Simple Character Animation | Fraser Davidson | Skillshare

Playback Speed

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

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.

      Design in Illustrator


    • 3.

      Build in After Effects


    • 4.

      Rigging in After Effects


    • 5.

      Animate the Walk Cycle - Part 1


    • 6.

      Animate the Walk Cycle - Part 2


    • 7.

      Render, Export & Share your Animated GIF


    • 8.

      More Creative 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

Bring simple characters to life! Animation is the future of design and an important next step in expanding your design skill set. In this class, I'll walk you through a simple process where you'll learn to build and rig a simple character for animation and share it as a gif!

This Skillshare class is going to break down the process of character animation for you. I will cover simple character creation and animation techniques from design and rigging, through to simple walk cycle animation. You will learn about shape layers, paths, masks, key framing and key frame velocity – and how to apply them to your animations.

What You'll Learn

  • Design in Illustrator. I'll walk you through simple character design, and how to design with After Effects animation in mind.
  • Building in After Effects. We will take your character from Illustrator, and import it into After Effects to build your him for animation.
  • Rigging in After Effects. I'll walk you through the process of rigging your character for simple motion in After Effects.
  • Walk or run cycle. We'll finalize your action and get your character moving in a scene!
  • Export your animated GIF. I'll show you the simple process for getting your animation shareable and out there!

What You'll Do

You will design and create a character in an animated run cycle! I will show you how to export your animated GIF to make your work sharable. This process will give you tools to take all of your designs and illustrations to the next level – efficiently and seamlessly!

This course is a primer in the toughest aspect of animation – character animation. Using the strengths of After Effects to create fun movement for motion graphics and animation, we will break down the difficulty and give you the tools to create great animated characters!

...Hungry for more? Check out my follow-up animation class, Simple Character Lip Sync to make your characters talk!


Looking for more inspiration? Head here to discover more classes on animation.

