Character Animation: Creating Authentic Facial Expressions in Adobe After Effects | Fraser Davidson | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Character Animation: Creating Authentic Facial Expressions in Adobe After Effects

teacher avatar Fraser Davidson, Designer / Director / Animator

Watch this class and thousands more

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

Watch this class and thousands more

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

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Meet Joysticks n' Sliders


    • 3.

      Creating Your Illustrator Document


    • 4.

      Designing Your Character


    • 5.

      Separating the Layers in Illustrator


    • 6.

      Importing Artwork Into After Effects


    • 7.

      Refining Artwork in After Effects


    • 8.

      Initial Character Rigging


    • 9.

      Creating the Eye Joystick


    • 10.

      Creating the Eyebrow Joystick


    • 11.

      Creating the Mouth Slider


    • 12.

      Preparing the Head Joystick


    • 13.

      Creating the Head Joystick


    • 14.

      Preparing For Animation


    • 15.

      Animating the Face


    • 16.

      Final Thoughts


    • 17.

      Explore More Classes on Skillshare


  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Discover the secret to animating vibrant, realistic facial expressions with BAFTA Award-winning director and animator Fraser Davidson!

The secret to animating your character’s head and facial features for fluid, authentic expressions? It’s all in how you use Joysticks n’ Sliders, one of Fraser’s favorite downloadable plug-ins for Adobe After Effects. Start by downloading this revolutionary plug-in and get ready to animate more easily than ever before!

Plug-ins are one of the easiest ways to level up your animations and customize your After Effects setup so you can create the exact animations you’ve always imagined—especially when it comes to detailed facial features and nuanced character expressions. From downloading and installing your first plug-in to final adjustments to your character, Fraser shares every step of his in-depth process for using Joysticks n’ Sliders to craft his personal, award-winning animation style. 

Through easy-to-follow, bite-sized lessons, you'll illustrate a simple character and animate their face and expressions along with Fraser in real time, learning:

  • Installation and set up for the plug-in
  • Practical applications of Joysticks n’ Sliders for expressive animations
  • Fraser's tips and tricks for getting the most out of Joysticks n' Sliders

Whether this is your first step into the world of plug-ins or you’ve been using them for years, this class will give you the tools you need level-up your animation and get the most out of Joysticks n’ Sliders—unlocking your ability to craft realistic and detailed movements in every character animation project you take on. 

This class is designed for students with a working knowledge of Adobe Illustrator and Adobe After Effects. Click here to download your free trial of Joysticks n’ Sliders before you take the class (just click “Try” instead of “Check Out”).

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Fraser Davidson

Designer / Director / Animator


BAFTA Award-winning director and animator. Co-founder and owner of Cub Studio. Has worked with many of the worlds leading sporting institutions (including the NFL, England Rugby, the NCAA, the IOC, Canadian Olympic Committee, Fox Sports, ESPN and more) as both an animator and brand designer.



