Questions concerning blinking, symbols, and puppets...

Ok, another question…

I’ve been trying like hell to understand how to make an eye ‘blink’ inside my puppet template. I’ve read the manual, and it’s like I’m on the verge of getting it, but just can’t quite get there. Here’s where I am:

I’ve created a puppet with 5 poses, and have so far done all of the cutting up parts and rigging for the first pose only (I want to get one pose fully formed to get my understanding down before I move on to others).

My eyes are broken down like it says to do in the manual (eyeballs, pupils, eyelids… though no closed eyelids yet, cause I’m not sure where to put them).

I believe I understand the concept of swapping images… you create empty drawing frames between the key poses, draw the parts to swap in those empty frames (extra hand poses, etc.), then when you go to animate the puppet in a scene, you would delete the extra poses, and swap out the extra images within their layer when needed.

Now here’s where I’m getting stuck: I understand how to make a Symbol (I think), but what I don’t get is, once I’ve create a ‘blink’ symbol separately, where exactly do I import it back into the puppet? Do I create empty drawing cells in a new layer, and then once I’ve imported the ‘blink’ symbol, do I delete all of the old eye parts? And being as a blink symbol is supposed to loop, when I go to place my puppet in a new scene, and delete the unneeded poses, won’t that also delete a portion of the blink? Won’t I have to scroll through it’s layer to select the other drawings, just like I would for the extra drawings of a hand once I’ve deleted the extra poses?

I apologize if this all sounds confusing, but I’m doing my best to grasp this stuff.

Thanks in advance for any help at all. :slight_smile:

If you go to my youtube channel and look back a few tutorials there is one on setting up a really nice blinking eye rig. There is also a link in the tips section of this forum somewhere if you look back.


I would like to know if you are using Animate 1, Animate 2, Animate Pro 1 or Animate Pro 2.

From there, I maybe able to provide you with some more information on the topic.


Marie_Eve: I am using Animate 2.

TheRaider: I watched your tutorial, thanks. I did learn somethings from it (like drawing the drawing substitutions on the same cell layer instead of separate cells… which actually I think I learned by watching your lip-synch tutorial). But it still doesn’t quite get down to my core issue, maybe I can sum it up better here:

When I import my character to a new scene, I will delete the character positions I don’t need (ie: I want the 3 quarter view, so I will delete the front view, side view, and back view) and this leaves me with one key frame from which to start my animation with… the 3 quarter view keyframe.

Now, as I start my animation from there, I am aware I can still use drawing substitutions for the hands etc. by going into the hand layer and changing out the hand for another hand at some point… and I know that if I want to suddenly turn the puppet to the front view, I can collapse the puppet to its main peg and scroll to the front view from there. However, I do not know how to keep the eye blinking throughout this. After I’ve deleted the other poses so I can start my animation on the 3 quarter view, it turns my eye blink into just another drawing substitution layer instead of being an enclosed cycle that keeps blinking as I extend the animation.

Ugh. I’m sure there’s something basic I’m missing or just not getting as to the work flow or the character set up or something…


In the Animate 2 User Guide, did you read the following section?

Chapter 15: Animating Your Puppets > Animating Using Symbols from page 689 to 692?

In the previous user guide of Animate (Animate 1), there was more information about creating cut-out puppets using symbols. In Animate 2, this workflow was pretty much all removed as it is not the most efficient way of doing it and we did not want the users to have trouble.

Let me know if this section answers your question.


I have read that chapter, but something just isn’t clicking for me… I don’t know why I’m not getting it.

I would prefer not to animate with symbols, but how else would I create a blink that I don’t have to animate on every frame as I animate my puppet.

I’m not sure if it’s maybe because I’m not creating the symbol correctly, or encapsulating it correctly or what… I’m running all sorts of experiments and trials with it. It pretty much boils down to: after I delete my extra poses in order to begin animating, as I extend that pose through various animations, I want to extend the blink symbol for the same length in order for it to keep blinking as long as I’m animating that pose. However, once I’ve deleted the extra poses, the rest of the blink, beyond that frame, is deleted too, and as I animate or extend my pose, I’m left with simply extending that first frame of the blink.

ooooh the horror…


Well, encapsulating symbols inside symbols can be really annoying when animating.
I wonder if your issue is mainly about importing the symbol and exposing it.
How do you import your Symbol in your scene?

What I suggest you is to create your layers without using symbols.
When you create your puppet, just expose alllllll the drawings on your timeline view.

For your blink, I recommend you create an Animation/Action template, which consists in taking drawings and keyframes from your timeline and dropping them in the Library.

- If you have to create a blink, create the 3 eyelids position you need and expose them on 3 different frames.
- Then, I would recommend to create a folder in your library called something like Reuse Animation.
- From your timeline, select all the cells containing your blink animation. In your case, it would probably be your 6 eyes layers (eyelid, pupil, eyeball, left and right)
-Drop your selection in the library folder you created.
-When you will animate, you will be able to drop this template in the same layers you took it from.

