How To > How to Use Deformers

Chapter 14: How to Use Deformers

Deformation technology allows you to deform bitmap and vector drawings over a period of time. You can link deformers to create a hierarchy of deformation. You can deform a character made out of one, or many, drawing or image layers and make it move as if it were a cut-out puppet.

About the Deformation Effects

Deformations let you animate bitmap or vector-based graphics, including gradients and textures. Deformations act as a skeleton with limbs and articulations you can bend, reshape, and curve. You can deform a character made out of one, or many, drawing or image layers and make it move as if it were a cut-out puppet. A deformation skeleton is composed of deformation nodes, which are the various pieces (here represented as layers or nodes) required to articulate or deform your drawings, such as a series of bones or game bones—see Deformation Nodes.

Bone Deformer

The Bone deformation allows you to create a skeleton structure in which the parent bone moves the child bone. The Bone deformation is useful when animating the extremities of a character, such as the arms or legs, adding fluidity and a natural feel to the animation. It can be manipulated to rotate a limb at an articulation joint and to shorten or elongate the extremities of a limb. It's also quite handy for bending the torso.

NOTE: If you are creating a rig to be used in a game, use the Game Bone deformation.
Game Bone Deformer

The Game Bone deformation is very similar to the Bone deformation and allows you to create a skeleton structure in which the parent bone moves the child bone. The difference is that the Game Bone deformation is optimized to export to game engines, mainly Unity.

The Game Bone deformation is mostly used when animating the extremities of a character, such as the arms or legs, adding fluidity and a natural feel to the animation. The Game Bone deformation can be manipulated to rotate a limb at an articulation joint and to shorten or elongate the extremities of a limb. It's also quite useful for bending the torso.

The main difference between the Bone and Game Bone deformations is that the Game Bone deformation doesn't have the Bias parameter. The rendered result is also different for the articulation folds. They are slightly rounded.

Rigging

Using the Rigging tool, you can quickly create a basic deformation rig.

As you create your chains, the controls will be showing. However, whenever you close your project, the deformation controls display is turned off. When you reopen the project, you can display all controls or only some of them—see Displaying the Deformation Controls.

The Insert menu allows you to manually add the nodes necessary to create the deformation skeleton. Additional nodes such as the Kinematic Output are available to create advanced rigs.

Adjusting the Deformation Chain

Once you have a deformation chain created, you can optimize its positioning to fit the element it will deform.

Display the Deformer Controls

Before you can manipulate the deformer outside of the Rigging mode, you must display the deformation controls.

If you just created the deformation rig, the controls will still be showing. However, when you close your project, the deformers are turned off. When reopening a project, you must display the controls so you can you see the ones you need while animating.

Animation

The controls to animate deformations work the same as those for setting up the chains. You simply need to create keyframes and position the control points.