Ideas for Character Animator

Welcome to the ideas portal for Adobe Character Animator. 

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Make hands go in front and behind of the body/head layers.

Since this is based on layers, we often put one arm in front of the body, and one arm behind.  But it would be useful to be able to have a hand go behind the body and then go in front.  For example, a character reaches behind him for a wallet, but holds it out in front of his tummy to look at it.  

Doing this would be simple if we could duplicate a layer and attach it to another animated layer, so they have identical movements and controls.  Essentially, we'd have two left arms, moving exactly the same way.  Hide the one in front to make it appear that the hand is going behind the body layer, or make it visible again to show the hand in front of the body layer.  

So the trick is... how do we attach a layer to another so it moves in an identical fashion?

  • John CrossTimber
  • Feb 2 2017
  • Attach files
  • Chet Gnegy commented
    April 3, 2017 00:49

    One possibly easy way to do this would be to have some negative logic for the keypress triggers. For example, pressing "A" could make the front hands appear and the back hands could appear when NOT("A"). This still means keeping a duplicate of both layers, so it isn't a perfect solution.

  • John CrossTimber commented
    April 11, 2017 23:03

    Great suggestion, Chet.    But since you'd need an anchor on both of those layers for the mouse to grab and move, you'd have to release one, swap the visibility, and then grab the other one.   I'll give it a try!

  • Chet Gnegy commented
    April 28, 2017 12:08

    Ugh. I see your point. There are lots of pain points like this. I think this Character Animator has a bright future, but it's a bit unwieldy at the moment. I just noticed their update with walk cycles, so at least they're putting out cool, useful new things.

  • Benjamin Markus commented
    June 2, 2017 00:18

    I just wrote a post about how important this function is on the main forums and will second that this is something I think absolutely needs to be added in order for Character animator to work in a production environment.  Right now, the best workaround I've come up with is to turn off certain layers and render them in separate passes.  For example keep the body in the middle ground, the upper arm in the background and the forearm and hand in the FG.  Then you just composite them in AE. Some simple masking or toggle hold transparency animation and track mattes should do the trick if a limb needs to travel from behind and end up in front. 

  • David Simons commented
    June 6, 2017 22:57

    We do actually have a way of doing this now, but it's clunky. We're planning on making it much simpler.

    Briefly, the workaround involves having one arm in front of the body and one in back, and then Chet's idea of NOT("A") -- done by assigning a key, say X, to hide the front one and show the back one. This is done by having front arm in a group with a blank layer set to trigger with X, and the back arm just set to trigger with X. And then make sure those arms are not set to Warp Independently, and the body in between them IS set to Warp Independently. Then you can have a dragger handle on one arm and it will move both (since they share the same mesh).

    We'll post a tutorial on this, hopefully soon.

  • Chet Gnegy commented
    August 5, 2017 18:25

    This is discussed at about 9:30.


    One thing I'm not clear on is whether I should have the duplicate arm in photoshop/illustrator or only in character animator. I try and do as little modifications in CA as possible because I know that if I move layers around in the original art, things may disappear in CA. I imagine either option would work, what is recommended? 

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