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9 Lessons (1h 17m)
    • 1. Trailer

    • 2. Design in Illustrator - Part 1

    • 3. Design in Illustrator - Part 2

    • 4. Build in After Effects

    • 5. Rigging the Mouth

    • 6. Animate the Lip Sync - Part 1

    • 7. Animate the Lip Sync - Part 2

    • 8. Animate the Lip Sync - Part 3

    • 9. Render and Share your Talking Character

20 students are watching this class

Project Description

Create a simple talking character

Design in Illustrator

  1. Illustrate the character

    In Adobe Illustrator follow the video to create a simple character.

    Use the Pen Tool to create both a Head and Torso.

    Use the Pen Tool to create Arms from Strokes.

    Save your character as an Adobe Illustrator file ''.


  2. Separate the character into layers

    Using the Layers console in Adobe Illustrator, Cut and Paste the elements of the character into separate Layers as shown below.


  3. Illustrate the mouth positions

    In Adobe Illustrator, create a new Layer for your Mouth positions labeled 'Mouth'.

    Following the video guide, Illustrate your 'Resting' Mouth position using the Pen Tool.

    Beside your character on the 'Mouth' Layer, use the Type Tool to create a grid by labeling the other 13 Mouth positions with their phonetic sounds as below.


    Using the Pen Tool and following the video guide, illustrate each of the major Mouth positions next to the phonetic sound labels as below.


  4. Label and layer the mouth positions

    Using the Layer console, create a new Layer for each of the Mouth positions.

    Label each Layer with the corresponding phonetic sounds of each Mouth position as seen below.


    Following the video guide closely, position and scale each of the Mouth shapes onto the character's face.

    Attached below is a guide to how your character should be laid out in Adobe Illustrator.

Build in After Effects

  1. Import the character and adjust project and composition settings

    Open Adobe After Effects.

    Adjust your Project Settings by opening 'File > Project Settings'.


    Make sure you have 'Timecode Basis' selected and either 25 or 30 fps (frames per second) selected for your project.


    Import your Adobe Illustrator '' file by selecting 'File > Import > File'.



    When prompted, be sure to import '' as a Composition file type.


    You should now have a Composition Timeline appear with your Layers in the order they are arranged in your '' file.


    Finally increase the size of your Composition to Full HD (1920 x 1080) pixels.

    Set your Composition Length to 0:00:20:00 (20 seconds)


  2. Create a mouth composition

    In your 'Character' Composition, select all the Mouth related Layers.


    With the selection made, click 'Layer > Pre-compose'.


    When the Pre-compose console appears, name the new Composition 'Mouth'.


    The new Mouth Composition should appear in your Character Composition as a new Layer


    Finally, open your Mouth Composition and turn off all Layers but the 'Rest' Mouth position.


  3. Create animated eyes

    Select the Pen Tool.


    Mask the Eyes Layer to separate them from the Eyebrows



    Select the Pan Behind Tool and move the Anchor Point between the Eyes.

    Create a simple blink action by adjusting the Scale of the Eyes Layer and Keyframing the blink remembering to uncouple the dimensions of the Scale function.


  4. Create arms and eyebrows using strokes

    Using the Pen Tool and making sure all other Layers are unselcted, draw your Eyebrow Stroke to create a Shape Layer.


    Open up the Layer and adjust the Color and Stroke Width to suit your Character's Eyebrows.


    Use the same Pen Tool technique to create your Character's Arms and Hand Layers.


    Adjust the Line Width, Color and Line Caps to create your Arms and Hands.

    Use the Trim Path function to crop the Hands where needed.


  5. Parent layers for animation

    Use the expression console to Pickwip the Path of the Hands Layers to the Paths of their respective Arm Layers.


    Use the Shy Layers functions to Hide the Hand Layers while animating.


    Use the Pan Behind Tool to move the Anchor Points of Each Layer for Parenting.


    Finally Parent each of the Layers to each other for animation. See below.


    Attached below are the project files thus far.

Rigging the Mouth

  1. Split up and label the mouth layers

    In your Mouth Composition reduce the length of each Layer to 1 Frame on the Timeline. Spread the Mouth Layers out so that they fill 14 consecutive Frames.


