Tags and behaviors together help you animate your character and bring them to life. Tags can be applied to layers and handles for easy identification and faster operation. Behaviors control a puppet’s layer structure or appearance. Read on for more information.

Visual tags for puppet layers and handles

You can add visual tags to layers and handles for easy identification and faster operation. Tags are also categorized based on their use, and you can view the tags as text or picture buttons.

The layout of the Tags section of the Properties panel allows easier access to eye tags, mouth tags ordered by appearance, and matching icons for tags created via tools (Fixed for the Pin tool, Draggable for the Dragger tool, and Dangle for its tool). The Jaw tag is placed in the Face category of tags.

Tags associated with layers and handles help you set up behaviors that control puppets.

You can select a layer and apply both layer or handle tags to it. When a handle is selected, only handle tags can be applied. When viewing tags as text, applied layer tags are blue and handle tags are yellow. When viewing tags as pictures, applied tags are blue.

Handle tags in picture view
Handle tags in picture view
Handle tags in text view
Handle tags in text view

Tagging and untagging

When a layer is selected, a + icon appears along the bottom of the layer that, when clicked, opens a miniature visual tags window for choosing layer or handle tags. When a handle is selected, a similar + icon appears to the right of the handle for choosing handle tags.

Tags popup menu when layer is selected
Tags popup menu when layer is selected
Tags popup menu when handle is selected
Tags popup menu when handle is selected

Note:

Common tags are included in this tags popup window. Tags in the Motion Trigger category are not currently included.

Each applied tag has a X icon for quickly removing the tag.

Categories (tabs) that have applied tags have a small blue dot next to their names. Press Tab or Shift+Tab to cycle through the categories (tabs). Drag anywhere in the window away from a tag to move the window. Click away from the window or press Esc to close it. Both of these in-context controls allow you to collapse the Tags section of the Properties panel, leaving more room for other sections in the panel.

Switch between left and right tags

If you’ve assigned left-facing tags to the right side of a puppet – for example, the Left Shoulder tag was applied where the Right Shoulder tag should be -- or vice versa, there’s a quicker way to switch those tags.

To swap left/right tags anywhere on the puppet:

  1. Select the puppet in the Project panel or open it in the Puppet panel.
  2. Choose Puppet > Swap All Left & Right Tags.

To swap left/right tags on specific layers or handles:

  1. Select one or more layers or one or more handles on a layer.
  2. Right-click above a selected layer or handle and choose Swap Left & Right Tags.

Note: Only the tags on the selected layer or handle are affected – layers in nested groups are not affected.

Behavior categories

Behaviors can be categorized by their function or the way they can control a puppet’s layer structure or appearance. Some behaviors are available by default on new puppets created from imported artwork, and are identified with an * (asterisk) in the list below.

  • Arm IK: Restrict arms from bending and stretching unrealistically.
  • * Dragger: Move a handle on a puppet with the mouse.
  •  * Eye Gaze: Control eye pupil movement with a webcam, mouse, or keyboard.
  • * Face: Control head, eyes, eyebrows, nose, and mouth with a webcam.
  • Head Turner: Switch between front, quarter, and profile views by turning your head in front of a webcam.
  • * Lip Sync: Control mouth movement with your voice.
  • Nutcracker Jaw: Slide or rotate the lower jaw as you open and close your mouth in front of a webcam or talk into the microphone.
  • Walk: Make a character walk, moving the legs and swinging the arms.

  • Auto Blink: Simulate eyelid blinking or layer flickering.
  • Breathe: Simulate breathing.
  • Wiggler: Make vector artwork wiggle.

  • Cycle Layers: Display layers of a group in order.
  • Head Turner: Switch between front, quarter, and profile views by turning your head in front of a webcam.
  • Layer Picker: Display or trigger a specific layer of a group.
  • Motion Trigger: Switch between layers based on the directional movement of the group’s parent mesh.

  • Magnets: Dynamic attachment of objects.
  • Particles: Continually emit objects with velocity and affected by physics (e.g., snowfall, cannon, etc.).
  • * Physics: Dangle an object to make it sway, or allow objects to collide with each other. Allow objects to be affected by physical forces, like gravity and wind.

  • Fader: Fade a layer on and off via trigger. 
  • * Handle Fixer: Prevent movement in a puppet’s mesh. 
  • Motion Lines: Draw lines behind a fast-moving object to accentuate its movement
  • * Transform: Apply basic transformations and adjust opacity. 
  • * Triggers: Trigger artwork with custom-named triggers.

