If you’re new to character animation in After Effects, it’s time you met DuIK. DuIK is an outstanding, versatile script that allows you to rig a character so it’s super simple and intuitive to animate.
In this post, I’ll explain what DuIK is, what it does, and how you can quickly learn character rigging by remembering a few simple instructions. And of course, the infographic is free to download.
Character animation in After Effects isn’t always straightforward. You can use the puppet tool, but that only gets you so far. You can try parenting the pieces of the puppet together, rotating limbs and joints, creating tons of keyframes just to make one simple movement — but that gets unwieldy real fast.
Enter DuIK. Run the script on your character, and out comes an awesome puppet rig. But it’s not exactly foolproof. You’ve got to know what you’re doing.
Fortunately, FAMOS has a great video tutorial on how to rig a character with DuIK. (It’s embedded at the bottom of this post.) I love it, and it’s helped me many times. In fact, I was going back to the video so often that I needed a shorthand way to remember it. (I’d watch the 16-minute video every day if I could, but I just don’t have that kind of time!)
And so FAMOS’s video became an infographic. And for the sake of anyone out there in the same situation, I’d like to share it here. You can download a full-res version with this link: http://www.robbellon.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/DuIK_Rig.pdf
Please keep in mind: this graphic is meant to be a reference for people who have seen the video. If you haven’t seen FAMOS’s tutorial, you probably should, or you’ll have a hard time understanding this chart.
What’s with the silly name?
DuIK (pronounced ['DOO • ic]) is short for DuDuf (the alias of the magician who wrote the script) + Inverse Kinematics. “Inverse kinematics? That’s a big word.” Yes, but it’s actually pretty simple. It refers to the way you figure out the position of an endpoint, such as a hand or foot.
Without DuIK, you might have a character’s hand parented to her forearm, and her forearm parented to her upper arm. Then, to move the hand where you want it, you have to rotate the upper arm, rotate the forearm, then rotate the hand. (And if it’s not in the right spot, that’s 3 rotation values you have to readjust.) This is called ‘forward kinematics’ — forward because we’re moving forward from the upper arm to the forearm to the hand, and kinematics because that’s the branch of physics that deals with the motion of points.
DuIK operates using inverse kinematics. That is, based on the point of the hand, it calculates the appropriate rotation and position values for the upper arm and forearm. That way, all you have to do is move the hand, and the rest of the arm moves along with it.
But explaining it in words doesn’t do it justice. Watch FAMOS’s full tutorial below. Then go grab DuDuf’s “DuIK tools” script right here. And if you like, you can download the color scheme I used for the chart.
What do you think? Is the chart helpful? Do you have any questions on how this works? Or suggestions on how the chart could be better? Leave a comment below, and I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can.