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Adobe® After Effects® CS5 Classroom in a Book: Adding Deform Pins

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Deform pins are the main component of the Puppet effect. This excerpt from Adobe® After Effects® CS5 Classroom in a Book shows you how to add deform pins.

Note: This excerpt is from a draft manuscript and may not be representative of the final published work.

From the book

Deform pins are the main component of the Puppet effect. Where you place those pins and how you position them determine how the objects move on the screen. You’ll place Deform pins and display the mesh that After Effects creates to determine the area of influence for each pin.

When you select the Puppet Pin tool, the Tools panel displays the Puppet tool options. Each pin has its own properties in the Timeline panel, and After Effects automatically creates an initial keyframe for each pin.

  1. Select the Puppet Pin tool () in the Tools panel.
  2. In the Composition panel, place a Deform pin in the character’s right arm, near the wrist. You may find it helpful to zoom in to see the character more clearly. A yellow dot representing the Deform pin appears in the Composition panel.
  3. If you used the Selection tool () to move the Deform pin, the entire character would move with it. You need more pins to keep the other parts of the mesh in place.

  4. Using the Puppet Pin tool, place another Deform pin in the left arm near the wrist.
  5. Now you can move the right hand with the Selection tool. The more pins you place, the smaller the area of influence for each pin, and the less each area will stretch. Undo any stretching by pressing Ctrl+Z (Windows) or Command+Z (Mac OS).

  6. Place additional Deform pins in the man’s right and left legs (near the ankles), the torso (near the bottom of the tie), and forehead.
  7. In the Timeline panel, expand the Mesh 1 > Deform properties. Each Deform pin is listed. To keep track of each pin, you’ll rename them.
  8. Select Puppet Pin 1, press Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac OS), and rename the pin Right Arm. Press Enter or Return again to accept the new name.
  9. Rename the remaining pins (Puppet Pin 2 through Puppet Pin 6) Left Arm, Right Leg, Left Leg, Torso, and Head, respectively.
  10. Select Show in the options section of the Tools panel to display the distortion mesh.
  11. Change the Triangles value in the options section of the Tools panel to 300. This setting determines how many triangles are included in the mesh. Increasing the number of triangles results in a smoother animation, but also increases rendering time.
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