Manage behaviors

Add a puppet behavior

Click the Add Behavior (“+”) button in the Behaviors section of the Properties panel, then choose a behavior.

The behavior is now bound to the puppet. To see how a behavior works, either place the puppet in a scene, or open the scene in the Scene panel.

Some behaviors have parameters for controlling them. You can change the value of a behavior’s parameter after the behavior is applied to a puppet.

Note:

Behaviors with layer and handle parameters — such as Breathe, Dragger, Face, Head Turner, and Nutcracker Jaw — placed on different groups in a puppet’s hierarchy override the settings for the same behavior higher in the hierarchy. This capability allows you to have a behavior at the top level of the hierarchy define default settings (for example, a top-level Dragger behavior set to Return to Rest controls a character’s arm and leg group), and the same behavior applied on a group lower in the hierarchy define custom settings (for example, Dragger applied to the character’s tail set to Hold in Place).

To add a behavior from the Puppet panel, follow these steps:

Hover over the behavior column on the left side of the panel, or the behavior icon at the top of the
panel.

Click the “+” icon (), then select the behavior to add.

Select the puppet in the Project or the Puppet panel.

If you need to add the same behavior to multiple selected groups, use the “+” button in the Properties panel. To view the applied behaviors for the puppet or a group, hover over its behavior icon. The list of applied behaviors appears in a tooltip.

You can add a behavior to the top level of a puppet for the behaviors parameters to control the entire puppet, or to a specific layer or group to use custom parameter values that override those set at a higher level in the puppet hierarchy.

  1. Do either of the following. 
    > To add a behavior to the top level of a puppet, either select the puppet in the Project panel or open the puppet in the Puppet panel and then select the header above the layers list.
    > To add a behavior to a specific layer or group, select the layer or group in the Puppet panel.
  2. To add a behavior to a specific layer or group, select the layer or group in the Puppet panelClick the “+” button in either the Behaviors section of the Properties panel or to the right of the puppet’s name in the header, then choose the behavior.

Copy/Paste behaviors between puppets and projects

If you use a set of behavior, especially one with specific settings, you can copy them between puppets or groups in a puppet. You can also copy them between puppets or groups in different projects.

Note:

The parameter values for the behaviors to copy come from the puppet level (i.e., when the puppet is selected in the Project panel or opened in the Puppet panel). Modified parameter values for the behaviors on a selected puppet track cannot be copied at this time.

To copy behaviors on a puppet and paste them onto a different puppet, follow these steps:

  1. Select the puppet or group with the behaviors to copy.

    • To copy the behaviors at the top level of a puppet, select the puppet in the Project panel.
    • To copy the behaviors on a group of a puppet, select the group in the Puppet panel.
  2. Choose Edit > Copy Behaviors.

  3. Select the puppet or group in a puppet, in either the current or a different project, where you want to paste the behaviors.

  4. Choose Edit > Paste.

Behaviors that were renamed retain their custom names. Also, behaviors are added, even if an instance of the behavior already exists.

Remove behaviors

Remove any behaviors that you do not intend to use, as it can help improve the scene’s frame rate. You can remove behaviors individually or all behaviors on a puppet or layer.

  1. Select the puppet or layer that has the behavior applied.
  2. Do either of the following:
  • To remove a single behavior, click the “hamburger” menu button to the right of the behavior’s name (in the Behaviors section of the Properties panel), then choose the Remove Behavior from “name”.
  • To remove all behaviors from the selected puppet or layer, choose Puppet > Remove All Behaviors.

Note: Any recordings associated with the removed behaviors are also removed from their scenes. 

To remove all behaviors from a specific group on a puppet, follow these steps.

  1. Select a puppet in the Project panel (to remove the top-level behaviors), or a puppet group in the Puppet panel, that has behaviors applied.
  2. Choose Remove All Behaviors from either the Puppet menu or the “+” button menu in the Properties or Puppet panel.

Note: Any recordings associated with the removed behaviors are also removed from their scenes.

Rename a behavior

Use a custom name for a behavior to remember what it’s used for or where it is located on the puppet structure. Behaviors are listed in alphabetical order based on where they are located within the puppet structure.

Tip: To restore the original name for the behavior, enter a blank name.

  1. Select the puppet or layer with the behavior on it.

  2. Click the “hamburger” menu button to the right of the behavior’s name (in the Behaviors section of the Properties panel), then choose the Rename Behavior.

