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Sometimes I think as graphic designers don't really give enough credit to shape layers inside of After Effects. For this graphic right here we used shape layers to add a little bit more interest to the title, rather than just having plain text, we have these color bars. Now in our project today, were going to animate the appearance of these different color bars, and in the process, were going to take the animation a little bit further by adding a little wiggle to the shapes to make it look a little bit more hand drawn like traditional cell animation.
Let's jump into the Animating Shape layers composition. In here, notice we've already created a Shape layer. If you don't have access to the exercise files, literally just make sure no layers are selected. And then go up to your Shape tool and click and drag to create a new shape. Now with our shape layer selected in layer two I'm going to go ahead and create four rectangles. So let's open up layer two and make sure that we can select rectangle one. If you don't see rectangle one, open your contents area and select rectangle one.
When you select a specific shape layer inside the contents section of a shape layer, you can actually create duplicates of that shape. Just by dragging with the selection tool, and holding down Alt or Opt on the Mac or PC. So I'm going to hold down Shift as I drag just to make sure it snaps to the axis. Let's go ahead and repeat this again. Opt on the Mac, Alt on the PC, and drag. Notice every time I hold down Alt or Option, I'm getting the double arrows, letting me note that I'm making a copy.
This is the same funciton you would use in Illustrator, so if this looks relatively familiar, that's why. If we look at the top of our shape layers, we have fill options up here. I bring this up because I want to replicate the colors from our example scene, but I don't necesarilly want to have to open up the rectangle options and go to the fill section and make an adjustment every single time. So let's just make sure our rectangle four is collapsed and take one more look at our example frame. So we go blue green. Orange magenta so here let's go here.
We'll start with blue so here let's select our second rectangle and this'll be green. Now I'm going to pause for a second when I'm working inside of After Effects and I know what my color palette's going to be. I actually go ahead and create layer solids with those colors. This way I have a quick and easy way to access that color palette and use it in other parts of my project. So if we click on the fill options with our second rectangle selected, we can open up our color picker and here we have our eyedropper.
So let's go ahead and choose this green option and click OK. Let's click in the composition one more time, to select our next rectangle. This will be orange, so we'll click on the fill again, grab our eye dropper, and click orange. Now, we click OK. Let's click on the fourth rectangle. And repeat the same command making sure we choose magenta. Now that we've created our rectangles and we have the proper colors, we can go ahead and line these up with our text layer. So let's scroll up to layer 1 and turn its visibility back on.
Again, as you're working with multiple shape layers, make sure you have your contents open so you can click directly on any given shape. As long as you have the selection tool active, you can resize that shape. Now I'm just going to make our shape a little bit larger than what we need. Click on orange and reposition that up there a little bit. If I wanted to change the layer heirarchy, say for example I wanted this green to overlap the orange a little bit, I could just click and drag on the rectangle in the Contents panel and bring it up above the other layer.
Can see that you can change the visible heirarchy directly within a Shape layer itself when you have more than one shape. Let's click on our final shape here and just resize that. And move it out. And I just want to add a little bit more variation between these, so I'm just going to change the sizes a little bit more. I think that looks pretty good. Actually, I want this blue to overlap the green. We'll go ahead and drag that up to the top of my hierarchy. Okay, there we go. Let's click off any of the rectangles so we can get a preview.
Now if you remember our sample composition, the text was not white. And that's because we were using a track mat. If you don't have your switches and modes set up to see your track mats. Go ahead and toggle your switches and modes and then change the track mat for layer two from none to Alpha Inverted Mat. This will go ahead and cut out the text. Now to quickly animate our shape layers. Again, with the contents window open, let's grab our selection tool and select our first rectangle. Go ahead and enable automatic keyframing so we can set keyframes.
I'm going to set my first keyframe last. So let's move to frame 12, and then just quickly move our shape. I'm going to do that for each of the layers. I'll just quickly move that shape. Whenever you stop moving the layer around, that will be the value for that keyframe. Now let's go back to frame zero, and reposition each of these layers outside of the view of the comp panel. So, we're going to click back up to the first rectangle here, and I'll drag this off to the right.
If you hold shift after you drag, it'll snap on its axis. Now, select layer 2, and press the u key or the uber key to see all your key frames. If you turn off automatic key framing, now we can easily and quickly adjust the timing of each of these rectangles. So let's go ahead and click and drag with our current time indicator, so you can see how this is flowing through the scene. I'm going to select rectangle 4, just so I know where it sits in the layer hierarchy. Since it's visibility is controlled by its position vertically. I'm not going to reposition it at the bottom the way I usually would, if I were focusing on trying to remember the order visually in the comp panel. So with rectangle four selected let's draw a lasso around those two keyframes and just drag them down the timelines.
Let's click on rectangle two. Okay this will be the second one we want to animate so let's go ahead and just drag those a few frames down the timeline. However far apart you'd like to drag your different shapes feel free to drag them in the timeline. I'm just creating a rough animation. So as we can see, we have our two layers come in, and then our next two. Now we're almost finished. By all means, we could add an ease to these layers, so they slide in very easily, but I want to add one more thing, and that's a wiggle effect. Lets collapse layer two, and open layer two one more time. Just so we can get to the Content's Panel.
I'm going to collapse rectangle one, rectangle four, rectangle two, and rectangle three. Go ahead and select the Content's Panel. Because we're going to go ahead and group all four of these layers. So with Content selected, go up under Add and choose Group. Now with group one at the bottom of the hierarchy go ahead and click on rectangle three. Hold down shift and click on rectangle one. Now with all four rectangles selected drag them into group one. Now that there all in group one go ahead and click on that word and go back over to add.
This time we should choose Wiggle Paths. With wiggle pass selected let's just deselect any of the rectangles by clicking off in the timeline somewhere else. Now as I start dragging notice I'm getting a little bit of a wiggle to my graphics as they move around the scene. Now, obviously, they're all moving at the same rate right now. If I wanted to make an adjustment to that, I could maybe create two groups and put different shapes in different groups. The wiggle path options will appear at the bottom of the group.
This is where you can control how quickly the wiggle changes as well as the size and the amount of detail. So now that we've got our basic animation setup let's go ahead and load up a RAM preview. So if you wanted to keep pushing things you could definately edit your keyframes in the graph editor. Or maybe animate the appearance of the text itself. But I hope you can see now, that shape layers are relatively powerful. And as long as you just take your time and use some of the different basic controls in the composition panel, and create fun animations like this in no time.
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