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Simple Character Animation in After Effects for Beginners (Free Project Files)

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to make a simple character animation in After Effects. This guide is suitable for beginners and is very easy to follow. As usual, the source files are available for free via the button above.


Step 1. Import the Character

Before you start with the animation itself, you need to import the character and organize your layers.


Step 2. Rig the Leg

Select the three layers that form the leg and precompose them – turn them into a composition of their own. To rig the leg, we’re using the Puppet tool and then Duik. You can see the full process in the video above.


Step 3. Animate the Leg

Make a keyframe to the controller we set in Duik. Make the leg move backward for one second. A little before two seconds copy and paste the first keyframe as the movement will be looped. Then remove the auto stretch in the effects panel of the leg. 


Step 4. The Body 

Convert the body into a shape layer so you can later animate the path properties. Set the keyframes for position and rotation so they match the leg movements. Then copy and paste the first keyframes.

Animate the path properties of the body as you like to make the movement more natural.


Step 5. The Ponytail

Move the anchor of the ponytail and add keyframes for the rotation that match the movement of the body.


Step 6. The Eye

The eye is divided into several layers that you’ll have to animate separately. Add keyframes for the position and rotation. For a detailed guide on how to do that, see the full video above. 


Step 7. The Arm

Adjust your anchor points and add keyframes for the position and rotation of the arm and hand layers.

Then, animate the thumb. Turn it into a shape layer so you can animate the path options. Turn the cord into a shape layer and animate the paths as well, so it doesn’t look disconnected.


Step 8. Direction 

Create a null object and add the parent the controllers, the body, and the skateboard. Copy the keyframes at the start and at the end. In the middle, simply move the object to the left.


Step 9.  The Lines

Create the lines with the pen tool and change the color of the stroke. To animate, use the trim path effect as shown in the video. 

Character Animation in After Effects

That’s it, you’ve animated your first character in After Effects. For more useful tutorials on how to create beautiful animations in After Effects, subscribe to our newsletter below and our YouTube channel.

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    Kashu Team
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