Home / Articles / Adobe After Effects / Distorting Objects with the Puppet Tools in After Effects CS3

Distorting Objects with the Puppet Tools in After Effects CS3

Article Description

Pull, squash, stretch, and otherwise deform objects onscreen using the After Effect CS3 Puppet tools. Whether you're creating realistic animations, fantastic scenarios, or modern art, the Adobe Creative Team shows you how the Puppet tools can expand your creative freedom.

About the Puppet Tools

The Puppet tools turn raster and vector images into virtual marionettes. When you move the string of a marionette, the body part attached to that string moves; pull the string attached to the hand, and the hand goes up. The Puppet tools use pins to indicate where strings would be attached.

The Puppet effect deforms parts of an image based on the position of pins that you place and animate. These pins determine which parts of the image should move, which parts should remain rigid, and which parts should be in front when areas overlap.

There are three kinds of pins, each placed by a different tool (see Figure 7):

  • The Puppet Pin tool places and moves Deform pins, which deform a layer.
  • The Puppet Overlap tool places Overlap pins, which indicate the parts of an image that should be in front when areas overlap.
  • The Puppet Starch tool places Starch pins, which stiffen parts of the image so that they're distorted less.

As soon as you place a pin, the area within an outline is divided automatically into a mesh of triangles. Each part of the mesh is associated with the pixels of the image; as the mesh moves, so do the pixels. When you animate a Deform pin, the mesh deforms more in the area closest to the pin, while keeping the overall shape as rigid as possible. For example, if you animate a pin in a character's hand, the hand and arm will be deformed, but most of the character will remain in place.

3. Adding Deform Pins | Next Section Previous Section