Create A Motion Comic Pt 2: Adobe Character Animator | David Miller | Skillshare

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Create A Motion Comic Pt 2: Adobe Character Animator

teacher avatar David Miller, Multimedia Artist For Primordial Creative studio

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (27m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Templates and Phonemes

    • 3. Cutting Apart The Art and Placing the Pieces

    • 4. Finalizing The Face

    • 5. Diving Into Character Animator

    • 6. Adding Physics and Recording Your Scene

    • 7. Getting Your Scene In After Effects

    • 8. Wrap Up + Project

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About This Class

Bring comic panels to life in this class covering Motion Comics!  In this section, we'll be using Adobe Character Animator to animate the faces and mouths of comic characters using motion capture technology.  This gives us actual fully animated talking heads with physics like swinging hair and blinking eyes, all controlled by our own facial movements and lip synced sounds.

We'll also cover designing our Character Animator puppets in Photoshop and bringing the scene into After Effects!

If you haven't seen Pt. 1 of "Creating Motion Comics" I highly encourage you to check it out as it establishes what motion comics are, why they are a great animation alternative, and how to put together frame animation in Photoshop.  

Meet Your Teacher

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David Miller

Multimedia Artist For Primordial Creative studio


I'm David, a multimedia artist in Phoenix, and my studio is Primordial Creative.  


I have always been interested in the visual arts from an early age- drawing, painting, and clay- but around my high school years I became interested in photography for the social aspect of involving other people, the adventure inherent in seeking out pictures, and the presentation of reality that wasn't limited by my drawing skills.


One thing in my work that has stayed consistent over the decades since then is I have an equal interest in the reality of the lens next to the fictions we can create in drawing, painting, animation, graphic design, and sound design.  As cameras have incorporated video and audio features, and as Adobe's Creative Cloud all... See full profile