See full profile

Level: Intermediate

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: The ability to use characters as proxies for your narrative is incredibly powerful. The tools that make them more human really just adds huge value to your ability to cope directly to your viewers by your characters. Hi, I'm Fraser Davidson, designer and animator from the UK. Today, I'm going to be teaching you how to create expressive character animations in After Effects. I run CUB Studio, where our animation studios now located in Brighton. We create characterful, fun animations for social media companies, sports franchises, and everything in between. So in this class I'll be teaching you how to create and animate a simple character's face using joysticks and sliders. Joysticks and sliders is simply a tool that allows you to move multiple layers using a single controller. We use joysticks and sliders for any project that requires character faces, characters you need to express, remotes, cork, anything like that. We've broken up the lessons into easy steps so it's easier to follow along and prepare a story. We'll be designing our character and illustrator before labeling and layering him up. We'll import and rig our character in After Effects, we will then apply the joysticks and sliders, plug in to our character to give us the controllers which we're going to animate. Finally, we're going to animate our character to create expressions. Joysticks and sliders is totally revolutionized the way that we're able to animate characters. It's made it infinitely simpler and far quicker than it ever could have been in the past. So I'm excited to get started. Let's dive in. 2. Meet Joysticks n' Sliders: Joysticks n' Sliders is simply a tool that allows you to move multiple layers using a single controller. Since it came out, myself and my studio mates have been using it for a huge array of commercial and personal projects. You can use to Joysticks n' Sliders to animate anything that requires the simultaneous movement of multiple elements but we tend to use it for animating faces. The power of Joysticks n' Sliders is really its ability to rig so many elements simultaneously. If you're unfamiliar with it, rigging is the attaching and tying together of elements in a specific way so that they animate together. The beauty of this rigging is that it allows you to use a single controller to move the entire rig. For example, rather than moving my head, my nose, both my eyes, I can now move the whole face using one controller. So now let's see where you can download Joysticks n' Sliders. So if you follow the URL in the corner, you can download the trial of Joysticks n' Sliders here. So we're going to click on our link and open it, and we're just going to copy the contents of the Joysticks n' Slides folder and paste that into our After Effects scripts folder, like that. So once we've done that and we've restarted After Effects, we are going to find our Joysticks n' Sliders console by going to File, Scripts, and clicking on Joysticks n' Sliders here, and there's our console. So now that we've downloaded and installed Joysticks n' Sliders, I'm going to show you how to create a character's face from scratch. 3. Creating Your Illustrator Document: Okay. So I'm going to start by creating our Illustrator documents. We open up Illustrator, and we're going to create a 1920 by 1080 point on board here. So it should appear like this, landscape. I'm going to save this in my Illustrator file here as Joysticks n Sliders. I'm going to save that. 4. Designing Your Character: So we're going to create a head and shoulders for our joysticks and slide this character. We're going to do that by using the circle tool to draw a circular head. If you hold Shift, that will enable you to keep it perfectly circular rather than an oval shape. As you expand it and we get. Now, I'm going to color this using my preset colors here. I'm going to leave my pink face, and I'm going to use the rounded rectangle tool to create neck form down here. So here we go. I'm going to pull in these curves, and I'm going to use similarly a rounded rectangle tool. I'm going to color blue. Pull that down off screen, and I give it some corners, and then I'm just going to chop off the bottom of the head, and standard polish show that a little bit. I'm going to arrange and send that to the back, and that's this head, neck, and shoulders. You can make sure these are lined by clicking on the align tool and aligning them centrally there. Now, let's add some detail to our face. So I'm going to create some eyes for our character. I am going to pull circle down once again. Big wide eyes [inaudible] white, and I copy and paste in front there. Create a second eye, I'm going to copy and paste in front of [inaudible]. Once again, I'm going to make some pupils for our guy. Now, if I group the pupils and then similarly group the eyes, and when I select everything and arrange it centrally, that'll just pop those perfectly in place with absolutely symmetrical. Now, I'm going to create some ears for him. Now, because of the way our character's going to move and you'll see why later, the best thing to do here really is to create ears is that exists all the way along way across the head like so, and I am going to cut those so like the circle and paste them, and that'll just paste them in front of the circle but behind the eyes. Again, I can just make sure this is all symmetrical by aligning it centrally. Now, I'm going to use tool here, another circle, a pinch from the eye just to create a little mouth. I'm going to select using the individual select tool and X. Click what we had before and F, paste in front. For this, I'm going to use a stroke. So I'm going to flip it from a fill to a stroke, and I'm going to give it a curved ending, and there we go. Then I'm going to color it a little bit pinker then its face here. There we go. Am I flipping that around, we can get back to pink stroke. Now, I'm going to create some very simple eyebrows for our character, and we're going to give him a neutral expression because that's how we want our face to start off. So I'm not going to angle them at all. Again, I'm going to group them together here for the moment. Now, I want to create a little nose for our guy here. I'm going to do that by creating a square, I'm going to pull in the corners of the square hedges by selecting the point, the individual vertices and moving them with the arrow keys. I am going to grab these points at the bottom here and pull them, integrate nice little curve, and I'm just going to delete this piece in the middle. Now, we're not going to use this nose as it is in the animation but you'll see