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Anime Studios unique rigging system gives you several options when it comes to setting up articulated figures. This tutorial will explain three ways to take an image, photo, or a 3D render, and turn it into a rigged character!

To continue with this tutorial, you will need the following software applications: Anime Studio Debut or Anime Studio Pro.

One of Anime Studios most innovative features is its ability to use bones to warp and manipulate images, which can either be drawn in Anime Studio using its draw tools, or imported from other graphics programs. The included Anime Studio tutorials describe the basic process of applying bones, so in this tutorial well take it a step further and show three ways one could apply bones to a digital photo or rendered 3D picture in order to set up a figure to animate.

This is the simplest way to take a picture of a person and move their parts around. Basically you set up a picture of the person with the background cut away and draw in bones for their various body parts. For example, this caveman figure was rendered in Poser and saved as a PNG file.

We can import this image into Anime Studio (the standard or Pro version, they work the same in this regard) and then create a new Bone layer and draw in the bones we wish to use. Remember, when drawing bones, each new one will be the child of the last selected bone, so be sure to use the Bone Selection Tool to pick the right parent bone before drawing arms or legs.

With the bones in place, we can drag the Image Layer onto the Bone Layer as shown here (the Bone Layer will highlight in red to show that the image is being bound) to apply those bones to that image.

Then, using the Manipulate Bone tool, we can make the figure move around, showing off its joints.

This is the most time-consuming method, since well be separating our picture into separate body part images, creating a new bone layer for each image and arranging the bone layers in a hierarchy. When its done however well have a cutout-style figure with realistic joints which can be animated easily, with body parts that stick together.

To begin, with the image of the person extracted from the background, create individual images for each body part. For example, using Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, you can select body parts and copy them into new layers, then trim the edges or fill in sections that are obscured by other parts. Then, save each layer to its own image file, choosing the PNG file format to preserve transparency for the body parts.

Now, follow these steps to set up a bone layer for each body part:

Select the Image Layer to which you want to add a bone, and create a new Bone Layer for it.

With each Image Layer bound to a Bone Layer, we can arrange the bones in a hierarchy, so that moving a parent bone will move child bones- this provides the main advantage over animating by just using image layers. To set up the hierarchy, drag each Bone Layer onto the Bone Layer which is to become its parent (as when binding images to bones, the parent Bone Layer will highlight in red.)

The most common structure is to have the Hip be the parent for all the other bones, with the legs and torso each parented to the hip, and so on as illustrated here.

With that structure set up, use the Manipulate Bone tool to move body parts around and there you have it!

3. Rig A Cut-Up Image With Flexible Limbs This technique is useful when we want to either rig a figure with limbs that overlap its body, or when we want a slightly less rubbery look to our figure. Well be setting up one Bone Layer for the body and additional layers for the limbs, then attaching the bones to the proper images.

As for Example 2, import and arrange the body part images, each in its own layer. For this example well use a different image, as shown below. Ive rendered the same figure twice, one with a visable hand and one with an invisible hand. Combining the rendered hand with the other body parts allows us to show the hand in front of the body, but have a rendered body part behind the hand.

Now, with the images arranged properly, create a new bone layer and set up the skeleton for the body (the hip, abdomen, chest and head) as in Example 1.

Then create a new Bone Layer for each limb, with bones for the bicep (or shoulder), forearm, hand, leg, foot etc. Once the bones are in place, follow this procedure to bind each image to the proper bone:

Now you can use the Manipulate Bone tool to animate the figure.

Each of these techniques has its strengths and weaknesses, and each has its own uses. One thing to be aware of, when using the third (hybrid) technique, is that the limb layers are parented to the main bone layer and will move with it. Adjusting any of the main-layer bones may move the limbs around somewhat, even if the limbs are not attached to the part controlled by the particular bone being moved.