Character animation in After Effects tutorial – Jon Snow animation

Character animation in After Effects tutorial – Jon Snow animation

Hi I’m Ben Marriott. I make weekly motion
design and animation tutorials and this week I’m going to show you how I
animated this Jon Snow character portrait. okay we’re gonna be focusing
mainly on this first scene here In motion design, you’re gonna come across a lot of situations where the script or storyboard requires you to stay on a
character for an extended period of time without them really doing much so I’m
gonna show you all of my animation tricks for keeping a scene interesting
when it’s just a character not doing anything at all I’ve drawn this in
Illustrator and I’ve separated each element that I want to animate individually now that we’ve imported that file into After Effects let’s take a few minutes to color, label and pre-comp some of our elements so it’s easier to
handle okay now it’s nice and organized let’s decide what elements were gonna
animate we’re gonna animate the snow falling in the background we’re gonna
animate the shine reflecting off his sunglasses we’re gonna have his hair
waving in the wind we’re gonna have his head moving up and down subtly having
his eyebrows raised as well his cheeks puffing up his lips puckering his sword
moving maybe a tiny bit and I know Jon would never have long claw on his back
but without it he just looks like a Ringo Starr and we’re also gonna animate
a green shading into this as well as seen in my previous tutorial all right
let’s animate us snowflakes let’s get rid of the snowflakes all layer so
we’ve just got this one element to work with let’s have the first position of our
snow off the screen up here like this like a keyframe there and let’s mark its
final position down somewhere below the bottom of the screen here now this looks
a little bit too fast let’s move this keyframe over let’s make
some additional points in this path by just moving our snowflake you smooth those out let’s grab our convert to vertex tool from up here and just add some anchor points to make that nice and smooth let’s add some rotation keyframes to that alright I think that actually needs to be a little bit slower
as well so I’m just gonna select all of these keyframes hold alt on my keyboard
and drag out this last keyframe it’ll keep the proportion that we’ve already
established alright that’s looking much better now we just need to duplicate that a few more times and offset them so they all fall at a nice pace there we are the snow is done it gets a
little sparse towards the end here but we’re probably not gonna use the very
end of this comp anyway now the shine on the sunglasses let’s create a new
rectangle with no fill and let’s bump up the stroke so it matches their
reflection here and now let’s rotate this so it matches the angle that we
want and I’m going to adjust the rectangle path here so it matches the
distance between our glasses that we’ve got here and let’s place it just to the
left wear glasses here I’m gonna keyframe that first position and
about two seconds in let’s drag this to the right great now let’s easy ease
those keyframes with f9 alright that’s much too slow let’s drag this keyframe
to make it faster all right that’s pretty good
we should also rename this layer — shine and let’s add this set matte effect so
it’s only visible behind the glasses and we want to select to take the matte from
glasses right first of all and you want to make sure the layer you’re taking the
map from has continuously rasterize on here I might just go ahead and turn that
on for all the layers actually so I don’t run into trouble later let’s drag
that under our eyebrows layer we’ve still got the shine from our illustrator
file on this glasses layer so let’s add a fill effect to hide that and select
purple let’s copy that effect onto our glasses left as well and let’s put this
shine onto our left glass as well by duplicating it over here and then
changing the matte to glasses left there we go got our reflection happening now
let’s do is hair waving in the wind I’m gonna make some new shapes to get this
effect right so I’m gonna take his existing hair strands and just blow the
transparency so I can use them as guides now I’m going to create an old elongated
sort of teardrop shape now let’s pre-comp this hair strand now when I drag the anchor point up to the root here to make it easier for rotating
and scaling so let’s rotate this and position and scale it where one of our
guide hair is going to be it’s actually dragged it off so it’s a bit more
visible when we add our waving effect and to do that we’re going to add the
wave effect which you can find in here wave warp and let’s change the
direction perpendicular to the way our direction is pointing now let’s tweak
the wave width and height till we get something we’re happy with okay that’s
looking pretty close but the root of our hair isn’t staying still it’s wiggling
all over the place but we can stop that by pinning the top edge here so now if
we play back you’ll see that area stay still now let’s drag that back and see
how it looks in context now let’s tweak some of these things a little more to get what we want okay I think that’s pretty close now let’s go ahead and do
that for all our other hair strands okay now that we’ve done that I can kind
of see it looks a little too under watery and perfect this sort of wave to
me here the moment so one thing that might alleviate that is adding a
rotation keyframe to each strand of hair as well so let’s go and do that okay I think that helps our first strand here look a little more chaotic let’s do the
same thing to our other hair compositions there we go. hair done now let’s get our
head moving the first thing to do we animate our head is to select all the
elements that relate to the head that are attached to the hair like the nose
and the lips and the hair and we just want to make sure those parented to the
head before we move it so if you select them all and then select your pick whip
on any of them and just hover over the head
they’ll all be parented to the head and you can do that even with the head
selected now if we move our head all the other pieces are gonna move with it
now let’s move our anchor point in our head using anchor point move tool here
and just drag that to around the where we think then would connect now let’s
animate the rotation we want to be pretty subtle here so I reckon that
should be enough and let’s animate the position just very slightly too there we are
so he’s just raising his head a little bit now let’s do the same thing to our
eyebrows by animating the position and the rotation property Now I’ve got this animation happening I
think that our shine from our sunglasses should happen midway through this head
movement so let’s go and adjust that and let’s do the same thing with the cheeks
as well and our puckering lips we can animate those using the scale property if we hold down s, and we want to unlink our proportions here so we unclick this
because we want to make our lips wider and then narrower when you do this you should
be very careful because it can look weird and stretched and warp like you
see here if you push it too far we really don’t want to break the designs
we’ve established here so let’s start at may be sort of 110 percent keeping that
and then go to 90 percent 10 percent either way you should be able to get
away with all right I think that looks pretty good now let’s animate longclaw up here I think we’re just gonna animate his
rotation in position so let’s move his anchor point down here toward the sword
would be attached which it wouldn’t be attached but if it was that’s where it
would be attached that’s all of the position and rotation so as his head
comes up maybe the sword sort of comes down attached and rotates this way as if he’s
sort of looking up and his body’s kind of shifting there we are looking at it now I
definitely think we need some animation in the body especially with the first
section of his coat here so let’s just animate the position and rotation of
those as well all right I’ve animated those two little first sections
now let’s animate the shape of his main body here so the straps I’m gonna
animate the position that’s good I kind of like them coming inwards as if he’s
sort of taking a breath out and sort of pulling his code around him as he does