why I've extended it beyond what I want. What I actually want for the noise is going to look more like this. We're going to use a path trimming tool to create. That's going to use these extra extended arms of the nose just to create a bridge when we move the head left and right. So I'm going to leave them on for the moment. So next up, we want to create some hair. I'm just going to copy and paste it in front of this circle here. This is going to be the back of his hair. So I'm going to send this to the back in a second. For my swatches, I'm going to use my yellow color here and swap that around. I'm going to send this to the back of the count, and you can do it by arranging and send to back. That's going to be this bubble on the back of his head, I'm going to give his head some 3D form when we come to rotate it. At the front, I'm going to give him a little tuft of hair. Copy, paste in front and give him a little tuft of hair to sit very front. Now, we're going to need a bit of hair either side of that. So what I'm going to do is to create a body of head that's going to act as the the head. It exists above his ears, it goes all the way around to the back of his head. In order to do that, I want that to extend beyond the circle of his head itself. So I'm going to draw a very big square like this. I'm going to make that a stroke for a second so you can see what I'm doing. It's going all the way around, move with this and back. Now, next bit odd at the moment. But the way we're going to mask that, After Effects is going to make sense. I'm just going to pull these cones out, so we get some nice corners working there. Now, if you want to see how your character is looking, I copy, select the hair, paste in front of the hair. Select the circular of the head and head together and hit command seven. You get an idea of how that's going to mask out. So you can play with it in the meantime to see how that will slide from side to side to give us a bit of dimension to the hair. At the moment, I don't need that. Then I'm going to save my character. 5. Separating the Layers in Illustrator: So as the little things when bringing illustrations in glass perfect, I'm going to split the all elements up into layers. Before I do that, I'm just going to make sure everything's ungrouped so that we're able to split the eyes apart, and pupils, or anything that was grouped previously. I'm going to start with the nose, and then label them as I go. Mouth, I'm roughly going to do it in the order of zed space in which all these elements are going to appear in my animation, because I want things at the front to be in the top layers and things at the back to be in the back layers. So I'm going to call this hair front. Next, I'm going to do my pupils in my eyes, so pupil right, pupil left. Labeling all these elements will just make it that much easier later on to tell exactly what we're dealing with in our animation. Eye left, here we go. Do our eyebrows. I want these to move independently of each other, so we're labeling everything correctly. So now, we've got our hair mid. We've got our head and that's going to be the anchor for all the other elements. We've got our neck, and our ears are going to be towards the back of our head, so they're going to be next. Finally, we've got the hair at the very back. I have to select a few other things to find it. Here we go. That's our hair at the back of our head call it hair back, and finally, our torso. 6. Importing Artwork Into After Effects: Now that our character will nicely broken up into layers and we have separated everything out, we can bring him into After Effects. I am going to open a new project, I'm going to go to file, import file, and I'm going to find my joysticks and sliders ai file, select that, and this is very important. We're going to bring this in as a composition and not as footage. The reason is we didn't want to bring it in as a single flat illustrator layer, we want to bring it in with all our illustrator layers intact. So open that up, select our competition here and you can see that it's brought in all of our layers faithfully. 7. Refining Artwork in After Effects: It's a bit of housekeeping. To start with, we're just going to select all our layers here on the timeline, and we're going to use this little star icon here, and that constantly rasterizes all our Illustrator files and just make sure that after effects interprets them as vectors, so that we can zoom in on them as we would be able to Illustrator in the same way. Next, we're going to open up composition settings. I'm going to make the background white in this case. It's just for visibility, but we're going to make sure it's 19,20, 30 frames a second. I've got a duration of 200 frames for this composition. I can change that later if I need to. Then we're going to select all our layers and hit. That's one shift all these layers. I'm going to hit "T" to bring up our capacity, and you can open up all your layers individually in the transform and adjust all these these key elements individually bit. If you hit "T" that'll bring up just the capacity. I'm going to set that to 50 percent. Now, if we look in our view here, I'll zoom in on here. You'll see that just allows us to see exactly where each of the elements sits and when we revert back to 100 percent we'll see the character is normal, but for the moment we we get to see him so that we can see where his ears are, when they're behind the eyes. Where his neck is, how his tassel is, and how it will rotating in relation to each other. I'm going to save my file, joysticks and sliders and After Effects. I'm going to call this "Joysticks and Sliders." We're going to slightly break up our Rick here. We're going to do that because we want to treat the eyes separately to the Rick that we're going to create for our face. So again, select now "Pupil Right" and "Pupil Left" "Eye right" "Eye left." We're going to right-click and we're going to precomposed these elements. I'm going to call these "Eyes Precomp" click "Okay" and you'll see that on perfects makes another little precomp here. In your project folder, that features just the eyes. Now in order to see those, I'm going to change the color of the background to red and now we can just pick out our eyes, met composition. We solo it. You can see that stays inside the main comp as a precomposed set of eyes. So when we move that, you see that After Effects is treating those as a single element now. 8. Initial Character Rigging: So now, it's part of our initial rigging. We're going to parent elements to each other, so that when we move them, they will move as they should. For example, the eye precomp here, we're going to attach to the