Pretty complex. I've seen a PSD with 1000+ layers work. The biggest limiting factor will be your computer's performance. This is why it makes sense to continually check the puppet live in CH while you build to keep stress testing and seeing if it will work. You can also download similar complex puppets form our examples and see how well they run as a benchmark.
It's a good idea to think about your puppets structure before you start building it. If you want a thing to be affected by gravity, you'll likely want that on a separate layer in Photoshop, same goes for things you want to go in front or behind things(e.g., arms).
Conversely, there's no benefit to having certain things as separate layers unless you're going to be doing something with them, so if your character's shirt consists of 150 layers in a group, rasterizing that into one layer would make sense. In general though, keeping things as separate layers gives you more flexibility later on during the rigging and performing stages.
We have customers using puppets with thousands of layers, so CH can handle a pretty complex puppet.
Puppets with multi-view heads and bodies can cause some performance issues. Lets assume you have 5 head and body positions, that's 25 puppets running all at once, even if you're only looking at one head and body at the same time. There are ways to work around these performance issues though.
Thanks! I was just trying to decide if it was worth making one puppet with all views or if it was better to break the puppet up into 2 or 3 separate puppets....for example, puppet1 (front, quarter, and side views), puppet2 (walk left, walk right), puppet3 (close ups with behaviors/expressions). I plan to put it all together in AE afterwards but it would be nice to know what's the best practice.
PS. Dan, can you share the work arounds you mentioned? I have 5 body positions each with 7 heads. I notice my laptop gets pretty hot while I'm rigging and testing the puppet.
I personally like to put everything into one puppet. The performance can drag while rigging your master, but later, you can duplicate that puppet and trim as needed for actual use in CH.