Interested in designing and rigging a 2D character for a professional-grade animated production? A new tutorial series from Piotr Bartosik (known online as Juhas) has you covered. Providing an in-depth look at his own personal project made using Harmony Premium, these videos take users from initial character design through to a fully deliverable character model, ready to be animated!
We spoke with Juhas, and he was kind enough to provide extra insights on his rigs. He covers his favourite uses of Harmony Premium’s features, and provides practical tips for improving workflow and organization. Juhas also offered valuable advice on how character rigging and build artists can pitch themselves to the industry.
A talented rigging artist with more than a decade’s experience in animation, Juhas is currently a Technical Supervisor at Lighthouse Studios, the team behind kids’ favourites such as Bug Diaries and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Watch his tutorials and read our interview with Juhas below!
An episode at the end of Juhas’ rigging series on YouTube, featuring final touches on a character rig.
Hi Juhas. What are the fundamentals to remember when building a good character rig?
Build only what you need based on the animatic. Build with simple shapes, and add deformers only if needed. If it’s the main character — add all the features requested by your animation director, but always keep it simple! You don’t want animators to struggle with overly-complicated rigs.
In the tutorials you draw and rig a human character. What are the most challenging features of a human to rig?
I would say the head. The complexity will depend on the design and animation style. Even if the design seems simple, you still have to add mouth charts, blinks, hair and make them work in all views.
A large part of the tutorial series is dedicated to the character’s facial features. What are the most important tools when doing this part of a rig, and why?
The first would be Envelope Deformers. You can make a full turnaround on one drawing substitution (one for each face part). This results in smooth transitions between views and also makes the master controllers practical.
The second is Auto Patch. This tiny node is super powerful, especially when working on a character with visible black line-art. If I’m being honest, I can’t find any alternative to this feature in other animation software.
Thirdly, a consistent head turn design. Without it, the rig artist spends too much time trying to make it work.
Character expression samples provided by Juhas.
You mentioned the Auto-Patch node in Harmony Premium. Can you tell our readers a bit more about how it can be useful?
It’s a great conditional tool when mixed with Cutter. Especially when you work on flat coloured 2D characters with dark lineart.
Let’s say you have two shapes: An arm and a forearm. You have to merge them together, but when you place one on top of the other, there’s a visible line overlapping the colour. So the easy way around it is to separate lineart to a lineart layer and fill colour to colour art layer. By using Auto-Patch with Cutter, you can easily remove the lineart from a shape, but only when one shape overlaps the other. You can go even furtherContinue reading