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: All Levels

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. Preview: Hi, my name is Fraser. I'm an animator from London. I create motion graphics and animation for TV and the web. For my Skillshare class, I'll be teaching you how to create simple After Effects characters, just let me here. From design an illustrator through to rigging and animation cycles and After Effects. By the end of the course, you'll have a walking character just like these guys. You can sign up at the link below. 2. Design in Illustrator: Hi, there. Welcome to my skillshare course, create a simple animated character. Over the next five sections, we're going to go from Illustrator to After Effects and create an animated looping walk cycle, like this guy here. This is section one in which we will be illustrating the torso and head of the character. We'll be using strokes to create the arms and legs, and finally we'll be separating the Illustrator file into layers ready for animation. Now, the first thing we're going to do is create a new Illustrator file. In the example I'm going to make, we're going to create a guy, much like the person on loop there, that I showed you. He is going to have a big, distended stomach and very simple head. So, we're going to start off with a circle here. We're going to color it, can be wearing blue jeans, let me color it blue. Get rid of this stroke around the outside. We're going to split this up into his jeans and he's going to be wearing a sleeveless t-shirt. So, what I'm going to do, I'm going to create a series of lines that are going to let us break this circle up into constituent parts. I'm going to color these lines using the stroke color here, I'm going to color them black. That's going to be his armhole, and this is going to be the hole for his neck, and then all I'm going to do, I'm going to go into my pathfinder tool there, you can find that in Window and Pathfinder. That'll bring up this console, and if you just check the divide section there, Windows will get rid of the bits that we don't need, that's what we've got as our circle. We're going to color his shirt. I'm going to give, I'm going to color his shirt here, kind of slightly off white, just so we can see it against the background. The jeans are already blue and then I'm going to give him his skin color, going to be a bit of a tan, so there we go. So, this is our torso. I'm just going to save this file, I'm going to call it character five, that's just because I've messed this up four times already, there we go. The next thing we're going to do is give him a head. Now, I'm going to use the lozenge file here using the color that we've already got for his skin to create a kind of long, long head shape, and I'm just going to select this point at the bottom and to release it, so that now we've got a shape that looks like this, and that's just going to sit there like that. That is as simple as our character is. He's really only a few basic shapes. Now, just so we give him a little bit of character here, I'm going to draw a cap on him, let me give him a baseball cap, let's make it red. Here we go. Now, drawing the back of the baseball cap, on the side of the brim, using the pen tool, I'll give that a bit of a shadow, just send that to the back and then I'm going to copy and paste his head there, over the top of our cap, then delete. So, I'm going to color that the same color as his cap, this is going to be the top of the head, and I'm just going to, again, I'm going to use our pathfinder tool to delete everything at the top of the cap, there we go, there's our guy. Now, what I'm going to do, I'm going to shadow his face a little bit, just so it looks like the cap is casting with a shade on his face. Again, going to use the pathfinder tool. I'm going to delete the piece I don't want. I'm going to make this part of his head a little bit darker, and then if you just edit, cut and then edit, paste in front as his cap back in place. We zoom out, there we go, there's our basic character, there's the head and torso of our character, and these are the parts of the character that when we bring into After Effects are going to remain constant, although we're going to design the arms and legs in Illustrator, we're going to be replacing them with strokes and other shapes in After Effects. Okay, so next up what we're going to create is his arms and legs, and for this we're going to use the pen tool again. Start with his shoulder here, down to his hands and we're going to reverse the color out to create a stroke. We're going to fill in that stroke, that's called 20 width, and we're going to use the round cap on the end of this, and what I might do is just blow up the hole for his arm there. I'm going to copy, I'm going to paste his arm to the other side, I'm going to reflect it, here we go, and arrange, send to back. Next, we're going to create his legs, we're going to use the same method as we did for the arms, except I'm going to color them. I'm going to use the color picker to have them be the same color as the jeans. This time I'm going to leave them with a flat end here. We've got the round cap and this is what we call the butcap, didn't know that until now. So, this is his, a leg nearest to us and we're going to create another leg here slightly further away. What we're going to do with this one, we're going to create, again, we're going to give it a little bit of shadow, so it feels like when we have it behind the stomach, that the stomach is casting a shadow on his rear leg. So, what I've done, is I've copied and pasted the leg back over the top of itself. I'm going to select them both, and I'm going to arrange them and send them to the back. Then, I'm just going to shorten this one here, there we go. There's our guy, has his arms and legs in place. You might want to move bits and pieces around. I'm just going to tilt him back further slightly. Can move his arms around a bit and have this one slightly more obscured by his body. Move his head to the back, there we go and there's our guy. Now, the final part of this section, we're going