Puppet panel in Character Animator is where you can see the puppet groups, layers, mesh, and auto handles. It is also in this panel that you can rig your puppet. Read this document to understand the different tasks you can perform using the Puppet panel and navigating around it.

Open puppets for rigging

To open a puppet, do one of the following:

  • Double-click the puppet in the Project panel.
  • Double-click the puppet’s layer in the left sidebar of the Puppet panel.
  • Double-click the puppet’s track item or the track header (left side) in the Timeline panel.

The puppet opens in the Puppet panel. The panel shows the layer structure on the left (sidebar), and the appearance of the layers and any associated handles on the right. Along the bottom of the panel are commands and tools for working with layers and handles. The Properties panel also has settings for the selected layer.

The Puppet panel
The Puppet panel

Open puppets or groups within a puppet

You can open a puppet to see its entire layer hierarchy, or a group within a puppet to focus on a specific part of a puppet in isolation.

Open a puppet

Double-click the puppet in the Project panel or Timeline panel.

The application switches to the Rig workspace and opens the selected puppet in the Puppet panel.

Open a group within a puppet

To open a specific group in a puppet:

  • Double-click the group in the layers list in the Puppet panel.

Only those group’s layers and rigging are visible in the panel.

To switch back to viewing the previous puppet view:

  • Click the Back button on the top row of the layers list in the Puppet panel.

This button lets you easily switch to the parent puppet or group you were viewing when you double-clicked the group. Unlike choosing File > Close to close a group, the Back button still leaves the group in the list of opened puppets in the Puppet panel’s tab menu.

Switch to the parent puppet or group

If you double-click a group of a puppet in the Puppet panel, you can use the back button ( , Command/Ctrl+[) next to the group’s name at the top of the panel to switch back to the parent puppet or group you were viewing when you double-clicked the group. Unlike pressing Command/Ctrl+W (for File > Close) to close a group, the back button still leaves the group in the list of opened puppets in the Puppet panel’s tab.

Close a puppet or group

Do either of the following:

  • With the Puppet panel focused, press Command+W (macOS) or Ctrl+W (Windows).
  • Click the Puppet panel’s tab menu (via the blue puppet name), then choose Close (to close the current puppet), Close Others (to close all puppets except the current one), or Close All (to close all puppets).
Puppet panel (add callouts)

Pan contents of the Puppet panel

Do any of the following:

  • Select the Hand tool, then drag in the Puppet panel.
  • Hold down the Space bar or Option (macOS) / Alt (Windows) while dragging in the Puppet panel.
  • Hold down the middle mouse button while dragging in the Puppet panel.

Zoom contents of the Puppet panel

Do any of the following:

  • Select the Zoom tool, then click in the Puppet panel to zoom into that location, or hold down the Option (macOS) / Alt (Windows) key as you click to zoom out.
  • Press Command+= (macOS) / Ctrl+= (Windows) to zoom in or Command+- (macOS) / Ctrl+- (Windows) to zoom out relative to the center of the Puppet panel.
  • Use the Zoom Puppet control at the bottom-right corner of the Puppet panel to zoom relative to the center of the Puppet panel.
  • Hold down Option (macOS) / Alt or Ctrl (Windows) while spinning the mouse wheel or swiping vertically on a trackpad to zoom into or out from the location of the mouse pointer.
  • Use a two-finger pinch-to-zoom gesture on a trackpad while the mouse pointer is above the Puppet panel.
  • Choose Fit from the Zoom Puppet menu at the bottom-right corner of the Puppet panel to zoom the puppet artwork to fit within the bounds of the Puppet panel.

Center and reset zoom of the scene in the Puppet panel

Do either of the following:

  • Hold down Option (macOS) / Alt (Windows) while double-clicking in the Puppet panel to center the puppet and reset zoom to 100%.
  • Hold down Option (macOS) / Alt (Windows) + Shift while double-clicking in the Puppet panel to center the puppet and reset zoom to fit within the bounds of the panel.

Show meshes and Auto handles for a puppet

Visualize the deformable mesh for the selected layer by using the buttons near the lower-left corner of the Puppet panel, as follows:

  • To show or hide just the triangular mesh, click the Show Mesh button.
  • To show or hide just the mesh’s outline and locations of Auto-attached independent child layers, click the Show Mesh Outline and Auto Handles button.

 

Buttons to view meshes and auto handles
Buttons to view meshes and auto handles

The mesh appears as a yellow overlay of triangles above the independent region of the puppet that the selected layer contributes to. The mesh outline is a solid line around the contour of the mesh. The origin locations for child layers set to use Attach To = Auto appear as green dots.

The density and shape of the mesh can be controlled via the Layer Mesh settings in the Properties panel.

These mesh visualizations are not included when exporting the scene. 

Change the background color in the Puppet panel

Transparent areas of the puppet can be viewed in different ways to provide contrast with puppet artwork, as follows:

  • Click the Background Color button (a small color chip) at the bottom-right corner of the Puppet panel.

The button cycles between black, white, and dark and light transparency grids (checkerboards).

Background color button
Background color button

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