Ok. I decided to try out Character Animator once more after not touching it for a couple of years because of how perplex it is.
So... uhm... I made some images with elements that I think I'll need for a super-simplistic puppet.
I'm going for a very minimalist style. Just a body, face, eyebrows and mouth. I actually don't want face and body to move. Only the eyebrows would be tracked and the mouth would be standard open and close loop. And glasses are opaqe so no eyes will be seen.
So I have the images:
- Left eyebrow
- Right eyebrow
- Mouth in three shapes (closed, slightly open, opened full).
I made them in Krita (I'm just used to drawing there nowadays) and I exported them as separate png's. And... now what?
No matter what I do it seems CA treats all imported images as their own puppets? The guides I find are all talking about doing it all as layers in a photoshop file... do I need to import the images to layers there? Feels like I'm stumbling at the starting line here. I try clicking stuff but nothing seems to make sense. There is a plus by the Puppet1, but it only has tools to tag stuff I can't add to the puppet?! All I want is to import images as elements into the empty puppet.
Is that too much to ask? If so, why?
Your suspicion is correct. A puppet has a single artwork file (Photoshop or Illustrator). If you have separate files you need to merge them all into a single PSD or AI file. CH uses the layer hierarchy in that file. The nested tree of layers in the artwork file are core to how CH understands it as a puppet. Anything else will just cause you grief.
So create a Photoshop file, load up the separate images into separate layers, then create the following groupings (suggested - you can do it different, but this is “common” so others with understand it). You need to mess around grouping layers to get this hierarchy right.
The “.” dots below indicate nesting depth only.
+George (whatever you name your puppet, the “+” in front matters)
. . +Left Eyebrow (the leading “+” is so the eyebrows move separately to the face)
. . +Right Eyebrow
. . Glasses
. . +Mouth
. . . Neutral
. . . Ah
. . . (All the visemes used by lipsync - copy the mouth position over and over again - there are a lot)
. . Face (all the remaining artwork)
. . (Artwork for body goes here)
Note: There is the Mouth behavior driven by lipsync, but there is also another approach called a nutcracker jaw. If you only need open / closed, that might be more suitable. It just moves the jaw up/down with the camera.
If helpful, I start from a photo of a toy and animate it from scratch, adding eyelids etc bit by bit. You can probably skip lots, but if helpful have a look at https://extra-ordinary.tv/2018/10/22/project-wookie-a-beginner-youtube-playlist/ - it shows everything done - screen cast of exactly what I did. So man the fast-forward button at times! Lol!