Moving layers in an animation front to back?

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uncle808us
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Moving layers in an animation front to back?

Post by uncle808us » Sat Aug 24, 2019 8:43 pm

Anime Studio Pro Ver.11.2.1
I am working on an animation.
It is all layers no bones.
I’m animating sprite parts.(rotating)
At one point in the timeline I would like to move an arm layer behind a body layer.
it starts out in the animation in front of the body layer.
Is this possible?
Thank you.
I use a MacBook Pro, and Anime Studio Pro 11.2
http://uncle808s.blogspot.com
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Greenlaw
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Re: Moving layers in an animation front to back?

Post by Greenlaw » Sat Aug 24, 2019 9:22 pm

Sure.

1. Open the Group layer that every other layer/group is inside of.
2. Go to the Depth Sort tab and click on Enable Animated Layer Order.

Now, when you move any of the child layers, a keyframe for the new layer order will be created in the Group's timeline.

If it helps, you might want to enable Timeline Visibility for the Group. this makes it easier to see the relationship with the layer order and other layers you might be animating at the same time, like Bones for example.
D.R. Greenlaw
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Re: Moving layers in an animation front to back?

Post by Greenlaw » Sat Aug 24, 2019 9:26 pm

By the way, it's possible to control the layer order in an Smart Bone Action.

It's a pretty cool feature and you may be tempted to use it a lot but be aware that the SBA will over-ride your ability to change the layer order manually. Because of this, I generally avoid putting animated layer order inside an SBA unless I'm 100% certain the layer order won't need to be animated manually.

Hope this helps.
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Re: Moving layers in an animation front to back?

Post by synthsin75 » Sat Aug 24, 2019 9:33 pm

Greenlaw wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 9:22 pm
If it helps, you might want to enable Timeline Visibility for the Group. this makes it easier to see the relationship with the layer order and other layers you might be animating at the same time, like Bones for example.
Was that in v11.2? I don't remember, and can't be bothered to open it to see.
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Re: Moving layers in an animation front to back?

Post by uncle808us » Sun Aug 25, 2019 12:39 am

@ Greenlaw: Thank you that is just what I needed.
@ synthsin75: "enable Timeline Visibility for the Group" where would this setting be? If available ?
I use a MacBook Pro, and Anime Studio Pro 11.2
http://uncle808s.blogspot.com
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Re: Moving layers in an animation front to back?

Post by synthsin75 » Sun Aug 25, 2019 12:44 am

uncle808us wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 12:39 am
@ synthsin75: "enable Timeline Visibility for the Group" where would this setting be? If available ?
It's a checkbox column in the layers window.
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Re: Moving layers in an animation front to back?

Post by uncle808us » Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:11 am

synthsin75 wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 12:44 am
uncle808us wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 12:39 am
@ synthsin75: "enable Timeline Visibility for the Group" where would this setting be? If available ?
It's a checkbox column in the layers window.
Don't see any checkbox columns in the layers window must be newer than Anime Studio Pro Ver.11.2.1.
Thanks
I use a MacBook Pro, and Anime Studio Pro 11.2
http://uncle808s.blogspot.com
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Re: Moving layers in an animation front to back?

Post by sidsquid » Wed Jun 17, 2020 9:56 pm

Greenlaw wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 9:26 pm
By the way, it's possible to control the layer order in an Smart Bone Action.

It's a pretty cool feature and you may be tempted to use it a lot but be aware that the SBA will over-ride your ability to change the layer order manually. Because of this, I generally avoid putting animated layer order inside an SBA unless I'm 100% certain the layer order won't need to be animated manually.

Hope this helps.
It helped me! I just ran into the inability to over-ride SBA that you mentioned. I made a body turn which moved the arm behind the body, but wanted the rear arm to move back in front of it in a 3/4 pose so that the arms could be crossed. Please could you explain how do you deal with situations like this - do you set up a SBA for the turn including everything except the arm layer order, and 'manually' move the arm layers into the correct position my moving them around in the layers panel? I'm hoping there might be a more elegant, less fiddly, way to do it...Cheers
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Re: Moving layers in an animation front to back?

