Rock Out with Character Animation! | Jake Bartlett | Skillshare

Rock Out with Character Animation!

Jake Bartlett, Motion Designer

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19 Lessons (1h 46m)
    • 1. Rock Out!

      0:47
    • 2. Class Project

      0:34
    • 3. Character Design for Animation

      22:13
    • 4. Rigging pt. 1

      2:40
    • 5. Rigging pt 2

      2:46
    • 6. Rigging pt. 3

      2:39
    • 7. Rigging pt. 4

      7:56
    • 8. Character Animation pt. 1

      10:15
    • 9. Character Animation pt. 2

      9:34
    • 10. Character Animation pt. 3

      8:18
    • 11. Character Animation pt. 4

      5:49
    • 12. Character Animation pt. 5

      3:25
    • 13. Character Animation pt. 6

      2:23
    • 14. Character Animation pt. 7

      4:05
    • 15. Character Animation pt. 8

      5:00
    • 16. Shading pt. 1

      5:41
    • 17. Shading pt. 2

      6:33
    • 18. Exporting a GIF

      4:55
    • 19. Thank You!

      0:35
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About This Class

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In this class I'll show you step-by-step how to design your own personalized character for animating in After Effects, how to rig it, animate it, and export it as a looping GIF. I'll cover every step of my process in detail, so you can follow along even if you've never used After Effects before. I've even included all of my source design and animation project files for my four character loops at the bottom of this page. That way if you're curious how I animated my characters, or want to skip the design process and just jump into animation, you can just use my files.

