Dancing Stick Figure Editor

The editor [pictured below] is included with the plugin. This page contains hints and tips on its use. If you have any questions, or get stuck trying to use it, please email me (lu.stked@wischik.com) with the question and I'll add the answer to this web page. Don't just send an empty email!

To start the editor

The editor is included in the Sticky plugin that you have already downloaded and installed. To start the editor, first open your stick-figure folder (as detailed below). Then double-click on a stick file to open it in the editor.

Creating stick figures

A stick figure has a central point, and limbs coming off it, and further limbs coming off those limbs. The angle or length of the limb depends on the sound intensity. You can have limbs which respond to high frequencies, and ones which respond to low frequencies. Each limb can vary from a rest position (when no sound is coming out) to its maximum extension.

Also, the stick figure has a number of shapes that are pinned to joints. So you might make two legs as limbs, and then pin a dress shape to the hips, knees and feet.

Bitmaps can be included in stick figures. For more details, read Making a dancing stick figure from a photo and Using a bitmap as a background.

Edit mode. When you load an existing stick figure into the editor, it starts in EDIT mode. You can click on a limb or a joint to move it. When a limb is selected, two blue handles indicate the range of motion of this limb. To make it respond to a different frequency, right-click on the limb and use the "frequency" menu. Two special frequencies are available: you can have a limb which turns according to the difference between left and right channels, and a limb which stays in a fixed position. You can also 'negate' the motion of a limb, so it's fully extended to music and unextended to silence.

Limbs can be made invisible. They can also be turned into arcs, and then into springs, and then into resizable circles. Right-click on a limb to change it.

As well as selecting limbs, you can also select shapes, again by clicking on them. Then right-click to alter the colour. Or, to unpin the shape from a joint, drag that pin off the joint into empty space. You can pin it somewhere else by dragging it from one joint to another.

You can use styles for a uniform style. Create a style in the Tools | Styles dialog. Then, instead of specifying a limb's colour and thickness on the right-click menu, specify the style. Any changes you subsequently make to the style will be applied to every relevant limb.

Effects allow a line's colour, or a shape's fill, to change with the music. Set these up under Tools > Effects.

Create mode. To create new limbs, switch to CREATE mode by right-clicking on the background. Now, you can create a new limb by clicking and dragging from a joint. But you'll probably want to spend most of your editing time in EDIT mode instead.

To create new shapes, click and drag from an existing joint to another existing joint. This will give you a simple line shape. To make it a solid shape (e.g. a triangle), click and drag from the shape's perimeter onto an additional joint. If two pins are pinned to an arc, then the shape will curve around that arc.

Anchors and angles. You may designate certain joints as "anchors". In a human, all ankles and toes would be designated as ground anchors, and the person's height would depend on which was touching the ground. You might also use top anchors (for someone hanging from a bar) or side anchors. To set up anchors, right-click on a joint.

Normally the angle of the calf, say, depends on the angle of the thigh: turn the thigh, and the calf turns with it. In this dancing stick figure you can stop that happening, to make a limb adopt an "absolute" orientation. To change between relative and absolute limb angles, left-click on the root of this particular limb. It will be shown as a square for absolute, or a circle for relative.

Zoom mode. To zoom in our out, switch to ZOOM mode (by right-clicking on the background). Draw a rectangle to zoom in; click once to zoom out. Remember to switch back to EDIT mode afterwards!

Hints and tips

Link the big body parts like the thighs to low frequencies, and smaller things like hands and neck to high frequencies. This tends to look better.

Cumulative frequencies mean that a limb progresses through its range of motion. When the music is loud, it progresses quickly. When the music is quiet, it stalls. At the end of its range of motion it can either reflect off the end and head back (like a metronome) or jump back immediately to the start. You can use Tools > Cumulatives to make it progress twice as quickly, or make them progress at a steady rate independent of the music.

You can use "difference" frequency to make a neck that goes to the right for right channel, or left for left channel. But more generally it's fun to have arbitrary "additive" or "subtractive" angles -- perhaps for something which leans to the right on high frequencies, and to the left on low frequencies. Select your limb and right-click to insert an extra limb. Have this first limb angle to the left, and the second one angle to the right. Then zoom in, and make the first one *really* short. You can keep zooming in more and more to make it as short as necessary.

The Vocals/Music frequencies use the same technology as a Karaoke machine, to try and separate the music into music and vocals. The results are never very crisp. It tends to work better on modern pop music. It doesn't work on mono sound.

To make a head, you'll use a complete circle. Draw a limb. Press A three times to turn it into an arc, then a spring, then finally a circle. Press F to make it a fixed-size circle. Although the editor shows a break in the circle, this is just to allow you to pin shapes onto it: in the actual plugin the circle has no breaks.

To make something that stays horizontal (like the hands on Walk Like An Egyptian), draw a line coming out of your figure's arm. Left-click once on the base of the line. The base will turn from a circle into a square, indicating that the angle of the hand is absolute. Right-click on the line and set its frequency to "fixed". Finally rotate the blue handles to set its position. There's a bug whereby these fixed angles will be wrong the first time you create and save your stick figure; but every time you edit them after that, they work fine. I'll fix the bug one day...

Even when you're in CREATE mode you can still move joints! Left-click and drag on a limb, not a joint. This will move the limb. You can still click-and-drag from a joint to create a new limb. Likewise, you can still edit a shape's pins while in CREATE mode.

You can copy and paste a limb, along with everything that comes off it. For instance, if you copy the upper arm, it ends up copying the forearm and hand and fingers as well. Use this to create two arms easily.

Normally the editor snaps to particular angles, such as right-angles and straight lines. To stop it clamping, hold down the SHIFT key. Similarly, there's an option to snap to the grid.

A spring limb is normally full extended when there's silence, and it contracts when there's noise. If you want the opposite, then right-click on the limb and from the Frequency menu choose 'negative'.

To see precisely how the frequencies respond to the music, you can turn on Amplitude Bars. You'll have to edit the registry under HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Lu \ Sticky: set the showAmp value to 1.

You can send a shape to the front or the back, for a layering effect. This ordering only applies to individual shapes, however: all the limbs will be drawn at the same layer as each other. (This means, for instance, that you can't have some limbs in front of some shape and other limbs behind it. If you needed that effect, you'd have to make the limbs invisible and place a line-shape on top of each.)

You can copy a limb and then paste it into a text editor such as notepad. This lets you manually tweak the angles or colours or thicknesses. It also lets you chose colours and thicknesses that aren't even available in the editor. Then, select the entire text and paste it back into the stick editor.

The Edit menu lets you shrink or enlarge the entire stick figure. This is useful to make it fit entirely within the dotted square. (Because what's inside will always be visible, but anything outside will probably not be visible unless the user has a particularly wide or tall window.)

You can use sub-folders to better organise your Sticks folder.

To draw a filled-in circle: create a limb, press A three times to turn it into an arc then spring then circle, press F to make it fixed-frequency, and V to make it invisible. Within the editor, the circle is shown with a small break in it. Still in CREATE mode, drag a shape from one end of the break to the other. This shape becomes the circle.

In the Tools menu, you can choose to display a "Template" bitmap while you're working in the editor. You can use this to trace around some shape. The template bitmap is not saved within the stick file, and will not be displayed in the vizualisation plugin. The editor remembers which templates you have recently used for which stick files.


People have requested that the following features be added in subsequent versions of the plugin. The ones at the top of the list are the ones I'm most likely to add. If you have further suggestions, or want to make your vote for any of the ones listed, please email me (lu.stked@wischik.com). I will only add features if there seems to be demand for them. Don't just send an empty email!