7 Replies Latest reply on Sep 17, 2008 2:08 PM by (Todd_Tennant)

    Which AE tools to animate a GN?

      I am (still) new to AE, and was wondering which After Effects tools would be suggested to animate a graphic novel such as my G'94 online graphic novel here:


      ... especially the talking, walking, tail-swinging etc. movements. Any help and tutorial suggests will be greatly appreciated.

      thank you,


      fyi: I use a Mac Quadcore G5/OSX (4 x 2.5 GHz/4.5 GB DDR2 SDRAM)
        • 1. Re: Which AE tools to animate a GN?
          David Wigforss-Hv1BNN Level 2
          What's your proficency in After Effects?

          I'd try Distort/Puppet. I was actually doing an experiment with it just now... I finally figured out (with Aaron Cobb's help this morning) how to attach pin positions to nulls. Why do this? Because you can 'rig' your character with nulls via parenting and expressions. I haven't tried tying in Dan Ebberts' IK rig; that'd be my next step when I get a free moment.

          I dunno how well it will work with your artwork. I'd try cutting things up and seperating them in Photoshop first.


          PS. The expression to tie puppet pins to nulls is:
          L = thisComp.layer("Null 1"); fromComp(L.toComp(L.anchorPoint))
          • 2. Re: Which AE tools to animate a GN?
            Level 1
            I am a total beginner at this point.
            So, I would need to make separate Photoshop
            files of my characters and monster and cut up the moving parts first.

            Are there urls with tutorials for
            your specific AE animating methods suggested?


            • 3. Re: Which AE tools to animate a GN?
              David Wigforss-Hv1BNN Level 2
              This might be too difficult for a total beginner.. Also, realize the animation that you could achieve with AE is limited. To give you an idea, think of those Guiness ads with the 2 guys.. Or take a look at this documentary I helped animate a couple of years ago - In The Realms Of The Unreal - http://www.netflix.com/Movie/In_the_Realms_of_the_Unreal/60035201?trkid=222336&lnkctr=src hrd-sr&strkid=1992324800_0_0

              "So, I would need to make separate Photoshop
              files of my characters and monster and cut up the moving parts first."

              Yes, create a PS file that has layers for all your elements. After you cut something out, you'll need to repaint what is in back of it. ie. When you cut out the arm, you need to repaint the body in back of it.

              For "tutorials", try doing a search for Ken Burns or "Kid Stays in the Picture".

              Puppet is cool, but it may be too much for a total newbie. I'd first start with transform animation first - set the anchor point (y shortcut), then animate pos and rot.

              Once you've got that down, you can start to delve into more advanced techniques, including distortion effects, expressions, time remapping, etc.
              • 4. Re: Which AE tools to animate a GN?
                Level 1
                I saw the trailer, and will rent this movie. Very cool animation, and thank you so much for all your helpful suggestions.

                btw: I first got the idea of animating my G'94 gn after seeing this:


                I asked around and was told it was probably done with AE, Toon Boom and/or Final Cut (which I also want to add to my apps very soon). If I could learn to emulate the limited animation seen here with AE, that would be great.

                Yes, I'm a newbie to AE, but have had experience making animated fly-overs and walk-thrus for my architectural clients (using ArchiCAD & Artlantis apps), so I understand a little about time-lines, keyframes, & such. However I do realize AE will be a brand new ball game.

                I also want to get a full-blown 3D modeling/animating program eventually, and have been told that LightWave is fairly "user friendly" for newbies like me just getting their feet wet. Would you suggest that app for a Mac OS X user?

                • 5. Re: Which AE tools to animate a GN?
                  David Wigforss-Hv1BNN Level 2
                  Yes, you could create that trailer/short in AE. Wouldn't be that hard if you had all the illustrations already seperated into layers.

                  As for getting into 3d... I first started out on LW (for PC). I got modelling down pretty good, but H*A*T*E*D trying to animate anything in it. "There's got to be a better way" I thought.. Well, of course there was - Softimage XSI!! :) Unfortunately for you, XSI is only PC/Linux, so you'd have to use it in Bootcamp/whatever. XSI is very similar to Maya, but I found it much easier to use.

                  You might want to take a look at Cinema4D. I think you might like that more than Lightwave. Try demoes and test for yourself.

                  Modeling for animation is different than CAD, but at least you should have basics down. For instance, you pretty much should always have 4 pt polygons.. Topology and edge flow is important. The tough part with 3D programs is figuring out what all the concepts are/mean. Weight Maps, Normals, Vertices, Enveloping/Skinning, UVs, Fcurves, SUBDs, IK/FK, etc. The good thing with 3D programs is pretty much all the concepts carry over from 1 program to the next, you just gotta figure out what they're called/how they're utilized.

                  Good luck and report back. And as always, the manual is your friend. :)
                  • 6. Re: Which AE tools to animate a GN?
                    (Steve_Patterson) Level 1
                    If you're going to work with AE & a 3D app, you may want to investigate Cinema 4D. I haven't used it in a loooooong time, but it's integration with AE is unsurpassed. I'm a Maya lover that has to work with Lightwave, and I despise the way LW goes about doing things. No matter what 3D app you choose, the learning curve is exponentially greater than than of AE (not that AE is a piece-o-cake for the first time user).
                    • 7. Re: Which AE tools to animate a GN?
                      Level 1
                      Thanks again to you both for your advice, David and Steve.

                      I consider this VERY significant that you both mention Cinema 4D, because this program is also always mentioned amongst other architectural renderers/animators; especially those who use ArchiCAD and Artlantis like me. I've already tried the LW demo download, and will now definitely take your advice on downloading a Cinema 4D demo. This app is sounding like the way to go for me, especially since I use Mac OS X.

                      Oh, if only Bill and Steve had gotten along better and formed one company way back when, perhaps we all would be better off today........(maybe;0). Looks like this is what will happen eventually anyway.