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1. Intro: Hi, My name is David Miller. I'm a multimedia artist in Phoenix, Arizona. Welcome to another in my series on creating motion comics in Part one, I focused on the animation timeline and Photoshopped cleaning up her artwork in this part will be using a function of adobe after effects called character and mater to bring our puppets to life. Character Animator is a motion capture software, which lets you control movements and lip sync by using your computer's webcam, even though the program is still considered beta. I've been using it for over a year, and it's made a large splash. When the producers of The Simpsons used for a live broadcast homer speaking to the audience , it's especially well suited for adding dialogue to our motion comics. As we can quickly animate. Heads of our characters will also be spending more Time and Photoshopped as the puppets using Photoshopped Layer hierarchy to organize the moving parts. Your project will be to create your own motion captured head exporting as a video file and post a link to that file on our skill share project Page found out of the way, Let's check out character animator 2. Templates and Phonemes: so we're ready to get started in character. Animator And the easiest way to get started is to go to Adobe site and download a template . They have a bunch of different templates. Some of them have angles and kinetic movement to them. We're going to start with a plain old face, so click character animators examples. It'll download it to either your creative cloud or your folder of choice. Once we have our downloads, they are illustrator files and Photoshopped files were going to work in photo shop. I feel like that's the simplest way since we've already been working in photo shop in our previous motion. Comic examples just pick a regular old face. Now we've got it out. Let's take a quick look at the parts of the face because the face is dissected up into the areas that will move with motion capture. You have various mouth sounds. Those air, called phone aims and phone aims are the particular mouth shapes that him that certain syllables make. So K l. I am Oh, um, if you look at this quick chart, you'll see where the teeth, the open mouth and the tongue placement are when we use thes turns of phrase. So if you're going to draw your own mounts for your motion comic, it's pretty simple to follow this existing template. Also, we have pupils. We have eyeballs, we have eyebrows. All these things need to be erased from a template cause we're gonna replace everything. Once you've got a fully erase template, I would save it as blank face template, and you can drag and drop all your future skins and mouth parts into it. 3. Cutting Apart The Art and Placing the Pieces: So now I have a face that I borrowed from a Golden Age comic. I'm going to copy this face and paste it onto the area. That's called skin. It's the bottom part of your character animator template. There is his skin. I'm going to have to pull apart the parts that move, so I need to remove his mouth. I need to remove his eyes, his eyebrows and then paste them in the corresponding areas. How I did a, uh, lasso selection cut just control X or command X paste. I'm gonna call that K. One of the things you'll find if you're using actual comic images is they do not have mouths that correspond to the phone aims. They have characters that are yelling, that air grimacing that are just generically open mouth or smiling. But none of that is an actual correspondence with a mouth shape. So either you draw your own mounts or you just do what I do and call that shape K. It works for me when I see my final motion comic animation. I have never thought in my head. Why is the sky making an open mouth sound when it's supposed to be okay with that teeth put together or something like that, cutting out the eyebrows when I paste them on. I need to get rid of that white area around there because the eyebrows will float in character animator. And if I have that white area floating around, then it's going to cover up the sweat bead and so on. Each time I cut out the area, I use paint bucket tool to fill it in, and we'll see a little bit later that that's not necessarily the best way to fill in an area because a paint bucket tool leaves a little bit of pixel ing around it. I can't see it here, but I know when I get into character animator, it's going to show up. Just previous experiences taught me that there's going to be a little empty line around my cut line. So one way around that is to paint bucket twice. The other way is to use the paint brush tool, a position the I. I'm putting these on the eyeball. One of thing I'm not doing for this particular motion comic is pulling the pupil out and having it rotate around. It just looks like too much motion to me. All I really want is the guys I to blink, and that's the way I'm keeping it. Some of my other animations aren't motion comics. I'm fine with the people rotating around when I'm doing my adjustments. Sometimes I have to repair things like this eyebrow. I cut it out and there was no real clean space on the are right side of the eyebrow. His left side, by the way, left and right orientations are always the direction that character would perceive them. So right eyebrow is his right, not your right facing the screen, some of these areas where things had aligned when they were all together. They don't look right to me right now, especially the side of his nose. And when I'll probably eventually do is just have the jetting out parts go away. They try and trim them. Now, a lot of the flaws you probably won't notice until you put this in character animator, and you see how things are moving around going to copy this mouth and I'm gonna call it D two D and K are somewhat similar mouth ponies, but I'm going to use work which is under edit, transform warp just to make it a little bit of different shaped. That way you can recycle something you've already cut out, but have it be slightly different? 