A series of detailed video tutorial is coming about the breakdown on our web site in about three - four weeks. Maybe these will also help you a little bit more.

Let me know if you have any questions or issues.


Thanks Marie-Eve, I"m going to go over this over the next day or two and try it the way your saying and I’ll post back if it helps or not.

I’m definitely not doing ‘symbol into a Symbol’ as I read that’s a bad idea, so I do think it’s a matter of importing things and that I should use an action template… I’ll try and see. Hope it works! :slight_smile:

Good luck!


Basically you are trying to loop a blink? Do you have the single blink animated in the timeline?

This thread lilly did might help if you are having troubles with templates;action=display;threadid=1886

I feel I am possibly on the verge of figuring this out… but no cigar yet…

Marie-Eve: I’m a bit unclear when you said: “When you will animate, you will be able to drop this template in the same layers you took it from”.

The layer of the eye (eyeball, pupil, eyelid), before I created an action template out of them, were properly positioned on my puppet. Are you saying that if I drop the new blink action template over the old eye layers that they will overwrite them and be properly positioned?

I actually was able to come close to getting what I want so far by creating a blink symbol and importing that into my puppet, then, when I deleted all the other poses, and began to animate the pose I had left (which normally turns the blink into a static drawing that I have to re-animate) I was able to ‘expand’ the symbol, delete the static ‘blink’ image on its parent timeline, and end up left with my blink loop. I do not believe this will end up being an ideal, or efficient way of doing things moving forward, as it may create issues later, so I’m still searching for a better way.

TheRaider: I think you are getting to the core of what I’m talking about when you say “Basically you are trying to loop a blink? Do you have the single blink animated in the timeline?”.

That’s pretty much it… but, you see, unless I’m getting the work flow wrong, here’s what I’ve got: a puppet with 4 poses… each pose, lets say, has 5 extra cells after it’s key key frame in order to incorporate extra drawings for the hands, feet, etc… but the ‘eye’ layer, within those 5 extra cells, contains a ‘blink’ loop. Now, say, I turn my puppet into a template, and then import it into a new scene to start animating the puppet. If I want to start the animation on the forward facing view, I would collapse the puppet to its master peg, and delete everything after the first (forward facing pose) key frame… even the 5 extra cells.

Now, as I begin animating, I can still swap out the images for the hands, etc, but I can’t simply keep the ‘blink’ loop going… it has become static, like the pose, and I have to re-animate the blink.

I know I sound nuts, but there’s something really basic I’m sure that I’m missing. Maybe the re-importing an action template, as Marie-Eve suggested, and then looping that, is the key. However, I would then have to completely reposition the eyes, and then delete the old ‘eye’ layers. Which I guess I could do, but I’d rather not.

I really appreciate all the help from you guys, and I apologize if it’s hard to understand what I’m getting at.

P.S. Any chance you will be doing a toon boom animation class in NYC in the near future? :slight_smile:

Hello again,

Don’t worry, I know it is not the easiest concept to grasp! :slight_smile:

First, for the Master class is NYC, I spoke to Sales team. Some of them are getting organized around New-York, nothing sure yet, but you also have the possibility to do one on one online remote training.
If it is something you would be interested in, you can contact Philip Greenstein at or 1-800-962-8666.

Second, for the action template, it will get positioned right, but under some conditions.
If the eyes are parented to the head, the eyes you will bring in will follow the position of the head.
If you place keyframes directly on the existing eyes layer to either scale them, rotate them or move them somewhere else, these keys will be lost since the new cells you are bringing in from that will not have these keyframes.
Although! If your blinks does not have ANY keyframes in them, only drawings, the last keyframe in your timeline will influence the position of the template you are importing in.
Let say you animate your eyes up to frame 12 and you import your blink onto frame 13, 14, 15 and 16, the value of the keyframe on frame 12 will influence the position of frames 13 to 16.

It is not all black and white like that, but that’s a general rule. It all depends on your rigging, hierarchy and keyframes.

If you want to do a test of importing Action Template, you could download the templates pack of the Mechanical Bear from Animate Pro 1 and give it a try.

Here is a link for it that will expire this Saturday:

You will need to open this library in your library. I don’t know if it will help you understand,

Good luck,


Yes! I did it! I think your clarifying on the last post helped a lot Marie-Eve. I made the action template out of the eyes, animated the puppet, and then re-imported the eye action template midway into the time line and it worked out perfectly. I’m sure I’ll have to work out a few bugs on what I’m doing as I move forward, but now I’m pretty sure I get it… or at least have a much firmer grasp on what I’m doing at this stage.

I really appreciate all the help that has been given here. :slight_smile:

I may be interested in some one-on-one training in the future, but it sounds pretty expensive, so I’d have to see what the price is and if it’s something I can afford at the time. I’ll probably have to break down and do it at some point though as I go further with things and my project gets more and more complicated. And if the NY class does come up, I will surely be interested in seeing how much that is and if I can do it. Where is it posted when such a thing comes up?