Save Time in Character Animation for After Effects

Animation can be a fast process if you know the secret: Do Animation with rigged characters, with a few clicks and drags
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  • Lectures 41
  • Length 4.5 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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    Available on iOS and Android
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About This Course

Published 10/2014 English

Course Description

Stop your “I don’t have time for this” and animate quickly, using a powerful technique that helps you animate with just a few clicks and drags.

The most common reason why people neglect to pursue something in their lives is because the lack of time. Lots of work, lots of things to do.

That’s the very reason why millions of people love to learn how to do things faster and easier.

But how can you do something if there is no such way yet?

Frustration hurts, but I had to overcome it. And better yet, help others to avoid it.

When I started to take a bit of my sleep time to start a project in animation, I just knew it was going to take me forever, and after the frustration of dropping the project for a couple of months, I came back for revenge! (Not in the negative way, more like in an EPIC WAY!)

It was after watching a couple of tutorials for After Effects on Video Copilot that I learned the power of expressions. Got me inspired. There could actually be a way to solve this!

As you know, there is no spoiler in saying this, but yes, I found a way. HOORAY!

Finally, a solution!

That solution is what this course is about. Teaching you how to speed up your animation time with an advanced technique: Rigged Characters.

Rigging characters has been used since a couple of years ago, but what I teach you here is how to automate the movements by using expressions (Java code and lots math) inside After Effects to give you the ability to move your characters with just clicks and drags.

Just check 1 hour of free lessons to see if you find the techniques interesting.

“What options do I have for animating a character?”

Picture this. You have a project in your mind, let’s say, a 2 minute animation. You have the plot in your mind, it’s a good story and you even have the main characters drawn and ready.

You know how to use After Effects, because you went to Video Copilot and learned the basics for free.

Option 1: Puppet tool

You could put your drawings inside After Effects and put a couple of puppet pins, so you can move the character by changing the position of the pins. Right? Well that takes a lot of time to animate, it’s faster than drawing frame-by-frame, but still takes a lot of time.

Option 2: Cut out animation

Maybe you don’t know about the puppet tool technique and you just split the character into the different parts of the body. The arms, the legs, the body and the head. Everything in a separate layer. Animating that “rig” takes a lot of time too. Maybe it’s faster than classical animation but it won't be as fast as a few clicks and drags to change the position.

What can you do to make it super fast?

Option 3: Advanced Rigging

Using a powerful rig that calculates everything for you so you only have to make a few clicks and drags to change the position of your character.

It’s so easy that you will remember when you played with toys

Have you ever played with toys? If you wanted to raise the hand of your Action Figure or your Barbie, all you had to do was to take the hand and raise it right? Imagine if animating was that simple.

Well, this is what this course is going to teach you. How to change body positions in a snap.

When you find a solution, everybody wants to know it

After I came up with this technique, I brought it to the studio I work for (I do motion graphics for commercials), and they went crazy. They started to ask me for lots of tips because I knew that the secret to be faster in animation was by using expressions.

Anybody who knows how to use After Effects knows that the secret to speed up your work is by automating with expressions. And the only way I could help everybody, was by organizing the process and create a couple of videos.

That’s when the idea for this course was born.

Rigged Characters are the common way to speed your animation, everybody knows that

Rigged Characters are what most professionals under a schedule use. I’m talking about Nickelodeon, Disney TV. They all use techniques to rig characters and animate faster.

But until now, there was no way you could achieve all this in After Effects, you had to do your animation in Toon Boom, or Animate Studio. What about us? The After Effects Community?

Well, this is my contribution. An Advanced Rig that helps you control your character easily and quickly, all inside After Effects.

If you haven’t checked yet, take a look at 1 hour of free lessons and see for yourself how easy you can achieve this rig, and how it can help you to animate faster.

“It all sounds great, but, What level of knowledge do I need?”

Because I know there is a lot of people who doesn’t know how to use After Effects, I made an update and included a tour of the software. Everyone is getting it now. And if you are a veteran user, you might discover some advanced little tips that can help you cut your work time in half.

Check the reviews.

Animating faster is not only something people with little time need, but also big studios who work under a schedule. This course will help you achieve faster times, deliver work earlier and stay ahead of schedule.

“What if I don’t understand something? What if I need help?”

If you have a question, just ask me and I try to reach as fast as possible. I answer all questions, mostly on the same day. I check my inbox twice a day.

And just so you know, this course has had tons of modifications thanks to the many questions I received. Many lessons have been re recorded so anyone can understand the concepts. Really, any doubt you have is actually a way to help improve this course.

Check the free lessons now!

What are you waiting for? Preview the free hour of video lessons and if you believe this course is what you were looking for, enroll for the complete 4.5 hour course and discover the secret techniques that can help you cut your working time in half.

Inside you will find the project files to follow along and easy to follow instructions to achieve this powerful technique.

Enroll today!

What are the requirements?