that now if we’ve laid down pretty much all of the animation keyframes that we’re
gonna need to use the next step is to add that animated grain texture which is
really going to bring life and shading to the piece but before we do that I
really want to make sure that I’m really happy with the majority of how the
animation is looking because it’s gonna be just a little bit more difficult to
adjust once our textures are added so this is the point where you want to send it
to your client for review and make sure that generally the animation has been
approved that is if you can and sometimes you you can’t always can so
I’m going to go through do one more pass of every feature and just make sure I’m
happy with the easing and the amount they’re rotating and stuff like that
okay let’s get stuck in I’m pretty happy with how it is now but
I’ve noticed that the snowflakes are falling slowly down vertically but
Jon Snow’s hair is being brushed to the side pretty aggressively so the wind
isn’t you know making sense for both of these objects so we could try to pre-comp
these snow layers and maybe rotate them a little bit and maybe up the speed but
I gave that a go and it didn’t quite look right so the best thing to do here
is just start again. so I’m gonna delete all these snowflake layers and do the same
thing we did before but moving from left to right and having less of this sort of
gentle wave there you go I think that’s much better and was actually a lot quicker than doing it the first time alright onto texturing now we’re gonna add
our animated grain and this is gonna be the same method that I used in one of my
previous tutorials method two in that video without going into the details of
the other video I made a looping texture using a grain brush in Photoshop now to
apply our grain we’re gonna take our grain pre-comp dragged into this comp
let’s say we’re applying that to our head I’m gonna place this above our head
layer let’s change the color with the fill effect and that’s just eyedropper
this darker flesh color here and we’re gonna apply set matte like we did earlier
and we’re gonna make sure that this layer is continually rasterized as well
and choose head and we also would have parented to our head as well so now as
we play through it parented and texturing our head and if we don’t want
it to affect our ear over here which happens to be on the same layer is the head we
need to select our pen tool and click around and create a mask there we go so let’s do that for every single one of these layers all right we’ve added all of our grain
layers and I’m pretty happy with the result now it doesn’t take quite as long as you’d think I already had this style frame
made up with an early design so I kind of knew where I wanted the grain to be and
what color I wanted it to be I think in total is about 36 layers of green
shading here and it took me about 30 to 40 minutes to add all of them I’d say
this is a lot more Green layers and I would typically do in in an animation
and with 36 extra layers they can look a little more crowded but if you shy all
those layers it’s not that difficult to deal with really so if you need to edit
anything it shouldn’t be too much trouble now let’s take a quick look at
that second scene of the animation all right now here’s our second scene
completed now I applied the same process from our first scene this one is much
easier because there was barely any animation we’ve got our snowboard just
bobbing up and down with some position keyframes and slightly will blend left
to right and for these trees in the background I’ve done the same thing that
we did for our snowflakes got a position keyframe taking it from off-screen left
up diagonally to off-screen right and I’ve duplicated that a bunch of times that
you can see here for the trees in the front I’ve made them larger and they’re
going a little bit faster so there’s a bit of parallax happening there
and I’ve done the same and some lumps of snow in the background as well and
that’s pretty much for the animation on the scene now let’s go to a composition
with all of these scenes together and take a look at the final effects
that we’re going to apply alright so this is a top composition with the last
scenes inside it I’m gonna end scene as well that’s just some simple text one
thing we have added here is we’ve added a slight push in with our scale property
their main scenes are actually 1400 pixels wide and this top one is 1080 by
1080 so that means we can push in to about 77% without getting any loss of
resolution here so I’ve just got a slight push in on this first scene to
make more dramatic and then a quick pull out into this second snowboarding scene
here as well and that just adds a nice extra bit of movement to scenes that
don’t really have much animation going on now the next factor we’ve got is pretty
subtle so let’s zoom in and what I’ve done here is that,
so I’ll turn this layer on you can see the edges of this kind of bleeding in
slightly now what I’ve done is I’ve duplicated that comp set a gash and blur
25 pixels and set the blending modes of pin light which just sort of means the
edges of these areas will have these this little glow
especially when the light area meets a dark area it’s very subtle here but
you’ll see it a bit more with the other effects that we’ve got the next effect
we’ve got is on an adjustment layer and it is a gradient round if we turn that
layer on you can see it adds this kind of haze and is slight grey to our
animation here and that’s using the blending mode overlay and opacity of
50% we’ve racked that all the way up to the top and so this is normal you can
see what the slate looks like normally let’s undo those and you can actually
experiment on the fly using these color Pickers up here so if you select one of
the colors it’ll update on the fly you say you want to try you know a bluer
light coming from the top left or you maybe want to try something you know
warmer it’s very easy to play around and find something you happy with and this
gradient ramp accentuates that kind of blooming effect that we had from our
other pin light layer here this next adjustment layer has some of my classic
effects that I always go to it’s got a turbulent displace and a post-race time
the tabular display it’s just Ruffins up the edges of everything really and it
makes these little bumps so it just looks a little more a little more
organic I guess and I use posterize time to make this look like it was
animated in 12 frames per second so without the posterize time it kind of
looks a little sort of smoother and you can see every frame every second with
the posterize time on there it kind of looks like it’s it has a lower frame
rate but it makes it look like it’s more traditionally hand animated and with the
12 frames per second frame rate it kind of looks like it has a bit more of a
hand animated look to it which I kind of enjoyed most at the time
now the last two effects are these texture layers the last two effects are
these texture layers and I use these all the time if we go and have a look it’s
just this piece of paper painted black that I rotate and loop a few times I
set that to screen and that just adds these sort of white speculative grain
and grit noises to the whole thing which I love and it also got one down below
here that is set to multiply and that one has sort of these more darker sort of
purple speckles that I’ve got colored here I’m using video co-pilots color
vibrance plug-in to isolate the lighter areas of that texture and I’ve just
color the purple because I don’t want them to be black or too dark or muddy
that you might catch is using a multiplier effect and that plugins free
praise beads Video Copilot now here’s the full animation with all these
effects and this is definitely and this is definitely one of the dumbest things
I’ve ever animated if you use any of the techniques of processes you’ve learned
in this video please share them and tag me at Ben_ Marriott_
on Instagram so I can share them in my stories I’ll be showing a new Jon Snow
pun every week the Game of Thrones season finale is running and trust me
this is not the worst one not by far please let me know in the comments what
tutorials you’d like to see next in this channel don’t forget to subscribe hit
that Bell icon share and absolutely decimate that like button I’ll see you
next week

