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In this course, author Chris Meyer shows how to create and animate vector-based artwork directly inside Adobe After Effects. The course covers the ins and outs of working with shape layers, including creating shape paths, applying shape effects, and reordering shape operators. The course also contains a series of exercises on creating common motion graphics elements using shape layers.
The After Effects Apprentice videos on lynda.com were created by Trish and Chris Meyer and are designed to be used on their own and as a companion to their book After Effects Apprentice. We are honored to host these tutorials in the lynda.com Online Training Library®.
When you install After Effects it comes with some animation presets for shape layers; however, this is but a fraction of the presets that Adobe makes available. The rest are up on Adobe Exchange. So search for "adobe exchange." It will be the first thing that turns up. You will see that there are separate sections for each program. Go to the one on After Effects, and there is going to be a number of expressions, displacement maps, animation presets, plug-ins, templates, scripts, stock footage, et cetera.
Just go ahead and search for "shape presets," search, and the first thing that will turn up are these additional animation presets for After Effects. It includes some really great per- character 3D text animations that Trish created, plus a bunch of shape presets that I mostly created. Download them, drag them into your Presets folder-- it's sitting right next to the program After Effects--and next time you start or reload your effects and presets, they will be added to your menu. And you will see them as Backgrounds 2, Elements 2, Sprites - Animated 2, Sprites - Still 2, and Symbol Families.
To explore these, go ahead and Browse Presets. That will open up Adobe Bridge, pointing to the Presets Folder. Double-click shapes to open it, and here you will see folders for each type of effect. There is all sorts of interesting shapes animation presets in here to study. For example, for Random Backgrounds, this Autumn Leaves preset takes the outlines with just a handful of leaf shapes, then uses the Repeater and Wiggle Transform to help fill out the screen. There are other interesting presets in here as well. And these are well worth breaking down and studying.
For example, this one uses a similar technique as we showed in Brainstorm shapes. I'll go up a level, Elements 2. There are some basic things like graph paper, box grid, crosshatches, and honeycombs. I will go up again. A handful of different animated sprites, like a variation on that sunflower we worked with earlier. I particularly like Spiralgear preset which has a nice animation shapes to it, and there is a couple of other ones you can look at. Sprites 2 are a couple of shapes.
Spiral actually used the tool in Illustrator to create a spiral. Then I copied and pasted that path into a path inside an After Effect shape layer. Remember shape paths, motion paths, masked paths, paint paths, these can all be copied and pasted among each other. You can also paste illustrator paths into these objects inside After Effects. A real fun library is the Symbol libraries. It includes several sets of just little graphical elements you can use. Braille, including the entire Braille alphabet, and a nice effect preset to add some dimension to them.
The I Ching Hexagrams, including their names, and Trigrams, just the three-line versions. Pictograms, some standardized rock art symbols simplified in graphical form. And finally Schematic, which contains a number of different electronic symbolsm which againm you can just go ahead and reuse to create background textures or other just stuff to fill up your compositions.
Since shape layers are their own layers, you don't need to select a layer ahead of time to apply them. In this case, back in After Effects, I have an empty composition with no layers in it. Inside Bridge I just double-click the shape preset it want and back in After Effects it will create a shape layer for me that has all the components that make up that shape. If you do have a shape layer selected, go back to Bridge and pick a different preset-- for example, I pick one of these backgrounds like Floral Explosion-- it will replace the shape layer you currently had selected.
So make sure you don't lose any work by selecting something you wanted to keep. It's best to have nothing at all selected. Go to Bridge, find the preset you want, double-click, and a brand-new shape layer will be created that has that shape in it. So definitely make sure you go to Adobe Exchange, check out these animation presets, as well as all of the other things that are available to you inside Adobe Exchange's home for After Effects.
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