black outlines in cut-out animation

Forgive my lack of knowledge on terminology here; I’ll have to muddle through and hope you folks can glean what I’m trying to say.

I love the look of the black outline around all drawings – especially with the brush stroke which gives it the varying thicknesses and the odd, pleasantly unexpected ‘mistake’ which I’ll end up keeping in the drawing. Problem is, the black lines can also make cut-out characters messy. I somewhat understand the trick of using hidden strokes and rounding off joints and so forth, but no matter what I do, I keep finding myself constantly duplicating drawings so I can use the eraser or, worse, using the transform tool to adjust the position of, say, a forearm halfway through a rotate because it doesn’t quite lay perfectly on the upper arm. This ends up making the element behave crazy a few frames or more down the time line. Bit maddening, really.

This would be almost a moot point if I didn’t use the black outline, but I don’t like the look of drawings without the line. Any advice on this? Is there a tutorial that goes into depth on this issue? Does anyone have a well-behaved cow for sale?

(ignore the cow thing, I just don’t know why I asked that)

Hi. In general, the layout of edge elements are joined by providing strategically on top of each other in the order of one hundredth of its center and moving to a permanent rotation to allow the widest possible turning without distorting. In turn the top element is erased so that the contour of the padding is formed a semicircle outgoing, and its center should be located in the pivot. For more precision is used without an overlay contour called patch, placed on the articulation that removes dynamicaly contours that do not want to see. (For tips and triks TBS was treated the subject.) This is very important that the F / B of the elements is close to 0.01 as very close camera angle or the elements can move visually. The character must be checked in a full performance of your joints before animate to avoid unwanted behaviors pivots located incorrectly. The aesthetics of the joint must be planned in advance to avoid any complication in your area of rotation. I hope that helps. Yoryo

There are plenty of strategies for joint disguise and manipulation and lots of variations based on the specific nature of the character design.

One piece of advice I always give on the subject of cut-outs is “you can never anticipate all the potential situations or poses required so be prepared to modify the character as required and don’t waste your time trying to build or rig the character as a “one size” fits all solution.”

Joints can be disguised by the addition of a “joint patch” element placed between the two main parts that are joined. A joint patch can consist of one or more cells as needed and both keyframing manipulation and cell swapping can be applied to the use of a “joint patch” The joint patch elements are hierarchically a part of your rig. And remember that cell swapping can range from nothing displayed (empty/blank cell) to any number of replacement cells for any element in your rig.

As to your issue of sometimes having to displace parts during animation, that is a normal situation anytime you deal with a cut-out because you don’t have the luxury of multidimensional rotation which some parts of the body can perform. In some cases you can compensate by having additional cells per body part element and in other cases a “transform” beyond just rotation is required. You will just have to visually deal with continuously adjusting positions when you make a transform change. One trick is to jump ahead in the animation for that part and to lock down the natural position for that body part with a keyframe so that when you reach that pose it is back in its natural place. This is a form of integrating pose to pose animating with straight ahead animating. -JK