to split our character up ready for animation and After Effects. So, what we're going to do, we're going to select the head, edit, cut. We're going to create a new layer. Again, Window and you can find the layers in there and that will open the layer console. We're going to create a new layer and we're going to edit, paste in front, there's our hitback on a new layer. I'm going to label this layer, head. Now, we're going to take all the elements of our torso that we created initially, we're going to do the same thing edit, cut, new layer, edit, paste in front, and there we go. We're going to call this torso. Now, what we're going to do next, the arms and legs as I said, we're going to rebuild these in After Effects, but we're going to carve them in the Illustrator file as a guide for when we build them. We're going to do the same thing with the legs that are going to be in front of the torso. You're going to go in edit, cut, create new layer and place the new layer in front of the torso here and edit, paste in front, and we're going to call this, arms and legs front. Then, this final layer that we have left behind in the correct place, we're going to call, arms and legs back, and there we go. There's our character split up and ready for animation. You can see how simply it is here, he's just a couple of shapes. There be a couple of circles for the head and torso, and then these four strokes that we've used for the arms and legs. 3. Build in After Effects: Okay. Welcome to part two of create simple animated character titled Building In After Effects. In this section, we're going to be adjusting our project settings and preferences. We're going to import our Illustrator character into After Effects. We're going to scale the composition and character. We're going to create arms and legs using the shapes and the pen tool, and finally, we're going to be creating shadows using the trim path function. So, we're going to open After Effects now. The first thing we're going do here, we're gonna go into our preferences, into general, and we're going to turn default spatial interpolation to linear. There's a very good, but very boring reason as to why we're gonna do this, I'm not going to explain it now. The other thing we're going to do as part of our housekeeping, we're going to go File, Project Settings, and we want to display the time on our timeline here in frames rather than seconds, and we'll see why when we get to animation. Okay. So, now, we're going to import our Illustrator file into After Effects, and we're going to go File, Import and click File, inside my Skill Share folder, and in Illustrator folder. I've got my character, mine is called Character 5 here is probably should be called character. Now, the important thing here to note is that we don't want to import this as footage. We're not importing it is a flat object. We want to import it as something that we can move the independent layers within. So, we want to import it as a composition, and you'll notice that these two, the folder and the composition that I've imported, the folder contains the arms, legs, head, and toes or layers individually, and if we double-click on the composition folder, we see we've got head, front arms, torso, and arms and legs, just as we had in the Illustrator file. So, we have our composition on stream here, and you'll notice here is the scale of the composition. So we're seeing it half size at 50 percent. At full size, this is still quite a small composition. So what we're going to do, we're going to Composition, and Composition Settings, and we're going to make this 1920 by 1080 full HD, and we're going to make it 200 frames long. Now if we zoom back out, we'll see that our character is now small in-frame. So, what we're going to do is open up, select all our layers here, we're going to transform, and we're going to slide the scale-up up. Now, you'll notice that it starts to become slightly blurry, and that's because when you import Illustrator files, you need to do what's called constantly rasterizing which means use them as vectors, rather than as rested images. So, what we're going to do to compensate for that is click the little constant rasterize icon here, and then I'll try to fix, and we can see if we view that full size that is as perfect resolution, good anti-aliasing around the edges. Okay. So, we've got our character now, and what we're going to do is thought to replace the arms and legs that we've drawn in Illustrator with shape layers that we're going to be able to animate. So, first thing we're going to do is select and here we're going to open it up, and we want the opacity here. So, if you select both the arms and legs layers, we're going to drop the opacity from 100 percent down to about 20 just so that they're a guide now, and we can draw over the top of them. So, we can press them. Now, you want to select the Pen Tool next, making sure that none of these layers are selected. So you don't have the head selected there, you want to just click on the console, nothing selected, got no layer selected. First thing we do, place a point where the shoulder is, and draw our stroke just like you would in Illustrator. So, we've created a new shape layer called Shape Layer 1, but we're going to rename this, we're going to call it Arm Front, there we go. Now if you open up the arm, you'll see that we got contents in here, and inside of this all the parameters of this line are expressed. So if we look at a path, you can see that we've got the path that we've created, and we can move that about with the mouse, but we want to focus on the stroke. So, inside here you've got the width, the opacity, the color, and the way the ends of the lines are expressed just like you would do in Illustrator. So, the first thing we're going to do is color the arm the same as the body. Next thing we're going to do is expand the stroke width to match that of our arm already, and you'll notice here that again the bottom of the arm is flat, and we want to take the line cap and round that, so there we go. So, now we have an arm as we have in Illustrator. Now we're going to do the same