Transcripts

1. Rock Out!: Hey, I'm Jake Bartlett and it's time to rock out with character animation. In this class, I'm going to show you how to animate a simple character loop in a super fun way. I'll walk you through every step of my process, from designing the character to rigging in After Effects, animation, texturing, and exporting it as a looping GIF. Anyone can take this class and easily follow along my instructions even if you've never used After Effects before. For the class project, you'll pick a musician from your favorite band and animate them playing their instrument. I'll be providing all of my source design files for these four characters, along with the animated After Effects projects as well. If you want to get right into the action, feel free to use one of my characters. I'll see you in class. 2. Class Project: For the class project, you'll be picking a musician from your favorite band, designing them and their instrument, and then animating them. So before you go any further, go ahead and create a class project and let me know what musician you picked, then you can move on to the next unit. I've uploaded all of my design and animation files for my four characters to the class description. So if you want to take a look at my source files, you can see exactly how I animated each one of my own characters. Again, if you don't feel like designing your own character, feel free to use one of my designs. If you have any questions, just ask them on the Ask Me Anything discussion on the community page. 3. Character Design for Animation: Here, I am in Illustrator. I'm going to go ahead and make a new document and you can really size your document to be whatever you want. I know that I want my document to be 1440 by 1080. That resolution has a four to three ratio. So when I export it, I can scale it down to 800 by 600, which is ideal for posting to dribble, but it's also large enough to be 1080p if I ever decide I wanted to do an HD animation with this character. Make sure that your color mode is set to RGB and uncheck align new objects to pixel grid, then press "OK", and we can start designing the character. I'm going to start by making his torso, so switch to the rectangle tool, and I have smart guides turned on, which is what you're seeing these pink highlights showing up. Smart guides allow you to snap two different things when the document and can make building things much easier, if yours aren't turned on, come up to view and just make sure that smart guides is checked. I'm going to start by just clicking right in the center and making a box that's 175 by 275 and press "OK". Then I'll come up to the selection tool and come up to my align palette in the top here and makes sure that align to art board is selected, and then I'll center it in the document by centering and on the horizontal axis and on the vertical axis. So now my box is perfectly centered in my document. Next, I'll get rid of the stroke by clicking on this little red line here and then double-clicking on the fill and changing the color to a navy blue, something about there and hitting "OK". Then I'll switch to the Ellipse Tool and then come to the top center of that box, click and drag while holding Option or Alt on a PC and making a shape about this size that's our torso. Next, I'll make his head, so come back to the rectangle tool, then again, aligned to the center of that object, which is also the center of my document, come up to about the center of where the head is going to be, click and drag hold "Option" or "Alt" on a PC to again scale from the center and scale it up to be about the size I want the head. Then I'll grab one of these four circles and click and drag on it to round the corners all the way to a 100 percent. Now, I'm using Illustrator CC 2015. If you're using an older version and don't have that option, you can create this shape in the same way by switching to the rounded rectangle tool and clicking and dragging. If you press the "Up" and "Down" arrow keys while making your shape, you can control how round those corners are. Then I'll select the head and change it to a skin color, something about that looks good and then I'll bring his head down. I want to make it a little bit wider. So I'm going to come to the edge here, and hold "Option" while clicking and dragging and head about there looks good. Now, I want to make a duplicate of his head so that I can make it neck based on the same shape, so I'll select it, copy by pressing Command or Control C on a PC pasting in front by pressing Command or Control F, that paste it in the exact same spot, then I'll hold down "Option", grab one of the corners and click and drag so that it scales it down to be about the shape of the neck that I want. Then I'll click and drag it down and make it a little bit darker so I can differentiate between the neck and the head. Now, I want to send it behind the head so with that selected, I'll come up to Object, go to Arrange and say Send Backward, and now it's behind the head. Next, I'll add a belt for the top of his legs and I'll do that by duplicating this torso shape, so with its elected, I'll copy by pressing Command C or Control C and pasting in front by pressing Command or Control F, then I'll scale this down and bring it down below the torso just a little bit, and I'll change it's color to be black. Next, I can make his arms and I want to line in the center of his arms up right with the edges of his torso. I'll switch to the Line Tool, swap my Fill and Stroke by clicking on this double arrow here. I'll come to where I want the shoulder to be and then click and drag while holding Shift to make it a perfectly straight line and come just down past the body a little bit, I'll let go. Then I'll come over to my Stroke palette and change the weight to 55 points and I'll change the cap to round in the corner to round. Then I'll switch to the Eye Dropper Tool by pressing I on the keyboard and holding down Shift and clicking on the heads color and now with the arm is the same colors is the head. I'm going to zoom in here and resize this top shape by selecting it, with the selection tool, then clicking on one of these handles, holding Option to scale it proportionally until it matches the shape of that arm a little bit better. Next, I want to make a shoulder that looks like part of the shirt. So I'll switch to the rectangle tool, go right to the end of that path that makes up the arm. Click and hold "Option" or "Alt" and a PC and drag it out to be about the width of the arm and make it a little bit taller. Then I'll switch to the direct selection tool by pressing A on the keyboard and select just the top two corners and round those at a 100 percent. Then I select the whole shape and drag it down and then just zoom in here and line it up just so none of the arm is showing underneath. I'll zoom back out, and now I'll make a cuff by duplicating the shape, by pressing Command or Control C to copy and Command or Control F to paste in front. I'll scale this down a little bit, get rid of the rounding, and then bring it down so that it's just at the end of the shoulder and I'll change the color to be a little bit darker and then round it completely and extend it out so that it goes beyond the arm just a little bit and drag it down to the top of it, lines up with the bottom of the shoulder, make it a little bit taller make sure that roundness stays at a 100 percent and make it just a little bit wider too. Now, that I have a whole arm, I can duplicate it to the other side. I'll select the shoulder, the cuff, and the arm. With the selection tool active, I'll hold down "Option" or "Alt" on a PC. Click and drag while holding Shift to drag it straight to the side and line it up right with the other side of the body and let go of the mouse and that makes a duplicate of the arm. Now, that we're getting into more and more shapes, I'm going to start breaking these out into layers. I'm going to come down to my layers palette and make a new layer by clicking on this icon and I'll put the left shoulder on it. I'll grab the shoulder and the cuff, cut by pressing Command or Control X, then select that layer, and press Command or Control F to paste in front on that layer. Then I'll make another layer, cut the arm, paste in front on that layer and drag it down below the shoulder and I'll rename this layer L arm for left arm, and I'll rename this layer L shoulder for left shoulder. Then I'll do the same thing for this other arm, take the cuff in the shoulder and cut, new layer, paste it, R shoulder, take the right arm, cut new layer, paste R arm and I'm going to move these two layers below the rest of the body. Then I'll select the head, cut new layer, paste in front head, I'll put that on top. I'll cut the neck, new layer, paste neck, and drag that just below the head and I'll rename the layer we're working on, Torso. Now, each one of these objects is on its own layer and I can turn off the ones that I don't want to see. So right now, I'll turn off the shoulders and the right arm. Then I'll copy the left arm, make a new layer and paste it in the same spot, turn off the arm layer and rename this L leg, and I want to make this black too so it matches the waist. With the stroke selected, I'll come up to my color and change it to black and then I'll move it down, so it lines up right with the waist and then drag that layer down to the bottom of my layer stack. I want to change the weight of this stroke to be 70 and then bring it in on the body just a little bit. So I'll select it and press the right arrow until I'm happy with the placement. Now, this time, I I have anything to line it up with when I copy it over, so I'm going to do a different technique. I'm going to copy and paste it in front then when it's elected, I'll press "O" on the keyboard to switch to the Reflect Tool and then I'll click right in the center of the torso, then if I click and hold, I can reflect it based on that point that I clicked on and if I hold "Shift", I can snap it to a 90-degree angle which reflects it right off of the center of my document. Now, I know these two paths are spaced evenly off the center of my character. Now, they're a little too close together, so I'm going to select the right one and tap the right arrow key a few times, keeping track of the number of times I press it, so 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and I'll select the other leg and do 10 times the other direction, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. That might have been a little bit too much, so I'm just going to bring it in a couple of clicks, so 1, 2 and 1, 2. Yeah, I think that looks pretty good. I'll turn my arms back on and then I'll cut this right leg, make a new layer and paste it in front and rename it R leg and then I'll bring both of those legs above the right arm and the right shoulder. Next, I'll make his ear, I'll zoom in here to his head. Again, we can base it off the same shape of his head. I'll duplicate this shape this time by duplicating the layer itself. I'll click and drag it down to the new layer icon and that makes a copy, and I'll rename this ear, then I'll select the shape and then size it down to be the size and shape of the ear, then position it right, halfway lined up on the side of the head, I'll scale it down just a little bit more, that's good and then I'm going to back the rounding off just a little bit, so it's a little bit flat on the top and bottom, but only by a little bit, so if I zoom in here, I want it to be about that far. Just so it has a flat edge on the top and bottom just a little bit. Then I'm going to push it up on the head just a little bit using the arrow keys and I think that looks good. Let's make some hair, and this first layer, I want to be exactly the same shape as the head trimmed to about where that ear is. Again, I'm going to duplicate this layer by dragging it to the new layer icon and rename it hair, I'll change the color to be a brown color. Let me right about there. Then I'll double-click on the shape to enter the isolation mode, so I can't accidentally click and edit any of the other shapes. Then I'll switch to the direct selection tool by pressing A key on the keyboard and then select the bottom of the shape and delete it by pressing Delete on the keyboard. Then I'll grab these two points here and then drag it up to a little bit past the ear. Right now there's no path between these two points closing the shape. I'm going to select the two of them and press Command or Control J on the keyboard to connect those two points. Then I'll double-click outside of that shape to go back out, and that'll be the base shape for the hair. Next, I want to make a circle right about here. It's around that size, and then lined it up so that the midway point lines up with the bottom of the shape we just created. I'll pull it out to the side a little bit. Then I'll shift and click on the hair layer, so I have both selected and come to my Pathfinder, which again, if you don't have it open, come up to a window and make sure Pathfinder is checked. I'm going to click on the second icon here that says minus front. What that does is it subtracts the shape that was on top from the bottom shape. Next, I'll press minus on the keyboard to switch to the Delete anchor point tool on the pen, and I'll delete a couple of these points that I don't need anymore. That'll work for the trimmed portion of his hair. Now, I need to do the part of the hair that comes off of the head. I can use this shape as a foundation, so I'll select it, copy and paste in front. Then I'll double-click on it to go into isolation mode, and then I'll press minus to switch to the deleting point tool again and delete this point here, and this point here, and I'll modify this path a little bit by dragging this point down. It lines up perfectly with this one. We've got a straight line across and I'll drag it out a little bit further. But I'm not going to worry about lending and perfectly to the side of the head because I'm going to subtract from this layer as well. Then I'll switch to the Ellipse tool again and I'll make another circle. This time pretty big, and then I'll hold down space-bar before I let go of the mouse so I can reposition it and try and line up the edge of the circle to the corner of this shape. I'm aiming for this point right here. Right about there looks good. Then I'll select both shapes and come to my pathfinder, and I'll click on minus front. Then I'll make another circle again, making it pretty big, and putting it right about there and just reposition it a little bit. Now, I want to grab this point and drag it up until it snaps to the side of that circle. I'm just going to free form drag these handles to make this curve flow from here into the circle. I'll drag this handle out while holding shift to snap it