  • Have Adobe After Effects in your system
  • If you want to follow along, you can download the project files
  • Basic knowledge of Adobe After Effects is recommended, but not required, because I give a tour of the program

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Rig a Character in After Effects
  • Animate your cartoon characters faster with just a few clicks and drags

Who is the target audience?

  • This 2D Animation course is meant for beginners to intermediate users of After Effects looking for a fast way to animate, using a rigged puppet.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Introduction
Welcome to this course

In this lesson I will show you all the things you can do with a rigged puppet


This lesson covers how to download all the resources you need and what are they.


In this Lesson I show you how the Character is broken down into different layers on Adobe Illustrator (that you can also do in Photoshop if you prefer). This way, if you want, you can create characters of your own design and apply all the techniques I show you to rig and animate.

Getting DuIK 14.23

In this Lesson I provide you with a very useful script (or plug-in) called DUIK. This script makes rigging a breeze.

You can download it for free:

And you can find the Tutorials for more in depth explanation of how the plug-in work (for free):


As obvious as it may seem, sometimes opening a project can be a little bit hard for the newcomers, so In this lesson I teach you how to tackle the "missing files" error.

Section 2: Rigging The Character

You will learn how to use the DUIK script to rig any of extremity of any character. In this case, I teach you how to rig the Left Arm. From there, you can apply this knowledge to rig anything. Imagination is your limit.


In this lesson we review the rigging techniques using the DUIK script


If you come across to a problem like me, where the arm or leg has to be "glued" to the body, then this technique can prove to be useful.


Review of the technique of hiding the shoulder line, but this time applying it on the lines for the legs


You will learn how to create a switch that can put the arm in front or behind the body.


Review of the technique of creating a switch to put the arm in front or back of the body.


In this lesson I teach you how to anchor the arms and legs to the body. Which is not as easy as it sounds.

Section 3: Turning The Head

In this section I show you how to create the illusion of 3D by adding a special effect of turning the head. Starting with this lesson you will learn how to precompose a group of layers and how to crop a composition.


In this lesson we cover how to do the animation for the face shape to create the illusion of 3D turning of the head.


In here we animate the rest of the head to complete the HEAD TURN


A good practice is always to have a clean workspace. Which is what I show you how to do in this lesson.

Section 4: Setting Up Controllers

In here we only setup the head and face controls.


Now that you have a fully animated head, you can easily extract each part of the face into a new layer, so the controllers can control with precision.


In here I will tell you what effects to create in which controllers, so they can work properly.


For the Head to rotate correctly, you have to know how to move the anchor point and align it to the controller.

Section 5: Activating Controllers

In the next couple of lessons we copy and paste the expressions I provide and on each video I will go through each one and insert data


In this lesson we add expressions for controlling the head up and down


This lessons teaches you how to put limits to the movement of an object.


In this lesson we add expressions for the Eyebrow and Eye Controls. This controllers are just going to be set up, Eyebrow and Eye Control are going to be fully activated once the Pupils and Eyebrows have the expressions.


Before inserting expressions to the Eyes and Eyebrows we first have to prepare them to meet some requirements.


After this lesson, you will have complete control over the Eyebrows using the intuitive Eyebrow Control


In this lesson we put the expressions for the two pupils that will allow you to control the character's eyes.

Section 6: Setting Up The Lip Sync

Just like the Face Turn needed animation that will later be control by a time remap, the lip sync needs an animation too. This is what we will be covering on this lesson.


After having the animations for the mouths, we can start adding expressions to the mouth.


In this lesson we continue adding expressions to the mouth and finally import an audio file to test the lip sync.


In this lesson we do almost the same we did to the mouth but this time we do it to the jaw, so we can add a little realism to the character's speech

Section 7: Automated Blinking And Additional Switches

This useful lesson teaches you to make a switch that can turn your character 180 degrees.


This expression lets you add automated blinking.

Section 8: Animating The Character

Now that you have a rigged character, it's time to bring him to life. In this lesson we finally animate Jimmy.


In this lesson I cover ho to bring your animated character into 3D space and create a little scene

Section 9: Replacement Animation

For those of you interested in working with characters that have hands (unlike Jimmy), then these next two lessons will teach you how to accomplish that. We start by setting up an arm and the hands.


Now that we have the arm and hands set up, we can apply the replacement animation techniques.

Section 10: Wrap It Up

Thanks for staying this far. Hope you learned a lot.


Congratulations on finishing this Course! We have a special surprise for you :D

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Instructor Biography

2D Animation 101 Courses, Animation Courses for Beginners

With a background of 10 years in the film industry at Autumn Leave Films, and with over 30 short films produced to this date, we are a group of animators who love to share everything we know about animation, from pre-production, animation, to post production.

Our aim is to equip future animators with all the necessary techniques and tips to help them do better projects. Our courses will help beginners along with intermediate users.

We have helped more than 22,000+ students to discover techniques and all the knowledge they need to start animating their projects.

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