head. Now, when we move the head, the eyes go with it. These eyebrows, however, we are going to attach to the eyes because they are always going to track with the eyes. So we set into our eye precomp, as you can see. There we go. Now, they follow the eyes around the head. But the nose, mouth here at the front, here at the mid and the ears and hair at the back, we all want those things to track with the head. So we're going to attach them to the head, set out by selecting the Head there and navigate. Now, the head moves as one. The head itself, we're going to connect to the neck and the neck to the torso. So next up what we want to do, you'll see this little dot in the middle of each of the layers. Now, that's the layer's anchor point, the point around which all those layers rotate. So for example, my head here, if I hit R will rotate and scale around that point. But we want to move these so that they rotate in more natural positions. We're going to do that by using this pan behind key where you can hit Y to bring that up on your keyboard. Now, when I drag that element, you see that it moves our rotational point to the neck. So we're going to do that to all our layers here. We're going to pull it down to our neck. Our torso, we're going to have move down here. Now, our ears, we want to move in the middle there, so that would be about right. The hair at the back. That moves to the middle of the hair on the back, so that each of these layers if you want by adding the solo layer there. So here's neck, head, hair in the mid. That's our hair in the mid. My eyebrow, left. To be careful with positioning this, and then zoom-in. Our eyebrow right, same over here. Our hair front, precomp. I'm going to move that to the middle of the head front precomp. Our mouth let's move it down a little bit. Finally, our nose, middle of the nose. There we go. So if we select everything there, we should see all our precomps nicely arranged around the face. So now that we've got all of our anchor points in the correct position, I'm going to select all our layers, hit T and just put the opacity back up. Now, you can remember to do the same thing to your eye precomp here. So T again. The transparency backup. There's our character almost rigged. Now, what we're going t do for his hair, you remember we made this mid hair element that sort of scrolls off either side of his head. We're going to duplicate the head. I'm going to select it and hit command D. I'm just going to place this over the top of the hair. Now that's connected to the neck at the moment, but I want to connect that to the head now. Make sure that that head is parented by the original head, and that's so that it moves. It always moves with the head. The hair as you can see is going to move with the head. So we just want to make sure they both are attached to the same element. Now what we're going to do, we're going to add a track matte to this. So I'm going to go to my modes. Here we go. We've got our track matte modes. I've got my hair selected and what I'm going t do is add an Alpha matte. What's that doing is keying our hair through our head shape. You can see when I move the hair around, now it keys through that circle. Sometimes you can get a very faint little line around the edge of it, so what we're going to our head is just make that 101. That'll just make it a little bit bigger. See it expand there. There we go, and now our character is really getting there. So lastly in this initial rigging, we want our mouths and our noses, these layers do something slightly different in each case to the rest of our head. So I'm going to select both of these, and I'm going to click on the create shapes from vector layer. You can do this with any of your layers, but it's really only worth doing it with the layers that you are going to be implementing this kind of animation with. So I'm going to delete the original AI layers, the mouth and the nose here, leaving only nose outlines and mouth outlines. Now as you can see, if I open this up, I'm going to double-tap U. That's going to bring up the user interface, but you can swipe that down. Clicking down there. We can now adjust color, the stroke weight and all sorts of other things, but especially the path as you'd be able to do in Illustrator. So you can see now I can adjust that path to create different mouth shapes. The same is true of the nose. Now for our joysticks and slightest rigging, we want to add something special to the nose, that we're not going to add to the mouth and that is a trim paths function. So now I'm going to adjust the start and end points of that stroke. Let's say 25 and 75. A bit more I think. So let's go to 35 and 65. Now you can see that only part of the no strike is revealed. What this is going to allow us to do is create no shapes that run to the left and to the right to make it look like our nose is moving from side to side. But for the moment, I'm going to keep it where it is and close up our groups. So there we go. There's our initial rigging of our character. So we're going to adjust the anchor points now on our eyes. So there's our right eye. Again, have hit Y. I'm just going to pull that into the middle of the eye. I'm going to do the same for the left eye and the white of the right eye and the white of the left eye. Once again when our pupils move, we don't want them to stray outside the boundaries of white of our eyes. So what we're going to do, put these back where they started. I'm going to make a duplicate of the eye left. I'm going to bring up our parenting layers. I'm going to make sure that everything for the left eye is attached to the left eye, everything to the right eye is attached to the right eye. We give that a test. There we go. That works as it should. Bringing up our modes, I'm going to make sure that the left pupil is beneath the left eye, the right pupil beneath this right eye matte that we're going to create in here. I'm going to hit Alpha matte. Pupil left, I'm to do the same Alpha matte. Now, when I move those, you can see those are both matted by the original whites of the eyes. 9. Creating the Eye Joystick: The first joystick we're going to create is going to be for our eyes here. Now, let's bring up the key frames for the elements that we want our joystick to affect. In this case, I think it's just going to be maybe the whites of the eyes a little bit and the pupil to a greater extent because we want the eyes to look around using our joystick. So our eye left and eye right, we don't need to worry about because they are parented to the eye right and eye left respectively. But we want positional key frames for our pupils and the eye movement itself. So we can select them all, hit "P". The first thing we're going to key frame is our basic standard original position. We're going to take the step one key frame to the right in our timeline and we're going to key frame a basic right state for our joystick. We're going to do that by selecting our pupils. I'm going to make them look to the right. Now, you'll notice that in the initial state, there are a little bit both side is the character looks dead headed us, focusing on us. So what we might want to do is move our eyes, our pupils individually so that they're a little bit more uniform. What we're going to do to the base is just one, two, three, tap that a little bit to the right as well. So now we go, I'm looking straight ahead to the right. We have that little bit of movement in the eye itself and a bigger movement in the pupils. Now, I'm going to copy and paste our original key frames, just so we have a place to start from so that we can do the same in the other direction. I'm going to select the eyes and one, two, three, and we go a little bit to the left. Then I'm going to have, and our pupils look to the left individually key framing each of those. Now, we have straightforward, right, left, and I'm going to key frame back to the center again for our up-down. Now joysticks and sliders always works in the same way. It's center, right, left, up, down. So now for the up, I'm going to make our eyes move up three and our pupils one, two navigate all the way up, and then the key frame center state and do the same for down. So one, two, three little movement on the eyes and much bigger movements on the pupils. So there we have it now. We want to scrub through. Just make sure that it's all right for us right, left, up, down. That's looking good. So now we are on the fun bit. I'm going to apply a joystick to our pre-key framed character and do that in window and then scroll down and bring up our joysticks and sliders console here. I shrink that down a little bit, pop it out of the way. Now what we do, we have joysticks rather than sliders selected, we will get to that later. But at the moment, we're just focusing on our first joystick and we're going to select all our key frames. It's important that you select everything you want to be animated. We're going to get to our joystick too and hit create, and I'm going to call this eyes. You can see the code working there, and now what we have is an origin and a controller. Now I'm going to just move the origin out of the way so that we can see what we're doing. Now you can see that when I move my controller we have full movement of the eyes. When we look here, you can see that if we move the eyes to the right, there we go, our character is now looking to the right. I'm going to move that back to the center. Now that's all well and good being able to do in here, but we actually want to be able to move that up in the parent comps, and you'll see that we can move the joystick to the parent comp. I'm going to do that by selecting the controller. Selecting the parent comp joysticks and sliders, joysticks and sliders, and then clicking on to parent. We now find, we turn off the solo, is that our eye origin and our eyes are up in this main composition here. Again, I'm just going to move this to the side. Now you might want to adjust the color of your eye controller, our background white, and this is white. So what I'm going to do is go to layer, solid settings, and I'm just going to make that the same color as the controller. So now, when we move our controller in the main comp, you can see the eyes moving. 10. Creating the Eyebrow Joystick: Now that we've got our eyes sorted, we want to create a similar joystick for our eyebrows. We're going to do this while selecting our eyebrows. I'm going to zoom in on the timeline for our five key frames. Hit P to bring up our position data because our joystick is now going to control both the position and rotation of our eyebrows. So if you hit U, that's now going to bring up both sets of key frames that we've got here. Let me hide a couple of these bits and pieces. To start with, we've got our base position. Then, this key frame is right, left, up, and down again. So our central position, we want it to be a neutral look, so I'm going to leave the left and right eyebrows as they are. Now, for our slider here, I'm going to use left and right to indicate the emotion, and up and down to indicate the position of the eyebrows. So this is going to be right. Let's have right be happy and left be less happy. Because he's happy, I'm going to rotate this eyebrow by 20, this one by minus 20. He's going to have a little sympathetic look there. I'm just going to raise them a little bit. Just a tiny amount, couple of pixels. Now, this is our left position. So let's bring this back to our base. I'm going to have these work the opposite way. So I'm going to minus 10, and 10. Little bit evil or grumpy-looking. I'm going to bring these down a little bit. I'm just going to bring down a bit more. There we go. So there we go, happy, angry, evil-looking. Now, up-and-down positions, so up. I'm going to say five. Just a little bit of rotation for our central up position. Then, we're going to bring them all the way up there, down. I'm going to have them be flat all the way down here right above the eyes. There we go. So once again, we have our five positions. Just check them before selecting all of the key frames and hitting create new joystick. We'll call this eyebrows. There we go. It's made another origin for you there and another one of these controllers. Again, I'm going to hit Command Shift Y to bring out the color picker so that I can change that so I can see it against the white background. Now, if we play with that, all of a sudden, we have a very powerful way to indicate how our character might be feeling. 