horizontally. Maybe drag it down to the base of the circle. It lines up right at the bottom edge. Find that anchor point right there. It snap to it so that this point on the circle is the same as the anchor point for this curve. I'll drag this one out a little bit while holding shift to snap it horizontally and bring this one out a bit as well. Then I can just click and drag this point up so that it's behind the big circle, and now this looks like a nice big single shape. Then, finally I want to make another fairly large circle that lines up right about where these two shapes meet. Then I'll select the other circle as well and subtract, so the hair has this nice flow to it. Then I'll switch to my Direct Selection Tool by pressing A on the keyboard. Click on this sharp point and grab the round corner handle and drag it down a good amount. Now, I've got this nice round shape for the hair. If I double-click outside of the shape, it gets me out of isolation mode. Now, I'll change the colors so that the long hair is a different color than the short hair. I'll make those two shapes a little bit darker, and I'll make this shape a little bit lighter. Now there's just two distinct layers to the hair. Now all that's left is to give them some sunglasses. I'll make a new layer, name it sunglasses. I'll add a circle and make it black, and make it around this size. Move it up here. Switch to the Delete anchor point tool by pressing minus on the keyboard and then deleting this anchor point here. Then I'll press P to switch to the pen tool and hold down Option or Alt on a PC to switch to the convert anchor point tool and click and drag on this handle until it snaps down to that anchor point for both of these handles. I'm left with a half circle. I'll scale this down just a tiny bit, and then hold down Option or Alt on a PC, and then click and drag while holding shift to snap it on the horizontal axis and shift the left lens over a little as well. Then I'll go to the rectangle tool. Start on this corner, click and drag all the way to the center of the ear, and let go for the frames. Then I'll grab all of the sunglasses and shift it up a little bit by pressing the up arrow key. Now, if I zoom out, I have all of the main components of the body completed. I want to shift the head off center just a little bit. I'm going to select all of those elements and make sure to de-select the neck by holding Shift and clicking on it. Then I'll tap the right arrow key a few times until his head is a little bit off center, and now it looks like he's facing to the right just a little bit. I want to change the color of the shirt a little bit. I'm going to select the torso and come up to Select, go to Same and say Fill Color, and that selects everything that's that same blue. Then I can change that color. Press Okay. Then I'll do the same thing for the cuffs. I'll select both of them and change the color a little bit. Now, I want to add some detail to his torso. I'm going to solo that layer by holding down option or Alt on a PC and clicking on the eyeball for that layer. That hides all of the others, so I can focus on just that one. Now, I want to add a polka.pattern on this shirt. I'll switch to the Ellipse tool. Change my color from this blue to white, and I'll zoom in here, switch to the Ellipse tool and make a circle while holding shift to make it a perfect circle, and scale it to be the.size that I want for this pattern. That looks pretty good. Now, we want to make this a repeated.pattern. I'll hold Option or Alt on a PC while clicking and dragging to the right and I'll hold shift to make sure it snaps horizontally and go to where I want it spaced out and let go of the mouse. Then I'll hold Command or Control D to duplicate the last action, and that makes a duplicate and offsets at the same amount as what I copied before. Then I'll press this a few more times. Just so I have enough that goes all the way across the shirt. Then I'll hold Shift and select all of these dots and group them by pressing Command or Control G. I'll center them on the art board by coming up to the align palette, making sure that align to art board is selected and click on the horizontal, the center button. Next, I'll hold down Option or Alt again while holding shift to drag it down to be spaced out about the same distance downwards as they are left and right. I let go of the mouse and then I'll offset them while again holding shift until I get that intersect guide, that tells me that these dots are now perfectly centered in between these ones, and they look a little bit too far down. I'm going to click on it and tap the up arrow key a few times until it looks right. Then I'll select both of these and group them. Then I'll hold down option while clicking and dragging and holding shift until they're offset to the right distance. Again, I'll press command or control D to duplicate that action over and over again until the entire shirt is covered. Then I'll go up to Select, Same, Fill Color. Group all of that together, and now I can reposition it however I'd like, so long as it's covering the entire shirt. Now, I'll turn the shoulders on and adjust this pattern so that some of the dots line up nicely on top of the shoulder. I think that's a pretty good place for that pattern, and while we can't see it right now, there are dots going off of the torso because the dots are the same color as the background. So what I want to do is select both shapes of the torso and copy them. Select the dots, paste them in front. Come in my Pathfinder and click on the first button which is Unite, and that merges them together. Then I'll shift click on one of the dots, which selects the entire group and press Command or Control 7. What that does is makes a clipping mask of my selection based on the object that was on the top. Because the torso object was on top, it's now masking off the dots so that none of them appear outside of that shape. Now, I need to repeat this process on the shoulders. I want to keep the dots in the exact same place so I need to duplicate this shape. I'll double-click on the shape to go into the clipping mask so I can copy just the dots and not the mask. I'll copy. Then exit isolation mode. I'll actually turn the torso off, go to my left shoulder, and paste in front. Command or Control F. Then I'll copy and paste the shoulder in front of the dots. Hold shift and select the dots and press Command or Control 7, and now those dots are masked off perfectly. Then I'll do the same thing for the right side, again, going into the dot pattern to copy it, then selecting the right shoulder pasting in front. Copying the shoulder and pasting in front of the dots. Holding shift, selecting the dots. Command or Control 7 to create a clipping mask, and now the.pattern is seamless across the shoulders and the torso. With that, my character is complete. Now, you can use this method to make any pattern or texture you want on top of the shirt. Unfortunately, you can't put anything on the arms or the legs because of the way that will be animating them inside of After Effects. But if you wanted to, you could add any details you want to the neck, head, or ears, and customize the shirt in any way you'd like. Now, if you wanted to do a character that had long sleeves, you'd need to get rid of the cuffs and change the color of the arm to be the color that you want the sleeve to be. Don't worry that it goes all the way down to the hand, I'll show you an After Effects, how to add that part of the hand back in. You can't do much more than just a solid color for the arms and legs because of the way that will be animating inside of After Effects. I will show you how to add a few more details. But as far as your artwork goes, this is how you should prepare it if you want to do a long sleeve shirt. Same thing goes with the legs, if you wanted to put him in shorts. You can just leave them as the color that you want the shorts to be, and then an After Effects will go in and change the bottom half of the parts to be the skin color. Now that my characters done, I'll select all by pressing Command or Control A and raise it up until it centered in the document, and I'll save it to my desktop and name it Paul. Because this character is modeled off of Paul from the band new math. I'll leave all these as default and press Okay, and now I have my completed character, totally ready for importing into After Effects with all of the individual shapes separated into layers. 4. Rigging pt. 1: All right, now you can open up After Effects, and we'll bring in our artwork. These are all of the panels I'll be using to animate the character. If you're missing any of these panels, you can find them under the Window menu. All right, I'll start by importing my artwork by coming to the Project panel, right-clicking and going to Import, File. Then I'll go to my Desktop and find the artwork I created and click Open, and then After Effects asks me how I want to import the artwork. I want to change the kind from Footage to Composition, and then under the Footage Dimensions, make sure it's set to Layer Size. Then I'll hit "OK", and that brings in the composition with our artwork, as well as a folder with all the layers broken up exactly how we had them inside of Illustrator. I'll double-click on that composition and then come down to my zoom and tell it to Fit. If I turn on my transparency grid, you see that I have my completed character, and the composition is sized to be the same as what I had my document set up in Illustrator. We can confirm that by looking over here in the Project panel. I can see that my resolution is still 1440 by 1080. Right now, I have my downsampling set to auto, so it'll change the resolution of my document based on the zoom that I have my comp viewer set to, but it's downsampling more than I'd like. Since I'm not doing anything too graphics-intensive, I'm just going to change this to Full. That way, my artwork will always look crisp. I'll turn my transparency grid back off, and then go to Composition, Composition Settings, and move this over to the side. The first thing I want to do is change my Background Color from black to white. Now, if your art work has white in it, you might want to choose maybe a 50 percent gray, but I like setting it to white so it looks the same as it did in Illustrator. Then I'll hit "OK". My Resolution and Pixel Aspect Ratio are all good, but I want to make sure my Frame Rate is set to 30 frames per second. Then finally, I'm just going to change my Duration to one minute. With all that set, I'll click "OK", and now my composition is only one minute long, got the white background, and my frame rate is set to 30 frames per second. Right now, my timeline is displaying in timecode with the number of frames underneath it. We can see that reflected in the timeline over here, these tick marks are showing me 15-second increments. I want to change this to display in frames. It'll be easier for me to animate if I'm keeping track of frames rather than timecode, so I'm going to command or control-click on the timecode once so that it swaps the position of the timecode and the frames. Now if I scrub through my comp, you can see that we just have a number count for the frames instead of the timecode readout. We can always see the timecode down here if we need to for reference. 5. Rigging pt 2: All right. Now, we can set up a basic animation rig for our character. I'm going to scale my timeline up just a little bit so I can see all of my layers at once, and because I have the zoom set to fit, it automatically scale to come down to fit the size of the window. So right now if I grab any one of these layers and move it, it moves independently of everything else. What I want to do is attach things like the hair and the sunglasses to the head, and the head to the neck, the neck to the body, and so on. So that if I move the neck, the head moves with it. This kind of system is called Parenting inside of After Effects and it's very simple to set up. Down here in my layer stack, this last column is called the Parent column. If you don't see this column, just right-click on the top bar here. Go to "Columns" and make sure that Parent is checked. Each layer has it's own Parent drop down menu, as well as this little spiral icon next to it. If I were to click on the Parent drop down for the ear, all of my layers appear in that drop down. I want the ear to be parented to the head so I can click on the head layer, and now the ear is parented to the head. So if I were to select the head and move it around, you see that the ear layer moved with it and it's in exactly the same place as it was before I move the head. I'll undo by hitting Command or Control Z a couple of times. Another way that I can parent the ear to the head is by grabbing this spiral icon, which is called the Pick Whip, clicking and dragging to the head layer and then letting go. That Pick Whip allows me to quickly parent any number of layers to another layer. So if I wanted to grab the sunglasses and I'll hold Shift and click on the hair as well, then I could pick whip to the head, and both layers are now parented to the head. In the same way. I'll parent the head to the neck, and the neck to the torso. Now, if I move the torso, the neck, head and everything on the head moves with it because the neck is parented to the torso, the head is parented to the neck, and the sunglasses, hair and ear all parented to the head. This is called The Parent Chain, and it gives us the most basic mechanics we need for doing character animation. Let's finish parenting everything we need to. I'll take both shoulders by clicking on the first one, holding Command or Control on a PC and clicking on the right shoulder, then I'll pick whip to the torso, then I'll grab the left arm and parent it to the left shoulder, the right arm and parent it to the right shoulder, and in a typical rig, I would parent the legs to the torso as well. In this case, I'm not going to be moving my character around very much, his feet are pretty much going to be planted the whole time. I actually don't want the legs to move with the torso, so I'll leave them unparented, but everything else is parented the way that it should be now. Now's a good time to save, so I don't lose any of my progress. I'll press Command or Control S, save it to my desktop and call this Paul. 6. Rigging pt. 3: Next I want to convert the arms and legs from Illustrator layers to shape layers, which is how After Effects allows you to build vector shapes similarly to the way that you do inside of Illustrator. To do this, I'll select my left arm, hold down command or control, click on the "R Arm", as well as the "L and R legs", right-click on the layer, and click on "Create Shapes from Vector Layer". After Effects generated four new layers for me and put them at the