Post by Greenlaw » Wed Jun 17, 2020 10:27 pm

If you want to do this inside a Smart Bone Action, I find it's better not change the layer order but, instead, animate the visibility of duplicate layers.

For example, if you have an arm that rotates in front of the torso group, duplicate or create a reference for of the arm's group layer and move this copy behind the torso group. Now, in your SBA for 'moving' the arm behind the torso, animate the visibility between the two arm groups. Visually and in render, it looks as if you've moved the layer.

A more advanced variation is to make groups for the upper and lower parts of the arm so you can switch visibility between the arm sections. For example, this way, you can keep the shoulders behind the character and move the forearms back and forth, or move either shoulder forward and either forearm backwards.

Another way to do this is to animate a mask that hides and reveals parts of the arm. I used to apply this trick in my early rigs, and in the Puss-In-Boots rig, I used Stroke Exposure as the mask. This is a more complicated setup and I used to think it had the benefit of revealing sections of the arm gradually. However, in practice, I've never actually needed to reveal an arm section gradually so I no longer bother with this setup. Just mentioning it here in case somebody finds this idea useful.

Hope this helps.
D.R. Greenlaw
Artist/Partner - Little Green Dog | Little Green Dog Channel on Vimeo | Greenlaw's Demo Reel 2019 Edtion
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Re: Moving layers in an animation front to back?

Post by Greenlaw » Wed Jun 17, 2020 10:32 pm

Oh, and you're probably wondering: Duplicate or Reference? This depends on how complicated you want the setup to be and how you want to edit your work. In my opinion, it's simpler to use a Duplicate, and if I ever change one of the layers, I copy the changes over into the duplicate layer or I just make a new duplicate of the group. Copying to the artwork or edited layer into the group with the visibility switch might be easier since it probably won't require changing the Action. (Remember to use 'Copy/Paste Layer' command. This is different from the regular Copy/Paste commands, which copies contents of the layers but not the selected layers themselves.)

A Reference layer might be more useful if you have a series of complex drawings in the layers and you find yourself making a lot of changes and adjustments to it.

You can try both ways to see which works better for you.
D.R. Greenlaw
Artist/Partner - Little Green Dog | Little Green Dog Channel on Vimeo | Greenlaw's Demo Reel 2019 Edtion
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Re: Moving layers in an animation front to back?

Post by uncle808us » Fri Jun 19, 2020 2:35 am

Thank you for the further enlightenment. :D
I use a MacBook Pro, and Anime Studio Pro 11.2
http://uncle808s.blogspot.com
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Re: Moving layers in an animation front to back?

Post by sidsquid » Fri Jun 19, 2020 3:05 am

Greenlaw wrote:
Wed Jun 17, 2020 10:27 pm
If you want to do this inside a Smart Bone Action, I find it's better not change the layer order but, instead, animate the visibility of duplicate layers.

For example, if you have an arm that rotates in front of the torso group, duplicate or create a reference for of the arm's group layer and move this copy behind the torso group. Now, in your SBA for 'moving' the arm behind the torso, animate the visibility between the two arm groups. Visually and in render, it looks as if you've moved the layer.

A more advanced variation is to make groups for the upper and lower parts of the arm so you can switch visibility between the arm sections. For example, this way, you can keep the shoulders behind the character and move the forearms back and forth, or move either shoulder forward and either forearm backwards.

Another way to do this is to animate a mask that hides and reveals parts of the arm. I used to apply this trick in my early rigs, and in the Puss-In-Boots rig, I used Stroke Exposure as the mask. This is a more complicated setup and I used to think it had the benefit of revealing sections of the arm gradually. However, in practice, I've never actually needed to reveal an arm section gradually so I no longer bother with this setup. Just mentioning it here in case somebody finds this idea useful.

Hope this helps.
Thanks so much for the insight and all of your ideas and wisdom - it was really helpful.
I'll be testing it all out over the next few days to try to find what works best for my project.
Thanks again, and Cheers
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