Using Duik Bassel For Inverse Kinematics

"Rigging to Win!"

An Inverse Kinematics Duik Bassel Tutorial

Requires Photoshop CC, After Effects CC and the free Duik Bassel Plugin

Say hi to Handsome Harvey. He’s very happy to see you. Do you know why? Because he’s rigged to win using inverse kinematics. Today you’ll learn how to rig to win as well, by effectively rigging a character in After Effects using the latest 2018 Duik plugin, Bassel.

Inverse Kinematics just means that the body parts you want to move on your rig will move independently and won’t drag along the other parts with it. If you’d like a more detailed explanation, Google is your best friend. Or you could ask Harvey.

Step 1: Draw your Character

Now, Harvey is a wanted man. Wanted for this tutorial because of his clear, simplistic features and strong silhouette. Highly sought-after. Try not to overlap your character’s limbs too much or you will end up with a congested mess that looks a little bit like this during rigging:

Step 2: Separate the Body Parts

Don’t worry, he’s all digital. Cutting apart your character’s body shouldn’t hurt ‘em (much). You do want to retain some overlap, though, especially where the joints are. You can see that I have divided up his body into 14 different parts, all while overlapping one another. You are free to make more or fewer parts depending on your preferred level of complexity.

Make sure your image is saved out as large as you want your After Effects composition.

Save the image as a PSD and stick it in a new folder on your computer. All your Photoshop assets and After Effects files should remain in there for ease of access.

In Photoshop, collapse your character’s body parts, each with its own layer and name those accordingly (LHand, RFoot, etc). You are welcome to save out a new PSD if you don’t want to lose information.

Step 3: Import the Body to After Effects

Import your PSD to After Effects by going to File>Import>File…

Next, select your Photoshop file. Under the “Import As” dropdown, select “Composition”. Hit Open to import the file.

A new window will open up. Select “Merge Layer Styles into Footage” and hit OK.

Under the Project tab, you will find a new composition and a folder containing all of the Photoshop layers. Double-click the composition and each layer will transfer to the timeline.

Step 4: Rigging the Skeleton

Open up Duik Bassel by going to Window>Duik Bassel.jsx

Bassel has a handy new system which allows for easy hominoid skeleton rigging. This is found under Rigging>Create Structures>Hominoid. Click on it and Duik will work its magic!

You’ll end up with a complete skeleton for humanoid characters. All you have to do now is click and drag the bone joints on top of each corresponding body part of your character.

Select all of the Structure layers in the timeline (every layer whose title starts with the letter “S”) and return to the Duik window. Select Rigging>Links and Constraints>Auto-Rig and IK and once again, Duik will perform magic tricks and automatically create a rig. This doesn’t bind the rig to the artwork just yet.

(Tip: Make sure your art layers are unlocked or it won’t work.)

The rig will create controllers labelled with red symbols (and whose layers are marked with a “C”). These icons can be clicked and dragged to move the skeleton. Mess around with the controls to see if the body parts bend in the right directions when moved. Harvey’s knees were bending the wrong way so I clicked on the red foot icon and selected “Reverse” under the Project tab>Effect Controls>IK Foot.

Step 5: Binding the Artwork

The reason I had you create different layers for your character’s body is because this kind of rigging is rigid, meaning there will not be much fluidity to your character’s body parts, but they will be securely bound to the skeleton’s joints.

To bind the art to the rig, parent each art layer to the corresponding structure layer joint (remember, marked with an “S”) by using the whip tool or the dropdown menu next to it. So, parent the head art to the head structure, neck art to the neck structure, etc.

Step 6: Moving the Rig

Now that your character’s body parts have been parented to the rig structures, they can be moved by simply clicking and dragging the red icons to move the hands, feet, head, hips, torso or shoulders… within reason. Hyperextending the limbs makes for a nasty break.


Step 7: Animation

This tutorial is more about rigging than keyframe animation, so I won’t go too into detail. Place keyframes along the timeline where you want your character’s body parts to move on the Controller (“C”) layers.

Also, this rigging system is super powerful, but it isn’t perfect all the time. You might have to make some keyframes to the art layers manually to get the desired results.

Don’t forget the power of Easy Ease (right click on keyframe>Keyframe Assistant>Easy Ease) for smooth animation.

That concludes the tutorial! See? Harvey’s waving goodbye. Goodbye, Harvey. I sure will miss that face.