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Throughout my experience as a designer, I have faced the need to be in constant practice and evolution of my skills and knowledge.

And without a doubt, I can say that learning to animate has been one of the best skills I have had the opportunity to learn, because it is known to everyone, the ability of animations / videos to tell stories and connect with people.


Even, from the artistic point of view, the need to break barriers and learn new techniques goes from the mastery of traditional and digital illustration, to its eventual evolution in movement. And for example I share one of the first projects we did in Galahad Studio as animation in this link.

In this sense, this evolution could continue towards the realization of 3D illustration and animation. However, learning all areas of 3D requires a lot of time and dedication. But what if there was a way to generate an animated fake 3D ? Well, in this blog post, I want to share some tutorials and plugins, which make this idea a reality.

Hold on a second…

First of all, it is important to understand that "three-dimensionality" in a two-dimensional medium is nothing more than a play of light, shadows and perspective.

In this sense, outside of Reality, everything we see on television, movies, magazines, books, etc. that generates a three-dimensional effect, is nothing more than an optical illusion, which causes our brain to interpret those images in different planes. Thus generating the idea of a false "three-dimensionality".

And although it sounds a bit complicated, it is actually a technique that has been used for a long time. I bet you didn't even know that it was Disney himself who generated the first technology that sought to generate depth in animations. The invention itself is called "multiplane camera" and the superposition of planes to generate depth is called parallax or parallax effect, of which by the way we have already written an entry.

Before continuing with what interests us in generating a fake 3D effect, I share a video that shows the operation of Disney's multiplane camera and the parallax:

Parallax + Rigging

Up to this point and having understood and mastered the principle of parallax, we could already develop three-dimensional animations, where the stage would play a vital place in this process, but… What would happen to our characters?

The parallax effect works incredibly when used on backgrounds, simply because the distance between objects (say the sun, the sky, some mountains and our foreground), is noticeable. But it is not so with a character, because their elements (nose, eyes, head, etc.) are not positioned (normally) at great distances from each other.

In that case, we would need to perform a Rigging of our characters. Although its origin is in 3D animation, it is already very common to talk about it in 2D animation. In the end just what we are looking for is to achieve a fake 3D effect.

Rigging is the process of creating a system of digital controls and their subsequent addition to a 3D model, so that it can be easily and efficiently animated. Simply put, it is the creation of a digital puppet.

And it is just this puppet and a subtle animation, which would allow us to generate a 3D fake effect in the expressions and movements of our characters, as we can see in the following video:

Do you notice how a 2D character takes on a whole new dimension by being animated in this way?

¿And… now?

It is true, doing the rigging and parallax in an animation can become a tedious job, although it is fundamental for the creation of our fake 3d effect.

Therefore, I want to talk about a couple of ways to perform the whole process in a simpler way, through plugins. On this occasion, we are going to recommend two, Joysticks 'n Sliders and Duik, both available in After Effects and compatible with each other.

Rigging = Duik

Duik is the whole pandora's box of animation and rigging in Adobe After Effects.

It provides the core rigging tools found in any 3D software, such as IK, drivers, and bones, but adapts them to 2D animation in After Effects.

Developed by the RAINBOX team, Duik allows you to manipulate complex characters and use advanced animation techniques. Highly recommended.

Fake 3D = Joysticks 'n Sliders

Joysticks 'n Sliders is a posture-based rigging system for After Effects, with unlimited applications.

It's a must-have tool for anyone doing character animation in After Effects. And although it is not exactly unique in the market, its great differentiator is that it allows you to animate poses and controls for intermediate movements. Achieving great dynamism and naturalness in the movements.

Developed by Mike Overback, it is a key tool for facial animation, head rotation and posture rigging.

And this is only the beginning

As always, there's a lot to be said for these tools. For its very nature generates infinite possibilities.

Whether keyframes or plugins are used to generate animations, generate a fake 3D in a motion graphic animation, it becomes the possibility of taking 2D illustration to a new level. And if we add to this the use of parallax, the spectacularity would be knocking on the door.

You can also take your brand advertising to another level. We help you bring your new product, character or social media posts to life. Our Illustration and Animation services have no limits and neither do your ideas. Contact us!

Do you know other techniques to develop animation?, Would you like us to talk about them in future posts?

Don't forget to leave your comments.

Best regards!

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