Adobe Character Animator CC is a character animation application that allows you to bring expressive characters to life using your own artwork.

Character Animator allows you to import artwork from Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator, and breathe life into them. You can do so by first capturing your performance using a camera, microphone, keyboard, mouse, or touch screen. While you're performing, Character Animator mimics your facial expressions, synchronizes mouth movements to your speech, and provides complete control over all aspects of a character’s movement.

If you are new to Character Animator, check out the Getting Started project for a fun and interactive way to learn some basic concepts. To view the Getting Started project, switch to the Start workspace (click Start in the workspace bar along the top of the application window), then click Open Interactive Tutorial.

To learn about the new features in Adobe Character Animator CC, see New Features Summary.

This article covers the basic workflow of Character Animator with links to detailed documentation of the various tasks. 

Create your Character Animator project


You can install Adobe Character Animator CC as a standalone application from your Creative Cloud for Desktop application as part of After Effects CC. You can use Character Animator as an independent product even if you are not an After Effects user. 

  1. Launch Adobe Character Animator from its icon in the Applications folder (on Mac) or Start menu (on Windows). If you are an After Effects user, open After Effects and choose File > Open Adobe Character Animator

    A default project is created for you, but if you want to manually organize your work, you can create separate projects as described in the next step.

  2. In Character Animator, choose File > New Project

  3. Each change to your project is saved automatically, so you never lose your work. If you want to save the current state of the project under a different name, choose File > Save Project As.


    When you save a copy of your project using File > Save Project As, Character Animator saves a copy of your puppets, scenes, and recordings, including the artwork and audio files that had been previously collected in the project folder’s Ch Media subfolder.

For more information, see Projects.

Create your first character


In Character Animator Start workspace, click the Chloe (Photoshop) link. A template Photoshop file is imported into the Project panel as a puppet, added to a new scene, and also opened in Photoshop in case you want to make some modifications.

Character Animator can import multi-layered Photoshop and Illustrator documents representing the structural pieces (head, eyes, mouth shapes, etc.) of a character. You can use the templates available from the Welcome panel, or import your own files via File > Import.

The selected artwork is imported and a puppet representation created from its layers appears in the Project panel. The structure of the puppet is determined by the structure in the Photoshop or Illustrator document. 

For more information, see Prepare artwork, and Create PuppetsEdit Puppet Structure and Assemble puppets into scenes.

Control the puppet using your webcam, microphone, and mouse


Look at the center of the Scene panel, place your face at a comfortable distance from the webcam (but big enough within the circle shown in the Camera & Microphone panel), make a neutral facial expression, then click Set Rest Pose. Red tracking dots will appear on your face. Try moving and rotating your head from side to side, making different facial features, blinking, and talking. Use your mouse to drag near the character’s arms.

A puppet has behaviors, capabilities that let you control its movement, deformation, appearance, and other attributes. Some behaviors use external controls, such as the webcam or audio or mouse input. It is behaviors that allow for expressive control of your static artwork.

For more information, see Recording and refining your performance.

Adjust the behavior of your puppet


You control a puppet through behaviors that are applied to it. Face tracking is an example of a behavior, and so is the automatic wiggling of vectored artwork. A behavior can have parameters for tuning it to your needs.

Adjust behavior parameters to modify and rehearse how the puppet moves, appears, and reacts to you.

If you don’t want the character’s head to scale or rotate, click the disclosure triangle next to the Face behavior’s name in the Properties panel to show the behavior’s parameters, then decrease the Head Position Strength and Head Scale Strength parameter values.

Try shifting the character closer to the center of the scene by increasing the Position X parameter value for the Transform behavior. Hold down the Shift key while scrubbing the value for larger changes.

Most behaviors have parameters that let you customize the results. The source (master definition of a) puppet appears in the Project panel, with instances of the puppet in a scene. The parameter values for the source puppet are the defaults for all instances, but you can override those values for each instance. 

For more information, see Control puppets using behaviors.

Record and refine your performance


Your performance of a scene’s puppets can be captured during recording. Each recording of a scene is called a take. Multiple takes can be recorded and edited to refine the results. A scene is the combination of its puppets that you can control live, plus takes. You can record your takes and playback your recording after you complete. Use the Record workspace to record your puppet scenes.

In the Properties panel, click the Arm for Record button (small red circle) next to the Dragger and Keyboard Triggers behaviors to disarm them, so that changes to the Face and Lip Sync behaviors during recording will be captured; the other behaviors don’t need their Arm for Record buttons clicked — they are in dim red signifying that they don’t have any armed parameters, so they won’t be captured. Click the red Record button at the bottom of the Scene panel, do a performance (move your head, look around, blink, and talk), then click Stop.

Click Play or press Spacebar to see your recording. Click Stop (or press Spacebar again), then Go to Start when done.

For more information, see Recording and Playback.

Export the recorded scene


After you have recorded the scene the way you want, you can export it to a movie format using Adobe Media Encoder that you can then play back outside of Character Animator and import into other applications.

For more information, see Export.

Use your scene in other applications


You can integrate your scene into an After Effects composition or Premiere Pro sequence, and still make changes in Character Animator, by importing the Character Animator project into After Effects or Premiere Pro and selecting the scene. The scene is imported as Dynamic Link footage.

You can also broadcast a scene live to external devices or applications via Mercury Transmit or Syphon (Mac only).

For more information, see Stream a scene live to other devices or application.

Learn about System requirements for Adobe Character Animator CC.

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