Duik is a comprehensive animation and rigging toolset for Adobe After Effects.
It provides the main rigging tools, found in any 3D software, like IK, controllers, and bones, but adapts them to 2D animation in After Effects. With Duik you can rig complex characters and use advanced animation techniques usually used in 3D softwares. If you do not know what rigging means, it may be because it is a bit too soon for you to use those tools. Please refer to the section entitled Should I use Duik?
Duik has plenty of animation tools too – managing keyframes and interpolations, traditional animation, animation exposure, etc. – and automations too, like wiggle, spring, swing, wheel, etc. which allow you to animate more quickly and easily.
Duik also has some other useful tools, such as camera controls, that are not solely tied to animation but can be really useful for both animators and riggers.
Duik’s comprehensiveness and ease of use have made it a script used in numerous movies across the world.
The goal of a tool like Duik is to make the life of animators (and riggers) easier. The priority was to make Duik as easy to learn as possible, while keeping it very quick to use. The other important goal was to make the interface as small as possible, so it won’t take much place in the After Effects interface; we think it’s very important to be able to focus on the timeline and the viewport of the application, without any other tools interfering when you’re animating.
To achieve this, we’ve made Duik smarter. Almost all tools can be used in a single click, without any configuration step before, letting Duik make the best choice depending on what you’re doing, what are the selected layers, etc.
Most of the rigging process can be reduced to two clicks in Duik Bassel!
First click: create a complete humanoïd Structure.
Second click: Auto-rig the whole Structure.
And this is done without any configuration step or other click in Duik.
If you feel this is not enough, a nice procedural walk cycle is just another click away…
The Structures, a new rigging process
To make the rigging process easier and more versatile in After Effects, we’ve introduced the Structures which are very similar to bones or joints in 3D softwares.
Structures are layers you can add in your composition which will drive the animations, like the rig of a real puppet. The process is very simple: create or import your design in After Effects, add Structures and move them to the right spots (the pivots of each limb). Then you can rig those Structures, instead of the design itself like in previous versions of Duik, and finally link the design layers to the corresponding Structure layers.
This way, the rig you create is independant from the design. This means it’s easier to adjust the design even after the rig has been made, or even to re-use the same rig with other designs. Also, this rigging process is easier to fix or change if ever you need to adjust it even when you’re already in the process of animation.
As Structures will become so much important in the rigging process, we’ve thought about the smartest and quickest way to create them, so we added the ability to automatically create predefined Structures for standard limbs, wether they’re for humans or animals.
Using the autorig, and a set of constraints (see below), what you end with are controllers to drive the animation. You animate the controllers, they drive the structures through the constraints, and voilà! Your character moves.
As the controllers are going to be the interface between the animator and the character, they have to be intuitive and easy to manipulate. That’s why we’ve not only introduced new shapes to make them easier to recognize, but we’re also implementing visual feeadback on the controllers to see what the controllers are doing! And of course, they can be easily personnalized, you can change their colors and shapes as you wish.
The interaction between the controllers and the Structures, and between the Structures themselves, happens through some constraints. Some of them are the core tools of Duik since the first version, like IK which drive the bending of limbs, and the Bones which are used to control any spatial property: puppet pins, the emitter of a particle effect, and, now in Duik Bassel with CC2018 and newer versions of After Effects, any Bézier value, like shapes or masks.
The Auto-rig is now smarter than ever. It actually replaces most of the older IK and Bézier IK buttons. It’s only one button for all the stuff! You just have to select some Structures, and let the Auto-rig do the job, in a single click. Most of the time, it will work out of the box without any need to configure anything, but of course, if you have some tricky special cases, you’re still able to adjust the inner machinery.
We’ve also introduced a whole new set of constraints to automate even more movements and make the animator’s life very easier: it’s now possible to animate parenting with the new Parent Link constraint, or even to parent layers from a composition to another, or to constrain a layer to a bezier path, to attach a layer to other layers using weights, etc.
The Connector is a very powerful new tool to allow you to link almost any After Effects property to any other properties, a bit like parenting for layers. It’s very easy to use, even if its possibilities are huge! You can even control an animation with a color property!
If you’ve ever dreamt of triggering animations with simple markers, the Animation Blender has been made for you! It is even able to loop and blend animations.
As soon as your character is rigged, you can begin the animation, being helped by a lot of Automations. Automations are procedural animations and dynamics to quickly set the most common animations up and then focus on the characterization of your character. You can automate wiggles, springs, wheels, etc. with customizable and advanced controls for example to loop the effects, and access each and every detail quickly and easily.
The effector is a new automation very useful when you have to control properties depending on the location of a layer, or in any spatial way.
The new Walk Cycle tool is the first of new comprehensive procedural animations. It’s a very quick and simple way to get started with walk animations. A nice walk cycle is just a click away, but you can go into details and adjust the character height and weight, but also every individual limb parameter and precisely set how it walks…
Duik is not only a tool for rigging, but includes everything you need to speed up your animation process. There are tools to manage interpolations, to quickly select keyframes, to automatically smooth all the animations, to create traditionnal animation and to work with traditionnal animation, to reveal trajectories…
Good animation needs a good camera. The camera has to be considered as one of the characters in the animation, and its motion has to be as detailed as the animation of the characters the spectator can see in the image.
This is the reason why Duik has useful camera tools too, to help you to animate your cameras, to frame your shots, to import cameras from other softwares…
Import and export
After Effects might not be the only software you use in your animation pipeline. Duik comes with some tools to help you import and export assets to and from other softwares, like Krita, TVPaint, or Audition. Duik is also able to export animations (and the rigs, soon) to an open JSON format so that with just a bit of development you can use them in any other software or game engine.
There is a great variety of things you can do with these interchange tools, and the list is constantly evolving with the creation of new pipelines and third-party softwares.
All of these features are a lot of stuff! Much to discover, much to learn…
We won’t let you alone in the wild!
Our tools are free, as in free beer as well as in freedom.
But unlike most of the free stuff you can find on the internet, there’s no advertising at all, and you are not the product here. We just work in a non-mercantile way, and consider sharing as a great value. It is important for us that Duik and our other tools are available for everyone, rich or poor, amateur or professionnal. Because our greatest wish is to see great films, and we believe sharing and helping each other is the easiest way to make it come true.
The difficult part is that developping, maintaining, distributing these tools is a lot of work and investment. The only funds we get for all of this are your kind contributions.
There are two ways for sending your support: you can either send a one-time donation to Rainbox, or make a small but regular donation to Duduf on Patreon, where you’ll be in direct contact with him and get an early and exclusive access to all the stuff he’s developping and working on.