About Deformation Poses (Transformation Chains)

Creating and rigging a full character turnaround can be achieved by creating multiple deformation chains on a same character without having to create completely different puppets.

For a simplified process, you can keep each view of your character separate in the Timeline or Node view. If you create separate rigs for each view, then you can simply turn on or off the exposure of each view in the timeline when needed.

However, if you want to keep the entire character, with all views, in one group/rig on the timeline, then you can follow the process described here by building a multi-pose deformation rig, also known as multiple transformation chains.

Preparing the Character

Before building a puppet’s deformation skeleton, you must prepare your character. The best way to proceed is to have the limbs on separate drawing layers. This is similar to a standard cut-out puppet preparation, but uses fewer pieces. Since this is a more advanced type of puppet, you should keep the character’s head, hands, feet, and facial features on a separate layer from the body, arms, and legs. This will prevent the extremities from being distorted if the limbs are stretched during an action. It will also let you use drawing substitution to swap hands, feet, eyes and mouth poses during animation—see Swapping Drawings.

There are many ways to break down a cut-out puppet. The example described in this chapter uses these pieces:

Left Ear
Right Ear
Left Eye
Right Eye
Left Eyebrow
Right Eyebrow
Left Arm
Right Arm


Left Hand
Right Hand


Left Leg
Right Leg


Left Foot
Right Foot

Refer to the following topics to learn how to break down a character:

Understanding the Multi-pose Structure

Each pose (transformation chain) you rig within the same element has to be part of a separate subgroup, all of which are gathered together by a Transformation-Switch node. The group name is not relevant in the multi-pose structure. These subgroups can be renamed once the rig is complete. The Transformation-Switch node uses the drawing name to associate a transformation chain with it. If you rename a drawing after is has been linked to a transformation chain, you will have to manually change the drawing name associated to the chain in the Transformation-Switch layer properties. You might want to rename your drawing before you start rigging so the names correspond to the poses. For example: front, side, quarter, etc.

Renaming the Drawings

Although renaming your drawings is not mandatory, it can prove useful in maintaining a clear node structure for your project. If you leave your drawing as is and do not rename it, your deformation subgroups could become slightly confusing. If you plan to have several drawings using the same rig within an element, for instance, drawing substitution, then you should rename these extra drawings before starting your rig.