thing again and redraw another arm, but we want it to be exactly the same, so what we can do is control C, copy, and then edit paste, and we've got a second here. We're going to call this arm Arm Back because we want this arm sit behind the torso, and you place it behind the torso in the comp. Now again we're going to close arm front here and we go into Arm Back into the Contents, into the Shape, and finally into the Path, we select the Path, we see we've got the same path as the as the arm at the front. You want to press shift and just bring up the ability to alter the path within the shape. So, you select the path shape, and just move it into position. There we go, and then we have our arm behind the body as well. So, now, we're going to do exactly the same thing for the legs. We take our Pen Tool, and instead of placing a single point, we're going to click and drag so we create a tangent within Illustrator to the top of the leg, and click, and drag and create a tangent at the bottom. The reason we're going to do this is so that later on when we come to animate the leg, we can make curves. So, we got Shape Layer 1 again and we're going to call this Leg Front, and we're going to place this in front of the torso. We're going to open it up and mess around with these parameters. So, we're going to open up the stroke, we want the color to be the same as the body. We want the stroke width to match our Illustrator file, and we're going to keep the cap the same just with the flat end of the leg, and there we go. We're going to do the same thing again, again you can control C, control V and paste the leg into place. Then if you select the Arrow Tool here, you can move it about. We can do it with the arrow keys on your keyboard just to move it into place. Now this leg is going to be called Leg Back, and so what we wanted to do is place it behind the torso. So, our character is starting to look like our Illustrator file again. Now, you'll notice the only thing that we're missing is that little shadow. So, what we're going to do to this leg at the bank, we're going to copy, edit, paste so it sits right in front of it and we're going to call this layer Leg Back Shadow. Again, we're going to open it up. Now you can go through the process of opening up all the layers as I've done here where you can hit double U, that's the key U twice and that'll bring up the parts of the shape layer that you've already changed. So it's just a quick way to get into there, and we're just going to make this a little bit darker. Now rather than making the layer itself shorter, what we're going to do is we're going to go to add and these little functions that you can add to shape layers, and we're going to go to Trim Paths, and you'll notice a little Trim Paths fall down menus appear here. We're going to open that up, and what this is going to allow you to do is affect the length of the line of the path that you've created with the stroke. So, you don't have to have the stroke run along it the whole way. We're just going to have that sit at about 50 percent, and there we go, there's our character. Now, what we can do finally is to select the original arms and legs, and arms and legs front, and delete those, we're not going to need them anymore. So there we go. 4. Rigging in After Effects: Okay. So, welcome to part three of create simple animated character. This part is called rigging in after effects. In this section, we're going to place our anchor points for rotational animation, we're going to parent our layers the torso base, we're going to match up some stroke expressions with the pick whip tool, and we're going to hide unused layers and color and label our layers for clarity. So, we're going to bring up our after effect file here, and I've arranged the layers as follows. So, with the front arms and legs at the very front, the head and torso in the middle, and the back legs, and shadow behind them. So, the first thing we're going to do is look at anchor points. So, we're going to be rotating elements of the composition, and we want them to rotate around particular points. You can see at the moment, this is an anchor point here in the middle that the torso, the heads, and all the legs and arms have the anchor point in the same position. What we're going to want to do is move these so that if I open up the head, and we look at the rotation of the head, we can see that at the moment it's rotating around that center point. That's not going to be any good to us. So, what we're gonna do is click on the Pan Behind Tool or hit Y, and we're just going to drag this up towards the back of the neck, and what that means now is that the head is going to rotate around that point, which is going to be a lot better for our animation, make a lot more sense. So, we're going to do that for every part here. The torso, we're going to have rotating around the hip. The arm at the front, we want that to rotate around the shoulder. The leg at the front, we want that to rotate around the hip here. So, you can see now, we've got something that resembles a hip joint. The shadow at the back, we want to rotate around the hip as well as the leg itself. Finally the arm at the back, we want that to rotate around the shoulder here. So, there we go. So now, all our anchor points are in the correct place. The next thing we're going to do is stop parenting layers. So, if we select the Selection Tool here, and select the torso. What you'll notice is that when it moves in any way, whether it moves positionally or the rotation, all the other elements stay where they are, and what we want to do is create a rig for our character whereby all the elements are jointed to all the other elements. So, the head here, we want to connect that to the torso. So that, when the torso moves, the head moves. The way we do that is with these switches here, the parents switches. So, if it's not on your column, if it's not in the default settings, what we're going to do is right-click the above that, where the switches would be, go down and just click on Parent, and that'll bring up the switches. Now, what we want to do is parent the head to