8 Replies Latest reply on Apr 7, 2017 11:15 PM by Premiere Elements Export

    How do I do a basic stills animation featuring people as puppets?

    Premiere Elements Export

      Hi everyone.

      I am currently working on a basic 2D animation for the last supper.

      This is my first attempt at animating so I am a newbie with multiple questions. I am happy to pay for advice should anyone have referals or be reluctant to offer free advice as Im desperate to get things moving forward with my project.

      For the background on my project .....Here is what I have done so far...

      I have broken leornado Da vinci's painting "The Last supper" into multiple layers on photoshop and filled out the gaps in the background should I wish to move the characters around the scene a bit or manipulate limbs etc.

      I have given each character (in separate layers) eyeballs, pupils, eye lids, eye blink, as well as 3 different brow layers.

      I have also animated different mouth shapes (about 5 different mouth shapes) so i can create a generic talking look from the characters at the dinner table.

      My questions are as follows....

      When I originally drew the  eye parts and different mouth shapes, I grouped these layers in photoshop, and when I bring them in to AE, these said groups become compositions that I have to click on in order to access (for example- there will be a  composition that contains all the mouth shapes and a separate composition that has all the different eye functions). As I click on the relevant group, all i see on the monitor is that particular part without the context of surroundings (not the entire scene).

      Is this normal ?

      (I cant see the characters in relation to each other unless I flick back to that window).



      Also if I choose 3 seconds from start of video, and change direction of eye balls, if there are no earlier keyframes it will alter the start of the animation as well (to those settings you set later in the piece).

      Does that mean I have to set keyframes for every feature and every layer at the very start of the animation ?

      (knowing that I will be altering the position scale etc later on).



      Also most importantly, Can I turn a layer on or off at a certain point in a clip ? for example can i get the blink layer to activate at a certain point in the clip ? or a smile ? Do I use opacity to make it visible  ?

      In essence, whether it be different brow shapes , mouth expressions etc how do i get them to activate while other layers are redundant ?


      Ive been trying to find the answers online but cannot get the answers ?

      Appreciate there is a lot of questions here, but open to any suggestions




      Mod note: I changed the title of your discussion to be more searchable.

        • 1. Re: Animating the last supper
          Dave LaRonde Level 6

          I've got to ask -- have you ever used AE before?

          If the answer is "no" or "not much", I strongly recommend that you put this project aside for another time, and another Good Friday.  Even you were an AE pro, you'd be about 3 weeks behind to hit a Good Friday deadline.

          You don't have the requisite experience to do the animation.  Your experience in Photoshop will also greatly affect the visual impact of the animation.

          I also fear you will make a mere cartoon out of the Gospel of John.


          I also recommend spending quality time here to build up your AE chops:


          After Effects tutorials | Learn how to use After Effects CC

          • 2. Re: Animating the last supper
            Premiere Elements Export Level 1

            Hi Dave

            Thanks for taking the time to respond.

            I have used it once before, but have experience in premiere pro and photoshop which Ive used over the years .

            Im guessing I may have bit off more than I can chew but Ill see how I go anyway -lol

            Id be happy with  cartoon quality to be honest.

            Thankyou for the link

            • 3. Re: Animating the last supper
              Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

              You have posed a bunch of questions. Here's how I would approach the project with your experience level.


              You are off to a good start. Separating the parts of the images you want to animate into separate layers and adding the additional elements to a single PSD file where any experienced animator would start. Make sure the layers are appropriately labeled and organized so all of Peter, for example is in a stack off layers named something like Peter, Peter's eyes open, etc...


              Then I would group all of the characters you are going to animatge in to layer groups. This will created nested comps in the main comp in AE that have all of the elements that compose each character in a separate composition.


              You then import the PSD as a comp retaining layer sizes and open the comp that is created from your Last Supper Psd.


              Now you pick one of the characters, Lest's say Peter and double click on that nested comp in the main comp to open it.


