For the character animation walk cycle task, my intention was that the character that I created during the vector character design session would used in After Effects to generate a walk cycle animation. However, this proved impractical and too time consuming, so I created a simplified character. In Illustrator, the separate elements of the character each had their own layer to aid later animation, e.g. head, body, left leg, right arm, etc.
The Illustrator file was then imported as an asset into After Effects. The previous grouping meant that the individual elements of the character were available on separate layers within After Effects.
The layer ordering was changed to ensure that the character displayed as expected.
In order to animate effectively, the first task was to use the Pan Behind (Anchor Point) tool to move each element’s anchor point from the middle of the composition to the appropriate place on the character, e.g. the arm anchor points were moved to the shoulder.
Pick whips were used to parent the head, left arm and right arm to the body to ensure that the animation would work realistically.
The Puppet Pin tool was used to add pin points to elements to enable editing and animating of additional body parts, such as knees, ankles, etc.
Over the course of a 1 second/30 frame composition, the puppet pin points, rotation and position of the individual elements were keyframed to produce the animated walk cycle. A reference image was used as a guide to the position of body, arms and legs.