Emotions, Or Combinations of Triggers and Swap Sets

Explorer ,
Sep 07, 2021 Sep 07, 2021

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I am confident in working with triggers and swap sets.  Customizing them has become fairly routine.  Then I ran into trouble when trying to create emotions.

I have added layers that will give my characters more emotional versatility.  There are angry eyebrows, a confused mouth, tired eyelids and so on.  Once created, it then made sense to have swap sets to show these new layers.  When I attempted to take it a step further, it didn't work.

I thought that triggering an emotion would be as simple as a swap set that included layers from the various facial features.  I tried creating an angry swap set and added the angry eyebrows, angry mouth, mad eyelids and wrinkled nose.  When I triggered it, the layers appeared but the currently visible layers did not go away.

Does triggering emotions in this way require a modified Photoshop structure?  My structure is straight forward with groups for each facial feature containing the various layers that apply.  My angry right eyebrow layer is in my right eyebrow group with the other eyebrows. 

Hopefully that's enough of a description so you can tell me what I'm doing wrong.  Thanks.

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LEGEND ,
Sep 07, 2021 Sep 07, 2021

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You can do this is different ways, but I generally do the following.

  • Write down all the expressions wanted
  • Work out which expressions need visemes for the mouth (normally I only do mouth visemes for the default expression, with triggers for other expressions - but sometimes I do a happy set of visemes)
  • (I don't call it Neutral expression as that gets tagged with the neutral viseme tag! So "default" or "plain" or something like that.)
  • I create Left Eyebrow with expression names under that (for Left Eyebrow, Right Eyebrow, Left Eye, Right Eye, Mouth, etc - whatever I decide will have variants per expression.
  • I then pick one of them that has all the expressions and create a swapset on that layer (e.g. Left Eyebrow). I set "plain" as the default for the swapset. I make sure all the triggers work. Make sure there is a "plain" trigger defined (it does not need a key assigned to it, but it still needs the trigger).
  • I then drag all the other expression layers for Right Eyebrow etc and add them to the triggers in the swapset, including the "plain" layers. (I think this is the bit you might be missing.)

Basically, triggers only make things appear. The only way to make a layer disappear is to have a trigger on it that is the default trigger for a swapset. The default trigger starts on, and turns off when another keypress triggers it etc. If they layer (default expression) is not in the default trigger, CH does not know to hide it. (It feels a bit funny as you are adding things to the "default" trigger so that it can disappear rather than appear.)

 

That is my guess anyway!

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Explorer ,
Sep 07, 2021 Sep 07, 2021

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I guess I am too much a logician.  I thought I understood your steps, but not quite.

When you say "I create Left Eyebrow with expression names under that", do you mean you create a trigger for the left eyebrow layer and add the other layers to that trigger?  I guess I'm confused by your use of the word "expression" as it would seem to have a very different meaning in AE.  When you say expression, do you mean a layer that is included in the definition of a trigger?  Then you say "I create a swap set on that layer", which means you drag that layer on top of the Swap Set zone.  And is that different from clicking the + and selecting Swap Set, which is initially empty?

I wouldn't be nitpicky, but I think I'm following your steps and it is still not working.

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LEGEND ,
Sep 08, 2021 Sep 08, 2021

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I should do a video I guess - its hard to explain in text and trivial showing it. But what you can do is

 

- Head

- - Left Eyebrow

- - - Default (artwork)

- - - Angry (artwork)

- - - Sad (artwork)

 

Then create a swapset on "Left Eyebrow". This automatically adds a trigger to each child (Default, Angry, and Sad - what I meant by "expressions" - human expressions, not a CH/AE feature) and puts them in a swapset. Make sure the Default layer trigger is the default for the swapset (so it is displayed by, err, default). [You can do this all by hand - create a swapset, create the triggers, add the triggers to the swapset - its just "create swapset" on the Left Eyebrow group sets it all up right in one step.]

 

Note: you only need to bind keys to Angry and Sad.

 

You now should have a swapset with 3 triggers. Go to the Right Eyebrow and drag the 3 child layers to the 3 corresponding triggers that were created. So the "Default" trigger should have .../Head/Left Eyebrow/Default and .../Head/Right Eyebrow/Default in it. Repeat the same for nose, mouth, whatever you have emotion variations for. At the end, the three triggers (Default, Angry, Sad) should have identical numbers of layers in them.

 

I like using consistent naming for expressions. I like when using expressions to always create children, one per expression, with nothing else in the same group. If you don't have an Angry eyebrow but do want Angry for eyes or something else, then you *can* drag Default into the Angry trigger for the eyebrows, but I actually still create the Angry eyebrow artwork from a copy of the Default eyebrow. I like consistency, because its easier to remember when you come back a month later, and its easier to spot bugs when you look at the trigger definitions (they should follow a consistent pattern - any variation in the path names or number of layers in the trigger is an indication of a bug).

 

If still having problems, please share screenshots of the swapset and trigger definitions (showing which layers are in the triggers) and rigging hierarchy with those sections expanded. I will be looking at the default trigger in particular - it sounds like it is missing some layers.

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Explorer ,
Sep 08, 2021 Sep 08, 2021

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I swear that is precisely how I did it before and it wasn't working.  Now it is.  Thank you so much for your patience and detailed responses.  I really appreciate it.

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Explorer ,
Sep 12, 2021 Sep 12, 2021

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Needed to follow up because there is a confusing element to this setup.  When I select an emotion, say Mad, it chooses the mad version of the mouth and both eyebrows.  Selecting the normal emotion (the default) and the curious emotion both do the same for their corresponding layers.  In order to keep it consistent, as you mentioned, my Photoshop heirarchy is a little strange, at least to me.

Head

--Emotion Mouths

----Mouth

----Curious

----Mad

The Mouth group here is my standard set of viseme layers.  I use the same heirarchy style for both eyebrows.  So the Emotion Mouths, Right Eyebrow and Left Eyebrow are all at the same level, and each has the three emotions within.  I know my swap set is setup properly, following your example.

It's not working.

Check that, which is what I just did.  I had made a copy of my normal left eyebrow layer for the curious emotion but never changed the artwork.  It's working fine.  Thanks again.

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Explorer ,
Sep 13, 2021 Sep 13, 2021

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Your "mouth" layer needs to be a subset of each emotion layer.

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