Before learning how to create your new character with Marionette Studio, you should know about the app sections:
- Views – create, open, save, export your scenes
- Tools and actions – pan, select, translate, rotate, scale elements
- Defining a skeleton for your character (Rigging) – add images, create bones and create links between a bone and an image
- Canvas – the working area you can view and create your character
- Scene explorer and layers – manage all the images and bones
- Animation timeline – change, modify, transform the position of your skeleton and manage key frames
- Image and bone properties – edit all bones and images properties
To start building your new character firstly you need all the body components: a head, neck, torso, arms, legs, etc. You can import all these images from your computer by simply clicking on Import Image button. You have the possibility to add all the images at once or one at a time.
After you have imported all the necessary images you move on assembling these parts to create a body. You can manipulate all these images with the actions move, select, translate, rotate and scale. If you want to move one image further back or further forward you can do it by moving it up or down from the Layers buttons. Or, you can press the right click from the mouse on the image and a new window will open. You have the options to send to back, send backward, bring to front and bring forward.
You can always return to one image to customize it, so all parties to come together perfectly.
From time to time you can save your work by clicking the Save button.
If you have finished customizing your character, you can move on to create your character’s skeleton. You need to create bones for every part of the body. Select tool Create Bones and start dragging the skeleton of you character. All created bones appear in Scene Explorer at Armature.
You can also change the bones name or color for a easier indentification. Select one bone and simply write a name and choose the color you want.
To move, rotate one image and its correspondent bones you have to create a link between a bone and an image. To do that you have to select Link Bone to Image button and simply drag and drop with the mouse from the bone to image. This is the rigging step. In Scene Explorer you will see that the images linked to a bone go under the selected bone. There is also another method to do this action: from Scene Explorer select one image with the mouse and move it under the bone you want.
Now we have the character and its skeleton ready! Before moving to the animation part you have to do one more thing: make connections between bones. For example, when you move the left upper arm to move the left lower arm and the left hand too you have to make connections between these bones. In Scene Explorer tree you need to move the left lower arm under the left upper arm and the left hand under the left lower arm.
You have to rig all your character. You need to make these connections for all parts of your character: for the right hand, left and right leg, but also between head, neck and torso.
To move on to the animation part, you must ensure that you have correctly rigged your character.
Now we can move to animation.
With animation timeline you will bring your character to life.
Firstly, you need to open the project you want to add an animation for. Simply choose Load button from the menu and select the character saved.
Your scene will be displayed on canvas and all your images will appear in the Layers area. Also, you can find in the right hand of your screen the tree containing all the images and bones associated with your character.
To animate a character with Marionette Studio you have to use key frames. A key frame in 2D animation is a drawing that helps you to define the starting and ending points of any transition. These drawings are called “frames” because their position in time is measured in frames on a strip of film. A sequence of key frames defines which movement of the character the viewers will see, and the timing of the movement. Because only two or three key frames over the span of a second do not create the illusion of movement, the remaining frames are filled with inbetweens.
Inbetweening is the process of generating intermediate frames between two images to give the appearance that the first image evolves smoothly into the second image. In between are the drawings between the key frames which help to create the illusion of motion and is a key process in all types of animation.
In Marionette Studio the key frames appear as blue dots and the effects you can create with key frames are changes to position, rotation and scale.For example, if I want to move the shield of my character up and down in a slow mode I will set a key frame 0 for the initial position, then in canvas I will rotate the right upper arm and I will set a new key frame 20. Then I will move the arm down and I will set a new key frame at 45.
To see the shield movement you can simply press the Play button. If you want to play the animation continuously you have to activate Loop button from Animation Timeline.
If you want to make the movement faster you can modify the key frames by clicking the Cut, Paste, Delete buttons and set new key frames at smaller distance. For example, I will cut the key frame from 20 and I will paste it at 5 and the key frame from 45 I will move it at 10.
To see only the character without the skeleton you have the option hide the Armature. In Scene Explorer select the Visible button for Armature and all bones will disappear from canvas.
This option is also available for the images too. To make all the images invisible select Visible button from Sprites and in canvas will remain only the bones.
This is our first quick & easy tutorial that you can start with. Hope you enjoyed it!