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After Effects: Parenting Puppet Pins to Null Objects

Here is a little tip that can be a life saver for anyone who tries to animate complex character walk cycles in After Effects. This is my first ever tutorial, so sorry if my grammar/spelling completely sucks!

Instead of working straight with the Puppet Tool to animate limbs, you can lock each Puppet Pin to a null object and constrain them to other layers. The benefit of this is that it allows a hierarchy of movement between each pin and even layers, it also gives you the advantage of rotation and I find it much easier to undo changes if necessary.

For example, when the knee null is rotated and positioned, the nulls below will react in a similar way as our own leg would work.  For people who probably have tried animating with just he Puppet Tool, the lower Pin would be locked in position and that wouldn’t be the desired outcome for animating a character.


Start off by pre-comping the desired layer.

Remember to place the Nulls on the areas you want to move, using the top left as a guide. Then place your pins in the top left corner of each Null.  By using the following code on the Puppet Pin’s property, you lock the specific pin to the anchor point of each Null.







Then all you need to do is parent the Nulls in the order you want them to respond to each other.  Of course everyone has there own way to rig a character but I find this to be a massive time saver.