top of my composition. If I zoom into my comp by pressing the period key a couple times, you see that now we have this shape layer that has a path in the exact same place that we drew that path inside of Illustrator. If I switch to the Pen tool, I can click and drag to edit these points and up here at the top, you can see that we have stroke options and the width is set to 55 pixels just like in Illustrator. We could change the color if we wanted, adjust the width, all right here within After Effects. Now if you're using a version of After Effects that's older than CS6, you likely don't have the ability to convert vector artwork to shape layers. If that's the case, you'll just have to rebuild this path inside of After Effects. You can do that by switching to the Pen tool, you want to disable your fill by clicking on the blue text up here and clicking on the None icon, then pressing "OK", and then you can sample the stroke color from the artwork itself so that your colors match and then you could type in 55 pixels for the width. Then all you have to do is click "Rate" where you want the shoulder to start, hold shift to make a perfectly straight line and click down where the hand would end and now you have a path that's in the exact same spot as the artwork we created in Illustrator. Then if I come down in my timeline, you see that we have a new shape layer, I'll rename this by pressing enter and typing in L arm then I'll twirl down the layer, go into the contents to Shape 1, to Stroke 1, and change the Line Cap to Round and the Line Join to Round as well. Now my shape layers path is exactly the same as what I had inside of Illustrator. But because I'm using a newer version of After Effects, all of that work can be done automatically for me just by selecting those layers, right-clicking and going to "Create Shapes from Vector Layer." Now I'll click and drag these layers to rearrange them back to where they should be and you'll notice that After Effects kept my original artwork and just turned off the visibility. That way I always have the artwork in case I ever need to go back to it, drag the legs down and the left arm. Then I'll grab these hidden artwork layers and drag them down to the bottom of the composition so that they don't get in my way. 7. Rigging pt. 4: Next I want to adjust the anchor points of different layers of my character. I'll start with the torso and zoom in on it. Again, if you press the period key, you can zoom in and the comma key, you can zoom out. Then to reposition your comp, just hold down space bar and click and drag. That will temporarily switch to the hand tool so you can reposition however you like. If I switch the rotation tool by pressing W on the keyboard, and then click and drag on the torso, you can see that he's rotating around that anchor point. By default, every layer's anchor point is centered directly in its artwork. So the heads anchor point is directly in the center of it, the shoulders as well, and the torso is no different. But when I go to animate this character and I rotate his torso, I don't want it rotating at the center of his chest there. I want it to rotate down further about where his hips are. So I need to adjust the anchor point so it is down by his hips so that he rotates around that point. To do that, I'll switch to the Pan Behind tool which you can see is also called the Anchor Point tool. You can do this by pressing Y on the keyboard. Now, I can click and reposition the anchor point freely. If I hold Shift while doing it, it'll lock to just going up and down or left and right. So I'll keep that Shift key held down and drag this anchor point to about where his hips are. Now if I switch back to the rotation tool by pressing W on the keyboard and then click and drag on the torso, he's now rotating on his hips where I'd like him to. Now, the same thing goes for his head. I don't want it rotating around the center of his head right where his sunglasses are. I want the anchor point to be more where his head is attached to the neck. I'd also like it to line up perfectly centered horizontally on the neck. So if I switch back to my anchor point tool by pressing Y on the keyboard, I'll click and drag, and I'll hold down command or control which will temporarily enable snapping. If I move this anchor point around, you can see that it snaps to various points of the different layers in my composition. If I come to right about the neck here, After Effects shows me the wire-frame for that layer and is letting me know that the anchor point is centered horizontally on that layer. So I'll let go of my mouse and now I know that anchor point is lined up perfectly at the center of the neck. Now that it's centered horizontally, I'll click hold shift and drag it upwards until it's a little further up on the head where I want it to rotate from. Now I'll switch the rotation tool by pressing W on the keyboard and clicking and dragging to see how head rotates. Now here you can see there's a little bit of an issue. When I rotate his head far enough down, the top of the neck is visible. This is happening because I didn't move the anchor point high enough. So I'll undo by pressing Command Z, switch back to the anchor point tool by pressing Y on the keyboard and then I'll reposition the anchor point by clicking and holding Shift and raising it up just a little bit. Then I'll switch back to my rotation tool by pressing W, rotating the head to see how that change affected the rotation of the head. It looks like I need to go a little bit further so I'll undo again by pressing Command or Control Z, switch the anchor point tool by pressing Y, clicking, holding Shift and dragging up a little bit more, switching the rotation by pressing W, and it looks like right there is a good place for the rotation of the head. I'll undo again. Next, I'll set the anchor point for the shoulders. So I'll hold space bar to switch to the hand tool and click and drag to reposition my composition. Then I'll press Y to switch to the anchor point tool and click on the shoulder to see the anchor point for that layer. If I rotate this layer, you can see that it's not rotating where I want it. I need that anchor point to be right about where the center would be if there was a circle lined up with the top of the shoulder. So with the anchor point tool, I'll click and drag while holding Shift to move it up about where I think the center would be, which should be right where that curve meets the straight line. So I'll raise it up a little bit more, switch the rotation tool and then click and drag. That was pretty close, but as I rotate the arm to the right, you can see that the shoulder isn't matching up with the torso and that's what I'm trying to do. So I'll undo, switch back to the anchor point tool and then click, hold Shift and drag it down just a little bit. Switch back to the rotation tool, and that's looking much better. Now when I rotate the arm, it doesn't go pass the torso and it also doesn't come too far in.So I'll undo. So it's back to being straight up and down. I'll do the same thing for the right shoulder. Right now, it's being hidden underneath the torso. So I'll come down to the torso and disable the visibility by clicking on this eyeball icon next to it. Now I can see the right shoulder clearly. I'll click on it, switch to the anchor point tool by pressing Y, click Shift and drag it up a little bit so that it matches with about the same distance down as the left shoulder. Switch the rotation tool, click and drag, and you'll notice that it looks like the outer part of the shoulder is rotating around in a perfect circle. That's a sign that I've done this correctly. So I'll undo until it's straight back up and down and turn the torso back on. Now I'll adjust the anchor point for the neck, which is higher than it should be. If I solo the neck, by clicking on the solo switch for that layer, if I imagine a full circle being right at the base of the neck. Again, I want to put the anchor point right in the center of it. So I'll switch to the anchor point tool, click, hold Shift, and drag down until it's right where that curve meets the straight part of the neck and then switch the rotate tool and see how that worked. It looks like I was a little bit off. As I rotate the neck, you can see that this curve wobbles a little bit. So I'll undo, then shift it up just a little bit more and rotate. Now that wobble is much less. You can finesse this as much as you want until it's looking the way that you want it to. Remember that the goal is that when you rotate it, it looks as if the base of the neck isn't moving. So if I un-solo this layer, you can see that as I rotate it, it looks as if the neck is staying in the same spot. So that's a sign that I've positioned the anchor point exactly where it should be. I don't need to worry about the anchor point of the arms because they're parented to the shoulders. So they already rotate with the shoulder the way that they need to. Next, I'll reposition his leg anchor points. Just so I'm not distracted by all the other shapes, I'm going to solo those two layers by selecting both of them and clicking on the solo icon and I'll start with the left leg. Switch to my anchor point tool. Because this shape layer is made up of a path that's stroked with the rounded cap, I know that I want the anchor point to be directly at the end of that path. So I'll click and drag while holding Shift until it lines up right in the middle. I'll zoom in, reposition, get it nice and close so that I can make this extremely precise. Now if I press the question mark key on the keyboard, it'll zoom to a 100 percent, reposition, and there you see that as I rotate this, the top part of the path looks like it's staying exactly in the same spot. So that's perfect. I'll do the same thing for the right leg. Switch to the anchor point tool, hold Shift, position it about where I want, zoom in nice and close. Make it nice and precise, then zoom back out. Check the rotation. Everything's great. Now I'll un-solo those two layers and now all of my anchor points are positioned where they need to be. Next, I want to zoom in here on the left arm. You can see that the arm's path is showing behind the shoulder just a little bit in creating this outline. I don't want that. So I'm going to adjust the path of the arm so that it doesn't go up that far. So I'll grab the left arm, switch to the pen tool by pressing G on the keyboard and then click and reposition the path and hold Shift so that it snaps to adjusting only vertically. I'm going pull this all the way down to around the center of the cuff. It doesn't need to be too precise, just right around there. Then I'll do the same thing for the right arm. So select that layer, switch to the pen tool by pressing G on the keyboard. Click on that path. Reposition while holding Shift and align it with the cuff. Now that line has disappeared and my character is completely rigged and ready to be animated. 8. Character Animation pt. 1: Now that my character is setup for animation, and he's standing in a neutral pose. I want to be able to preserve this pose just in case I ever need to go back to it or reference to the original position values of any of the layers. So before I start posing him for animation, I'm going to start by setting the position key frame for each layer that I know is going to be moving. So I'll start selecting all of the layers that I want to set a key frame for while holding command or control to add to my selection. So I know the ear, sunglasses, hair, head, will all be moving. I don't think I'll be moving the neck or the shoulders, but the torso will, I think that's everything. So I'll set a position key frame by holding Option or Alt on a PC and pressing the P key. That automatically opens up the position property and set the key frame on all of my selected layers for the position. Now, I'll do the same thing for all of the layers that I'll be rotating. So I'll select the head, this time the neck, the shoulders, and the torso. Then I'll hold Option or Alt on a PC and press R on the keyboard to set a rotation key frame for all of those layers. Then finally, I want to set a key frame on the path property for both arms and both legs. Because I'm going to be animating the shape of that path and I want to be able to go back to a straight path, the length of the original arms and legs just in case I ever need it. So I'll collapse all the layers by making sure I have nothing selected by clicking on some empty space on the timeline here, and then pressing U on the keyboard, pressing U will collapse or expand all of the layers, key framed properties. I'll start with the left arm, open that layer up, go into the contents, into Group 1, Path 1, and set a key frame on the path itself by clicking on the stopwatch icon and now we have a key frame for that path. I'll collapse this layer and do the same thing for the right leg, for the left leg, and then the right arm. Great. Now if I press U to bring up all my key frames, you see at the first frame of my composition, I have all of these properties set at their neutral positions so that I can always reference them. Next, I want to select all of these key frames by clicking and dragging to make a selection box, making sure that I get all of the key frames in my selection, then I'll right-click on one of them and say toggle hold key frame. What a hold key frame does is just eliminates any animation between key frames. So nothing will change between any of these key frames and the next key frames that I set which is exactly how I want it to behave. So now we'll start posing my character for the first part of my animation. I'll zoom in on my timeline by pressing the Plus key on the keyboard a few times, and I'll move forward 30 frames. This will be the starting point of my animation. Now if I modify any of these properties that I've set a key frame for, a second key frame will automatically be added at the point in time that I'm currently on. So if I were to grab the torso, move it over here and rotate it, you see that I now have a position and rotation key frame with values reflecting the transformations I just made. Obviously that's not what I actually wanted. So I'll just undo. Now we'll start creating my first pose. So for this first pose, I want to drop them down a little bit and bend his knees. So I'll select his torso and use the down arrow. Just a couple of taps so that he's dropped down just a little bit. Then I want to go forward four frames. I can do this by tapping the Page Down key four times. Page Down and Page Up on your keyboard will step forward and backward in time, one frame at a time. If you're using a keyboard that doesn't have Page Up and Page Down keys, you could hold Command or Control on a PC and tap the left and right arrows, and that does the same