11. Creating the Mouth Slider: Now I want to create a slider for our mouth. The reason that we use in a slider in this case and not a joystick is because we only want for this very simple character to have two states with which we're going to animate between. Now, I'm going to double-tap U, to bring up the contents of my mouth outline, you remember that we made this live objects that we can work with like we might do in Illustrator. I'm going to keyframe my path for my smile. Now, rather than five states for this slider, I'm only going to need two. If we select our path here and I'm going to shrink it down. I'm going to move it up and I'm going to make him look a bit unhappy. So his mouth's less wide. Now, I've got somewhere between happy and pretty miserable. Again, we need to select both those keyframes, keyframes between which we want to slide, and we're going to create and select sliders on the joysticks and sliders console, and we're going to hit slider tools. I'm going to call this mouth. Now, strangely enough our mouth doesn't automatically create a piece of onscreen UI, so what we're going to do for that is select our slider controller, come back to our console, and create the UI slider. Now, here we go. Put a slider control origin, a slider label, and a slider controller. So I'm going to put this down here, and again, because I've got a white background I'm going to need to just hit command Shift Y, and we cover that so that its blue. I've got a label here, and I'm going to make that piece of text blue as well. We can call that mouth. There we go. Now let's test that. Let's zoom in on our slider controller. We can see that as we move between the center and the far right here, we have a real opportunity to change our character's emotions with his mouth. Something that this does as well is that it can exaggerate the effect of the inverse of what you've created already by sliding further to the left. So what that will do in our case is rather than do what we do here and invert the mouth, that will make it even more exaggerated in smiling. I tend not to use that because it's sort of strange artifact of joysticks and sliders. But certainly, between the middle and the right we get exactly the animation that we need. 12. Preparing the Head Joystick: What remains now is to create the whole head control. To do that, we're going to need to use quite a few key frames to generate the kind of movement that we want. Of course, all the elements in the head, so start at the base here. For the torso, I'm going to be using a bit of rotation. I'm going to rotate that to give out character, just a hint of a little lean from side to side. Now, next I'm going to select the neck, and I'm going to keep this a bit of position. I am going to hit R for rotation, hit U again to bring up both those key frame so you can see what you're working with. You need to create five key frames for each of the elements within a layer in order for it to work properly, and they all have to be selected in order to create the desired movement. For the head, say again P and R. I'm going to want a bit of position and rotation to move my head both up and down and rotating from side to side. So the ears, I think we're just going to want better position for them, the hair at the back, a better position, mid-hair position. Now remember we've already come to eyebrows and they're attached to our eyes. So for the eyes, I think we're going to want just a better position. Here at the front, it's going to have a better position as well. Now our mouth and nose, although our mouth shape is attached to the mouth slider, we actually want to make sure that these elements are attached to the head in terms of their position. So we're going to add position to this. So this is going to be controlled both by a slider and by a joystick but for different aspects of movement. Everything else is a controller. So let's have a look at what we're working with. I'm going to shrink him down a little bit a moment, and we'll just check out our key frames. I'm just going to hit U to make sure I've got everything right. So there we go. So I'm going to hit one key for him to the right, I'm going to make our right-facing key frame. So for this key frame, I'm going to have our character face to the right. Now, as he does that, what I'm going to do is add a bit of rotation to his torso. Let's say minus 3. I'm going to rotate his neck, counted as, say, 3. I'm going to have his neck move 0.23 to the right. His head similarly, I wanted to move a little bit to the right to give it as a feeling of 3D, and I might have it just tilt back little bit, let's say minus three degrees. Now we've got his eyes, nose, and mouth. Now, they are mostly going to move all together, so I'm going to move them too to hold shift and right keys to the right. You can eyeball this yourself. Now, his nose is a little bit in front of his eyes in 3D space. So that should move a little bit further there. We're going to do a little bit of extra animation on the nose later, but at the moment, we're just going to key in that position. Now, his hair at the front, and we want that to feel like it's really sticking out. So I'm going to have that go all the way over here. The hair at the back would work opposite to that. So I'm going to have that move to the left. Here in the middle, we want to feel like he's really rotating his head there, so I moved that one. So is somewhere in the middle there, so then when you skip back and forward, I'm going to make it go quite as far. So we get a bit of a sense of what a lot happening in the middle. Because if the front is turning a lot and the back is turning counter to that, we want the stuff in the middle to stay relatively still. Now with ears, we want them to move opposite as well because they are behind the pivot of the head. So there we go. You can see the ear is moving opposite to that. Really, what you want to do is just eyeball this out and make sure that it feels right, it's looking like it's a 3D, a bit more of a 3D object. I might move the eyes, nose, and mouth a little bit further. Here we go. Just because this is going to be an extreme, so we want things to come, we want to compress things as far as we can because we can always use the joystick to a lesser degree to make it feel like it's not moving quite so far. So now we want the opposite. So I'm going to hit three degrees there, three there, and three degrees there. But I'm then going to take my old key frames and just make sure that we recenter our character before we start messing around, and that's just really to make sure that we get a good sense of high-end position again. So nose, mouth, and eyes, we really want to leave all the way across. Again, the nose just a little bit further. So we feel like it's just sticking out. Again, just eyeball that to make sure it is going the right way. Now, here at the front all away across there, the hair in the middle out there, and the hair on the back remember moves counter to the direction of the head. We get the ears possibly a little bit too much there. There we go. Move the head fall a little way, and the neck forward a little away. Again, just check that. It's starting to feel about right. The hair might be a little bit far. There we go. Now we want to up and down stage. So again, I'm just going to copy and paste our eye position so that we know exactly where we are almost starting back from a character being completely square. We've added a lot of rotations, and we don't want to get them mixed up, and now up and down process. So again, bearing in