Advice on rigging/animating puppets?

Dear community,

For the first time I rigged a puppet in Animate Pro and started animating and discovered that it can be pretty tricky. I wonder if anyone with more experience could give me some advice.
Some issues/questions I have:
1. What is the best way to animate? From 3d I am used to do blocking first before I let the software interpolate, but because there is a function that can automatically set the eases when you set the keyframes I assume that many animators work with interpolation on. Are there any “rules” and tricks to this function? How do you define holds the most effective way (moving the IK chain a couple of frames later, using +KF button or copying the last pose)? Which layers do you keep expanded in the timeline? I would be very glad if someone could share his wisdom :slight_smile:
2. Like in the karate rabbit mixed rig tutorial I used pegs to hold the actual drawings. Those pegs are (like in the tutorial) children of drawing layers with nice pink handles which take the actual animation. My problem is that when I use the +KF button of the timeline toolbar and the drawing layer “pegs” is not expanded in the timeline the pegs that are just there as a container for the drawings set keyframes too. And sometimes I transform them on accident and they create unwanted motions. Is there any way to avoid this (like for the drawings where you can uncheck the “can be animated using animation tools” box)?
3. Sometimes Animate Pro changes the order in which modules are plugged into the main composite. When I drag the template of my rig into a new scene it slightly changed the order (especially in the face where a lot of cutter stuff is applied and masks are not plugged into a composite). I assume that is because the the timeline was sorted differently than the modules and this gets corrected during the import. Is there a refresh button shortcut so I can make sure timeline and modules work together before I create a template for them. Is this behavior normal or is something wrong with the rig?
4. Also it even plugs stuff that is not meant to be seen and intentionally unplugged (like masks from cutters) randomly into the composite. Do I have to create an invisible “garbage composite” to prevent Animate from plugging in masks when I move the cutter in the timeline? I assume this will stop when the rigging is done and I don’t move layers anymore, but it’s still annoying.
5. Is there a way to make layers and pegs invisible for the timeline so you don’t have to scroll forever to find something (like the holder pegs) and you only see the layers that you actually want to have keyframes on?

I would be so glad about any hints and advice! :slight_smile:

Hey Lilly,

that was very interesting and helpful thank you very much.

1. It’s good to know that studios avoid IK and set the ease manually, so there must be some sort of benefit to it (more control, time-saving or more natural motion pherhaps). I need to try this way of working and look forward to the Tip of the Week :slight_smile:

2. I see, setting a keyframe on everything can gurantee that everything stays in place… I guess I just have to check my rig again if I unchecked “Animate Using Animation Tools” for all the drawings.
A question though: If I use Drawing layers with rig handles instead of a peg to hold the actual drawing do I need a peg inbetween that or can is the drawing layer parent enough?

3. Thank you, the Action and Master Template workflow is really helpful, great tutorial. Unfortunately I still alternate the rig too much during animation but once I am good enough to set up good rigs from the spot it will be a big help.

4. Okay… just like I thought… once I started animating and stopped rigging it doesn’t connect stuff anymore anyway

5. Hehe yeah I learned to love the “O” shortcut a while ago. Very helpful!

Thank you very much… I am afraid I will come back to this forum many many times ask many more questions :wink:

Interesting thread! I asked similar questions in a post some time ago and you might find it interesting to read.

Methodology of Animating;action=display;threadid=4001

Since writing that I have begun using the collapsed Timeline method and it works quite well. I still use interpolation but am thinking of trying without it except as an aid for establishing inbetweens which are later converted into keyframes as shown in the video tutorials.

Regarding the use of Pegs on everything, I still only use Pegs when I need them like on the mouth layer so that any keyframes are created on the Peg and not where all the mouth swapping occurs. By the way, you can turn on the Peg Select Mode in the Tool Properties so that you won’t accidentally animate on drawing layers–if your rig is done using all Pegs.

Yeah collapsing the timeline seems to be pretty effective. I just have to get use to it… I find myself spending far to much time deleting keyframes ;D

I tried animating without interpolation yesterday setting keyframes on every (or every other frame)… it’s fun… kinda like stop motion but with the ability to just do one arm and come back to everything again. Especially for stuff where the interpolation always produces very broad arm swings it’s very useful

There is a peg select tool?? That is pretty awesome. In this case I think I can live without having markers on drawing layers…
But what was the other advantage of using drawing layers instead of pegs again? It was… something… something with the pivots?

a pity we don’t see them anymore. can they be retrieved by the admins?

Let’s see if I can help at all…

1. Best way to Animate.

What a subjective question! I see a lot of people that animate with interpolation on, and a lot of people that animate with it off. In most studio environments, I see them animating without the use of the IK tool. Some studios use the interpolations just to help them to set ease manually. I did a Tip of the Week on what it means to set ease manually, and this should be going live tomorrow, so check that out.

Of course, which is better? Well, using interpolation tends to be a bit more robotic, and doing it manually a bit more organic. It just depends on your preference.

2. Pegs are actually great. The idea with pegs is to keep all the keyframes on pegs, and to keep all the drawing layers without keyframes. So you can turn off “Animate Using Animation Tools” on drawing layers, and just keep the keyframes on the pegs.

The way I usually see people animate here, is they collapse the whole Timeline, and put a keyframe on everything. Then go to the next frame, collapse everything, and set a keyframe. The reason to set a keyframe on everything, is that you can actually get unexpected interpolations when you don’t do this, because you might think, why, I just set a key on frame 6, and then on frame 10, but my movement is going from frame 1 - 10. This happens when you only keyframe the drawing layers that you’re moving, instead of keyframing all of them.

If you’re very aware of what you’re doing, then you can keyframe just one or two layers at a time, and have desired results that way. But most people I see just set a key on it all.

3. When you’re creating your rig, are you copying and pasting from the Network View? If you are, it should keep the connections the same.

If you copy and paste from the Timeline, then it may not preserve the connections. The Network view is for copying the whole rig (Master templates), whereas the Timeline is for copying selected drawings and/or keyframes (Action templates).

Check out these Tips:

4. You should not have to create a composite for this. When you drag something in from the Network, yes, sometimes it does create connections when they are not needed. It’s something I’ve reported back to the team, but due to the nature of how things work, that’s the way it’s done right now. We can look at improving this for future versions of the software, but it’s not an easy fix.

Usually what ends up happening here is that the Multi-Port In gets connected to unconnected modules. If you simply leave them as-is, it shouldn’t affect the final behaviour and look of the animation. Of course, if you need to plug something else into that port, you’ll have to unconnect it and reconnect what needs to go in there.

5. You can’t make layers invisible, but you can use the “O” or “Shift+O” shortcut to zoom to the selected layer in the Timeline, or selected module in the Network. Just keep in mind that these shortcuts work based on the active view (where the red outline is), so if the active view is in the Timeline it will zoom to the layer in the Timeline, etc. In the Drawing or Camera views, the “O” shortcut is set to resize the size of the selected tool.

Hope this helps!


Well with peg layers, you can set the pivot on the entire layer using the Rotate tool, but if you want the pivots in different positions, you can only do this on a drawing layer. In Animate Pro and Harmony, you can send the pivots from the drawing layer up to the next parent peg. I tend to just set one pivot on the whole peg layer with the Rotate tool, though. But that works for me because I don’t have a lot of views, I just pretty much animate with a front and back view. When you have lots of views, you will most likely need different pivot points for the different views.