walkcycle with cutout animation method !

i am facing a problem while doing cut out animation , actually when ever i try to make walk cycle of my character with cut out animation method ,after 2 or 3 cycles its seperate body parts start moving away from each other and wide gap appears among them , i dont know what happen to tghem after 2 or 3 cycles …
yesterday i was watching toonboom studio (take tour) videos , i found when that derder charcater was imported into timeline during scene planning clip1 …it has no parent peg it just composed of few frames , my question is how can we save our character in this form of template .
my 3rd and last question is that what should be the peg hierarchy of my new created cutout character …becoz i feel that i am doing some mistake in assigning pegs to my character thatswhy my characters are not coming out with fine walkcyle …if someone make a video tutorial for simple walkcyle then i will really appreciate that :smiley:
thanks !

It’s tough to know exactly what you are doing or not doing from your description. So I’ll make a few suggestions and maybe we will get lucky and solve your problems.

First be sure that before you start doing cut out animation to set up your environment with Tools>Turn Peg Only Mode On this helps you with your selection of body parts in camera view. Also in preferences on the sceneplanning tab be sure you have a check in the boxes of Create Linear Spline, Create Constant Segment, and Single Cell Selection.Also set Tools>Snap Last Keyframe, the Snap Last Key Frame command forces the last keyframe and the keyframe before it to retain the same east/west and north/south value. (I had no clue what this did until I started animating a cut out character and the Snap Last Key Frame is your best friend and makes the whole process so much easier.

For your basic character rig at a minimum you need the following (1) every body part element must be attached to its own individual parent peg. (2) All body part elements and their individual parent pegs must be attached to a single master parent peg. That’s the minimum. In addition to that you can and most likely will want to create groupings of brother and sister parts and parent child groupings to facilitate moving arms and legs etc. as units. It just makes things a lot easier to control.

OK here is a big one. Once you have your character rigged the way you want them, collapse all the pegs. This can be easily done by going to the master parent peg (the top of the character’s hierarchey) and selecting from the context menu (right click) Arrange>Collapse/Expand. Remember that collapsing a peg does more than just hide its attached tracks. When you collapse the parent peg in a hierarchy of elements, all changes you make to the timing of the parent peg are applied to the elements beneath it, including peg, drawing and image elements. So when you animate your cut out character you want to only have the master peg selected and a totally collapsed heirarchy. If you don’t do this and you are selecting lower tracks when you are moving a body part then your character’s keyframes can get all out of whack. You select and move your character’s parts in the camera view window. And as you move from frame to frame key frames are set through out your peg heirarchy but you want this all to ripple down from the master peg which is why it needs to be collapsed as do all the other pegs in the heirarchy. - hope this helps -JK

Here is an addendum to this post:
I made a comparison of Der Der walking with a hand drawn walk just to show how similar you can mimic hand drawn work with a cut out character. Once the page loads, if you hit your browser refresh button you can get the two clips to synchronize.

I eventually hope to do a detailed tutorial on using cut outs because I know there are many people interested in doing this kind of animation.

Here are some additional quick tips on animating a cut out like Der Der:

I find that it is useful if not necessary to always keep the characters main (master) peg collapsed, I’m not sure you have to do this but it reduces “accidental” stuff from happening.

There will be times when you will have trouble selecting a body part or group of body parts in camera view. (they sometimes get hidden behind other parts or whatever) So all you have to do is expand your main peg in the time line and go down and select the body part peg track you want to manipulate. That gets the peg selected in camera view. But before I actually jump back into camera view to move that part, I collapse the main peg again just so I don’t forget. Then I go and manipulate the part in camera view. Better safe than sorry.

Two things that can happen to you when you are in the heat of manipulating the puppet are as follows:

One is that when you have the main peg expanded and you are selecting a body part peg, you might accidentally dis-attach a peg from it hierarchial group. (I’ve done this, so I know it can happen) You will quickly see the problem because things seem to be unglued. Just use the undo ctrl(Z) to fix it, or worse case you have to re-attach the peg manually.

The other thing that can happen is the rotation pivot point that you set for a peg gets “off”. I can’t explain how this happens but I have had it happen. You will notice it usually pretty fast because the blue rotation circle is not where you expected it to be. You just have to click on the rotation tool in the sceneplanning tool bar and the rotation point gets refreshed back to where you originally set it. I suspect that TBS occasionally gets confused and trys to use the default position for rotation, who knows, it doesn’t happen often but you need to be aware that it can happen and is easy to fix.