the torso. Now, you can see, if we move the torso, the head goes with it. We just want to do the same for almost all of these, the arm here parent to the torso, front leg, torso, the back leg, and the back arm. Now, the only thing we don't want to parent to the torso is this shadow layer that we've created. So, I'm just going to solo these here, and we want to attach the shadow to the leg on which is being cast. So, that you can see that when we move the leg here, now, the shadow is attached to it. What you should have, if you've done a little correctly, if you select the torso and move the torso around, everything should follow it, so there we go. So, now, all that's left to do in the rigging is we want the shadow on the back leg. We want to match up to the back leg movement in terms of the path that we create inside the Shape layer. If I open this up, you can see the shadow path here that we drew earlier with the Pen Tool is inside there. If we go into the back leg, we see the path for the back leg is here. Now, what we want to do, what we want to happen is, when we move the back leg, like so, we want the path, we want the shadow to follow it. So, what we want is this path to be copying this path here, we want the leg back shadow to be copying the leg back. So, what we're going to do is we're going to click on this icon here, holding Alt, and then clicking down on the Stopwatch Icon, and it's going to bring up this console here which is your Expression console. Now, we're going to ignore what's inside the box at the moment. All we're going to do is grab the Pick Whip, and we're going to drag it down into the path layer onto the path texts in the back leg layer. It will sound very complex, but all that means is now, when we adjust the path in the leg, the shadow follows it. That's going to be useful for later on. It means you don't have to duplicate layers and copy key frames into each path. So, there we go. There's our [inaudible]. Now, in pick whipping the shadow to the leg, what that means is we no longer have to worry about what the shadows doing, it's going to follow the animation in our legs. So, what we can do is effectively get rid of it from the timeline, just ignore it. The way we're going to do that, we're going to click this little icon here which is our Shy Layer icon, and then when we hide our Shy Layers, that disappears, and all that means is that we can ignore it and it's not getting in the way of our other layers which we're going to be animating. So, if you want see that layer again, if you want to adjust it, you can bring it back just by turning off the Shy Layer icon. The very last thing we're going to do, we're going to color these layers just so that we know at a glance which are arms, which are legs. So, the head and torso, that's straightforward, I make them pink. The two arms, I'm going to color yellow and I'm going to leave the legs blue, and we don't have to look back here every time to check which layers which. We just know which is the front legs, the back legs, the head, and the torso. 5. Animate the Walk Cycle - Part 1: So, welcome back to Part 4 of creative simple animated character. This section is, Animate The Walk Cycle Part 1. In this section, we'll be using markers to establish a timeline loop. We're going to be creating a flow using the rulers and guides. We'll be keyframing the torso, and finally keyframing the head rotation. So here, we are with a guy ready for animation on the timeline. The first thing we're going to do is we're going to mark out our loop workspace using the markers. Now, we're going to start our loop at frame 100, and we're going to mark this by dragging this marker from the side of the timeline to frame 100. This is going to mark the beginning of our loop and our first stride. I'm going to call this stride left. That's going to be where our left foot is out front. We're going to end the loop in exactly the same place. So, we are going to get to frame 116. So, 16 frames in length. We are going to mark that as left as well. Between the two of them at frame 108, we're going to drag the marker again and we're going to call this frame right. There we go. Finally, between the two frames we're just going to mark these every fourth frames, let's see these called one and two. So, there we should have left, one, right, two, left. That's the order of our loop. What we're going to do now is create a preview area and a workspace using our bounded work area bar. I'm just going to drag this from the side and frame 100, there we go. So, it lines up with the first marker and this so it lines up with the final marker there. There we go. Now, this is our temporal workspace. Now, our next step is, our character is floating in midair and we want to have a guide for where are our ground layer is going to be so that we know that his feet are up on the ground at all time when they need to be. One way we're going to do this, we're going to use some routers and guides and the way you can bring them up is to View, show routers and that's going to give you your pixel dimensions in X and Y on the street. What you're going to do is click inside this area at the top where the measurements are, and just drag your ruler it down to the feet. There we go. Once you've done that, stop it moving around, we're just going to get a view and lock guides. Now, have a ground left for our character. So, we're ready to animate our character now. As I mentioned earlier on, when we rigged our character, the torso is the part of the body to which everything else is created. So, that's the crux of our animation, and that's the part of the body that we're going to round first. So, what I want you do is select the torso and the head with the solo, the solo layer checker and that's just going to have these two bits. They are the only pieces on the screen that we can see. On the torso, we are going to fall down our transform layer to reveal our position. This is the part we're going to animate just now. Now, what we're going to do in the walk cycle is animate the parts between keyframe and the parts between this strides first because that's where