How to Animate a Cut-out Character

Harmony provides some great tools for animating cut-out character models. You can simply animate a character by using the Transform tool to move the drawings and pegs that constitute its cut-out model. With animated keyframes, basic interpolations are automatically done by Harmony. The timing of the movement can be adjusted to make life-like motion, and drawings can be swapped at any point during interpolations, allowing to combine movement and drawing changes to create frame-perfect cut-out animations.

Navigating Layers

Since cut-out animation often involves complex models with hierarchies, learning shortcuts to easily navigate between layers can save a lot of time.

One very useful trick to learn is the Center on Selection keyboard shortcut. This shortcut allows you to navigate directly to the selected layer in the Timeline view. Hence, you can use the Camera view to visually select the layer you wish to animate, then use the Center on Selection shortcut to find the layer in the Timeline view, instead of going through your layer's list to locate it.

This shortcut can also be used in the Node view. If your selection is inside a group, it will navigate to the inside of this group and the center the Node view on the selected node.

If you want to use this shortcut frequently, you might find that having to click on the Timeline or Node view every time is tedious. To remedy this, you can enable the Focus On Mouse Enter preference. This will set the focus on a view as soon as your mouse cursor enters it, instantly making all of this view's keyboard shortcuts functional.

Otherwise, Harmony also features keyboard shortcuts to quickly change your selection from the currently selected layer to its parent, child, or to one of its siblings, allowing you to quickly navigate your character's hierarchy from one layer to one of its related layers.