thing. So I'll press "Page Down" four times 1, 2, 3, 4. Then I want him to be back up at his starting position. So instead of tapping the up key and trying to guess where he was, I can go back to this reference key frame that we set at the beginning of the layer. Click on it, "Copy" and "Paste". Now I know that's exactly where he started in his neutral pose. Now, another keyboard shortcut I'm going to be using a lot is the J and K keys. The J key will jump to the previous key frame in the timeline and the K key will jump to the next key frame. So this way I can compare poses very easily. So jumping back and forth between these key frames, you see the distance traveled is not very far. It's going to just be a little bobble up and down of his torso. Then I'll go four more frames forward 1, 2, 3, 4, and copy this key frame over to there. So now I have a little loop between these three key frames spaced out evenly and now I want to preview that animation. To do that, I need to set my work area which is this bar right up here. If I click and drag on this handle, I can adjust where the endpoint of the work area is. If I zoom out all the way so I can see my entire timeline, I can click and drag on this handle as well. Another way I could set these is by using another keyboard shortcut, B and N. The B key will set the end point of the work area and the N key will set the out point of the work area. Whatever your work area is set to is what we can preview in real time. Now, to preview this animation, I'll press "Zero" on the number pad, and if you don't have a number pad, just press "Control Zero" and it'll do the same thing. So if I press zero, we now have this red bar indicating what frame is being displayed and it's playing back our animation in real-time, and looping once it gets to the end of the animation. By zooming here on my timeline, these key frames are still hold key frames. So there's no animation happening between them as the torso is moving up and down. But if I select these key frames and hold down Command or Control on a PC and click, that converts them to regular linear key frames, and now between the key frames, the motion is spaced out, creating an animation. So now we've got this little bobble up and down, and that's looking good so far. We've got this nice little loop. Now, my character needs an instrument. So I'm going to import the artwork that I created for that. He's going to be playing a keytar. So I'll drag this layer out into my composition and position it just above the torso in the layers stack. Then I'll rotate this layer and position it where I wanted on the body. I'll scale it down just a little bit by making sure I have the selection tool. Then click and drag while holding Shift to scale proportionally, and then just continue to position this where I want it to be on his body. All right, that looks good. Then I'll back up to the first frame of the composition and set a position and rotation key frame for that layer by holding Option or Alt and pressing P, as well as R to set up key frames for both those properties. Then I'll select them, right-click and say toggle hold key frame. That way I have the neutral position for the keytar. Then I'll come back to the first frame of my animation and continue working on my first pose. Now, I don't actually ever want his legs to be perfectly straight. So I'll go to this up position key frame, and I'm going to adjust the path of his legs so that they're bent a little bit. I'll start with the right leg. Switch to the Pen tool by pressing G on the keyboard and then holding Option or Alt on a PC, and clicking and dragging to add a curve on each one of these points. Now because I have the Pen tool selected, after-effects automatically assumes that I want to close this path, which is why I'm getting that circle icon on top of the pen. So you select this point. I'm actually going to press V to switch to the selection tool, click on that point, then press G again to switch back to the Pen tool and hold Option or Alt again to adjust the curve. I think that looks pretty good for that curve. I'll do the same thing for the left leg. Hold Option or Alt while having the Pen tool active, adjust the curve, switch to the Selection tool. Click on that anchor point, switch back to the Pen tool, hold Option or Alt, and modify the curve. Now that I have him pose like that, I think I want to drop him down even further, but I want to do it across all three poses. To do that, I'll select all three key frames and make sure my play head is lined up directly on top of one of those key frames. Then I'll come over to the position property here and click and drag on the Y position to modify it. As I do this, you see that all three of my key frame stay selected, and that's letting me know that I'm adjusting all of those key frames at once. So if I back up to before this first pose, you can see that it's quite a bit further down than it was before. You'll also notice that the keytar is not staying with the body, and that's because I forgot to parent that keytar to the torso. So I'll do that now by scrolling up to the keytar and pick whipping the torso. Now the keytar is moving up and down with the body. Now, because I lowered the body even further, I'm going to lower the top part of the path of each of the legs as well. So I'll select the right leg, switch to the Pen tool, click and hold Shift to drag it straight down and then do the same thing for the left leg. Great. Now let's go to the down position. I want to copy each of these key frames back as a starting point. So I don't have to deal with adding curves to them again. So I'll copy this key frame and paste it here. Then copy this key frame and paste it here as well. Now if I press K to jump forward and J to go back, see that I need to bend the legs a little bit further on the down position. So I'll start with the left leg, modify this curve, go to the right leg, modify it to match. Now, I'll select all of these key frames, hold Command or Control on a PC and click on one of them to convert them to linear key frames. Then I'll go to the third key frame position and copy these key frames over so I have a loop. Now if I preview this by pressing zero on the number pad, the legs bend as the body bobs up and down. So far, so good. 9. Character Animation pt. 2: Next, let's post this left arm. I'll scroll up to the shoulder, zoom in a little bit, and rotate the shoulder outwards a little. Then I'll grab the left arm, switch to my Pen tool by pressing G, and I want to start by adding handles to each of these points. To do that, I'll click on the first point, hold Option or Alt, and then just click once on that anchor point. You see that now I have a Bezier handle which allows me to adjust the curve. I want to do the same thing to this point, so I'll switch to my Selection tool by pressing V, click on the anchor point, back to the Pen tool by pressing G, then Option or Alt, click on that point as well. What these handles will do, they'll allow me to modify this path while keeping the base of that path coming out in the direction of the arm. If I didn't have that handle, the path would bend out in a weird way and it wouldn't line up with the shoulder at all. But keeping it straight like this will make the arm bend in the way that I want it to. I'll go ahead and modify this point for this hand and place it on the keyboard where I want it, adjusting the handle so that the curve of the arm goes in the direction it should. Then I can click and hold Shift to snap this handle in a straight vertical line from the base of that point to bend the arm a little bit further out. That looks like a good starting point. I'll go forward four frames and then make some adjustments to the left arm. I'll start by rotating the shoulder so it's out a little bit, and compare the two key frames, maybe bring it out just a little bit more, then I'll adjust the path of the arm. Now it looks like he's picking his hand up off of the keys. Then I'll go to the next set of keyframes by pressing K, and then I'll copy over the shoulders rotation and I'll copy over this path as well. But instead of having it lean in the exact same place, I'll modify this keyframe just a little bit so that it looks a little bit different than the first keyframe. If I jump back and forth, you can see that it just changes the position on the keyboard a little bit. But now, I don't have a seamless loop anymore. If I preview this see that it ends in a different place than where it begins, so it jumps there at the end. What I need to do is double the length of this loop. I need to go forward another eight frames, so I'll press page down 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 times, and I need to copy the first keyframe of all my layers that have animated properties to that point in time. Unfortunately, I can't select all the keyframes at once, copy and paste, so as you see that actually copied and pasted the layers, not the key frames. I'll undo and one layer at a time, I'll select keyframes, copy and paste until all of my animated properties have been copied over. Now the pose between these two keyframes is going to be exactly the same as the pose between these two keyframes for all of my layers. I'll do that and then I'll go to the last key frame and press N, to set my work area to that point and select all of these keyframes and Command or Control click on them to convert them to linear. Now if I ran Preview and zoom this to fit, I've got the beginnings of an animation playing in a nice loop. Let's set up the right arm. I'll go back to my first keyframe which is the down position and rotate the shoulder out to about there. Then I'll grab the arm and make sure to add my handles by switching to the Pen tool and holding Option or Alt and clicking on each one of these points. I think I'll rotate my arm out just a little bit more and I want to bring this hand up here. I'll grab this path, drag it up to where I want it to be, and then change my curve so that it looks like the arm is bending around to that point. Now here we're running into an issue. At this point, the arm needs to be behind the keytar, but up here the hand needs to be on top of the keytar. I'm going to do something a little complicated to fix this problem but once it's set up, you don't even have to think about it. I'll start by duplicating the arm layer by coming up to Edit and going to Duplicate. I'll rename this layer by pressing Enter and typing R Hand, and then Enter again. Then I'll press U to bring up the key frames for that layer and click on the stopwatch to get rid of all of them. Now, I want to do something similar with the path of this hand that I did with parenting layers to other layers. I want the paths for the hand layer to be exactly the same as the path for the arm layer at any point in time. To do that, I'm going to create what's called an expression to link the two together. Now, expressions are after-effects code language that allow you to do some pretty advanced things but using it to link properties together can be very simple. To create an expression, I'm going to hold Option or Alt on a PC and click on that stopwatch, and you see that that brings up a box that I can type into and automatically adds in some code. If I extend my layer name out, you can see that that is my expression for the path and on that expression we have some controls as well. One of those controls is a pick whip. This expression pick whip will allow me to reference other properties and automatically generate the code for me. I don't even have to know how to write expressions to create them. If I click on this pick whip and drag it down to the path for the arm and let go, after-effects automatically fills in the code that it needs to reference that path. If I click off of that box, now if I adjust the path of the arm, the path of the hand is updated with it. If I try and adjust the path of the hand, I can't because it's taking its shape from the arm. Now if I were to grab this hand layer and drag it above the keytar, it's now appearing above the keytar. The problem is, I still see the rest of the arm and really I just want to see about this much of the hand. Well, now that the expression's setup, we can use a function of shape layers that allows me to trim this path to only be that portion. I'll collapse this layer and open it again, and then come down to Group 1 where my path is, and under this little Add menu, I'm going to click on the arrow and come down to Trim Paths. That adds the trim paths operator to the group. If I total that down, we have Start, End and Offset controls. I'm going to solo this layer so it's always C to demonstrate what this does. If I adjust the Start value, you can see that that changes the starting point of the path along the path. If I adjust the End property, it adjusts the end position as well. The Offset control takes the length of that trim and repositions it along the path. Now, all we need to do is adjust the Start so that it's about the size that we want the hand to be, which is right about there. Now if I un-solo this layer, we have that portion of the path overlapping the keytar while the rest of the arm still goes below it. Now that that's all set up, and I don't need to modify that path, in fact I can't even modify that path because of our expression, I'm going to collapse it and lock the layer, just so I don't accidentally reposition it. Now if I modify the path of my right arm, that hand is always going to stay on top of the keytar. Now that that's behaving correctly, I can go ahead and animate it. I'm going to reposition this a little bit, modify my path until it's in the position I want. I think that looks like a good starting place, but I'll jump to the next keyframe by pressing K on the keyboard, and modify this path a little bit, maybe rotate the shoulder just a tad, jump back and forth between those two keyframes, maybe modify the path a little bit more. I don't want it to change too much, just enough to add some motion. Now I want to repeat these two keyframes on the next two key frames. I'll jump forward by pressing K on the keyboard and then copy both of these key frames and paste them, and then copy both of these key frames and paste them. Then I'll come to the final keyframe and copy and paste these, convert them all to linear by Command or Control clicking on them, and then run Preview. Now one thing I'm noticing is that you can't see the shoulder on top of the torso moving like you do on the right side. I'm actually going to rearrange some of my layers. I'll take the right shoulder and the right arm and move it just above the torso. Now if I preview by pressing zero, we can see that rotation happening on both of my shoulders. Now that I look at this animation, I think this hand is moving too quickly. I wanted to make half as many motions in this loop time frame. I'm going to come down and delete the last two sets of keyframes for the shoulder and the arm. Then I'll proportionally space these keyframes out so that they line up the way that I want them to. Now if I ran Preview, I think that's a better speed for that animation. 