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Switch artwork with Auto-swap

New Starter mode is now available! 

Character Animator 22.5 (released June 2022) introduces Starter mode to get you started animating now without any prior experience. Update now to the latest version to try this out.

Auto-swap lets you automatically switch between different artwork layers, like the hand or arm positions, like your puppet moves. Thanks to a behavior called Leader/Follower, your character may now have a more customizable, frame-by-frame appearance for specific features while also capturing real-time performance.

What is Auto-swap?

The automatic switching of artwork frame by frame is Auto-swap. It swaps Set Triggers automatically to switch the puppet's movements to different positions. No matter how you drag the puppet movement, it will always appear in a suitable artwork format. You have to apply the correct tags and behaviors, and Auto-swap will automatically switch between different artworks aligned with your movements in the camera.

Why use Auto-swap?

What is Creative Cloud beta?

Switches different artwork

Auto-swap automatically switch between different artwork layers, like hand or arm positions so that they are oriented in the right position. The artwork can be of any number.

Creative Cloud Collaboration and Web beta program

Leader/Follower behavior

While using Auto-swap, you have to be familiar with Leader/Follower as it is used in conjunction with Auto-swap. The process helps the character to have frame-by-frame look.

What is Creative Cloud beta?

Swap Artwork group

Adobe Character Animator doesn’t have the logic to swap and show one piece of artwork or artwork movement at any given time. Auto swap helps create a swap set of the leading artwork group, allowing one artwork to show up at a time.


Creative Cloud Collaboration and Web beta program

Foreshortening and deformations 

This feature allows some previously difficult-to-achieve features, such as foreshortening, pose-specific deformations, and squash-and-stretch, depending on the type of art submitted to Auto-swap.

Controlling Movements

Auto-swap lets you automatically switch between different artwork layers, like hand or arm positions, as your puppet moves. This allows your character to have a more customized, frame-by-frame look for certain elements mixed with real time performance capture, thanks to a new behavior called Leader/Follower.

Before you proceed

Before you start using Auto-swap, get familiar with the concept of Leader/Follower behavior and how to add tags will help you understand how Auto-swap works. For more information on these concepts in Character Animator, see:

How to use Auto-swap?

  1. Create a group with independent content inside.

    In your original PSD or AI file, create a group including your artwork in multiple positions. For example, a Left Arm group filled with ten different possible arm and hand positions. 

    Make sure the contents are all independent by adding a + in front of each layer name.

  2. Add the Leader/Follower behavior to your top-level character. 

    Add the Leader/Follower behavior to the root of your character, alongside your normal behaviors like Face and Eye Gaze.

  3. Create and tag your leader layer. 

    Find the layer you want to start with and add a new blank handle onto where you want to drag it from. Press Enter to bring up a name dialog and type in a unique name for your handle for example Guide. Then, with this handle selected, tag it as Draggable and Leader.

  4. Create and tag your follower layers. 

    On every other layer, create a blank handle, name it the same as the leader (guide as mentioned above), and tag it as Follower. Repeat this process until every layer in your group has either a Leader- or Follower- tagged handle

  5. Create an Auto-swap set. 

    Drag your group into the Triggers panel over the Create swap set drop zone. Select the newly created swap set title and check the Auto-swap checkbox below to change this into an automatically triggered swap set.

  6. Test out your scene. 

    Now if you try out a scene and drag over your artwork, you should see your artwork automatically change as it moves from position to position.

Try it yourself

Here are some Auto-swap examples that you can download to try out this workflow. A project showing four examples of the Leader/Follower behavior and Auto-swap: holding a sword with two hands, holding a coffee cup with one hand, a unicycling robot, and a fire-breathing dragon snake.


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