our character is going to have one leg on the ground. As he's walking forward, he's going to be at his highest point. We are just going to check the position layer there. He's going to be at the same point vertically at our number two marker where he's between the right and left stride. So, we're just going to create the keyframe there and see exactly the same as the one before. If we go back to the beginning, this is our left stride. This is with his left leg forward and his right leg behind. As his legs are further apart, his body is going to be slightly lower. So, we're going to pull the torso down there. We're going to copy this keyframe so you can edit copy. We're going to go along to the right stride, and again his legs are going to be splayed so he's going to be lower in frame again. We're going to go edit, paste and we're going to paste the same keyframe to the left stride. Now, what you're going to be able to do now, if you go Window and click Preview, that's going to bring up your preview console here and if you just click this little Run Preview button, you'll be able to see the keyframes that even animated rendered in real-time. What you'll notice from this is that our guy is quite mechanical there's not a lot of character to him he's bouncing up and down and quite an unnatural way. So, what we're going to do, we're going to add a little bit of keyframe easing and that's going to give him a bounce that feels a little bit more organic and a little bit more characterful. What we will do we're going to ease the frames where he's at his highest. So, as he bobs up and down, we want him just to ease at the top of his bounce before coming down. So, we're going to go animation. We're going to select these two keyframes, keyframe one and two between left right and left, and then Animation, Keyframe Assistant, and Easy Ease. That's going to give us these easing keyframes and when we play it back using the preview, it's going to feel a little bit more like a bounce. Now, if we want to enhance that even further, we can adjust the keyframe influence. So, what am going to do is I'm going to select the keyframes again, I'm going to go to Animation, Keyframe Velocity. Now, in here, we've got the influence of the keyframes incoming and outgoing. At the moment, they are set to 33 percent. We're going to increase that to 66, click "Okay". If we playback our Run Preview again, feel like now he's really starting to bounce, he started to feel like a bit more interesting character. So, now that we go our torso limping, we're going to do the same thing for our head. We were going to do that. We're going to open up our headliner and then transform here. We're going to deal with the rotation keyframe. Now, when our character is at the height of his bounce, I'm going to have him look down slightly, I'm going to adjust the rotation to about three degrees and you can just slide this along. I'm going to keyframe it. I'm going to do exactly the same keyframe here, the point two, or is in the same place vertically in his stride. Then going to go back to this left stride marker, where he's now at the bottom of his torso his lowest point. I'm going to have him, his head leaned back slightly as he's looking up a little bit now. Again, about three degrees or so. Now, I'm going to copy this keyframe. I'm going to paste this to the right stride and again the left stride. Again, if we play this back, we're going to find that his head movement feels a little bit mechanical. So, what we're going to do, we're going to select our two corresponding keyframes to the ones we selected earlier on the torso, this time in our rotation layer, and we'll go to keyframe assistant. I'm going to get a click Easy Ease. We're going to go Animation, Keyframe Velocity, and again, we're going to adjust the influence of that ease to 66. So, it's the same as earlier. Now, if we play that back, there we go. If you was a little bit more characterful. Now, that we've got our keyframes looping, what we can do is select all these keyframes here, and we're going to copy them, go to the end of our loop and we're just going to paste them again. I'm going to do the same thing, torso layer. What that means we can do now is slide both of these timelines past each other to create a slightly more interesting piece of secondary animation on the head. So, if we shift the head frame a frame to the left, we'll see the keyframe still correspond but there are a frame to the left of the torso keyframes. When we preview that, we get something a little bit more interesting. His leads the torso. If we slip it further. So, it's entirely diametrically opposed. Now, it's bobbing up and down and you can play around with this until you get something you like. I'm going to have it set a frame behind the loop. So, there we go. So, now is head bouncing as if led slightly by the body. 6. Animate the Walk Cycle - Part 2: Hi, and welcome to part two of section four: Animate the Walk Cycle. In this section, we'll be key framing the main stride poses, we'll be adding animation between those poses, we'll be key framing the arm rotation, and finally, we'll add some animation to the paths in the arms. So, if we open up our After Effects again, we've got our character on his loop, what we're going do, we're going to uncheck the soloed head, and torso layer. Now, when we play back our Run Preview we're going to see our character starting to bounce up and down, we're going to add the strides next. So, we're going to start over here, back to the left marker, and beginning we're going to start just with the left leg, the left leg and the left marker it's going to be leading. So, we open up our contents, go into our shape, go into our path, find our Stroke again, what you're going to need to do is hold "Shift" and click to animate, an alter the path in here. We're going to adjust the curves, so that this leg is now curve forward, we want the foot to sit flush on the ground. We've got it where we want it. We're going to key frame it. Next, we're going to go to the right marker, and at this point the right foot is going to be out in front, and so our left foot is going to be at the back. Now, this foot doesn't need to sit flush to the ground anymore because he's just going to be about to raise it, to take his next stride. So, we can curve it like that. Now, we've got a motion between our strides. Finally, what we're going to do on this leg, is copy and paste our first keyframe to close the loop. So, there we g. Now we have a looping animation of the left leg. Now, what we're going do is select our back leg, go into contents, shape, path, and click "Select our path." Hold "Shift" Click on one point on the leg and this position, this leg is going to be in the backward state, so there we are. I'm going to keyframe our path. We're going to go to the right marker, the right marker we want our right leg to be leading. So again, adjust your path, so that the curve creates a nice front leading leg and then once again, close the loop by copying pasting your original keyframe. Now, what we're going to start to have if we hit our Run Preview, is something approaching the beginnings of a walk cycle. Now, in this next step, we're going to create the animation between each stride. So, we're going to select our front leg, this is our left leg, and we'll see that if we move along the timeline, between our left and right strides, this leg is going backwards which means in the middle here, this leg should be on the ground pushing our guy forwards. So, what we're going to do, select our path and for this keyframe, what we're going to do is drop our leg down, and straighten it up slightly, their we go. Their is our guy, and if we scrub through the keyframes again, we're going to see that it's starting to look like he's pulling his rare leg through as he places front leg. We're going to move along to point two here between the right and left strides, I'm going to see that between the right and the left strides, this front leg is going to be pulling underneath before he plants a split again for the left stride. So, what we're going to do at point two, is lift our leg right up and curve it underneath like that. So now, if we solo our left leg, we're going to have something approaching a walking leg. That was not quite right yet and we're going to fix that in a minute. But first we're going to do the same thing to our rare leg. This leg here is pulling forward, so at point one we're going to tuck this leg under and then you curve that out. Then at point two, as the rare leg is pushing us forward, we're going to plant it back down on the ground with our guide. Now if we save that, and hit Run Preview, we're starting to get something close to a walk cycle. Now again, slightly mechanical because we're using all flat keyframes, we want to add some character to it, we're going to select all our corresponding keyframes that we're going to add these two, and you can spot them, they're the ones that are next to the keyframes on the tools, so that have got easing on these slightly misshaped keyframes. We're going to select them at the points one and two, we're going to hit Animation, Keyframe Assistant, Easy Ease. We're going to hit Animation, Keyframe Velocity. I'm going to add our high influence 66 percent keyframe influence again. Save that, and now if you play back our walk cycle. We've got something with a lot more character. Now lastly, we're going to add some animation to the arms. So, this time we're going to be adding rotational animation to both. So, we want to open up our arm layer, going to rotation, and now as our front leg is forward, we're going to pull our front arm back. I'm going to keyframe that, and then on our right stride, when the leg is back, we're going to pull the arm forward. Again, we're going to copy and paste to close our loop. On the other side here, we're going to do the same thing, we're going to open up our transformation. When this arm is backwards this one's going to be forwards, and the other arms forwards this one's going to be back, and then copy and paste to close the loop again. We're going to select all of these, then give them some keyframe assistant easing. This time for velocity because we're using velocity, all the time we're going to use something a little bit low, we're going to use 44, and we play that back, and our guy is nearly complete. The very last thing we're going to do, were going to add some path animation to our arms. So, let me go into the Shape layer, and select the path. Here is our path. When our guys arm is bent back, we're going to bend the elbow here, when our guy's arm is forward, we're going to keyframe in, a slightly straighter arm, then once again, we're going to copy and paste our keyframe to close our loop. We're going do the same thing on this rare arm. So, at the beginning of the stride, this path is going to be flattened out, there we go, let's curve it the other way. As he's pulling his arm back, we're not going to see it here but we're going to curve his elbow out. Then once again copy and paste to close the loop. I'm going to select these keyframes, what we did before for both arms. We're going to add our easing, and our keyframe velocity,44. Select everything, close it down, and when we hit our Run Preview, there we go, now we've got a guy walking. Now, you can stop there, but what we're going to do, we're going to select all our keyframes, and on the keyboard, we're going to hit the letter U, and what that's going to do is bring up all our used keyframes. Now, as we did earlier with the head, we're just going to copy. We're going to select for each layer, we're going to copy and paste our keyframes onto the end of each loop, and that's just going to double the length of our loop. So, we go for both arm's, going to copy and paste the keyframes of both legs. We've already got it done on our awesome body. What we're going do now, is start to slide these key frames around, and create animation that's got a little bit of secondary motion to it, and you can just play about with these. I'm going to move his arms forward there, so you can see that he's walking with a bit more purpose, or you can slide them back, and see that they're lagging behind the walk cycle. What you can do on top of that, is move the path keyframes against the rotational key frames, and you'll get arms that have more of a circular movement to them, and not just swinging, they're of rotating. Now as we hit play on the Run Preview, there we have it, you'l fully animated, looping, character walk cycle. 