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ANIME STUDIO 5

Not bare bones - bones! By Ko Maruyama
A robust, although lesser-known animation application called Moho has been in the pocket of many vector-based animators. With the ability to create tons of animation styles with more features than similar software, Moho's metamorphosis into a studio-style package is no mystery. It's pairing with other eFrontier software however, is a surprising, but interesting match.

Moho was first created in 1999. Creator, Mike Clifton, wrote the application to make animation accessible to all. Although 2D animation has always been popular, a swing towards 3D animation was on the rise (and still is). Moho was designed to allow animators make compelling movies without requiring huge amounts of money and time.




Using bones and dynamic IK and FK hierarchies, the software allows you to animate not only vector shapes within the application, but also use raster images, such as elements rendered in 3D software.  E?Frontier has provided us with a quick tutorial for how you might animate such a character.  If you'd like to follow along, you can download a demo version of the software from http://www.e-frontier.com




Rigging Images To Make Figures

One of Anime Studio's most innovative features is its ability to use 'bones' to warp and manipulate images, which can either be drawn in Anime Studio using its draw tools, or imported from other graphics programs. The included Anime Studio tutorials describe the basic process of applying bones, and the Bone Tutorial on our site shows how to articulate a drawn figure, so in this tutorial we'll take it a step further and show three ways one could apply bones to a digital photo or rendered 3D picture in order to set up a figure to animate.

1. Rig A Single Image
This is the simplest way to take a picture of a person and move their parts around. Basically you set up a picture of the person with the background cut away and draw in bones for their various body parts. For example, this caveman figure was rendered in Poser and saved as a PNG file;  (save to your desktop  to use)


We can import this image into Anime Studio (the standard or Pro version, they work the same in this regard) and then create a new Bone layer and draw in the bones we wish to use. Remember, when drawing bones, each new one will be the child of the last selected bone- so be sure to use the Bone Selection Tool to pick the right parent bone before drawing arms or legs.

With the bones in place, we can drag the Image Layer onto the Bone Layer as shown here (the Bone Layer will highlight in red to show that the image is being bound)

We can import this image into Anime Studio (the standard or Pro version, they work the same in this regard) and then create a new Bone layer and draw in the bones we wish to use. Remember, when drawing bones, each new one will be the child of the last selected bone- so be sure to use the Bone Selection Tool to pick the right parent bone before drawing arms or legs.

With the bones in place, we can drag the Image Layer onto the Bone Layer as shown here (the Bone Layer will highlight in red to show that the image is being bound)-



- to apply those bones to that image. Then, using the Manipulate Bone tool, we can make the figure move around, showing off its joints.




2. Rig A Cut-Up Image In Paper Cutout Style

This is the most time-consuming method, since we'll be separating our picture into separate body part images, creating a new bone layer for each image and arranging the bone layers in a hierarchy. When it's done however we'll have a cutout-style figure with realistic joints which can be animated easily, with body parts that 'stick together'.
To begin, with the image of the person extracted from the background, create individual images for each body part. For example, using Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, you can select body parts and copy them into new layers, then trim the edges or fill in sections that are obscured by other parts. Then, save each layer to its own image file, choosing the PNG file format to preserve transparency for the body parts.



Here, we'll import the image files into new image layers in Anime Studio, using the File>Import>Image command. Zoom in as needed and arrange the images in their proper positions to make up the figure. Organize the layers so that the 'frontmost' parts show up over the underlying ones.



Now, follow these steps to set up a bone layer for each body part-

a) Select the Image Layer to which you want to add a bone, and create a new Bone Layer for it;
b) In the new Bone Layer, use the New Bone tool to draw just one bone over the image;
c) Drag the Image Layer onto the Bone Layer to bind that image to that bone (the Bone Layer will highlight in red)

With each Image Layer bound to a Bone Layer, we can arrange the bones in a hierarchy, so that moving a parent bone will move child bones- this provides the main advantage over animating by just using image layers. To set up the hierarchy, drag each Bone Layer onto the Bone Layer which is to become its parent (as when binding images to bones, the parent Bone Layer will highlight in red.)
The most common structure is to have the Hip be the parent for all the other bones, with the legs and torso each parented to the hip, and so on as illustrated here-



With that structure set up, use the Manipulate Bone tool to move body parts around- and there you have it!




3. Rig A Cut-Up Image With Flexible Limbs

This technique is useful when we want to either rig a figure with limbs that overlap its body, or when we want a slightly less 'rubbery' look to our figure. We'll be setting up one Bone Layer for the body and additional layers for the limbs, then attaching the bones to the proper images.

As for Example 2, import and arrange the body part images, each in its own layer. For this example we'll use a different image, as shown below. I've rendered the same figure twice- once with his hand visible, and once with it invisible. Combining the rendered hand with the other body parts allows us to show the hand in front of the body, but have a rendered body part behind the hand.
Now, with the images arranged properly, create a new bone layer and set up the skeleton for the body (the hip, abdomen, chest and head) as in Example 1.



Then create a new Bone Layer for each limb, with bones for the bicep (or shoulder), forearm, hand, leg, foot etc. Once the bones are in place, follow this procedure to bind each image to the proper bone-

a) Choose the appropriate Bone Layer, then use the Select Bone tool to select the desired bone;
b) Drag the corresponding Image Layer onto the Bone Layer (make sure the proper Bone Layer highlights as expected);
c) repeat from step (a) until all the image layers are bound to bones on the proper layers.




Now you can use the Manipulate Bone tool to animate the figure.





Final Notes

Each of these techniques has its strengths and weaknesses, and each has its own uses. One thing to be aware of, when using the third (hybrid) technique, is that the limb layers are parented to the main bone layer and will move with it- so adjusting any of the main-layer bones may move the limbs around somewhat, even if the limbs are not 'attached' to the part controlled by the particular bone being moved.



For rants, ramblings and general announcements - check out a chaotic blog in the BlogZone:
http://blogs.digitalmediaonlineinc.com/ninjacrayon/

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Ko Maruyama is a freelance animator in Los Angeles.  In addition to working on film and broadcast animations, Ko teaches at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design - focusing on motion design.  When working, writing or testing software allows, you can find him lending a hand in the After Effects board and lurking among the Cinema4D, Visual Effects and Photoshop posts within the DMNForums.
Related Keywords:tutorial, e-frontier, character rigging, cel animation, anime studio, flash, IK bones

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