4. Finalizing The Face: now for the rest of the mountains. I'm going to do what I mentioned earlier and actually borrow mounds from one of my other character. Animator thinks now, in the sense of a tutorial. This is slightly cheating, but if you needed to get all of these mouths, all you would have to do is borrow tons of other artwork from Golden Age comics or draw your own. This is what it looks like when I've drawn all of the mouths on a character, and I made this drawing using my iPad and an app called paper by 53. It's a very easy way to get a natural looking drawing because you're drawing straight on the surface, but that's similar to a sin teak. So these would correspond with the actual phone names you can see. Oh, has the tongue showing. It's a circular shape. El has the tongue tucked behind the teeth and so on. It looks like a mess when they're all turned on, but you have to have them all turned on for them to operate correctly and character animator. So going back to our original dime, I'm going to borrow the mouths that I've already cut out. This guy has a 3/4 turn face, and maybe not. Everything fits perfectly on my guy, but we'll see what happens. I grabbed the folder of Mouths. I'm going to reposition it. So it's in a place of prominence. Since I already did D and K, I'm going to move them from this folder up to the other one. Get rid of existing D's in case this really is no different from any traditional cartoon, especially the cheaper ones like Scooby Doo, where they had a set of mountains. And they swapped him out whether Shaggy was dressed in a particular outfit or whether he looked like normal Shaggy, I'm going to use transform on all of these, except for D. N K, cause I know they already fit, and that transform will help me fit them to my current face. I see those side lack lines aren't working out on this character, and they are on smile, so select smile. Try and stretch it out, see if it works at all. I don't think it's gonna happen, so Option B is just erased that section completely. If you get a reusable scent of mounts, then that's kind of like gold. That saves you a lot of work in the future. I'm gonna go through these, get rid of any white areas that's covering up that David under his nose, talking about reasonable set of mouths. I have a full face forward mounts for men and women. I have 3/4 mouse for men and women, and I'm working on building young and old sets of mouths. Have those as my asset library for animation, and it's going to save me probably countless hours of work. So let's check him out. All looking good. So far, one of the cool things about character animator is when you plug this into the program and you can see the flaws. All you have to do is back up to the Photoshopped file and make your adjustments. And once you save it, those settings will paste onto your puppet, and you can always update them. Now I need to make a blink for this guy, and in comics, people don't blink, so I'm gonna have to build one on my own. I tried using the paint brush tool. It's not really working. It looks kind of cheesy. So, uh, my alternative choice be to borrow the eyebrows. And if you have somebody who has light colored eyebrows, you'll just have to change him to black for your blink. But I'm going to copy them, move them around. So you see, I've got a chunk of this guy's eyebrow and I'm using transform to create a new one and not really happy with how this looks. But let's make the other eyebrow out of this one. We copy it, paste it onto left blink. We used transform to flip it around. And when you have a character that is in a 3/4 pose, whatever is furthest from the camera is always going to be slightly smaller. There's always going to be a little bit of a perspective shift, so his left eyebrow needs to be smaller than the right eyebrow. Flatten these down so it looks more like a blink and not just like somebody you squinting 5. Diving Into Character Animator: Now we're into the fun stuff. This is character Animator and when you open it up, this is your blank workspace to import your puppet. It's file import. Then you're going Teoh, look for your photo shopped file. Still don't see your puppet. That's because it needs to be brought into the timeline. So we take it from the project, bring into the timeline and now you see in the upper right corner where my head is in the webcam. There's corresponding motion on my George puppet looking at it, I can already see those lines from where I had selected around and then paint bucket in. So I need to get down to the skin so you can barely make out those lines. But he definitely showed up in character Animator going to grow my paintbrush and make sure my color is the exact same color as the rest of the skin painted on around my cut out areas . Also do it around the mouth. Clean up some of these little doodads that are showing up all right. My puppet is updated. Looks a lot better now. Underneath the motion capture window, there are a few controls set rest pose will set where you are in your chair to the puppet, and that will be its default position. Then, when you get closer or further away from the Webcam, it's going to work off your rest pose default. It's going to work off where you set the rest pose at it will get larger and smaller, and correspondents to your rest pose the other two choices. One turns on the webcam and turns it off. The other turns the microphone on and off, and we'll look at that in our next lesson. I just have a little bit more clean up to do around the eyes around the nose. All of this stuff looked fine when it was a single drawing, but with other elements moving around, it looks pretty weird. 