  3. Enter a new name, then click OK.

Show or hide a behavior when working in the timeline

All behaviors applied to a puppet throughout its structure are listed in the Properties panel when the puppet’s track is selected in the Timeline panel. If you have several behaviors, the list can get very long. You can hide specific behaviors that are not important to access while working in the timeline either because you will adjust their parameters while in the Puppet panel or because you don’t need to change the parameter values while recording a performance.

The Cycle Layers and Handle Fixer behaviors, when added to a puppet, are hidden by default.

To show or hide a behavior when a puppet track is selected:

  1. Select the puppet or layer with the behavior on it.
  2. Click the “hamburger” menu button to the right of the behavior’s name (in the Behaviors section of the Properties panel), then either select (hide) or deselect (show) the Hide Behavior in Puppet Track Properties option.

If you need to modify a hidden behavior’s parameters, just switch to the Rig workspace to open the puppet in the Puppet panel.  

Search filters for behaviors, tags, and triggers

Use search filters to locate specific layers in a puppet in the Puppet panel, specific behaviors or parameters in the Properties panel, or specific triggers or swap sets in the Triggers panel. For layers, you can search based on their name, the name of a behavior or layer tag that’s applied, or the name of a handle tag that’s applied to a handle on the layer.

  • Filter layers: Filter the layer list to easily select layers that you want to add the same behavior or tags to, reposition, delete, or any other layer operation in the Puppet panel.
  • Filter behaviors:  Filter the applied behaviors to quickly modify a parameter’s value, especially when a puppet has numerous behaviors applied.
  • Filter triggers: Filter the list of triggers and swap sets to quickly add or remove their layers and replays or adjust their settings.

To search, follow these steps:

  1. Click the search filter field in the Puppet panel, Properties panel (when a puppet track is selected or puppet is open), or Triggers panel.

    Search filter field in the Triggers, Puppet, and Properties panel
    Search filter field in the Triggers, Puppet, and Properties panel
  2. Enter one or more search terms to match all or part of a name, as follows:

    • In the Puppet panel, enter the name of a layer or behavior applied to a layer. For handle or layer tags, prefix the name with “tag:” (without quotes, such as tag:Fixed). Matching layers and their parent groups in the puppet layer hierarchy is shown.
    • In the Properties panel (when a puppet is selected in the Project or Timeline panel or opened in the Puppet panel), enter the name of a behavior or one of its parameters. Matching parameters and their behaviors are shown.
    • In the Triggers panel, enter the name of a trigger or swap set, or the key associated with a trigger with “key:” (without quotes, such as key:B). Matching triggers and their swap sets are shown.

The matching layers and their parent groups in the puppet layer hierarchy (in the Puppet panel), matching parameters and their behaviors (in the Properties panel), or matching triggers and their swap sets (in the Triggers panel) are shown. Behaviors are matched against their current name, not original name (e.g., if you renamed Dragger as Left Hand, it won’t match if filtering on the term “dragger”).

If you enter multiple search terms, they can either be required or optional matches, as described below:

Match Type Example     Matched content
All search terms Separate terms by a space right eye Right Eye, right Eyebal
Any search term Separate terms by a comma (space after comma is optional) right, eye Right Eye, right pupil, right Eyeball, RIGHT LEG, Right Hand, Left Eye, left Eyeball, layer with the Eye Gaze behavior applied

Tip:  To select filtered layers or triggers, make sure the search filter field isn’t focused (i.e., if focused in the field, press Return on macOS or Enter on Windows), then press Command/Ctrl+A.

To show unfiltered results, click the “x” in the search field.

Behavior parameter menu

Various operations for a behavior parameter are available in the parameter menu. When a puppet track is selected in the timeline, and you hover over a behavior’s noninput parameters in the Properties panel, the parameter menu (“…”) button appears to the left of the parameter name. Click it to perform various commands:

  • Enable Parameter Recording: Allows a parameter to be recorded, so a take can be created for it during recording. When this option is selected, the Arm for Record button is displayed and enabled. You can click the button to disable recording (and instead use a constant value). You don’t need to deselect the Enable Parameter Recording option.
  • Create Hold Replay and Trigger: Creates a triggerable replay of a parameter’s current value. The take is not blended. 
  • Create Blended Hold Replay and Trigger: Similar to Create Hold Replay and Trigger, but creates a blended take for a smoother transition into and out of the recorded value. 
  • Add to Controls Panel: For numeric (slider, angle) parameters, adds the parameter as a control in the Controls panel.’ 
  • Push Value to Source Puppet: For a modified parameter value, updates the source puppet to use this new value. The parameter becomes unchanged (no “x” button) as a result. 
  • Reset to Puppet’s Setting: Changes the parameter to the default value used in the source puppet.

