You've designed a character but it's looking a bit static? This tutorial will show you how to turn your creation into a stomping, biting, bundle of joy.
Animating in After Effects is like building a paper cut-out of your character, its joints held together with pivots. And just like a real-world paper model, moving its torso will affect any limbs attached to it, so complex movements can be built up quickly and easily. However, unlike a paper model, we can take it much further, not only changing the position and rotation of the pieces, but also adjusting the scale and visibility, allowing for some fine-tuned facial animation that still doesn't require any additional frames to be drawn.
So, unlike traditional cel-animation, you can build up whole sequences from a single piece of artwork, but it's an expandable system, so you can animate separate elements of a character in different ways. A character could be built in this paper doll method, but then you could take it further, adding traditionally hand-drawn hair or filmed footage for inside the mouth - there's really no limit to the styles and technique you can use or combine.
Getting back to the basic principles of this tutorial, we take a layered Photoshop file and import it into After Effects. By following this tutorial, you'll be able to take any layered file of your own and bring it to life in a similar way. The tutorial covers three main areas: first, how to parent layers to each other and set the individual properties of them, ready for keyframing. From there we will touch on layer masking, and ways it can be used to animate elements such as blinking eyes and gnashing teeth, simply by obscuring and revealing layers. Finally, we complete the tutorial by placing the character in a simple pseudo- 3D environment and chasing it around with a virtual camera.