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Creating 2D Multi-sprite Animations without Flipbook

Hi, I'm pretty new and trying to solve a problem with animating in 2D. I need to be able to swap out sprites on the fly. The sprites are divided up in a way you'd expect for multi-sprite animation - head, body, pelvis, legs, etc

My problem came up when I created an actor and put the sprites in a hierarchy and figured I could just save poses I created by rotating different parts as keyframes/positions I could later call on. I couldn't find any way to do this. So for example, if I had my actor in a generic stand pose as how I created it, I couldn't find any way to reposition and save/reference the new position data later as a crouch pose short of creating a whole new instance which seemed like a pretty bad idea as doing that with every frame would get out of control pretty fast.

So I looked into bone animations by attaching sockets to each bone and attaching sprites to each socket. This appeared to work pretty well at first until I turned the character around to face the other way. At this point, the depth (Y) values of all the sprites followed the sockets which swapped sides and completely messed up how the multi-sprite character looked (not to mention now they were on different depth planes and getting covered up by other actors that otherwise would be in front of them). In a numbers sense, if I had my body on Y 20 and arm on Y 25 - after turning, my body would be -20 and the arm -25 putting the arm behind the body (and some "background" elements like trees or whatever). I wanted to try locking/constraining movement on some of the axis for the sockets but it doesn't look like there is any way to do this either?

I took a look at suggestions I found when looking for solutions like Creature, Ikinema, Spriter, etc but it looks like they wouldn't solve my problems either (can't just buy them all and try so had to go on what I could see on youtube etc)? Either I still run into the socket issue where flipping the rig puts my sprites on a different Y plane or they require the sprites to be part of the structure (baked into the file) taking away my ability to swap different sprite parts on the fly which is the goal in the first place. Creature DID have a sort of multi-color workflow but all variations get placed into one single image file and that isn't manageable for all the potential variations I'd like to handle.

So, if anyone has any answers on how I can either:

  • lock/constrain socket movement

  • save component transform data to recall at a later time and create frames that way

  • offer another workflow solution where I can animate a multi-sprite object and be able to swap out different sprites at different times on the fly

That would be amazing! Thanks for any and all help you can give.

Product Version: UE 4.14
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asked Dec 10 '16 at 11:29 PM in Using UE4

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