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Animate a puppet using Starter mode

Starter mode makes Character Animator accessible for everyone. With Starter mode, everyone can start animating without prior experience. The simplified interface focused on performing, recording, and exporting characters, makes it easy to create animation. 

What is Starter mode in Character Animator?

What is Starter mode?

Starter mode in Adobe Character Animator has a streamlined workflow and UI, making character animation easy for everyone. Use the sample puppets to perform, record, and export your characters. Starter mode helps anyone make character animations at any level of experience.

Creative Cloud Collaboration and Web beta program

Who can use Starter mode?

Character Animator Starter mode is for anyone. You can start character animation without prior experience or knowledge of Photoshop or Illustrator. Also, Starter mode can be used with a free Adobe account and doesn't require a Creative Cloud subscription.

What is Creative Cloud beta?

How to download Starter mode?

Starter mode for Character Animator can be downloaded from the Creative Cloud desktop app. If prompted, sign in to your Adobe account (or create a free one), then select Download or Install for your app. You can switch between Starter and Pro modes from the App mode icon in the header bar at the upper right corner. 

Creative Cloud Collaboration and Web beta program

How is Starter mode different from Pro mode?

Starter mode in Character Animator is a simplified interface that concentrates on puppet performance, recording, and exporting. You don't need a Creative Cloud subscription to use Starter mode. When you're ready, upgrade to Pro mode. 

How to start with Starter mode?

  1. Download the Creative Cloud desktop app and create a free Adobe account (if needed) as follows:

    • From a web browser, go to and click Download Creative Cloud.
    • Run the Creative Cloud installer and follow the prompts.
    • On the Sign-in screen, click Create an account, then fill in the information to create an Adobe account.
    • After that, follow the steps to finish installing the Creative Cloud desktop program.
  2. Go to the Apps tab in the Creative Cloud desktop app, then select Install for Character Animator.

  3. After installing Character Animator, in the upper-right corner, click App mode in the header bar, then click Use Starter. If you don’t see Use Starter and instead see Stay in Starter, you’re already in Starter mode. 

Create your animation in four easy steps

Before you start

You have to check whether you're in Starter mode or Pro mode using the App mode   button at the upper right corner. 

Select a puppet

Select a puppet from the example puppets on the Starter mode home screen. You can also import a puppet. Use the Import puppet option from the Home screen to import a puppet file. 

Starter mode puppet selection from Home screen

Perform a scene

Character Animator opens the puppet in the Scene panel of the Perform workspace, where you can do the following functions:

  • Set your rest pose using the Calibrate button in the lower right corner to improve face tracking.
  • Use Aspect ratio  and Background   menus to change the dimensions and background for your animation.
  • Select Camera and microphone settings for the preferred face and body tracking webcam. 
  • Select Record face and voice to use the webcam to control the puppet and record the voice via webcam.
  • Select Import recorded speech to import audio in AIFF, MP3, or Adobe Wave PCM file formats.

Enhance your performance 

After the recording finishes, the Timeline panel displays the audio waveform and the duration of your recorded performance as a track. The Controls panel window opens, displaying several stances and emotions that might help you enhance your recorded performance.

Here are some ways that you can enhance your performance:

  • Hover over the icons in the Controls panel to see a preview. Drag and drop them to the Timeline to apply them to your puppet.
  • To preview your animation, click Play, then Stop when you're ready to make further adjustments.
  • Use the trim handles on either end of the puppet track to trim the scene's duration.
  • Select a small icon to trim an applied control's length, then trim the edges overlaid on the track.
  • Use Undo    and Redo   in the header bar to undo a recent change or redo an undone modification. 
  • In the timeline, click Delete recording   to undo all changes to a puppet and restart the recording.

Export animation

Quick Export can export an H264 file in just a few clicks. In the header bar, select Quick Export   then modify the file name, location, and preset if necessary before selecting Export. Choose from a list of high, medium, or low-quality presets. 

Set camera and microphone preferences

You can customize the app settings using Camera and microphone settings   to set preferences for the camera and microphone. Know how to use the tracking calibration settings and audio settings in the below description.

Camera and tracking calibration

  • Choose Camera and microphone settings   Camera. You can choose a camera from the list of available cameras.
  • Camera and microphone settings are accessible only before recording a performance.
  • You can deselect the Mirror Camera Input option in the menu to flip the camera image horizontally.
  • The camera, by default, mirrors your every motion.
  • Before recording, select Calibrate to center the puppet in the scene and calibrate face and body tracking. 

Audio settings

  • Select Camera and microphone settings  , and choose Audio Settings > System Default (Microphone) from the Default Input list.
  • Alternatively, open app preferences by choosing Edit > Preferences (on Windows) or Character Animator > Preferences (on macOS). 

Custom Background

In Starter Mode, use a custom image for the scene’s background. Select the Background button, Select Custom Background (+), then select your image. 

Differences between Starter and Pro mode

How is Starter mode different from Pro mode?

Starter mode

  • Starter mode is a free, streamlined mode in Character Animator that lets anyone make quick animated videos.
  • Everyone can start animating through performance. No need to be an expert rigger.
  • Starter mode has sample puppets allowing you to create animations in no time. Select a puppet or import a puppet, and add or record a voice.  
  • Every sample puppet has a full Controls panel with available poses and emotions.
  • Starter mode cannot open projects created in Pro mode.
  • Export animation to an H264 (MP4) file directly using Quick Export.
  • You can use a custom image as a background by selecting the Custom Background button.
Creative Cloud Collaboration and Web beta program

Pro mode

  • Pro mode is a full-featured app mode having a professional, in-depth interface.
  • Pro mode requires a Creative Cloud All Apps subscription. 
  • You can create puppets using layered Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator documents. You can also use Puppet Maker or Characterizer.
  • Pro mode offers a multi-track timeline with multiple characters possible in a scene. 
  • Pro mode offers the Auto swap feature that allows Triggers automatically to switch the puppet's movements to different positions.
  • By switching to Pro mode, you can convert any Starter project to a Pro project.
  • You can't convert a Pro project into a Starter project. 
  • Quickly export animations directly to H264 files without needing the advanced controls found in
    Adobe Media Encoder.

Upgrade to Pro mode

If you need more controls than Starter mode offers, switch to Pro mode to unlock all of Character Animator's features. The pro mode requires a Creative Cloud All Apps subscription. You can access Starter mode projects when you switch to Pro mode.


A project created in Pro mode cannot be accessed in Starter mode.

To switch between Starter and Pro mode

  • Select App mode in the header bar or switch to the Home workspace > Use Starter or Use Pro.

Upgrade from Starter to Pro mode

  • Click App mode in the header bar or switch to the Home workspace > click Start Pro free trial or Buy now (after the trial version). 
  • Start a trial of the Creative Cloud All Apps plan by following the instructions. 
  • Relaunch Character Animator and access Pro mode.


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Adobe MAX 2024

Adobe MAX
The Creativity Conference

Oct 14–16 Miami Beach and online

Adobe MAX

The Creativity Conference

Oct 14–16 Miami Beach and online