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  1. "You can't always can" – Ben Mariott
    Great tutorial yet again!
    Small question: Did you use 12.5 as a framerate on the Posterize Time effect because you animated in 25 fps or is there a different reason?

  2. Would you generally recommend doing character animations in After Effects? I feel like most studios these days only use Animate for it, but it's so much more time consuming that way…

    By the way, this animation reminds me so much of Robin Velghe's animations and illustrations, which I find super dope, so thank you! Very informative and helpful.

  3. So many little touches really make the look. I think these full project tutorials are super helpful even more so than the effect spotlights which I also think are great.

  4. Hey Ben, I loved this tutorial. I'd love for you to create some more tutorials for non-illustrator motion designers if that makes sense (us who make idents, branding related stuff, social media content etc). Like the 'Ben Marriott' part at the end of your intro for example! hope that makes sense 🙂

  5. Love your tutorials man! As a motion designer just starting out I love to see your process and pick up new tricks in every video!

  6. Hey Ben, have you tried "Ray Dynamic texture" ? It'll save you a lot of time for texturing!!

  7. I need help. I followed your tutorial, but when I got to 10:43 and applied matte to the pre-composed layer with textures and set the matte to the layer I want to apply it to, it did not work. (The layer is also continuously rasterized as it should be) What can be an issue there? I tried to google it but did not find an answer.
    It is still possible to get similar result by copying the layer and setting the TrkMat, but I end up having a lot of unnecessary layers.
    Set matte worked at 3:29 for the glass reflection for me
    Thanks for the tutorial!

  8. +Ben Marriott I have a 5820k 6 core + 32 gb 2400 mhz ram and im having problems with AE preview, it is soooo slow .. i am working on cartoon scene 25 seconds long and everytime i do a change i have to wait , really annoying! Is this normal?? Also its using online 11/15% CPU Ram according to Windows..

  9. Inspiring tutorial,although I'd wish I could speed up some processes in real life.Where can I find the Light textures?

  10. The hair is waving from the wrong direction, isn't it? Seems to start waving from the end of the hair rather than from the base of the hair

  11. i think the wave direction on the hair strands should be reversed… it appears waves are coming inwards.. great tutorial and style though!

  12. okay, so this is my first time in your channel and I just have to pause and applaud you for that AWESOME intro sequence. Probably the best intro sequence for a Youtube video I have seen lately 😀 kudos!

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