10. Character Animation pt. 3: Okay, let's move on to the head. I want his head to be bobbing a little bit. So I'm going to animate the rotation first. On the down position I want his head to rotate down just a little bit. So I'll switch to the rotation tool by pressing W on the keyboard, and then click and drag. Then I'll jump to the next keyframe, scroll up to find that head layer. Then I want the rotation to go back to zero. I'll click on the number and type zero, and press enter. Then I'll jump to the next keyframe by pressing K, copy and paste that first keyframe, then I'll select both of these keyframes, copy, jump to the next keyframe and paste. Then I'll select these keyframes and convert them to linear by Command or Control clicking on them. Now his head just bobs a little bit as he bounces up and down. Now I want to add a little bit to that head bobbing by animating the position of his head up and down as well. So I'll go back to this down position, select the layer and tap the down arrow key a few times. It doesn't have to be much. Jump to the next keyframe. I want to go back to the original position, so I'll copy that first keyframe at the beginning of the timeline, and paste, and I'll jump forward one more key frame. Copy and paste, select these two key frames, copy, jump forward, paste. I'll convert these to linear, preview, and that's looking pretty good. But I think I push his head down just a little bit too far. So I'm going to select every other keyframe on the down position and then click and drag on the Y position up just a little bit, then preview. I think that's a little more subtle and works better for the animation. Next, I want to make it look like he's rotating his head left and right. We can fake this to a degree just by offsetting the position value of his ear, his hair, and his sunglasses. Now for the up position, the ear, sunglasses, and hair are actually where I already want them. So I'm going to go to that up position keyframe and add a new key frame at the current values. To do that, I'll just click on the add keyframe button right here on one of the position properties of the selected layers, and that will automatically add a keyframe for each property. Then I'll go forward two keyframes. For the second up position, I want his head to look like it's rotated a little bit to the left. I'll grab his sunglasses and hair because I want them to move the same amount and tap the left arrow a few times. Then I'll grab the ear and move it to the left, but not quite as much. Now because I only have two keyframes for this length of the loop, I need to duplicate these keyframes outside of my loop, the same distance that these two are already spaced out at. Right now they're eight frames apart. I need to go eight frames forward from this point, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8, and duplicate this set of keyframes to that point. I'll copy and paste all of these, then I'll come to this keyframe and backup eight frames, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8, and then copy these keyframes. Now if I convert these to linear and preview, the animation loops properly. Now this doesn't look quite right because as the hair moves to the left, it comes off the head and I want it to stay within that shape of the head as it gets pushed back. I need to create a mask for the hair that's the same shape as the head. To do that, I'll duplicate the head layer, press U to bring up all the keyframes and get rid of them by clicking on the stopwatches. Then I want to change the parenting of that head to the original head. So whatever the actual head does, this layer we'll be using as a mask, will do the same thing. I'll rename this head matte, and position it directly above the hair layer. You can see on this frame that the hair is getting pushed past the head, which is what we're going to correct. Now if you're familiar with clipping masks inside of Photoshop or Illustrator, After Effects has a very similar behavior. That's what we're going to do to correct this issue. This column here is called the track matte column. If you don't see this column, you probably don't have this switch enabled. Just make sure it's clicked on and then you should have track mattes. If you're still not seeing it, just right-click here and make sure under columns you have the modes checked. This gives a drop-down menu for every layer, just like the parenting does. If I were to go to the hair layer, the way that it works is I'll click on this drop-down menu and you'll see that the name of the layer directly above it appears in all of our menu options. So in this case, it's the head matte layer that we created. If I select the first option, alpha matte. That takes the opacity of the layer directly above it and only shows what's contained within that opacity. So because the head matte layer is exactly the same shape as the head, that's all that's showing from the hair layer. I've gotten these two little icons in each layer that are telling me this layer is set to be a track matte of this one. You'll also notice that After Effects automatically disabled this layer, so I can't see it. If it was still enabled, it would be covering up the hair layer. So I'll keep that turned off. But we've run into another issue. It is cropping the hair to be the shape of the head, but it's also cropping off the part of the hair that I don't want to be masked off. So I need to extend this matte out. I'm actually going to undo to before it was an alpha matte, right-click on the head matte and create shapes from the vector layer. Then I'll drag that back down to right above the hair. Because this is now a shape layer, I can modify the path. I'll click on the hair layer again, change the track matte to alpha matte, then I'll modify the path of this matte layer. Now from this point to the left, it's fine. It's from this point over that I want to adjust. I'll just switch to the pen tool, click and drag this point, hold option to modify this handle and drag it upwards until all that hair is showing. Now if I click off of that layer to be selected, it's looking much better. But if I zoom in here, you see that I'm getting this sharp edge. You can even see a little bit of the head underneath the hair coming through. It's subtle, but it's there. To correct that, I'm going to increase the scale of my matte layer just a tiny bit. So I'll press S to bring up the scale for that layer and then change this from a 100 percent to a 101 percent. Now that looks much cleaner. If I back out and preview by pressing zero, now that hair stays within the mask of the matte layer, and it looks much more convincing that his head is actually rotating even though it's subtle. I can actually push this a little bit further to sell the effect a little more. So I'm going to delete the head matte illustrator layer that I don't need anymore, collapse the actual matte layer that I'm using, then I'll go forward in time to where the hair and the sunglasses are pushed back a little bit and I'll grab these two keyframes for the position as well as the corresponding keyframes outside of my loop and tap the left arrow to push them back a little bit more. Now if I preview the animation, I think that's looking much better. Let me zoom this to fit so we can take a look at the whole thing so far. I think it's looking pretty good. Finally, I want to animate the rotation of the guitar. I'll go to the guitar layer. Go to the starting down position. Now the anchor point is not where I want the rotation to be happening from for the guitar. So I want to adjust the anchor point, but I can't do that from this point in time because I've already set a position keyframe for that layer. Modifying the anchor point also modifies the position. So I'll undo, go back to that first keyframe, and then reposition the anchor point, so that the guitar rotates about where it would be resting on his hip. Now that that anchor point's set, I can come back to that first pose, and I'm going to rotate it down just a little bit. I might have to adjust my hands positions to accommodate this animation. But I'll worry about that after I do the rotation loop. Then I'll jump forward to the next keyframe by pressing K and raise it up just a little. Then I'll jump to the next keyframe and copy and paste the down position rotation. Then I'll copy and paste all of these keyframes to complete my loop. I'll convert these to linear and preview. I think that looks pretty great. 11. Character Animation pt. 4: Now I want to add a little bit more to this animation before I have it loop. So what I'm imagining is that his left hand hits the keys four times before moving to a different position. So if the down position is the first hit, we've got one up, down two up, down three, but then it loops again. So I need to add one more downbeat before the arm moves on to the next position. But I don't want to copy these two sets of keyframes because even though the hand is the same general position, I did change the position of the down positions. So because this set of keyframes is identical to this set of keyframes, I actually want to copy these two and paste them four frames ahead of that last keyframe. So I'll go to the last keyframe, tap page down four times one, two, three, four. I'll select the shoulders keyframes, "Copy and Paste". Then the arms keyframes, "Copy and Paste". Now I can count them down beats. One, up, down. Two, up, down. Three, up, down. Four. At this point, I could continue the animation for doubled the length and reposition his arm to be on a different part of the keyboard. But before I do that, I'm going to go ahead and extend the animation of all my other properties out to this point. So I'll start with the keytar, since that's next on the list. Because this animation alternates between the same two keyframes, I can just copy these last three right here, stay on that last keyframe, "Copy and Paste", and that extends the looping animation for the keytar. For the right shoulder and the right arm, I just have to copy this center keyframe. So I'll go to the end of the loop, "Copy and Paste", "Copy and Paste". Then for the torso, that's the same as the keytar. So I can just copy these last three keyframes, "Copy and Paste". Same thing goes for each leg. I'll "Copy and Paste" those last three keyframes. Then I'll scroll back up until we get to the head, and I'll copy these last three keyframes of both the position and rotation. Then because all the heads elements are key framed on the offbeat and they're spaced out more, I just need to be a little bit more careful of what I'm actually copying and pasting. So really to extend this far enough, all I have to do is copy this second to last set of keyframes eight frames forward. So I'll go 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 frames forward and "Copy and Paste" these keyframes. Now, if I extend this work area out and preview this loop, you can see that some of my layers are jumping at that loop point, and that's because this isn't a seamless loop anymore and it won't be until we finish our animation. So don't worry if your loop isn't working at this point. So let's start with the left arm again. I'll zoom in here a little bit. Scroll down to the left arm and shoulder. So we've got down, one up. Down two, up. Down three, up. Down four. So now we can go for four frames forward again, 1, 2, 3, 4, and we need another up position for the arm. So I'll rotate the shoulder back just a little bit. Grab the arm, and I'm going to modify it. So it looks like he's picking up his arm much further than before. I'll extend my work area out and press "J" to jump back and forth between those two frames. So we can see what's happening. Looking good. I'll go four frames for it again, 1, 2, 3, 4. Rotate his shoulder in, grab the path of that arm and bring it down onto the keyboard. I'll go four frames forward again, copy the last keyframes, back to that up position. But this time I don't want him to pull his arm so far back. So I'll rotate this down just a little bit and bring his hand more too about this position. So jumping back and forth between those frames, I think I can rotate his shoulder in even a little bit more and then modify that path down a little bit. Yeah, that looks pretty good. Then I'll go four frames forward. I'm going to "Copy and Paste" the rotation of the shoulder and then modify the path by hand. Jumping back and forth, we can see the difference between those two poses. Again, it's subtle, but different enough. So for this new position, I've got down one, up. Down two. So I need to do three down positions before we get back. So I can just alternate between these keyframes. So I'll go four frames forward, "Copy and Paste" this post. Four frames forward again. "Copy and Paste" these keyframes. So I've got down one, down two, down three. I just have to do this one more time. So 1, 2, 3, 4. Copy the up pose, down four frames. Copy this pose. Now, need to create one more up and down pose that gets us back to our original position where the arm's down here. So I'm going to back up to that in-between up pose, which is right here in the middle of my loop and copy those keyframes over. So 1, 2, 3, 4, copy paste. Then I'll go four more frames forward. 1, 2, 3, 4 and copy the very first keyframe. Now I should have a loop that's double the length of my original animation. Right now it's only working for the left arm and shoulder because that's all we've extended that far, but it is working and we can model the rest of our animation off of this timing. 