Like I said hopefully I’ll do a tutorial eventually but if you have any questions, just ask and I’ll try to fumble my way through an answer.

One last helpful hint: you can work across frames really easily when you are animating a cut out. What that means is you manipulate a part and then using the A key and the S key you can “flip” back and forth between frames to check how it looks. You don’t need to make full poses on the first pass of your animating, you can work sections at a time and then go back and add little touches such as secondary actions and overlaps and such. It is very iterative and you can with time and patience get pretty good results.

Also the workout series lessons on cut out character construction and cut out character rigging are very well done and full of tips and great information. There soon will be a third lesson on cut out character animation “walk cycle” which should also be very informative.

thank u JK for such a detail responce , yeah i defenitly got some more info here but i am still confused , let me try to explain u …lets say if i want my charcater to walk about 10 km distance ;D then what should be a decent way to do this task ? is it the way that i put key frames betweeen all that 10 km distance but i dont want it …what exactly i want is to make a perfect single walkcycle and then i should make its cycles (loop) according to my require distance …but here in toon boom i couldn’t make cycles on my parent peg …i hope u hv got my point …thatswhy i am asking u how that scene planning ( toon boom studio - take tour video clips) DER DER WC has been made without pegs ?? i was wondering that how it is possible to save my character in this form of template !
thanks :slight_smile:

OK, let’s see if I can explain the concept of how to do a cut out walk cycle and then have it move for whatever distance. Starting with a few assumption. First you use a rigged character like Der Der (or you rig your own character). Now to save a character as a template all you do when you finish rigging the character is to collapse the characters “main” peg (the peg that has all the other pegs and elements attached to it) and drag that character’s main peg to the library. There has to be a main peg for your character and it has to be collapsed so that everything grouped under it gets moved together.

Now you take your cut out character and you attach its main peg to a new peg which we will refer to as the main cycle. You pose the character to create a single cycle (perhaps 8 frames) keeping the character walking in place, which means no forward motion. Here are some examples of cut out characters walking in place. Now you can loop this cycle peg. So Der Der will walk in place forever or however many loops you specify. Now you attach this main cycle loop to another peg which will be for your motion. You locate the start and end positions in the camera view using the motion tool from the scene planning tool bar and set a non-constant segment between those two key frames to cause the motion tween to be created that moves your looping Der Der. So first you build an in place cycle and then you build a motion tween to move the cycle. The cut out tutorial videos didn’t really show the animation process well so don’t let them confuse you. You really only want to use tweening for the moving of the in place walk cycle not the cycle itself. Hope this helps, it takes some trial and error to learn these techniques, so keep at it. -JK

wow …ok fine i hv understood everything now problem i m facing is LOOPING , i select my parent master peg of my character then i do right click on its time line and change its loop but after doing this command all new generated looping frames are empty and they are doing nothing …where i am doing wrong …so whats exactly is method of looping , thanksalot ! :slight_smile:

You aren’t going to let me off so easy, huh. Well that’s OK because you are a nice person and you deserve a complete answer, so let’s see if I can “walk” you through it.

Here is one way to do this type of animation.
(1) Create a single cycle, in this example I created a 12 frame walk cycle which has the character walking in place. Note that the action in frame 12, the last frame of the cycle, needs to seamlessly match up to the action in frame 1, the first frame of the cycle, so that when you “loop” the cycle it will appear to move smoothly. (That’s basic to any repeatable cycles design).

(2) The cycle is attached to a peg. I collapse the peg and move the cycle to my library as a template so that I can have it to use over and over in future animations.

(3) I next determine how many times I want this cycle repeated to satisfy the needs of my animation. Basically this is done by determining the amount of screen time that the character would need to travel the distance he will be walking or whatever he will be doing in this action. Walking at a normal pace is usually about 12 feet per second in the real world. (you can convert that to meters yourself) So for this example my character will be traveling the equivalent of 120 feet in his cartoon world. So that should take about 120ft/ 12ft/sec = 10 sec. So if my animation frame rate is set to 12 frames per second (FPS) then that is 10secX12fps = 120 frames. And each of my cycles is 12 frames long so I will need 120frames /12 frames/cycle = 10 cycles. (I picked easy to divide numbers to simplify this example.)