    Reduce the length of the Mouth Composition to 14 Frames by adjusting the Composition Settings by selecting 'Composition > Composition Settings'.


    Using the Type Tool, create text corresponding to the phonetic labels of the Layers next to the each Mouth shape. Make each a Frame in length.


  2. Time remap the mouth to animate

    Select the Mouth Layer and Enable Time Remapping on that Layer by selecting 'Time > Enable Time Remapping'.


    Extend the 'Rest' Mouth Layer beyond the last frame of the Mouth Composition.


    Attached below are the project files thus far.

Animate the Lip Sync

  1. Import your audio

    Import your audio file by selecting 'File > Import > File' and selecting the .wav, .mp3 or .aiff file of your choice. The Lip Sync Audio.wav file used in the demonstration is attached.


    Drag the File into the New Composition icon and double click on the New Composition to view it on the Timeline

    Open the fold down options to view the audio Waveform.


    Finally, drag the Audio Composition into your Character Composition and fold down to reveal the Waveform.


  2. Understand 'Toggle Hold' keyframing

    You will notice that the Time Remapping function creates Keyframes at the beginning and end of the original Composition length. Between these two Keyframes, all other Frames of the Composition are tweened.

    Select both and Right Click on one of the Keyframes 'Toggle Hold Keyframe'. You will notice the Frames now only change when a new Keyframe is reached on the Timeline. There is no Tweening of Frames.


    The Keyframes should now appear differently shaped with one or both ends of the Keyframe appearing flat as below.


  3. Animate the mouth

    In this section it is important to follow the video guide closely. Lip Sync is more of an art than a science and requires a little practice to become familiar with the phonotic mouth positions.

    Hold the Cmd/ Ctrl key while scrubbing through the Timeline to play the audio in time with your scrubbing.

    Hold the Cmd/ Ctrl key while increasing or decreasing the value of the Time Remapping (which will scroll through the mouth positions) to slow down the rate at which you scroll with the mouse giving you extra precision.

    Your Composition should begin to look as below.


  4. RAM preview, check and adjust your animation

    Once you have placed the Work Area Ends around the section of the Timeline you want to RAM Preview, you can click on the RAM Preview button in the Preview console to see a real time Render of your work so far to check your working.


  5. Animate some character gesticulation

    Using the simple character rig we set up earlier, add movement to your character to emphasise his speech.

    By controling the Position and Rotation of the Head and Torso elements and the Mask Paths of the Arms and Eyebrows, create Keyframes between key poses for your character.


    Once complete, select all the Keyframes and Ease the motion between them by selecting 'Animation > Keyframe Assistant > Easy Ease'.


    Having done that, adjust the influence of the Easing to create a more natural motion by selecting Keyframes and Right Clicking one of them to select 'Keyframe Velocity'


    In the Keyframe Velocity console, increase the Influence on your Keyframes to 66% for softer in and out movement.


    Note: It's important that when adjusting Keyframe Velocity, you select only Keyframes of a particular type. ie only Rotational Keyframes.


    Attached below are the complete animation files.

Render and Share your Talking Character

  1. Select the render area

    Select your Render Area by sliding your Work Area Ends around the section of your Timeline you wish to Render.


    At this point you can change the color of the Background of your character Composition by re-opening your Composition Settings. Click 'Composition > Composition Settings' and using the Color Picker to select your chosen color.


  2. Adjust your render settings

    To Render your animation. Click 'Composition > Make Movie'.


    Your Render Queue will now contain your Character Composition. You can change its name and Render destination by adjusting the 'Output to' section.


    Click on the 'Output Module' to adjust the Render size and file type options. Make sure to turn on the Audio Output to render the sound to your film.


    When you are happy, click the Render button to complete the process. When you hear the chime, the Render is complete and you should be able to view it through your media Player.

    Note; for .mov files Quicktime is advised.


  3. Post your creation to the web and skillshare

    Once you have your animation file, don't keep it to yourself. Please upload to Vimeo or Youtube and post a link to your video into the Student Projects page here on Skillshare.

    Tip: We currently don't have the ability to embed video files. If you'd like to visualise your project, try taking a screen capture of your animation and hyperlinking the image to your video.

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