12. Character Animation pt. 5: So I'll continue by copying over all of the properties that are very easily looped. So I'll begin with the torso. The animation for the torso is exactly the same the entire time, just up and down. So I'll select all these keyframes, copy and paste, and I'll come to the end and paste one more time. I can get rid of the keyframes that go outside of the loop area. I don't need those right now. Then I'll do the same thing for the legs. Copy and paste, paste. Select those last two and delete. Copy, paste, paste, delete. Now my torso and my legs bounce up and down for the entire animation. Now let's do the rotation of the guitar. Come up to there. By the way, if you hold down space bar while you're on the timeline, it also switches to the hand tool so you can pan around just like you do within the cap viewer. So I've come with my guitar. I'll copy and paste these rotation keyframes. Delete the last two. Now my rotation on the guitar is working. Then I'll come up to the head and grab the position and rotation keyframes for the head. Copy, paste, paste, delete the last two keyframes for both those properties, and then I'll just copy and paste all of these keyframes for the head elements. Since this set of key frames matches this set of key frames now. So I'll start one layer at a time, copy paste, and then paste one more time. Copy, paste, paste, copy, paste, paste. Then I'll leave the last keyframe that extends out beyond my work area, but delete the last three sets of key frames. Now all the elements except for the right arm, should loop for the entire duration. Now it can make the second position for that right arm. So I'll zoom in here, and I'll jump two keyframes sections forward, which is eight frames, hit k k. So just the rotation of his arm up a little bit, and then modify the path so that his hand is further up on the guitar. Great about there is good. Then I'll jump forward eight frames by pressing K twice to jump two keyframes ahead, and adjust the rotation of the shoulder just a little bit. Reposition the hand, modify the path a little. Then jump back and forth between poses. Cool. Then I'll go forward eight more frames, and I can copy and paste both of these. Now let's make sure I've got the correct number of back and forths. Gotten down. Up down, up, down, up, down, up. Yeap, and now we can come back to that first down position. So I will copy paste, copy paste, and now if I preview, I now have that entire looped animation. 13. Character Animation pt. 6: Now one last thing I want to add is some glare in his sunglasses. So I'm going to zoom in here and do this directly in After Effects. I'll switch to the pen tool. Make sure I don't have any layer selected and in my shape layer properties up here in the toolbar, I'll change the stroke color to be white and hit "Okay". Then turn the stroke down to probably something around five. I can always adjust that later. Then I'll start by making a line from the top of the lenses down to the bottom. You see that that creates a shape layer with the stroke settings that we applied up in the toolbar and I can modify this path to look however I'd like. I want to have that on a little bit more of an angle like that. Then I'll rename this layer Lens glare. I'll open up the layer into the contents and duplicate shape 1. Now I have two groups with the same path in it. Then with my selection tool, I'll click, hold shift, and drag to the right to spread those two lines out. I'll increase the stroke of this one to maybe 10. Reposition it a little bit and I think that'll work pretty well for my glare. Then I want to group these two shapes together. I'll select both of them and press Command or Control G and other both contained into one group. I can duplicate that group and offset it from the first group. I'll try and position it roughly in the same place on the other lens. That's great, but I want it to stay within the lenses and not go beyond. We need to create an alpha matte based on the sunglasses. I'll start by duplicating the sunglasses layer, pressing U to bring up the key frames and deleting them. Then I'll parent that layer to the original sunglasses and rename it, Sunglasses Matte. I'll move it directly above the lens glare layer and then change the lens glaciers that track matte to be an alpha matte of the sunglasses matte layer. So with the Sunglasses Matte layer selected, I'll double-click on the Rectangle tool, which automatically adds a layer mask the size of the layer itself. Then I'll click, hold shift, and drag downwards to mask off the frame part of the matte. Now my glare is constrained to the lenses themselves. If I preview the animation, it's looking pretty good. 14. Character Animation pt. 7: If I zoom this to fit, we have all of our animated properties keyframed. But everything looks a little mechanical at this point and we can take some more steps to stylize the animation a little bit more. Right now, all of our keyframes are changing from one keyframe to the next at constant speeds. So the torso is bouncing up and down, up and down at the exact same speed with the exact same distance covered between each frame the entire animation. But if I were to solo the torso, so we can focus on it, and I selected all of these keyframes, right-clicked and went to Keyframe Assistant, Easy Ease. It might be a little hard to see, but now this motion is smoothed out. It's not quite as jerky. That's because all of the position keyframes are now eased. It takes a little bit of time to get out of that keyframe and a little bit of time to get back into this one before it takes back off. Now, there are only a couple of frames between each one of these keyframes, so it's a little harder to notice. I'll try it on the right arm, since those keyframes are spread out more. Let's preview this for reference. You can see that it's very linear, it's going back and forth, no real change in velocity between keyframes. But if I select all of these, right-click, go to Keyframe Assistant, Easy Ease. You see that the motion has changed. It all looks a bit smoother now. I'll unsolo those layers and I'll easy ease all of my keyframes. To do this, I'm going to maximize this panel by hovering over it and pressing the tilde key which is the little squiggly line that's underneath the escape key and that maximizes whatever panel your mouse is over. I'll select all of my keyframes, except for the very first ones. I'll easy ease them which the shortcut for that is F9 on the keyboard and on a Mac, you might have to hold the function key while you press F9. Now if we take a look at the animation, everything looks much smoother. All of the keyframes themselves haven't changed but the way that after-effects animates between them or interpolates between them has changed. Now easy ease is after-effects default easing preset, but we can actually change the amount of easing between keyframes. The easiest way to do this uniformly is by selecting all of them, right-clicking and going to Keyframe Velocity. That'll open up this window and right now, every keyframe has an incoming velocity influence of 33 percent as well as an outgoing velocity of 33 percent. The influence is what's determining how much easing is happening between keyframes. If I were to crank this up to 66, we should have twice the amount of easing happening. I'll hit "OK". Now everything seems a little bit more bouncy. Now for my animations, I really want to stylize the motion. I'm going to right-click on that again and go to keyframe velocity and I'm going to turn this influence all the way up to 100 on both incoming and outgoing. I'll press "OK" and that's exactly what I want my motion to look like. Very quick, high-speed movements, but still smooth at the points where the keyframes are. At this point, you can play around with the animation however you'd like. One technique that's a lot of fun to play around with is called overlap. If I zoom in here on the head so we can get a nice view, I could overlap the animation of the position and rotation values by offsetting one from the other. If I select all of my rotation keyframes and shift them all forward one frame by holding Option or Alt on a PC and pressing the right arrow key, now the rotation animation is offset from the position a little bit. Now in this style of animation, it's not all that noticeable because I've eased these keyframes to 100 percent and there's only a couple of frames between each frame. But if you play around with the positioning of your keyframes in time, it can produce some interesting results. Feel free to play around with that on any of your animated objects. But I'm pretty happy with the way that this is moving. 15. Character Animation pt. 8: Quickly, I want to show you how we would do a long-sleeved design on a character like this. I'm going to make a duplicate of this comp, and rename it Paul Longsleeves. I'll go into that comp and I'll start with his left arm. The first thing I want to do is change his arm color to be the same as his shirt color. So I'll come up to the Stroke color, click on the "Eyedropper" and sample his shirt, I'll hit "OK". Then we'll do a similar technique as what we did with the hand on the right arm. But this time we can keep it all into one layer. So I'll open up the left arm layer, go into the Contents, go into Group 1, and see that we have a path and a stroke. I'm going to rename this group, Arm. Then I'll duplicate that group by pressing Command or Control D, and rename that layer, Hand. Now that I have the hand group selected, I'll switch to my Pen tool and change the stroke color from blue back to the skin color, I'll hit "OK". Then I want to get rid all of the animation of that path. So we'll open up the path and click on the "Stopwatch" to get rid of all the key frames. Then I'll scroll down to the arm group, expand that path, and then I want to use an expression to link these two paths together, just like we did between this hand and the arm. I'll hold down option or Alt and click on the "Stopwatch" to create an expression. Then I'll grab the Expression pick whip and drag it to the path for the arm, then let go and click "Off". Now, wherever this path goes, this path will go with it. With this group selected, I'll add a trim paths. I'll collapse the path and open up trim paths, and change the start value to be down to about where I want the hand to be. Probably, right about there. Now I want the sleeve to overlap the hand, so I'm going to collapse the hand group, collapse the arm group, and rearrange it so that the arm is above the hand. Now we need to go into the arms group and add a trim paths, open up the trim paths, and change the end value so that it exposes the hand. Now if you're happy with the round cap on the sleeve, then that works just fine. If you don't want a round cap, you can come into this stroke and adjust the line cap from round to butt. But keep the line join at round join. Now for this design, it might work fine, I'd probably mask off the shoulder cuff, and then I'd have to adjust my path to fit the shoulder. But I'm not going to worry about that right now. I designed this character to have a cuffed shoulder. This isn't exactly how I would make it, but you can apply this technique to your design however you need to. If you didn't have a shoulder, you might need the end of this path to be a round cap. I'm going to undo to get back to being at a round cap. Then I'll actually duplicate the hand one more time, and I'll rename this, Cuff. Then I'll bring that above the arm and change the color to be the same as the cuff that we have on the shoulder, then I'll press "OK". Because this is a duplicate of the hand, the path is automatically linked by expressions to the arm path. So we don't have to recreate that. I'll come into this stroke and change it from round cap to butt cap, collapse that stroke back up, and we also still have our trim paths so I can expand that down. Now I want to make the cuff a little bit wider, and I also want to push it up on the sleeve just a little bit. But instead of adjusting the start and end values, I can just grab the offset, and offset it back just a little bit until it's about where I want it. Then I can go back into the Arm layer, open up the Trim Paths, and adjust the end to go behind the cuff. Now I have a long-sleeved arm with the cuff still animated in the exact same way that I had before. If I wanted to, I could even adjust the cuff stroke to be a little bit wider. If I wanted to add some more detail, I could even duplicate the cuff group, go into it, change the strokes color to be maybe this light color again. Adjust the trim paths so that it's even thinner, and offset it to be aligned at the center of the cuff. Now I've got a multi-colored cuff. You can play around with your design with the number of strokes, their colors, how wide they are, and linking everything together with expressions means that you only have to animate one path. That's how you can handle creating long sleeves with your characters. Like I said, I wouldn't need the shoulders if I was designing my character this way. I would just need to make sure that in my original design, the path went up to where the shoulder began. That way everything still lines up nicely. All right. Now that my animation is complete, I can move on to shading. 16. Shading pt. 1: To add some shading to my design, I'm going to use After Effects Layer Styles, which are very similar to Photoshop's layer styles if you've ever used them before. Let's start with the head. I'll switch to the Zoom tool by pressing Z on the keyboard and then clicking a couple times, and I'll select the head. If I right-click on the "Layer" and go to Layer Styles, I'm going to add an inner shadow. After Effects adds an inner shadow to that layer, and it automatically adds the layer styles to the layer itself and gives me options for an inner shadow. I'm going to expand that down so I can see all of the controls I have. I can adjust things like the distance, the angle, the size, which controls feathering, and a bunch of other controls. I want to change the color to be the same as the skin color, and then I want to darken it just a little bit. Then I'll press "OK". Blend mode is set to multiply so it's blending this color on top of my skin color, and just giving it some nice shading. The opacity set to 75 is fine for now. I want to adjust the angle so that shadow is happening down here on this side of the head and then wraps around the chin just a little bit. The distance is a little too high, so I'll back that up. While the soft feathered shadow looks nice, I want to make this a little bit more stylized. So I'm going to come down to the last control, which is noise and increase that a bit, and that just turns the soft shadow into more of a grainy, gritty texture. I'll play around with the size and the distance a little bit more until it's looking about the way that I want it. Then I think I want to make the color just a little bit more orange and little more saturated right about there, and then I'll back off the opacity about there. I don't want to overdo it with the shading, but I definitely want you to know it's there. If I zoom out a little bit, I think I could increase the size and maybe up the noise a little bit. There, I think that looks pretty good. Now that I've set that up, I'm going to copy the inner shadow and paste it onto the left arm. I might want to adjust some of the settings, so I'll zoom in here, open up the inner shadow, maybe change the size down just a little bit, and back up the distance as well. I think that looks pretty good. I still have that copied so I'll go up to the neck and paste it there, zoom in, and maybe I'll increase the opacity of this one so that it differentiates from