Note:

This parameter menu is not available while editing the source puppet (selected in the Project panel or opened in the Puppet panel).

Adjust parameters of a behavior

  1. Select the puppet that uses a behavior, either from the Project or Puppet panel (to modify the default parameter values for all instances of the puppet) or from the puppet’s track item in a scene in the Timeline panel (to modify the values for a specific instance of a puppet).

  2. If the behavior’s parameters aren’t shown, click the disclosure triangle next to the behavior’s name in the Properties panel.

  3. Change the parameter’s value.

    • If the parameter value at the track item level is different from (overrides the value) at the project level, a reset button (“x”) appears next to the parameter’s control. Clicking this button restores the parameter to the default value.
    • For layer parameters (such as the Face behavior’s Blink and Mouth features), the parameter’s value is a set of matching puppet layers. For example, if a Smile mouth layer is found, the parameter’s value shows the path to that layer (Head/Mouth/Smile). If not found, the value is blank. You can use this information to diagnose if puppet layers are not being used as intended.
    • For handle parameters (such as the Breathe behavior’s Breathe Handles; Handle Fixer, Nutcracker Jaw, and Dragger’s Target Handles; and Face’s Head Handle), the parameter’s value is a set of matching handles. 
    • Behaviors control the movement of handles, and the visibility of layers.
    • Some behaviors have input parameters for the types of inputs or sources they use (for example, Camera Input for the Face behavior). These parameters don’t show a value, but do include an Arm for Record button to control whether the behavior uses that input’s data. If you have multiple behaviors that use the same type of input (for example, mouse clicks), you can arm one behavior’s Mouse & Touch Input parameter in one take, then the other’s parameter in a second take.
    • Tool tips appear above layer, handle, and input parameters describing the layer and handle names the parameters need and the input sources a behavior uses. For the Face behavior, tool tips also appear above other parameters showing descriptions of the parameters.
    • To turn a behavior off or on, click the eyeball next to a behavior’s name for a recorded take in the Timeline panel. This switch allows you to temporarily turn off a behavior without needing to delete it (and lose existing recordings), then later add it back again. Enable or disable behaviors to experiment with different settings.
    • Toggle the eyeballs for all behaviors on a puppet on or off by Command/Ctrl-clicking one of the eyeballs.

Push behavior parameter of source puppet

When you make changes to the behavior parameters for a puppet track selected in a scene, but want to export a puppet using those settings, you can how update the source puppet in the Project panel to use the same parameter values.

To update the source puppet’s behavior parameter values to match those on a puppet track, click the Push Parameter Changes to Source Puppet button in the Puppet Track Behaviors heading of the Properties panel.

Push parameter
Push parameter

All scenes that use the source puppet will get the updated parameter values (unless using custom values). The source puppet in the Project panel can be exported for sharing with other users or for archiving for later use.

Group or ungroup behavior parameter controls

Tie multiple slider and angle controls (for behavior parameters) to modify them in unison. 

  • To group parameter controls, select them, right-click above one of them, then choose Group
  • To ungroup a group of parameter controls, select the group, then right-click above it and choose Ungroup.

Rename behavior parameter controls

In the Controls panel, behavior parameters have controls named after their parameters. You can customize the displayed name in the panel. For example, describe its operation. Say, Embiggen for a Transform > Scale parameter.

Switch the Controls panel to Layout mode.

Either select the behavior parameter control and then press Return (macOS) or Enter (Windows), or right-click above a behavior parameter control and then choose Rename.

  1. Switch the Controls panel to Layout mode.

  2. Either select the behavior parameter control and then press Return (macOS) or Enter (Windows), or right-click above a behavior parameter control and then choose Rename.

  3. Type a custom name, then press Return/Enter or click away from the edit field.

Hide behaviors in the Properties panel when selecting puppet track items

If you don’t need to adjust or arm a behavior parameter during recording or playback, you can hide the behavior so the Properties panel shows only the controls that you need. By default, the Handle Fixer and Cycle Layers behaviors are hidden.

To hide a behavior from appearing the Properties panel when a puppet track is selected:

  1. Select the puppet in the Project or Puppet panel.

  2. In the Properties panel, click the menu button to the right of the behavior’s name, then select the Hide Behavior in Track Item Properties option.

    Deselect the option to show the behavior.

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