To achieve a believable character movement we should either make the character walk across the environment or make the environment move behind the character while he/she walks in place.
The Main Idea
We will bring the graphic files for the foreground and background separately into Adobe Character Animator. Then we will add a walking behavior to it and after some tweaking, we will be able to move everything together using the arrow keys in the Adobe Character Animator scene.
Follow these 7 simple steps and you will have a moving background and foreground for your character to walk in.
The first step would be preparing the artwork for the environment.
We will need to create the graphics for the Foreground and the Background and save them as separate files. The artworks can be saved as .ai, .psd or even just a simple .png.
Make sure you don’t use .jpg for the foreground layer since this format does not support transparency.
Since the background image will be the one moving instead of the character it should be significantly wider than the scene. It should be at least two times wider than the scene width. The wider the image the more walking space there is.
Adding a foreground layer to your scene will help create the illusion of depth. The foreground artwork you create should be the same width as the background layer.
- Go to the rig view.
- Select the Foreground (FG) and Background (BG) Elements in the project panel.
- Click the + sign next to the Behaviors in the properties panel and add the Walk behavior.
- Change the Mode to “Left and Right Arrow Keys“.
- Set the Strength to 0% so the background and foreground will not move up and down during the “walk”.
- Change the Body Speed to a Negative Value. (This value will require some tweaking to fit your scene size and puppet walk settings).
5. Tag the Background and the Foreground as Waist.
- Create a New Scene with the required dimensions.
- Place your puppet in the scene.
- Drag both the FG and BG into your scene.
- Place the FG above the puppet and the BG below the puppet.
Now you can test your walking scene.
- Select and Arm your puppet, background, and foreground together.
- Press the arrow keys to test the walk.
- You might need to adjust the speed of your background and foreground to make the walk feel fluid.
An issue you might encounter when using a scrolling environment in Character Animator is that it will move as long as you press the arrow keys, even if it does not cover the entire scene.
A simple “lightweight” solution to it would be adding a static base background below the moving background so it won’t be so obvious if you accidentally walk farther than you intended.
You now have a working parallax walking system. You can leave it as is or make it more interesting by adding some interactivity to the environment.
Depending on your scene, there are ways to make it more interesting by adding triggerable animations and physics.
In the example scene, we have a door that can be opened and closed. Window bleeds that go up and down, an animated picture, and even some dangle handle on a few of the lamps just for fun.