6. Adding Physics and Recording Your Scene: So here we are the last part. I want to show you some of the options we have for character Animator One is to set physics to your character. So this is a template that you can get from the same place. We've got the templates in the beginning of our lesson and you'll notice after the face they have another folder close out the head here and we have neck. We have feet, hands all these other things. Body were not going to concern ourselves with all those extra things. But we're gonna talk about the hair. And if you start with the template and you throw away segments and Photoshopped that you're not going to use, it makes it really easy to figure this out. So many years of all this stuff, I'm going to crop my image down to be just the head and hair and all of this stuff the origin, the eyebrows, etcetera. That's the same as before. Underneath the face is the hair. Open it up. You see in origin dangles and then the actual graphic of the hair. If I were to remove this the racer and swap in my own hair for my own character. I end up with something like this. So I've renamed this pony tail, but otherwise it's just the graphic behind her head down here. It's his dangle beaker, because the template that I originally used had that as a title. So bring that into character animator and double click on your character on your puppet. And this is where you can set dangles, so this shape means puppet. You have to have that selected dangle beaker and where I don't want it to move. I wanted to dangle here. Sometimes it's hard to get things set. Might be better to delete and then put a new winning on your own angle. That is the pin tool. I wanted to stay fixed here. I want to stay fixed here. This is the part I wanna have move around. So you want to go back to my scene, mess around with the dangle, turn up the gravity and the wind suppressed pose. And now when my character moves around, you see a slight shift in her pony tail. I turn up things like wind and variation. It's gonna move around a lot, and that helps bring your character to life. Other options we have, we have face controls. So you'll notice my character who has pupils rolling around, they actually rolling around outside of her eyes. That's too much for me. So I'm gonna turn down this strength of that. And not only that, but some of these other factors. You'll notice the distortion when I bring my head close or far away. Not really something I want to have happen. So let's go into these. We're gonna change this scale down a bit. Position. I won't rummage around so much The eyebrows. You can see how crazy they are on her face. Take the highbrow strength down. 80% still move, Just not move all over the place. Like blink. Eyes together might turn the mount strings up a few percentage points because that makes the jaw moving. So it's not just the lips moving. There's a little bit of movement in the jaw. If you haven't turned up high, there is a serious distortion that always goes on, and it looks really weird. Unless you have a character who that's suitable for, I would keep this down to something like 5% no higher than 7% I gaze, mouth strength. This is where if you turn this switch on wherever your mouse's. The eyes were looking that way, and that's a pretty cool control. I gaze strength. If I turn it down, the eyes are going to stay. Maybe if I'm not using the mouse, but the eyes are now staying mawr inside the eyeballs. In general, I'm just turning everything down on a little bit, so my movements are smoother. Now you can see that her lips were moving along with me. That's because I have the microphone turned on. If I were to hit the record button like so it's recording. Oh, make sure that you got your character is selected for sure. Okay, so if I have the record button off and I've selected my character puppet, it's going to move around. But it's not necessarily going to record the voice sounds. If I turn the microphone on and hit record now, I am actually acting live both with my face and with my voice, and it's recording the voice through the microphone and, uh, be a little incongruous being a woman puppet with my voice. But that's the way it is. They wouldn't recommend wearing glasses because that takes away from the 7. Getting Your Scene In After Effects: once I have my scene, Let's stop. This is my audio. Take 12 audio. My face movements came from the camera. Blink eyes together. So ready to export this as a PNG sequence which I will then take into adobe aftereffects go to export PNG sequence and wave, which is the audio file. We'll call it practice and you can see it going through all the frames. Currently, I'm set to 12 frames per second. There is an option to set it to something much higher, but, uh, the way that the mouths are, it actually looks better. If it's a lower frame, right? If you turn the frame rate up, there's gonna be a lot of smooth motions around these parts of the face. But the mouth movements will still be switching from one shape to another. And it's kind of a weird thing to see now, at this point in the export, you notice that the only thing that's happening is the hair is dangling and nothing else is moving. That's this segment here where I didn't record in a face input and I didn't record any audio. That's okay, that that's there, because when I bring into after effects. It will come in as a composition, and all they have to do is shrink the composition down, cut the number of frames down to the area that is my actual work area. While this is wrapping up, I'm going to open after effects. And now that I'm in after effects to bring in my puppet file scripts Newcomb from character Animator recording and these are all mine character animators scenes, you go over to practice. It's not quite done. Okay, practice and you can grab any of these PNG files it opened. It's going to build your character animation as they come with the PNG sequence and the wave so you can swap out the audio. Um, we can attach this to a animated body, and that's exactly what we're going to do in the next segment of our character animator. And that's exactly what we're going to do in our next segment of motion comic series. We're going to be operating holy in after effects. Using animations, we created a photo shop animations we created with character animator and animations. We create in after effects 8. Wrap Up + Project: so that is an introduction to the possibilities of character animators. As I mentioned in the introduction, when I discovered how to animate using motion capture, it felt like the doors were blown off of the possibilities. I could tell a story better with more complex animation in far less time than it would take to animate every frame. Our struggle to synchronize the lip movements with syllables one at a time. The final section of my creating motion comic Siri's is going to take place in Adobe after effects will assemble our timeline using Adobe Premiere. Don't forget to post your own character animations to the skill share product page and thanks for watching.