Using the Puppet Tool
I want to go open up this public project. This is another quick one, but so fun, just so, so fun. So a lot of times when you have layers from Photo Shop or Illustrator they're just flat layers, and so a lot of tools in After Effects, a lot of features in After Effects are about making beauty with those flat, 2D objects, giving them depth, giving them life, and one of the best and most fun time sucking ways to do that, this is like the Facebook of After Effects, is the Puppet Tool. So I have this layer here, this is Stu, and he's just being Stu-y, just kind of hanging out there. Just flat layer. What are we gonna do with Stu? A lot of times and this is actually the case where we have it broken up into different layers, so a lot of times you would layer things in Photo Shop or Illustrator and animate things that way. That can be time consuming and also kind of limiting in a lot of ways. But what do you do if you don't have a bunch of layers? What if you just have a photo? What if you jus...
t have one solid flat layer, how can you bring this to life? So what I'm going to do is I'm going to select the Puppet Pin tool, which looks like a little pushpin. Click that little fella. And what I want to do is I want to, put pins like a marionette would be. So if you had a puppet, and you had control points for the puppet, where would you put them? Maybe you'd put one at the top of the head. Maybe you'd put one at the neck. Maybe you put one in the belly. Maybe you put a couple in the shoulders. Maybe you put a couple on each hand. Maybe put one on each ankle, and maybe one in the groin there. And I think that's pretty good. And so you put your puppet pins, and now what used to be a regular layer is actually a puppet, and we can deform it, like a puppet, which is really, really awesome. So like if I put my cursor right here and I'm like, "Hey Stu, how do you feel about" "the current political climate?" He can be like, "Eh, I don't know." "Eh." (laughs) So that's a great way to bring things to life. Also we can make him tap his foot, and that's actually not great. Let me put another puppet pin on his toe. And then you can tap his foot. And maybe shake him bum a little bit. He can move his hand. And this is kind of one of the limitations that you're seeing of the puppet tool is it's really stretching the pixels, so when you have pixels that are approximately close it's going to pull those and snag those as well so it might not give you the results that you're looking for but it is a great way to kind of make things move organically. A lot of times if you had a design like an octopus where you're not gonna be able to move it with layers or move position, like it's just one long flowing thing, tentacles or whatever, and the puppet tool is a great way to get organic flowing motion into one solid flat layer. There's a really cool trick with the puppet I totally love, I don't want to spend too much time with the puppet tool. But let's say he's tapping his foot (hums). And let's say he wants to start tapping his head (hums). That's not copyrighted, I checked, that song that I'm singing (hums). And so I wanted to bob his head, that's a lot of motion to have him going (hums). So what I'm gonna do, and this is so cool. On the Mac it's holding down the Command key. On the PC it's holding down the Control key. But watch when I do, I'm not gonna do anything just yet, but when I do that I get this. When I do that I get a little stopwatch. Oh, that stopwatch. What happens then, I'm gonna hold that down, and then once I click and start moving, After Effects is going to record my movements. The motion, the speed and everything of my movements, and I'm going to be literally controlling this puppet, and I don't have to create keyframes because After Effects is gonna do that for me by me just moving my mouse. So I'm gonna hold down the Command key on the Mac, Control key on the PC, and I'm gonna start doing this thing. (hums) And then now when I play this back. No hands (hums). So it's just like built in Stu's (laughs). And this is why I call it the Facebook of After Effects. (laughs) I watch that like all day long. Joanna's art's great too. That's really the star of the show. That's the only kick, it's the After Effects. It's beautiful. And in a nutshell it gets a little bit deeper, there's some other tools built into the puppet tool that we're not gonna get into, but just for your future reference there's the puppet overlap tool which controls if you have a 2D layer but there's two hands and they go over each other, how do you determine when it wraps around itself, how that works? And so the overlap tool allows you to determine how things overlap. The starch tool is another one, and that allows things to not move. So if we wanted his hands to not move, or the side of his pants to not move we could put starch on that so those things don't move as well. So if there was a backpack that they had, it shouldn't be bending with the body. You can use the puppet starch tool to kind of iron that stuff out a little bit and make sure it's a little bit more rigid. So in a nutshell, that is the glorious, blessed puppet tool.