How to Animate a Simple 2D Character Head Rotation in Adobe After Effects

This is a quick overview on how to do really basic head rotations. For a more in-depth walk-through check out the full tutorial.

Let’s see how this little character works, essentially it’s a bit of a trick because she’s not actually a flat face. We’ve actually pulled her features off and we have a little null object that is called "face center" and we are rotating and moving that all around. When her head is moving it’s actually that all her little parts are spaced out in such a way that it gives the illusion that she has a round head.

Another thing we did for when the head rotates is created a distortion on the head base. We made that a composition and dropped that composition into the timeline under her head.

The face animation where it’s shifting in perspective is linked to the rotation of the "face center". So here we have


We built for the blink is a little control slider. There’s a slider for her blinking, which opens her eyes and closes them. 

The way a blink works, very similar to the way we did the head distortion. Essentially the way the eyes work is that it is a nested composition and it is an animated eye later that we’ve painted. When you go back to the whole composition, if we look at the code on the eye we have enabled timeRemap and it is directly linked and equal to the value of the slider.


There’s a mesh warp, again attached to the head rotation (Face Center). As the X rotation increases the mouth changes ever so slightly.

For a more in-depth walk-through check out the full tutorial