(4) Now I need to create those 10 cycles. I’m starting with a fresh scene and a new time line, so the first step is to drag a copy of my walk cycle template from the library to my scene’s time line. It is now displayed as tracks in the time line and so I collapse my walk cycle peg so all I’m seeing is a single track. It is showing that it covers 12 frames in the time line at this point. I take my cursor and double click the peg in the time line which selects all 12 frames together. (You could have also selected the first frame and holding down the [shift] key selected the other 11 frames too, or actually you could just select the peg’s name in this case). Now I go to the edit menu and select copy template. (You also could just use the short cut Ctrl+C. Next I move the red frame slider to frame 13 in this case by clicking on frame 13 in the peg’s time line track. And I then select from the edit menu the paste special command. Ctrl+B is the short cut. This opens a dialog box for you to specify how you want the paste to be implemented. Make sure all the boxes are checked under pegs and that the Create/delete Exposure box is checked under drawings as well as the Automatically extend the exposure and Key Frame Mode (substitution) boxes. Then press the OK button. You will have your cycle copied into the time line from frames 13 to 24. Use the A and S keys to scrub the time line to verify that the two cycles work as expected. Now click in the time line at frame 25 the next starting point for your loop and this time you can use the Edit > Paste Special Again command or Ctrl+Shift+B the short cut. This bypasses the dialog box that you already have set the way you wanted it. So we will repeat this paste again special for each additional cycle loop by moving to the first frame past the end of your current exposures in that pegs time line track. That gets us our 10 loops of the cycle. Our last exposure should be for this example at frame 120.

(5) Now we need to put our looping cycles into motion. So select your cycle peg and press the add parent peg icon at the top of the time line panel. This creates and attaches a peg to our loop peg. This new peg is for our motion tweening. A trick I use to help from getting confused is to add an element note to each on these peg. So my loop peg has a note that says Loop Peg and it new parent has a note that says Motion Peg. When you mouse over each element its element note is displayed which is really a great reminder. So now I select my Motion Peg track (don’t collapse it as you don’t want to have key frames migrating from the motion peg to the loop peg). The red frame slider should be set to frame 1 in this example. I am set up to have constant segments, so I need to go to the elements menu and select pegs> set non-constant segment so this peg will have “tweens” created between key frames. And then I select the motion tool in the scene planning tool bar, which brings up the icon for a motion peg in the camera view. I now drag my character to the starting location for his walk and to the ending location for his walk. Scrub the timeline to be sure you got the motion path set up correctly. (I have accidentally swapped ends before and had the character moon walking.) You can fine tune the motion with the function editor if you want, but essentially you have now produced a looping cycle and put it into motion.

Here is the final movie of the character walking across the screen in 120 frames.

Wow, that’s darn near a “tutorial”, keep asking questions you never know what you might learn here. ;D-JK

thank u so much JK for such a detail reply :), yeah very true that post really looks like a tutorial , i think it should be included in toon boom’s next newsletter ;D

u know on saturday i tried that looping concept successfully before getting ur forum responce , now i found that only difference is that i used ctrl+V button instead of ctrl+B for pasting my 1 cycle key frames into extended empty cycles .
but i am not happy with this method …the looping command itself should pick all frames of the master starting peg…although this method works but i am not satishfy with it …to me its not a decent way !

but Wow i got some new info from #3 & #5 paragraph …yeah in #5 i think u probably want to tell me that we shouldn’t import our cycle key frames into motion peg ,thats a good idea ! :slight_smile:

thanks again !

I’m not sure about the peg looping feature. It has been in TBS since version 1.0. There is one thing that I have discovered about Flash and Toon Boom both. Which is that they are complex software applications. Often time a user tries to do something and it doesn’t work as they expected and they get frustrated and decide it must be a bug in the software. Sometimes it is. But many times it is just a matter of not understanding some little trick or setting that needs to be employed. That’s why user forums are so important. We discover the little tricks that the documentation doesn’t always clearly describe and pass them along to our fellow users. It is part art and part detective work. I suspect peg looping falls in that catagory but I’m not sure. I do know that the approach that I explained works and if and when I find the need to use peg looping I suspect I’ll play Sherlock Holmes and figure out the secret.

ok fine , lets explore more something about cutout walkcycle animation ,now i am facing a problem ,if i want to make walkcycle of my character from back view or front view then what should be the procedure ,i want my chatacter moving away from my camera and only its back view is visible to camera …similarly if i want my character to come towards camera then similar problem will occur …so there must be any solution to make walkcycles of front/back view of characters …as i know my transform tool only rotate my drawing element clockwise or anticlockwise around the pivot point !

