Chapter 20: How to Build a Cut-out Character

There are many techniques you can use to break down a puppet. In this section, you will learn about one of the most common and simplest methods. For your first character breakdown, follow these instructions to get an idea of the way Harmony works. Once you understand Harmony's basic functions and commands, you will be able to create your own techniques to satisfy the needs of your production.

Drawing the Pieces

The main breakdown technique shown here is to trace your model—see the Appendix to learn about more techniques.

Adding Pegs

It is recommended to add parent pegs to your drawing layers which are path layers that let you add keyframes to modify the positions of pieces over time. It is not mandatory, but it is helpful to have your drawings and keyframes separated—see Disabling the Animation on Drawing Layers.

Parenting Layers

Harmony lets you extend your rigging techniques beyond normal boundaries and sets new standards. You can create hierarchies without encapsulating pieces inside each other by creating a linked structure between layers.

You should create a hierarchy on the arms and legs, and keep them separated from the body. This gives you more animation freedom, and when you need to scale or skew the torso, it will not affect the entire body.

Master Peg

When you animate your character, you will probably need to resize and reposition it to fit your scene. When you need to scale down or move your character, it is a good idea to hook (attach) the whole puppet to a trajectory.

Attaching your puppet to a peg will allow you to scale it and reposition it without having to do this to the different parts and pieces. Only one layer will contain the position information, which makes your animation easier to modify and control.