mind, the things at the front of his face are going to move the furthest. Grab these bits, push them right up. Again, nose is a little bit ahead of the eye, so we want to give it just a smidge more direction. There we go. We've got his mid hair here and bring that up away. Now, his hair at the back, I'm going to bring down. Also, we won't make too much difference to this pose. It'll disappear behind his head, but it will just make it feel more three-dimensional. Similarly, his ears, I'm going to bring down because that was the back of his head. Because he's lifting his head up, I'm going to add a bit of height to his head, and similarly his neck there, a bit too much, little tiny bit to his neck. Specifically, I'm going to bring his torso down so it sits a bit more comfortably on my screen. So here we go. Check all the elements, that all seems about right there, ears way back. Then finally, I'm going to re-position in back to our starting state so we can create our down position. So nose, mouth, eyes here on the front, we're going to bring them all the way down. The hair at the front, I'm going to bring down even further this time. So it really feels like it's sticking out as he leans forward. His nose, here we go, spring that down. That's feeling like it's very low. I'm going to have its head down because he's going to be leaning forward so his head's going to feel much lower. Here neck, too much there, dropped down a little way. His hair in the middle, we're going to bring that down, and push his ears back up, as well as this hair at the back now. It might be that now that we move this back up, we skip between the key frames here, we get a sense. The 3D just at the back of his head. So there we go. We are going to skip through that and have a look and start to get a sense of how that's going to map out with our joystick. 13. Creating the Head Joystick: The very last thing we're going to do now is create a bit of animation with the trim path function on our notice. Now we've adjusted this to be 35 to 65 so it just trim the ends off the nose shape that we created and when he's facing it straight on that's perfect. It's also perfect when he's looking up. So we're going to key frame the up frame and it's perfect when he's looking down. So we're going to key frame the down frame. We want to do something a little bit different in between here. Now we want this line here to fill up into the top of the nodes and create a kind of bridge and we want to move the end here let say 50, so that it just kind of fills in the bridge there as well. Now I've got about a crossing on the eye so what I'm going to do is just bring that back a smudge just so we don't get any awkward crossing on the eyes and there we go. Perfect little nose. We want to the same thing either way. So we've got 50, we've got a stop point of zero and an end 50 there. So I'm going to just reverse that out so that we've got a start point of 50 and an end point of 100. You can see that basically the opposite way around that and again I'm just going to move this back a smudge so we don't have any awkward crossing at the eyes. There we go. Now you can see when we skip between these, now our nose is really starting to work like a proper nose. So I'm going to hit U on that layer. In fact I'm going to select everything and hit U, so we'd bring up every key frame that we've created so far, check that there's file for each and we're just going to select them all as we did before. I'm going to create a rig that uses all of those key frames to create a really complex. So let's bring up our joysticks and sliders and again, I want to create a new joystick and I'll call this head. Now we go and close this for the moment and up here we find our head origin. I'm going to move this one down here, we would need to shuffle it around a little bit. Again I'm going to hit command shift Y, use a color picker just to change the color of our controller there. Now I'm going to select the eyebrows and the eyes origin and just move them up here a little bit out of the way, just so that we're not crossing over everything. There we go. I'm going to have a little plate with our controller to make sure that, yeah, sure enough. There's our guys head moving correctly and there we are. Real sensitive three-dimensions as this head moves around the page. Perfect. 14. Preparing For Animation: Before we get stuck into the really fun stuff, I'm just going to do a little bit of housekeeping on my file so that, all of these stuff, we only see what's absolutely necessary. Now, we've got this handy little label on our mouth controller here. I'm going to copy that, and I'm going to dot a few of them around. Now if I remember correctly, our eye slider is up here. I'm going to call this eyes. I'm going to parent that to our eyes origin, which is number 11. I'm going to hit "duplicate", and I'm going to call this eyebrows. I'm going to move this one over here to our eyebrows controller, and so if I move that controller around, I want that to be tied to my eyebrows origin. Then finally, I'm going to duplicate this slider down here. I'll call this one head. I'm going to just move this up a little bit, I'm going to make sure my head label is attached to my head origin, I'm going to move that down that way, there we go, now everything is labeled nicely and clearly. So now we're going to clear up our timeline slightly, and we're going to do that by selecting the elements that we are going to be animating with, because there are now surprisingly few of them. That's the head, the mouth slider control, the eyebrows, and the eyes here. I'm going to label those yellow, and everything else, I'm going to select including all of our origins and any layers that have been used by sliders to create part of this mass that sits in the background, select all of that stuff and we click on "shy" layout module and then we're going to hit "hide all layers". Those four elements are much easier to work with, now that we have our head moving up here and our eyebrows able to be happy and elated or angry. Add our mouth slider happy, miserable and finally, our eyes over here. Now we can just focus on these four elements, to do all our animation with. 15. Animating the Face: Now we're set to go. I'm going to my composition settings up, okay, if you prefer. I'm going to make sure that I've got a timeline of about 90 frames. So 30 frames a second, that's about three seconds. I'm going to start animating with my head. Now, all of these, take all of the functions that we created; rotation, trimming plus, all of this stuff, and condense it all into positional data. So we're just going to bring up our positions on here for heading p. Now, for