the head a little bit more. Then I'll select the ear and paste it onto that. Because this layer so small, I'm definitely going to need to make this inner shadow size smaller, as well as the distance that it's offset. Maybe something like that, looks pretty good. Then I'll select the hair and paste it onto that layer, and I'm going to want to resample the color because it's no longer skin colored. We'll grab the eyedropper and select the hair itself, and that just makes everything a little bit darker. I think that works pretty well for the hair. I don't need to do it to the sunglasses. Because they're pure black so you wouldn't see the shadow. But I'll come over to the guitar and paste it onto there. Again, opening up the Layer Styles, going into the inner shadow and sampling the red color this time. Because this is at a different rotation, then all of our other objects, I need to adjust the angle as well, so that it's also coming from the bottom left. Maybe I'll turn the red down just a little bit so it's more noticeable. Increase the opacity, adjust the angle a little bit more. There we go. That's looking a little bit better. I'll back off the noise just a little, maybe back-off the distance, increase the size at all. Basically, just play around with these settings until you've got something that you're happy with. Next, let's do the torso. Paste onto that. Go into the inner shadow and sample. Let's do the dark color of the shirt. I actually like the way that looks. I don't think I need to make any adjustments, but I'll actually copy that inner shadow and paste it on both shoulders. The left one lines up nicely with the torso, but the right one does not. So I'm going to have to modify the right shoulders inner shadow. I'll go into it and I'm going to change the angle to be on the outside of the arm. Maybe turn the size down some. I think that matches better. Basically, I'm trying to just avoid showing that separation between the shoulder and the arm as much as possible. Then finally, I forgot to do this arm over here so I'll grab the left arms layer and go into the inner shadow, and copy it. Go to the right arm and paste, and then modify the inner shadow's angle until it shows up where I want it to. I believe that's everything. Again, the pants are pure black, so I don't need to add an inner shadow to that because you wouldn't even see it. Now if I preview this, you can see our entire animation is completely textured. Now, I left off the texture on the hand because I didn't think I needed it, but now that I'm watching the animation on this frame, you can clearly tell this part of the path isn't getting shaded. I'm going to go to that layer, which if you remember we locked so that we didn't accidentally move it. I need to unlock it and then I'll paste the layer style, and then I'll just modify it until it lines up a little bit better with the arm. That looks pretty good. Now I'll back out and preview the whole thing. Just like that, my character is shaded and stylized right here in After Effects. I think it adds a lot more depth and adds a pretty cool look to the design. 17. Shading pt. 2: All right. Now that this design and animation is complete, let's create a background to put him on. I'll start by dragging this comp into the new Comp button. That creates a new comp, placing the comp that I dragged to it inside of it. So if I double-click on this "Comp", it takes us right back to where we were, in our main animated comp. I'm actually going to rename this, Paul-Loop, and that'll be my animation comp. Then I'll rename this comp, Paul-Meany, which is his last name, and only use this as my final export comp. So I'll close this comp. In this comp, the first frame of this comp starts with the first frame of this comp as well. So if you remember, I jumped 30 frames forward before I started animating anything, and I ended at frame 94. So I need to trim the layer in this comp to 30 frames and 94 frames. I'm already at 30 frames, so I'll trim this layer by holding "Option or Alt" on a PC and pressing the "Left Bracket". Then the easiest way to get to the out point is to double-click on the "Comp" and go to the Out point in this comp, and then jump back to your main comp and you see that it is automatically jumped to frame 94. Then I'll hold "Option or Alt" on a PC and press the "Right Bracket" to trim the layer down to that point. I also could have done this by clicking and dragging on the end of this layer and then holding "Shift" to snap to the play-head. But keyboard shortcuts really speed up your process, so that's why I use them. Now if I zoom in here and press "I" to jump to the in point of that layer and set my work areas end point by pressing "B", then I'll press "O" to jump to the output of that layer and press "N" to set my out point. I can RAM preview this, and we've got our animated loop. Now I need to point out something very subtle, but very important. As we get to the end of this animation, and it starts over again, you'll notice a tiny little jump, right there. It might be so small that you don't even see it, but here's what's happening. The first frame of this comp is identical to the last frame of this comp. As I jump between the in and out points, you see nothing is changing. That means that when it loops, it's playing this frame once and then jumping to the front and playing it again. So what I need to do is trim off the last frame of this comp, so that the very last frame before it loops that plays is one frame prior, which is here. There's definitely a difference between those two frames. So I want to backup one frame from the end by pressing "Page Up", hold "Option or Alt", and press the "Right Bracket". Then I'll bring in the out point of my work area one frame and preview again by pressing "0" on the keypad. Now I've got a 100 percent seamless loop. Now that I know this is perfectly seamless, I'm going to back it up to the front of the comp. So I'll move my play head to that point and then press the "Left Bracket" to have that layer jump back to the first frame. Now I can create a background for this animation. So I'll start by making a new solid by coming up to Layer, saying New, Solid. I'm going to make it this nice, bluish green color right about there and hit "Okay". I'll drag that below my character. Then I'll make another new solid, Layer, New, Solid, and this time I'll make it a black fill. Hit "Okay". Then I'll click and hold on my "Rectangle Tool" so I can get to the Ellipse Tool. I'll click and drag from the center of the comp, and I'll hold "Shift" to make it a perfect circle, as well as "Command or Control" on a PC, to scale it from the center, and I'll bring it all the way out to the edges of the comp. You see that as I added that mask, the layers automatically expanded the masks and given me mask one. I'll change that from add to subtract, so it punches a hole in the layer. Then I'll expand the Mask options and turn the feathering up quite a bit. So this is kind of creating a vignette. Then I want to change my blend mode from Normal, scroll down to Overlay, and I'm going to turn my expansion down, which will bring that mask inwards, so that really puts the focus on the character. I'll collapse that layer and then I want to add a noise affect on top of that layer. So I'll come over to my Effects and Presets and type in noise. Under Noise and Grain, here is the Noise effect, so I'll drag that onto the black solid and turn up the amount. Now it might be a little difficult to see at this zoom level, so I'm going to go into a 100 percent so I can see what I'm doing better. I'm going to increase this noise until it's about at the level that I want. I think that looks pretty good. Now, by default that effect is animated, so as I move on you see the noise changes on every frame. I want it to be a still texture not moving. So I'm going to select that Black Solid and I'll come up to Layer and say all the way down at the bottom, Pre-compose. That'll open up this dialogue that allows me to rename it, so I'll name this vignette grain. I'll make sure that I check, "Move all attributes into the new composition", and I'll press "Okay". Now what that did, was it made the composition, the size and duration of that solid layer, and moved it into that comp, and then replaced the layer with that comp. Because I told After Effects to move all the attributes into the new composition, this layer doesn't have any effects applied. They're all contained within that pre-comp. It also means that the blending mode is no longer set to overlay. So I'm going to have to reset that to get the blending to happen the way that I had it before, and the animation is still happening. That's because this comp preserves the timeline of what was inside it. But if I right-click on the "Layer", scroll down to Time, and choose Freeze Frame, that will hold the animation of that comp on whatever frame I was currently displaying. So now wherever I move in my timeline, that texture stays exactly the same. If you wanted to change the color, you can come to the Solid and come up to Layer, Solid Settings and re-adjust the color to whatever you'd like, but that grain vignette will always be there. 18. Exporting a GIF: Now that I've completed my composition, I can export my animation as a GIF. To do that, I'll make sure that my work area is set to the beginning and end of my seamless looping comp. Preview the animation to make sure everything looks right. It does. Now I'll export a movie from After Effects. To do that, I'll come up to composition and say Add to Render queue and I'll make sure that my output module is set to lossless. That's just an uncompressed format. It generally produces very large files, but because my animation is only 63 frames long, it won't be that big of a deal. Now one thing I do want to change is the size of the comp. If you remember, we have this set to being 1440 by 1080, and that's bigger than I need for my GIF. In the Render queue, I'm going to click on the words "Lossless" and under the Output module settings, I'm going to resize this from 1440 by 1080 to 800 by 600. Because my aspect ratio was locked, it automatically sized the height to match the width proportion. Then I'll make sure that my audio output is turned off, it's set to auto, so it shouldn't include it. But just to be safe, I'm going to turn it off, click "Okay", and then under output two, I'll click on the blue text, make sure it's set to my desktop, hit "Save", and then I can render. Now that that's complete, I'll open up Photoshop and I'll open up that file. There it is. Now, if you don't have a timeline in your photoshop, just come up to a window and make sure that timeline is checked. This allows me to play back the animation. It may not play back in real time and will probably lower the resolution. But this way you can tell that all of your frames are there. Then I'm going to come up to "File". I'm using CC 2015, which is moved saved for web to this export sub menu. But if you're using an older version, it's probably going to show up right about here. Either way, go to Save for web. This will allow me to export a GIF. Now I have the GIF128 dithered reset already. If you don't, just click on this preset and make sure that that's the one you check. By default, this looks terrible. My GIF is compressing the image too much and not giving me enough colors to support the quality that I need. The first thing I want to do is increase the colors from 128 to 256. That cleared up most of the mess. There's a little bit of detail on the hair that doesn't look too nice and my texture looks a little bit crunchy. If I turn the dither up to a 100 percent, that might help smooth things out a little bit. But one thing you've just got to except with GIFs, is that the quality is going to be lowered. They work super well with flat vector looking objects, but as soon as you start adding in texture, there's going to be a noticeable drop in quality. It's just something you have to put up with. Now, I resize this to 800 by 600 because that's the resolution that I tried to upload to dribble. But because I'm uploading the Skillshare, it doesn't actually need to be that large. The width of an image on a project page on Skillshare is 580. If I come down to the image size and type in 580, photoshop will resize my GIF and then recompress it. Now you see that my GIF's file size has dropped down to almost one megabyte, which is great. Now again, it may be a little hard to see on this video, but the quality is not perfect. It's definitely not what I had inside of after effects. But that's just something you have to deal with when you're compressing your own GIFs. Once you've set up your compression settings the way that you want them, and you're happy with the quality and file size of your image, the last thing you should do before you click "Save" is come down to the animation and makes sure that Looping options is set from once to forever. Otherwise your GIF will not loop. For some reason when adjusting settings, photoshop likes to reset that property back to none. That's why I say you should do that as your final step before hitting "Save". Now we'll click "Save" and export it to the desktop. Now we can come over to Skillshare and upload my GIF. Then you want to make sure that you do not upload your GIF as a project to cover photo. This is really just to display as a thumbnail inside the project gallery. It'll crop your image and it won't play back as an animation. Instead, come down to your project workspace and click on "Upload photo", find your GIF, and double-click on it. It'll take a second to upload. Once it's finished uploading, it'll appear in your project. This is a great way to double-check that your GIF actually loops. It's playing back the way that I wanted to hear, so I know it's going to display correctly when I publish. Now if you can't get your GIF to be smaller than two megabytes, you could upload it to a site like imager. You can copy the URL for the image and then come up to Insert Image and paste the URL under source. You don't have to worry about the other settings, just hit "Okay". That will also display your image even if it's over two megabytes. That's all there is to it. 19. Thank You!: That's it. Thank you so much for taking this class. I hope you had as much fun taking it as I did creating it. I can't wait to see all the great animations that come out of this class. Don't forget to post your final project to the project page. If you share your animations on social media, be sure that you tag me @jakeinmotion. I would love it if you left me a review for this class. If you have any questions about any part of the process, I'm here to help. Just post them on the ask me anything discussion on the Community page. Again, thank you so much for taking this class, and I'll see you next time.