There are some amazing tools available in the animation world such as DUIK and PuppetTools, both brilliant plugins for more complicated rigging systems and character work, but one plugin in particular stands out for us for being simple yet infinitely useful - Rubberhose.
Trying to bring our characters to life using points on a stroke was a looooong and laborious process… but then, out of the blue, along came Battle Axe's Rubberhose!
With the click of a button we can now generate a pre-rigged limb for our characters. It gives us quick and simple control over a path in a way that we were unable to do in the past saving us LOADS of time.
And it’s so easy! Generating a Rubberhose sets you up with one stroke and two adjustable position points (Hip and ankle or shoulder and wrist). With simple controls like ‘Bend Radius’ and ‘Hose Length’ you can create nearly any arm or leg your heart desires. It’s worth mentioning that the stroke is still fully customisable and can be stylised like any other stroke in After Effects so don’t worry, you can still change parameters like ‘Line Cap’ by clicking on the main Hose layer.
Rubberhose hasn’t only sped up our character rigging but has planted itself as part of our animation process. These are some of the things Rubberhose has helped us create:
The more you play with the plugin, the more you realise it’s not just simple limbs and body parts you can create. Along with other creatives in the animation community, we’ve been pushing and experimenting with the plugin in different ways to see what else can be achieved. Besides walk cycles and character animation the hoses can be used in a multitude of ways, providing (literally) more flexibility to projects.
One weird way we used Rubberhose was for this Foxly logo designed by Something More. Rubberhose allowed us to create a fairly complex rig which could easily be moved around by parenting multiple nodes to null objects.
While Rubberhose won’t instantly make you a better animator, what it will do is provide you with a tool that will grow with you, making character animation a lot less stressful and daunting. It’s certainly pushed us to try out more advanced character rigging and be more experimental with our animation, simply because the plugin makes it easy.
Looking to the future, we’d love to combine this with other plugins and add-ons to continue to push the limits of motion graphics and animation. One that springs to mind straight away is Hernan Torrisi’s Bodymovin (we did a whole separate blog post on Bodymovin here.) The idea of making interactive web animations featuring fun, Rubberhose rigged characters is something we’ve very, very keen to get working on. Fingers crossed it’s something coming soon.
All of us at Hungry Sandwich Club are looking forward to what the next version of Rubberhose brings to the table. If you’ve not checked it out yet, then we seriously consider it. Head over to the Battle Axe website to take a look!