that I'm going to start with the head and I'm going to just use 20 frame increments to rotate my head around the page. I'm going to have him look up, then I'm going to have him look down to, say, over here, and then finally I'm going to have him look back up again to the middle. So I'm going to copy, the central key frame. So if we scrub along our timeline, you can see its head moves up here, his head moves down to the bottom, and his head moves back. I want a bit of easing on that, and I want to play with the movement between those two points a bit. So I'm going to animation, key frame assistant, easy ease. So I'm going to select one of these key points here, and I'm going to select my convert vertex tool, and we want that even when he moves his head from here to here, we select this central keyframe and we'll have him move his head in a bit more of a rounded motion. So he's going to woo across and then up. When he moves his head from the top all the way down to the bottom, we're going to select that first keyframe and pull it out so that he rotates his head out and then down. Now, something you may have noticed is that [inaudible] creates an equal and opposite line that then means that our character moves his head between these two points that were previously still. So we just grab one end, the end that we don't want to create movement on it to just pull that back in. We're going to do the same thing over here. So when he moves his head back up seven to a really exaggerated, mark this head and again I'm just going to pull that tangent back in so that we don't get too much movement there. Now, if I want to adjust the keyframe velocity and influence on the velocity, keyframe velocity with the right-click, and I'm not going to that. Let's go up to, let's make this quite significant, let's make it a 70. Now, I'm going to run preview, and there we go, and there's our character looking around. So the next up I look to the eyes. Now, the thing about your eyes is they move much quicker than your head, your head you have all that momentum to carry with the weight of your head, but your eyes themselves may adopt from position to position. So they tend to lead your head as well. So your eyes look first and your head follows. So I'm going to keyframe at the beginning of the movie and say 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. By five frames along, I want my eyes to have moved where he's going. So again if we scrub along the timeline, we're going the wrong direction here, seven. Move that to the top, and there we go, and so it follows. Suddenly, and when his eye is to get down to the bottom, it's like more than five. Let's have them. Don't back down to the bottom right corner, and then finally we're going to return back to eyes front, and I'm going to copy and paste my original frame here, so they luge perfectly. I'm going to select these secondary key frames here, reason being is that I want the outframe, not to ease, I want the eyes to dot, but I want the eyes maybe to move to ease in slightly. So again, I'm going to get animation keyframe assistant and easy ease, and that's going to ease just the key frames on the way in. So now when I right-click keyframe velocity, I'm going to crank this right up to 100 influence. What that's going to do is have my eyes shoot up to the top and very slowly ease in just at the end there, and same on the way down. So it just really feels like our character's interest is drawn by something really quickly. If we do a quick ramp preview, hit spacebar, we can see that's our character looking around. Now, our eyebrows and mouth are going to give us an indication as to how our character's feeling. Now, these things tend to be reactionary, so he's going to look first and then he's going to decide whether or not he like something. So I'm going to start his reactions a little bit later. So I'm going to keyframe this. You don't actually need the y-position because they control and the got to move side to side, so you in the next position frame on the slider control for the mouth. So he's going to look up. I'm going to say is going to be fairly mere, a bit nomplast. Eyebrows up. I'm not really giving as much information there is to what is seen. Not that interesting. Again, I'm going to have this ease in but I'm going to do that in a second. Notice something down to his right. I'm going to keyframe this down to his right. He's going to be far less pleased, and again I'm going to move these eyebrows. Not an easy shot, it's saddened, and then finally, I'm going to keyframe our character, again after the initial eye movement and head movement, back to looking at us, and relatively pleasantly surprised. Again, I'm going to select these keyframes, and I'm just going to give him probably the generic easing, doesn't need to be too extreme. But it just means it is, facial expressions will continue to adjust after his head's finished moving. Now we can put all of that together and we can see the power of the joysticks and sliders. Now, this is very rough and ready. If you spend a bit of time working on this animation, you can really develop some quite sophisticated dimension. So here's one I prepared earlier. It's a little bit more frantic looking around, but you can see once you massage some of the animation a bit, you have a character who's perhaps a little bit more convincing than the first one I generated, but essentially it still works in the same principles. If I select all my keyframes here, you can just see, and I always had doubts about moves and these big arcs just to create a bit more interesting of a rotation and positioning of the head. Its eyes lead the ahead somewhat, and the eyebrows continue to give us a bit of emotion after the character has finished moving, and similarly, the mouth does the same. So we have an array of emotions very quickly across our very simple character's face. 16. Final Thoughts: You did it, congratulations on completing the course. We have done everything from illustrating your character, importing him, rigging him, and now animating him. So you have learned that lot of the work goes into rigging your character, but now that they've set up there's no end of the things that you can do with them and the characters that you create in future. You're not just limited to faces, you can use joysticks and sliders for all sorts of animation. So beyond this course, I'd love to see you bring your own original artwork to life. So if you've been following along and creating your own characters, be sure to upload your work to the project gallery. Thank you very much for taking the class. I can't wait to see what you create. 17. Explore More Classes on Skillshare: