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Advanced Character Rigging with DUIK Tools

01          In this lesson we will learn how to Rig a 2D Character with IK inside After Effects. Open the 'Casual Guy 01' After Effects file from the projects folder. The file contains 2 compositions with the side pose and the front pose of the character each having separate layers for each part of the body. The file contains the minimum number of layers possible for rigging a 2D character.

02          We will start rigging process by pinning down the joints of the 'Front Left Arm' layer with the Puppet Tool which can be found on the main tool bar. Before starting the Pinning process make sure that the value of 'Expansion' is set to 1 while the 'Triangles' value is set to 550. With the Puppet tool selected click on the middle of the shoulder to create the 1st Puppet Pin Point, and then on the center of the Elbow, Wrist and Hand for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Puppet Pin Points respectively. 

03          The important thing while rigging a character in AE is to always rename the Puppet Pins according the parts of the body that they represent. Like the 1st Puppet Point can be renamed to 'Left Shoulder' as it represent the shoulder of the left arm and similarly rename the rest of the Points.

04          Now we will convert the Puppet Pin Points into Bones with the help of Bones button on the DUIK toolbar. This actually creates a Null object onto the Puppet Pin Point which acts as its controller. So we will create null object controllers for the Puppet Pin Points one by one by selecting and hitting the bones button. Also make sure to start the controller creation process from the Shoulder while ending it up with the creation of Hand controller.

05          Once the bone controllers are set we will then link them to each other in order to make them follow a hierarchy. Select the controllers one by one starting from the 'B_Left Hand' controller and link them up to the upper joints. So in this case we will connect 'B_Left Hand' to the 'B_Left Wrist', 'B_Left Wrist' to the 'B_Left Elbow' and 'B_Left Elbow' to the 'B_Left Shoulder'. Select and rotate the controllers one by one in order to check the hierarchy. 

06          Now in order to apply Inverse Kinematics to the bone setup we will require a controller for the whole arm at the wrist point. So for that select the wrist controller 'B_Left Wrist' and click Controller button on the DUIK toolbar. Once we are done with that we will now create the IK relation between the bones by selecting the bone controllers in a hierarchy while pressing the Ctrl and selecting the controllers one by one. Make sure to start selecting the controllers from 'B_Left Wrist', 'B_Left Elbow', 'B_Left Shoulder', and in the last the main controller 'C_B_Left Wrist'.

07          Hit the IK Button on the DUIK toolbar in order to finish the IK chain setup and to make the whole arm follow the 'C_B_Left Wrist' controller. Press OK on the dialogue box that appears after we click the IK Button. Check the rig setup by moving the controller in order to check whether the arm is moving as desired or not. Once we are done with the arm we will repeat the same procedure with the right arm and two legs of the character. 

08          Once we are done with the limbs we will continue with the rigging process of torso which we are gonna do a bit differently here. We will start the rigging process of the torso by pinning down the points on the limb joints starting from the Right Thigh joint continuing to the Left Thigh, Left Shoulder, and Right Shoulder. We will further add the pin points on the torso with a point in the center of the Thigh Joints, a point in the middle of the torso for the belly, a point in the middle of Shoulder Joints and lastly a point at the top for the neck.

09          Next we will rename the Pin Points according to the parts of the body that they represent. Once we are done with the naming of the puppet pins we will then start assigning bone controllers to each of the Puppet Points starting from the 'Torso Right Thigh' while covering each and every point up to the top of the list.

10          After completing the Bone Controller creation process we will now link the controller of limb joints to the main central controllers of the torso. Select and link the Bone Controller of the Thigh Joints to the Pelvis Bone Controller and Bone Controller of the Shoulder Joints to the Chest Bone Controller. To further complete the rigging process of the torso link the rest of the Bone Controllers normally, i.e. Neck to the Chest, Chest to the Belly and in the end Belly to the Pelvis.

11          Select the Chest Bone Controller and create a new Controller from the DUIK toolbar. And once again in order to achieve the Inverse Kinematics for the torso we have to start selecting the Bone Controllers in a proper hierarchy while pressing Ctrl on the keyboard, i.e. starting from the B_Torso Chest, B_Torso Belly, B_Torso Pelvis and in the end C_B_Torso Chest. And in the end in order to finish the IK Chain setup hit the IK button on the DUIK toolbar. 

12          Next step will be to rig the eyes of the character. Select and duplicate the Eye Ball layers (Front Left Eye Ball and Front Right Eye Ball) and place them over the Pupil Layers. Select the Pupil Layers one by one and inside the TrkMat options select Alpha Matte which will make the pupils to mask in case they move outside of the Eye Ball layers. And in order to make the Pupils move together we will parent them to a new Null object. 

13          Select all the layers on the face and link them to the Front Face layer in order to make them move along with the Face layer. Now in order to make the face rotate from the neck joint we will move the anchor point of the face layer according to the neck joint. This will also make all the layers on the face rotate in the same manner. Also link the Front Face Layer to the B_Torso Neck layer in order to make it behave according to the movement of the torso. 

14          Now we will start linking the layers to their parent layers in order to make the all the parts of the character follow a perfect hierarchical movement. So we will start with the 'Front Face' layer which will connect to the 'B_Torso Neck' Bone Controller. Further connect the 'B_Left Shoulder' to 'B_Torso Left Shoulder', B_Right Shoulder' to 'B_Torso Right Shoulder', 'B_Left Thigh' to 'B_Torso Left Thigh', B_Right Thigh' to 'B_Torso Right Thigh'. 

15          Now as the final step of this advanced character rigging process we will create three more controller objects for a better control of the character. We will start by creating a null object and renaming it as the 'Lower Body Controller', we will then place it below and between the foot controllers. Select and link the Foot Controllers to the Lower Body Controller in order to create a common controller for the legs of the character. 

16          We will now create another null object for the upper part of the character which we will rename as the 'Upper Body Controller'. Place it above the head of the character and link the main upper body controllers with, C_B_Left Wrist, C_B_Right Wrist, B_Torso Pelvis, C_B_Torso Chest. 

17          In the end we will create a Global Controller for manipulating all the parts of the body together. So for that create a new null object and rename it as 'Global Controller'. Place it in the center of the character and link the objects on the second stage of the rig hierarchy to this 'Global Controller'. Upper Body Controller, Lower Body Controller, Front Left Arm, Front Right Arm, Front Torso, Front Left Leg and Front Right Leg.

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