It all starts with drawing additional views of your character and applying the rules of perspective. Start by creating a rough drawn version of the walk cycles. Then build the cut out parts to match that rough. Don’t neglect the principles of foreshortening. The motion tween part is the same technique except that things get larger as they get closer and smaller as the get farther away. So your motion is from back to front instead of from east to west. You have all the technical information you need to work this out for yourself so just apply what we have already discussed. It isn’t as hard as you may think -JK

can u show me any example of this kind …as u hv shown examples before ,thanks !:slight_smile:

Sure just take a look at this little test piece, it gives you an idea of the perspective of a straight on walk / run. You should think about working with really simple characters like these where you don’t have too much complexity when you are first learning.This is a cycle and a bunch of clones of that cycle to make it appear there are many running eggs. -JK

ok thank u …its a nice clip , i will definetly try it :slight_smile:

which tools did u used here …same transform tool ?
and yeah other concept is zooming in the charcaters !

We are using the normal animating tools: Pegs for animating things over time and key frames to lock down the time specific changes. I can’t stress enough that the easiest way to master these tools is to understand them conceptually. Once you grasp the concepts then you will be comfortable experimenting with the tools and gaining confidence in using them.

The various scene planning tools cause specific types of key frames to be set. The transform tool is a multi-key frame tool while the skew and scale and motion tools are individual key frame oriented. Like any tool in the real world, you select it for use based on what you want to do. The transform tool is very flexible and you will probably use it most often because you can set many types of parameters simultaniously but other times you may want to have more focused control and set your keys individually.

Also remember you can go back to a frame and set key frames for different parameters on different work passes through the time line. That becomes a form of fine tuning and adjustment as you watch your action evolve.

Animating is learning to think and work across time, which is a new concept for most artists who start out capturing an instant in time in a drawing or painting. They are working in space within a frame while we as animators are working across the frames and between the frames.

As to zooming, remember conceptually the viewer and the camera are one and the same. The camera is the view point of the action. So if the viewer is stationary and the action is coming toward the viewer then visually as those objects (characters etc.) get closer and closer to the viewer they appear to get larger and larger. So it is scaling that occurs not zooming. -JK

if you mean scaling of the drawing elements with the scaling tool then the problem is in the growing line thickness as the animated elements approach the viewer.
it was one of my wishes for the next release to be able to maintain the line thickness while scaling.

or do you mean anything else by ‘scaling’?

Scaling as in growing visually larger in scale / size. -JK

i mean the means of the execution of the process, not the definition.

for me there are three methods of scaling: either
1) the faking of the movement of the drawing element toward the viewer, using the scale tool from the palette, or
2) moving the camera toward the drawing element, which remains in place.
3) the third method is to throw the drawing element onto the peg and animate the real movement of this element toward the viewer.

when one uses the methods 2) and 3), the element maintains its line thickness.
when one uses the scaling tool (method 1), the line thickness grows.

which one did you mean?

I’m not trying to evade your question Rob, you are a very knowledgable animator, I’ve seen your work and I know you understand how to create effects. If you are wanting to point out deficencies in the use of scaled vectors just point them out, Flash has the same problem of maintaining scaled brush strokes too. So for an animator who is sensitive to this and wants to avoid the deficency it must be overcome in their drawings.

In the example presented Marty had a specific shot in mind and an effect in mind and he drew the running “eggs” in perspective the traditional animation way for producing this shot. Perhaps a lost skill in the world of “tweening”. This technique is done by progressively drawing larger and larger keys of the character as they approach the viewer.

My goal in showing Awais this example was only to give a visual example of the effect per his request. And my comment on zooming was made to correct his incorrect use of the cinematic term, this is a perspective shot and it requires scaling as in making the drawings get larger as they get closer. There are many ways to accomplish this as you have pointed out, some which are more asthetically pleasing than others. The lesson to be learned is that software is a tool and the skilled animator learns to combine classical techniques with technological techniques as meets the requirments of their art and their objectives. -JK

ok, it’s fair enough.

jk, all i wanted from you was to tell us what was the technique behind the running eggs.
i thought in two directions: the first one to let awais understand the possibilities and methods of scaling in a practical way.
the other direction was for me to learn how others do things.

i used to avoid the pegs with parts of drawing elements, because thus i would have many floating items in the 3d space, which would some time render the scene out of control.
but it’s only my fears. i can’t say it’s the wrong way.

and we all learn new things every day :slight_smile: