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Face rig with Joysticks and Sliders (Free Template)

Do you want to make your character’s face come to life without having to manually change every keyframe or create null objects that don’t work as you want them to? If so, you’ll need to create a face rig in After Effects and create joysticks with Joysticks n sliders. That way, you can move the face of your character and create beautiful 2D character animations.

Check our Youtube tutorial below, or follow the steps in this article.

In this article, we’ll show you how to create a face rig with Joysticks n Sliders. This is a plugin that you can download and use, and they also have a free trial. So, before we jump into the face rig, let’s see how you can install Joysticks N sliders and import it into After Effects.


Step 1: Download Joysticks and Sliders and add it to your After Effects.

  1.  Head over to and click on ‘trial’.
download joysticks n sliders

2. Download the files and unzip the file.
3. You’ll see a pdf with instructions. Follow the instructions and paste the file into your AE folder.

install joysticks n sliders

4. Open After Effects and click on Windows. You’ll find your Joysticks n Sliders plugin there.



Install joysticks and sliders

Step 2: Import your character into After Effects

Before importing your character to start creating your face rig in After Effects, make sure all your face layers have their own layer. For example, your head, eyebrows, eyes, ears, hair, etc., should be on a separate layer. If you’ll be importing a vector file, open your Illustrator and adjust the layers from there.

Then, open After Effects and click on File > Import > File > ( Select your file). Change the ‘Import as’ to ‘Composition- Retain Layer Sizes’

Importing a character for face rig

Step 3: Create the five extreme poses for your face rig in After Effects

Now, open your composition and start adding keyframes

Important: For Joysticks n Sliders to work, you’ll need to add five extreme poses, as shown below. All of them need to be on a different frame. Refer to the picture below to be able to create an excellent face rig.

face rig reference

Step 4: Create your joystick

Once you’re ready, select all the keyframes and click on this icon:

create a face rig

Congrats, your face rig is ready! Now, you can play with it to create your beautiful facial expressions.

face rig in After Effects

Step 5: Polish the animation

If something is not working the way you want it to, you can always adjust your rig, by clicking on your joystick and then clicking this icon:

adjust face rig in After Effects

Once you’re ready, select all the keyframes again and click on this icon:

adjust face rig in After Effects

We’re ready to rock n roll! Make sure you check our tutorial above because we cover the most common mistakes there too.

Creating a face rig would truly make a difference in your animations, it takes minutes to create, but it gives you the freedom to create beautiful emotions and move the face of your character. If you want to make your own rig with our character or if you want to practice the face rig, you can always download our project files.

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    Author avatar
    Kashu Team
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