Adobe Character Animator is apart of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite of software. It is an easy to use live capture puppet animation program that can be used for both live animation (think using it for zoom) or non-live animation ( think your typical cartoon show). Adobe Character Animator is used in conjunction with Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator to bring your ideas to life.
So what can I actually use it for? Well, A lot!
Before we get started we must think about what we even want the puppet to do. What is our intent with designing or finding a specific puppet that meets our needs? But what are our needs? What can a puppet in Character Animator do? To sum it up a lot! We will start off with a few features enabled by default:
Puppets in Character Animator can also be fully articulate. The tagging system (located below) allows you to tag individual body parts to walk, wave, bounce, blink, and more. Puppet limbs can be tagged to operate as a specific body part or as part of a larger system. For example, a left toe by itself does not do much but when we are thinking about using the walk feature it helps the puppet move. However, a tag such as an arm can operate without a greater system.
So when thinking about creating a puppet lets just start out with a few questions
Sometimes we do not have the time to create our own Puppets and that's ok! Character Animator has several example puppets to choose from on the Welcome Screen. To get to this page go to Windows -> Welcome. Any puppet you select will also download the source material so that you can customize it if you want!
Another place to look at is Okay Samurai's Website. They are one of the main contributors to Adobe Character Animator Puppet Collection. Also, a quick google search for " Adobe Character Animator Puppets" can yield some great results. Just remember that this is others works. Just out this guide to read more about how copyright works
Before we get started on creating our puppet you will have to choose if you want to use Illustrator or Photoshop. Each program will produce similar results. Both programs have their strengths and weaknesses but it will all come down to what are you comfortable with. If you have never used either and you want to get into illustrations and creating logos then starting with Illustrator would be better. If you want to get into photo edits and layouts then photoshop is where you want to start
Creating a puppet is about identifying the parts in which you want your puppet to move and rigging it. Rigging is a technique used in skeletal animation for representing a 3D character/2D models using a series of interconnected digital bones. To do so we need to look at the fields that are available to us first:
Character Animator Rigging can be summed up into two categories the head and the body. Each will have subcategories
A fully rigged puppet could look like this. Please note this puppet has one advanced feature of a side profile that is used when the puppet is walking
(Example of Illustrator)
The most basic puppet should have a head that includes two eyes ( pupil, eyeball), mouth. A basic puppet can look like something like this
(Example of Photoshop)
It has a head with two eyebrows, two eyes, a nose, and a mouth. This will be the typical setup that you will probably use.
Let's get started by importing your puppet
Rigging Your puppet is one of the most crucial components to character animator
To get started let's check out the different panels
The first panel we are going to look at is the puppet layers panel. In this panel, you will hopefully see the hierarchy of what we established in Illustrator/Photoshop. If something was mislabeled it will not appear here and we will need to retag a little bit later. In this panel, we see our body parts and two icons. Next to each body part is Eye ( ) and a Crown (). The eye will give us the ability to hide certain body elements. The crown is identified that the element moves independently from the rest. Things you want to move independently but follow the main structure the rest of the body. For example how pupils move in the head.
The second panel (located on the righthand side) is our properties panel that houses information about our puppet layers, layer mesh, tags, and behaviors.
Layers - Shows XY Coordinates (in case you needed to move a body part or entire puppet a few pixels to the left or right), Scale, Rotation, and Opacity
Layer Mesh - The mesh represented by a yellow outline around a body part or profile represents the tissue how of the puppet can potentially move. This feature becomes handy when a puppet does move the way we potentially want
Tags - The tag system is automatic if we correctly identified our body parts in photoshop or illustrator. If not this is where we can make those corrections along with tagging additional items such as a neck or waist to aid in some behaviors.
Behaviors - We can add predefined behaviors to our puppet like walking or a nutcracker jaw.
A Scene is a place where we will add our puppets and additional elements to
To start a scene:
Arming puppet for recording is a fun and engaging process! Let's look at one of the panels we will be using
Each puppet has several different variables that can be tracked and recorded. We can see from the image on the left all of the possibilities. Any element that has a red dot next to it will be armed (will record) once we hit the record button ( located below our scene).
To get started let's check a few things:
Once we answer a few of these basic questions we can get started
Before we get started let's talk about the most optimal way to record. Recording works best when we individually arm each element. For example recording head Recording all elements at once is not recommended particularly when you have a very complex puppet. Recommended Record order (Voice, Walk (is using), Face = Eye Gaze, Physics, Triggers, Anything else)
Saving your scene is very simple!