In Photoshop, open freda.psd and take a look at the Layers panel. Each component of the character artwork is placed on a separate layer. If you name the layers to indicate which body part they correspond to (chest, head, eyes, mouth), you can immediately control the character in Adobe Character Animator.
Note: If you’d like to use your own artwork, draw or copy the art into the corresponding layers of the freda.psd file, and save.
Although it’s a good practice to start with named layers in your Photoshop file, you can always tag your puppet layers later within Character Animator to make further refinements.
In Character Animator, choose File > Import and select freda.psd to create a puppet. Select Freda in the Project panel and click the Add to New Scene button. The puppet is automatically opened in the Scene panel and selected in the Timeline panel.
Character Animator captures your facial expressions from your webcam and animates the puppet based on your performance. Position your face in the circular area of the Camera & Microphone panel. Look directly at your puppet while keeping your facial expression neutral; then click Set Rest Pose. Red tracking dots will appear around your face. Try moving your head around and talk into your microphone. Use your mouse to drag near the character’s limbs to manipulate them.
Click Record in the Scene panel and perform your character’s movements. Click again to end the take. Toggle off the various behaviors in the Properties panel to record them separately from one another. This is useful if you prefer to record Face behaviors separately from Dragger or Lip Sync behaviors.
Play the animation by pressing the spacebar.
Further refine your puppet’s behaviors by changing the scale and other puppet properties, or even add another puppet to the scene.
When you’re finished animating, select the scene in the Project panel and adjust the scene’s duration in the Properties panel. You now have two options for bringing your character into Adobe After Effects:
- Use Dynamic Link: Launch After Effects. Drag the scene from the Project panel in Character Animator to the Project panel in After Effects and then right-click it and select New Comp from Selection. When you use Dynamic Link, any changes you make to the puppet in Character Animator will automatically update in After Effects.
- Export an image sequence: Choose File > Export > PNG Sequence and WAV and specify a name and location. This exports the video as a PNG sequence and the audio as a WAV file to use in After Effects. Now launch After Effects and choose File > Scripts > New Comp from Character Animator Recording.jsx. Select the first PNG file in the exported PNG sequence.
Go ahead and preview your scene. If you want to use the puppet in a composited scene, import a background from Adobe Stock or from a shared Creative Cloud Library.
Once you’re ready for final output, open Adobe Media Encoder, add a source to the queue, select the output format, and render the final file.
Contributor: John Hersey