7. Render, Export & Share your Animated GIF: Hey, guys. This is the fifth and final section of our class titled Render, Export and Share your GIF. In this section, we're going to add a background color and shadow to our character. We're going to precomp our cycle for rendering. We're going to render the loop as a QuickTime. We're going to import the QuickTime into Photoshop, export the GIF from Photoshop, and finally we're going to post our animated GIF. So, we're going to open up our After Effects file. Here's our guy again. He's happily looping, and what we're going to do now is we're going to add a background color to him. We're going to layer, new, solid. I'm going to use this bright green here. So, layer to the front, so we're going to drag it down to the back of the comp so you can see all the elements of our character. I'm just going to rename this background. Now, our character feel slightly like he's floating in mid-air, so we're going to add a shadow just to give us a sense of where the ground is. I'm going to do that the same way we made all the arms and legs, then grab the pen toll, make sure nothing is selected in the timeline so that when we drew a line underneath our guy here, we create a new shape layer. I'm just going to call this layer shadow. I'm going to move this to the back but in front of the backgrounds. I'm going to open this up like I did earlier, and I'm going to go into our stroke layer and I'm going to make this layer black. You notice once I increased the stroke width, it's a bit too dark. So, I'm going to go into our transform functions or down the bottom to our opacity, I'm going to make this 20 percent. Now, you'll notice when we play back that as the guy's legs move, he bobs up and down. The shadows should probably change in shape. So, what we're going to do when he's higher is we're going to make the shadows smaller, then when he's lower and more spread out, we're going to keep it wide. The way we're going to do this we're going to keyframe it very simply. We're going to go into our path layer inside the shadow, grab your selection tool, hold shift just to bring up the edit ability of the path, I'm going to drag this out a little bit more. We're going to move to our mid-part of our step and I'm going to decrease the length this. I'm going to go to the right, and I'm going to copy and paste our original keyframe, wide keyframe, that pretty much fits. So, I'm going to copy a narrower shadow. Actually, that could probably be enough for me, and then I close our loop, copy and pasting the wide shadow. So, there we go. The next it's a little bit off again, we need to adjust our keyframe velocity using the keyframe assistant, easy ease, animation, keyframe velocity, make this 66 and 66 in or influence, and that's just going to match up with where our torso is. Now, when we play it back, there we go. It fits with the animation. So now, we've got our animated character. We're going to export this and create a GIF. But before we do that, you'll notice that our composition settings are fairly huge. We have a 1920 by 1080 comp at the moment. We're going to want something smaller for the Web. Now, I'm going to export this to Dribbble. So, what I'm going to do, I'm going to selects my character in the project console and I'm going to drag it into a new composition. It's going to look exactly the same as before. It's going to adopt the settings of the the original comp. So, what are we going to do, we're going to go composition, composition settings, and I'm going to call this Character Dribbble, and Dribbble uses a 400 by 300 panel. So, now, here is our original comp. It's a bit large so we're going to shrink this down. If we view it for resolution and at full scale, this is going to be our final output product. So now, we have to bring our render bars back in so that we just render our loop. You'll notice that when we import the character, it brings with it our markers. So we just want to make sure we bound our markers as before. We'll save it and we'll do a quick round preview test. There we go, perfect. So now, we've got our final composition and our final scale leaping properly. We're ready to render. So, we bounded our comp and we're going to go to composition, and we're going to say hit make movie. This is going to bring up our render console. If we look into the output module, this should all be set up correctly. We want a QuickTime, all our size options are correct, no audio, and if you select your desktop, I'm going to output the desktop, it render, there we go. You'll hear the chime when the render is done. If you go to your desktop, what you should find is a very short loop. A single loop of your character. Okay, great. So, we've got our character here on our desktop. We're going to open Photoshop and we're going to go file, open, and we're going to select our QuickTime Movie, and here he is. Now, he's going to appear as a still image in this, and what we're going to want to do is go file and save for Web and devices, and this is going to bring up this console here. I'm going to take a screenshot of the settings needed, just the default settings. The only thing we're going to change is our looping options. We want our loop to live forever, and there we go. You can preview your loop, and that's going to be your animated GIF. Now, we're going to do, once we've changed the looping options to forever, we're going to save this to our desktop. That's it. Finally, I'm going to share my work. I'm going to upload my character to Dribbble. I've named my file, I'm going to publish it, there we go. If you don't have a Dribbble account, no problem, you can still share it in the student projects section. I've uploaded my guy here, I'm going to post him. There you go, the animated GIF. 8. More Creative Classes on Skillshare: