RubberHose 2 - Hoses

a brief history

Way back in 2015 there were only a few options for character animation in After Effects. As if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror for a simple bendy line that just worked how you imagined it would, RubberHose was born. Well, that and a lot of trigonometry. 

Time has past and a new Hose is here. One that learned a lot from the original and is stronger and wiser than before. But seriously, the whole hose system has been redesigned to be way smarter and faster.

Shape layers

The strength of the Hose system is its foundation in Shape Layers. Lines are drawn procedurally based on your animation. This is a fancy way of saying that stuff kinda just works when you change values without having to think too much. Plus, you can change values on the fly that aren't possible in other systems. Cool stuff like:

  • Bend direction switching
  • Bend sharp/roundness
  • Hose length
  • Hose straightening realism


The ability to draw bendy lines is not built into After Effects. This functionality is brought to you by a whole lot of math happening on every frame. As you add more hoses to a comp the scene becomes more complex and can take longer to render. The RubberHose code has been completely rewritten in version 2.0 to reduce all instances of redundant math to be as responsive as possible. 


Keyframe Baking

RubberHose is intentionally designed as a live animation system that wont forces you to commit your motion or artwork since the both play off of each other. BUT, no matter how optimized the code or how powerful your system is, once you add enough hoses AE will run slower than molasses running uphill in winter. To combat this you can now Bake and Unbake hoses as needed to reduce system load.

Building Hoses


A single click will create a customizable bendy line. A Hose group consists of a Hose layer and two controllers (Start and End). The End Controller (Wrist, Ankle, End) is typically furthest from the body and is animated most. On this End Controller is a set of Controls for adjusting the properties of the hose.

Open the Effect Panel (F3) to edit the Controls. 


With many rig types you have to define the shape and properties of a limb before animating. With RubberHose everything remains live and can be adjusted during animation for the best results possible. RubberHose 2 has simplified and collected all major properties onto the Master Control (the one that's furthest from the body –Wrist or Ankle).

  • Hose Length
  • Bend Radius
  • Realism
  • Bend Direction
  • Controller Auto Rotate

For more detailed explanation, read up on the Controls page.


Maybe you always to turn up the Realism, maybe you like a lower Bend Radius, maybe you work at a smaller resolution and wish controllers could were smaller, maybe you wish hoses could be locked at the time of creation because you always end up clicking the hose instead of the controller. 

The more you use RubberHose the more of your own style you'll discover. To save yourself some time updating hoses every time you build, you can dial in your hose settings under the MANAGE group.

Styling Hoses

Shape Layer Styling

Since version 1.0, RubberHose has always embraced the stylistic freedom that Shape Layers provide. The more comfortable you are with Shape Layers, the more complex styles you'll be able to create. So get your hands dirty with Trim Paths, dashed strokes, Offset Paths and all the crazy vector effects.

STYLe Panel

New in version 2.0 is the Style Panel. Now you can Apply, Save and share style presets with your team.

One of most requested new features has been Tapered Hoses. Since After Effects does not support tapered strokes the same way Illustrator does, the underlying hose geometry has been totally rewritten to make complex styling like this possible. Hooray.

For more detailed explanation, read up on the Style page.

Check out the included  Style Presets  to get you started

Check out the included Style Presets to get you started


TIP: 3d Hose Layers

Feel free to switch controller layers to 3D. Parent them to other 3D layers with cameras all you want –but it's not a good idea to make a hose layer 3D. Hoses are drawn based on their positions within the comp, so switching the 2D representation of 3D position into 3D will cause some serious misalignment. Whoa, that was really confusing.


In RubberHose v1.0 there was feature called a Linked hose that would allow you to create a duplicate of a hose to use as a matte. It was a complicated system, but it did have its own button. This has been removed and hoses can now be duplicated(Ctrl/Cmd+D) and modified as needed. You wont miss them. Promise.