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Animating a line

From: After Effects Apprentice 14: Shape Layers

Video: Animating a line

Now that we have our stroked path that goes along the course of this map, we'd like to animate this map path in some way. There's a couple of ways of doing that. One, the Dashes parameter inside Stroke has a parameter called Offset. Scrubbing or animating this parameter will move your dashes along your line. Notice that scrubbing towards the right makes my line go towards the right. If I want to reverse the direction of my path, I go up to Path, click the Reverse Direction, and now scrubbing a positive Offset will cause it to animate in the opposite direction.

Animating a line

Now that we have our stroked path that goes along the course of this map, we'd like to animate this map path in some way. There's a couple of ways of doing that. One, the Dashes parameter inside Stroke has a parameter called Offset. Scrubbing or animating this parameter will move your dashes along your line. Notice that scrubbing towards the right makes my line go towards the right. If I want to reverse the direction of my path, I go up to Path, click the Reverse Direction, and now scrubbing a positive Offset will cause it to animate in the opposite direction.

And you can do that with any shapes. All paths do have this Reverse Direction switch. The second approach is to use a shape effect that we saw earlier, Trim Path, to actually animate entire length of the path on and off. So I will turn on Trim Paths, twirl it open, set my End down to 0, then animate it to bring on my dashed line, and let it travel across my map. I can even set up an animation doing that.

So you can draw it on or leave it in place and cause it to travel along your path. I'm going to zoom back up to 100% and add just a little bit more polish to this dashed line. Shape layers are vectors, but once you apply effects to them, they are converted into pixels, and you can use any pixel-based effect. For example, if I want to add a little bit of bump to these things, I can add something like Perspective > Bevel Alpha, increase my Edge Thickness to you get a nice dot like that.

Then I can add Effect > Perspective > Drop Shadow and help lift them off the map that way as well and create something very dimensional for my path or my stroke. In addition to these effects, there are also corresponding layer styles for bevel and also drop shadow. And these are even more flexible than the effects that you find underneath the Perspective menu. If you want to see a finished version of this and you have the exercise files, go to Project > Comps_Finished, and either go to Map path which shows my animating path going across my map or for something a little bit extra, open up 06_Map xtra, where we have taken that large map composition and performed a little bit of pan and scan, a movement and a scale across this map.

I will hit 0 to RAM-preview. And you see we started zoomed in on our path, then pull back to see the path across our map. And that's the point I keep stressing and keep wanting to hit home on: with After Effects, you have a box full with tools. Learn and master these individual tools and then combine them the way that you want to create more complex animations. When you are done, select Close All, and we will talk about what to do if you run out of ideas and have trouble coming up with a nice shape layer animation.

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After Effects Apprentice 14: Shape Layers

29 video lessons · 9929 viewers

Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer
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