Manipulating a Deformer to Create Animation

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The Bone, Articulation and Curve deformers have very different ways of being manipulated. When you are choosing the type of deformation chain to use on each part, keep in mind the kind of animation movement they can create.

This tips and tricks is divided as follows:

  • Manipulating a Bone and Articulation Deformer
  • Manipulating a Curve Deformer

In this section you will learn how to manipulate the main types of deformer.

To learn how to add keyframes to animate your puppet, refer to the Animating Your Puppets chapter in the Toon Boom Harmony User Guide.

To learn how to manipulate secondary types of deformer, refer to the Deformation chapter in the Toon Boom Harmony User Guide:

  • Deformation-AutoFold
  • Auto-Muscle
  • Deformation-Scale
  • Deformation-Uniform-Scale
  • Deformation-Uniform-Scale
  • Deformation-Wave
  • Fold

Manipulating a Bone and Articulation Deformer

The Bone deformer operates the same as a human limb does and is composed of a pivot, as a starting point, and bones and articulations.

To manipulate a Bone and Articulation deformer:

  1. In the Deformation toolbar, disable Setup mode. When Setup mode is disabled, the default colour of the deformation control is light green.
    If you leave Setup mode on, you will modify the resting position of the deformer chain, instead of animating it.
  2. In the Tools toolbar, if you want to create keyframes, enable the Animate mode.
    After you have learned how to manipulate the deformers, it is recommended that you refer to the chapter Animating Your Puppets in the Toon Boom Harmony User Guide to learn about all the steps involved in animating a puppet, and also how to add keyframes.
  3. In the Tools toolbar, select the Transform tool.
  4. In the Top level of the Network view, use the default keyboard shortcut [Ctrl]+[A] (Windows/Linux)
  5. or [z]+[A] (Mac OS X) to select all the modules, you can also select Edit > Select All from the top menu.
  6. In the Camera View toolbar, select Show Control.
    You can also use the default keyboard shortcut [Shift]+[F11]. This will display all the deformation controls in your scene.
  7. In the Camera view:
    • Click on the centre of the Deformation-Root pivot and drag it around to reposition the entire limb.
    • Use the first bone or the pivot square handle to rotate the entire limb.
    • Use the square control point located at the extremity of a bone to stretch or shorten its length.
    • Use a bone next to an articulation to rotate it. You can also hold down the [Alt] key, this will lock all the controls and movement and only allow the rotation of the articulation.
    • Click and drag the articulation’s diamond-shaped control point to modify its radius.
      1. In the Deformation toolbar, disable the Show Simplified Manipulators option to display the advanced controls.
      2. In the Camera view:
        • Click and drag the round articulation control points to adjust the steepness (bias) of the articulation.
        • Use the square articulation control point to rotate it.
          You can also manipulate the deformer by typing values directly in the Layer Properties of the deformation effect modules. Refer to the Deformation chapter in the Harmony User Guide to learn more.

Manipulating a Curve Deformer

The Curve Deformer distorts the element to follow an organic and fluid curve line.

To manipulate a Curve Deformer:

  1. In the Deformation toolbar, disable Setup mode. If you leave Setup mode on, you will modify the resting position of the deformer chain instead of animating it. When Setup mode is disabled, the default colour of the deformation control is light green.
  2. In the Tools toolbar, if you want to create keyframes, enable the Animate mode.
    It is recommended to refer to the chapter Animating Your Puppets in the Toon Boom Harmony User Guide once you learned how to manipulate the deformers to learn all the steps of puppet animation and how to add keyframes.
  3. In the Tools toolbar, select the Transform tool.
  4. In the Top level of the Network view, use the default keyboard shortcut [Ctrl]+[A] (Windows/Linux) or [z]+[A] (Mac OS X) to select all the modules, you can also select Edit > Select All from the top menu.
  5. In the Camera View toolbar, select Show Control.
    You can also use the default keyboard shortcut [Shift]+[F11]. This will display all the deformation controls in your scene.
  6. In the Camera view:
    Click on the centre of the Deformation-Root pivot and drag it around to reposition the entire deformation chain.
    • Use the pivot’s square handle to rotate the entire chain.
    • Use the square control point located at the extremity of the curve to stretch or shorten its length.
    • Use the curve handles to modify to shape of the curve.
  1. If you have a chain of several curves, you can get all the children of a curve to follow the movement of one handle. This can prove useful when, for example, animating an arm and you do not want the fingers sticking to their original place while moving the wrist.
    • Select the handle you want to move. The handle’s colour will turn white once it is selected.
    • Press and hold the [Ctrl] key and move the handle. All the children will follow the movement.
  1. If you have a double-sided handle, you can lock it, so only one side will move at a time.
    • Select the handle you wish to move independently from the other. The handle’s colour will turn white once it is selected.
    • Press and hold the [Alt] key and move the handle.
      You can also manipulate the deformers by typing values directly in the Layer Properties of the deformation effect modules. Refer to the Deformation chapter in the Toon Boom Harmony User Guide to learn more.

Artwork from Stella and Sam courtesy of ©2011 Stella and Sam Productions Inc.