              The next step is to add your audio track to the nested comp so you have something to go by for timing. Now you start by animating the things like eyes and mouth and get them in sync.


              The easiest way to animate things like blinking eyes is to set all of your eye layers to 1 frame, then sequence the layers so they are arranged something like eyes open for frame zero, eye's half shut for frame one, then eyes shut for frame two. Now you select all of those layers and pre-compose the layers and name the pre-comp Peters eyes. Still in the Peter comp you apply Time Remapping to the Peter's eyes comp in the timeline And you start by deleting the last keyframe, then you change the first keyframe (eyes open) to a hold keyframe and make sure you note the value. Move down the timeline to the point where you want the eyes to start to close and set a keyframe value of 1, then move forward one frame and set the value to 2, then one more frame and set the value to 1, then one more frame and set the value to 0. Now the eyes will blink and the blink will last for 4 frames.


              That's the basis idea. You odd the same thing with mouth movements and anything else that you can animate using the time remapping trick.


              When you get things like the eyes and mouth working the way you like you move back into the main comp and apply Puppet Pin to the Peter comp and animate the position of the pinns. The only thing you can animate when you apply puppet pin is the position of the pins and opacity. If you need to move the entire Peter layer around you'll need to pre-compose it again moving all attributes and then you can animate position rotation and scale.


              That should get you started.


              I forgot to mention that the PSD file should be the size of your composition. It can be bigger if you plan to do some "camera moves" on the scene so you move in. Les's say that for part of the animation you want to move in to show about 1/2 the frame. In that case, if you are planning a standard HD 1920 X 1080 project your Psd file should be about 2160 pixels wide... You want the layers somewhere around 100% scale at some point in your animation.


              You will not find tutorials on how to animate your specific scene but you can fine tutorials on using the Puppet Pin tool, on using time remapping to animate lip sync and eye movements. And you can find information on hold key frames and pre-composing and time remapping by typing those terms in the search help field at the top right corner of AE and reading the help files and community resources.


              Be sure you vet your trainers. If you find a tutorial on YouTube make sure that person is an experienced professional effects artists. There are more lousy tutorials that teach poor techniques and ineffective techniques than there are tutorials that provide good information so be careful.


              Let us know if this helps.

              2 people found this helpful
              • 4. Re: Animating the last supper
                Premiere Elements Export Level 1

                Thankyou so much Rick

                I really appreciate you taking the time to explain everything there. I had just started on the time remapping today ,and after reading your explanation, I feel like I am on the right track.

                Just one question can I manipulate the eyeball direction as well using the transform position  or do I have to allocate it a number in the time remapping  ?

                For example have the eyes looking left and thats number 4

                                                    eyes right number 5 etc

                • 5. Re: How do I do a basic stills animation featuring people as puppets?
                  Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                  You can use time remapping for all kinds of animation but you usually would have a drawing with eyes left and eyes right rather than throw in some position and rotation keyframes.


                  When I do  this kind of lip sync animation I have a different mouth drawing for all of the sounds that make up speech. a, o, u, e, k....  You can easily find references for these Phoneme shapes. Then you can add markers to the audio track and use the appropriate frame numbers to make your cartoon talk and do so quite effectively.


                  There is quite a bit published on this subject. Animators have been doing it for about 100 years...

                  1 person found this helpful
                  • 6. Re: How do I do a basic stills animation featuring people as puppets?
                    Premiere Elements Export Level 1

                    Thanks Rick you are a champion and you've really helped me in the right direction.

                    Thankyou again mate

                    • 7. Re: How do I do a basic stills animation featuring people as puppets?
                      Szalam Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                      Have you considered using Adobe Character Animator for animating the people instead? It might be a much better choice for the task.

                      • 8. Re: How do I do a basic stills animation featuring people as puppets?
                        Premiere Elements Export Level 1

                        Yes I did initially experiment with Character animator and thought it was quite good except I think Im going to continue using photoshop after effects and time remapping

                        Im going to try and use duik to help with some of the arm movement too