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[ Lectures and Technical Notes ]
After Effects Puppet Pin Tool Animation
In Photoshop:

1. Create a new Photoshop file at 1920 x 1080 with a transparent background

2. Create your background on one layer

3. Create your creature parts - make one layer per body part

ps layers

4. Create other objects on another layer

5. Save as a Photoshop file - PSD

6. Quit Photoshop

In After Effects:

1. Start After Effects

5. File menu - Import - File - and find your PSD file

6. Change to Import As: Composition


7. Next window: Layer Options: Editable Layer Styles - OK


8. In your Project palette you will see a folder, click the arrow to open it.
You will see all your Photoshop layers


9. Go to Composition menu - New Composition and set up all the parameters like the following:


10. Drag the background, other items and body parts to the Composition window

11. Arrange your layers like you want them by dragging them up and down in the Source Name area, making sure the background is the bottom layer.

Putting Pins in the Body Parts:

1. Lock the layers you are not working on


2. Select the layer you want to put pins in

3. Select the Puppet Pin Tool

pin tool

4. Click on one of the body parts to set the key points of the Puppet Pins

puppet tool     puppet tool

5. You can test to see how it will bend and distort the shape - return it to where you want it to be at the start.


6. Lock that layer and unlock the next layer and put pins in each body part that you will want to deform.

***To move a pin, you need to have the Pin Tool or Select Tool selected

***To select more than one pin: click one then SHIFT click another then SHIFT click another, etc.

***To delete a Pin, select it then hit Delete (Backspace) key


Start Animating:

1. Go to frame 1:

2. Position each part of the body like you want.

3. The Puppet Pinned items will have animation automatically turned on.

4. If you want to move, scale or rotate objects you must turn on the animation stopwatch for them

5. To the Left of the layer name, click the arrow and open the Transform

6. If you are going to move (position) or scale or rotate it, turn on the stopwatch on frame 1



***DO NOT click the stopwatch a second time or you will loose all your key frames

**You must use the pointer (not the Puppet Pin Tool) if you want to position something.


Move the cursor over the numbers next to scale and drag the value to change it

The first 0x is the number of full rotations and the 0.0 is the number of degrees in addition to the full rotations

7. Go to the next frame where you want a change happening to your object

8. Select the layer and move the puppet pins or position, scale or rotate the object

9. You will see a diamond on the timeline - this is a key frame


10. Keep doing this until your animation is done (move to a new frame, change something, etc.)


Key frames

To see the keyframes of the Puppet Pin Tool:

Open the arrow to the left of the layer name - open Effects - open Puppet - open Mesh - open Puppet Pin #

puppet keys

*** To put the pins back to their original positions click RESET

You can change the Triangles to make the object bend smoother


You can change the Expansion to have the Puppet Tool effect a greater area

Changing the timing of your animation:

You can move the key frames around to make things move faster or slower


Ease In and Ease Out

To add Ease In or Ease Out:

1. Select a key frame (make it yellow)

2. Animation menu - Keyframe Assistant - Easy Ease (both in and out) or

Easy Ease In (ease speed coming into selected keyframes)


Easy Ease Out (ease speed coming out of selected keyframes)

Easy ease

Helpful Tips:

* Zoom in and out of the timeline using the Mountains:


* To Play the animation:

Use the RAM Preview button

ram preview

* Before finishing, go back to Composition Settings and make sure it is the length of your animation

Exporting the Final Animation as H.264

Composition Menu - Add to Render Queue


1. Click Render Settings: Best Settings - Time Span: Length of Comp

Click OK

2. Click Output Module: Lossless

3. Click Format Options

Select Video Codec: H.264


4. Click Output to: and find a place to save it and name it what you want.

Click Render