go, fast, slow as it hits the apex of the curve, and then it would drop down slowly and get faster. That's if the leg is swinging back and forth like a pendulum. Just for the sake of the example, let me do that quickly. I'll bring this to #20, I'll bring the playhead across to the 20th frame and I will rotate the leg back downwards like that. Then I will select all of the key frames and pull this handle out to achieve a similar curve, apply and then close. Now if we take a look at the full movement, you can see that it does that fast to slow, slow to fast. If you would like to see what the opposite easing would look like, I could show you that as well. This will be slow to fast instead of fast to slow coming in and out of the curve. It's almost like a little flick or like a little kick. That's what the difference would be.

The last thing I'd like to talk to you about are stop motion key frames. So far, throughout the tutorial, we've created motion key frames, which are key frames that allow interpolation, otherwise known as the software creating the drawings in between two key frames. But a lot of people like to animate by just creating blocks of key frames, basically by continually posing their character and key framing each different pose side by side. It's a little bit closer to the traditional animation style where you would draw every frame. Instead of drawing every frame, you would pose every frame. All this to say that you can globally set all of your next key frames to be created stop motion key frames by going to the Top Menu and selecting Animation > Stop Motion Key Frame. Now if you drag the red playhead across to, say, Frame #25, click on the frame and then rotate the leg one more time, you'll see that key frame was created, but there's no black line between it and the previous key frame. If we drag the playhead across, you'll see that the drawing snaps from one drawing to the next. There are no progression of drawings to lead us from one pose to the next. If you combine many key frames like this in succession, you still are able to get a fluid movement and more precise positioning. Some people don't like the way that the software generates the drawings in between. They really want to precisely set every pose and in this way, you can also set your own easing manually instead of automatically by deciding if you want there to be a large movement between two stop motion key frames or a small movement. Then if you decide you change your mind and you would like some interpolation between these two stop motion key frames, you just have to click on the first key frame and click this button, the Set Motion Key Frame, and the interpolation is all of a sudden created. Then if you decide you'd like to go back to stop motion, you can click on the button beside Set Stop Motion Key Frame. I believe another way of doing it is by right-clicking and by selecting Set Motion Key Frame or Set Stop Motion Key Frame, or by using their keyboard shortcuts, which are listed right beside. That's it for the tutorial How To Animate a Cut-out Character. Stay tuned for the next tutorial How To Create Templates.