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Jim Krause | Classes | P354 Program Graphics & Animation

Week 13

Announcements/Reality Check:

  • Your final project proposals were due last week. A storyboard and/or script is due next week (Thursday)
  • We'll continue to cover AE for the next 2 weeks. We'll have a final quiz, which is cummulative Thursday of Week 15. It will cover material from the first two quizzes (Use them to study) and the AE content we've covered since then.
  • The Spring 2019 Final Project Review time (assigned by registrar) is 5 – 7 PM Tuesday, April 30. NOTE: We will need the entire time to review projects.


  • Review Homework
  • Puppet Tool - Part 1
  • Shape layers

Puppet Tool - Part 1

The puppet tool can be found in Photoshop and After Effects. It's a versatile tool with numerous uses. Obviously it's useful for animating characters.

But it can also be used in other interesting ways. For instance it can be used to animate a particle stream (see tutorial below) or to bring still pictures to life. Take another look at the Beauty animation, which uses the Puppet Tool to bring classic paintings to life.

Exploring the Puppet Tool (Meyer Chapter 35 - ZIP file of sources - 488 kB)

The puppet tool provides an easy to use way to animate layers, such as Illustrator or Photoshop docuemnts. The layers must have non-changing alpha channels- so you need to use still objects. So, if you had a photo of a cartoon you wanted to animate, you'd first have to cut out the character and save it as a PNG or TIFF with an alpha channel, or as a cutout layer in a Photoshop document.

When you enable the puppet tool by placing a puppet pin on a layer, it creates an underlying mesh structure. It's good for getting organic-looking movement on layers.

The puppet tool has three kinds of controls. You can press Command-P to toggle through them.

  • Puppet Pin - Use this to set control points
  • Puppet Overlap - Use this to specify if pixels are in front of or behind other pixels
  • Puppet Starch - Use this to add rigidity

The motion paths created by the puppet pins can be changed or adjusted just like any other spatial keyframes.

Motion Sketching is an easy and straightforward way to add keyframes. If you hold the Command button down over a puppet pin a stopwatch appears. Then when you click and drag, it will record the keyframes. You can set the speed and other variables with the "Record Options" button next to the puppet pin tool.

The Overlap Tool allow you to set a value to areas that specify how they overlap other areas. Larger values cover (are in front of) lower values. It's possible to have negative values. Use minimal pins and adjust the extent value. You can even animate/change the overlap pin positions over time.

The Starch Tool works a little like the overlap tool in that you can place a point and set the extent value. This will prevent the area from warping.

Bringing Still Pictures to Life

Here's a tutorial by Rich Harrington on using the puppet tool with non-character footage. In this case a photograph. This tutorial in essence shows how to create moving footage out of a still photo. It also shows how to refine edges and use the Smart Fill in Photoshop:

Puppet Life Exercise (5 points)

Using techniques shown in the Rich Harrington tutorial, create a sequence where a still object has been brought realistically to life. Suggested pixel dimensions & length: 1280x720 at 10-15 seconds.

When you are satisified, output an H.264 movie with sound called "puppet_life" and upload it to the appropriate Canvas assignment.

Thursday ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Shape Layers Review (Meyer, Chapter 32)

The same tools used to make masks can make shapes. If you have no layer selected, they will make shapes. Note that when this tool is selected, Options become visible on the right.

Pressing the Q key will cycle through the various shapes you can create.

Remember that as you are dragging the mouse to make a shape, you can modify them by pressing the curser up/down & left/right keys (See p 532).

You can use the Pen tool to create interesting shapes. You can use the G key to toggle between the Pen tool's various vertex modes.

You can create open shapes by checking the "no fill" option

Reality check: Can you create a rectangle with feathered opacity and color?

Making Animated Paths for Maps


The Repeater allows you to duplicate and animate components within a Shape Layer.

Experiment with making shape layers for 10 minutes. Be sure to use the repeater function. Then carry out the Tuesday in-class exercise:

Thursday In-class Shape Layer Exercise:

  • Start out with a 1280 x 720 Comp
  • Use Shape Layers to do either:
    • Make a dashed path on a map with a start, mid-point, and end (like in the Rabinowitz example).
    • Make a flower blossoming (use the Repater to make multiple petals spreading out over time)
  • Upload an H.264 version called "shapes" into the appropriate Week 13 Canvas assignment


  • Create a Final Project Script/Storyboard
  • Read Meyer Chapter 35 (The Puppet Tools)
  • Bring in an object (E.g. a character) to animate with the Puppet Tool (or I'll give you one)
  • 15 second "Promote a Cause" animation - This project should promote some sort of cause. (Examples: Give Blood for the Red Cross, Volunteer for WFHB, Be My Friend, Donate Money to MiddleWay House, etc.) This can be serious, silly or whimsical, but should have GOOD DESIGN! Requirements:
    • At least one audio element
    • You must use at least 3 animated shape layers. Brownie points if you use the Repeater (in a tasteful manner).
    • You must have at least 3 animated text layers.
    • Turn it in a square pixel H.264 version.

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