I just started learning AE and video editing in general. My purpose is to animate 2d characters. I have not found an explanation online possibly because I'm not using the right terms.

It seems very time consuming to have to rig every character for the same type of motions, say walking.

  1. Is there a way to "rig a template" then add a character model on top to inherit the animation?
  2. Can "templates" be created so that I can just add hair, for example, and make a new character without having to re-position everything manually. Basically just clicking a new layer for hair and AE "knows" where hair goes.

I hope I'm making some sense with my fresh knowledge on animation.

  • I don't know for AE (I was an A|W Maya guy) but while 1 is doable in Maya, 2 is not... I'd guess similar for AE
    – Dr Mayhem
    Feb 9, 2018 at 14:13
  • 1
    You might want to look at Duik. Automatic IK rigging and more. And it's free! rainboxprod.coop/en/tools/duik
    – stib
    Feb 12, 2018 at 2:10

3 Answers 3


Have a look at the Adobe Character Animator. Also a second vote here for Duik. It's brilliant but mind bendingly complicated. Character Animator is simpler.


You can create templates using dropzones. Basically a composition that is nested later (example Hair) onto the character.

You would have to create a series of nested comps to do so. But to start, Id make for each character type (size shape height width):

Bone Compostion - Using NULL objects to specify tracking points, joints, where later nested comps are placed.

Then you can use nested comps where you can drop hair, clothes etc.

The same can be done for motion, animation.

You might want to save each character build as an independent AE project. And import them in when you need to use them. Having a large heirarchy of nested comps would, to me, be easier to work with if each character was in its own imported project folder.

  • Thank you @MartinAndrews, you have given me some good keywords to research. Are there any such tutorial to achieve this out there? Feb 12, 2018 at 16:17

To elaborate a little bit on why Character Animator is simpler: It's an offshoot of After Effects made specifically to increase the workflow for 2D character animations.

With Character Animator, you build your puppet rigs in Photoshop or Illustrator (your choice) and import them live into the Character Animator environment. It certainly takes a little bit of time understanding the layer and grouping hierarchy required for certain behaviors to operate as intended - but there's a wealth of information out there on the subject. I'd recommend starting with the video below - but it's a complete walkthrough from initial concept to completion in Illustrator, Photoshop, Character Animator and After Effects with links to in-depth tutorials on specific details of Character Animator.

Complete Animation Workflow (Adobe Character Animator Tutorial)

I had worked with Character Animator and viewed other tutorials on this channel before seeing this one, but this tutorial is the whole package and I was able to put together some pretty impressive content after fully digesting this video. There certainly are limitations to this software - if you want to depict dynamic full-body motion, you might use DUIK or RubberHose in After Effects for those portions and use Character Animator for character close-ups and composite your clips together later on.

Rigging walk cycles can be tedious - and DUIK and Character Animator are working on tools to automate that process.

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