After Effects CC Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Animating shape layers


After Effects CC Essential Training

with Ian Robinson

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Video: Animating shape layers

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.
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  1. 1m 8s
    1. What is After Effects?
      1m 8s
  2. 1h 5m
    1. Welcome
      1m 11s
    2. Using the exercise files (CC 2014.1)
      1m 57s
    3. Using the exercise files
      1m 19s
    4. Understanding and managing applications with Creative Cloud (CC 2014.1)
      2m 32s
    5. Which versions of After Effects CC does this course cover? (CC 2014.1)
      1m 40s
    6. Relinking missing footage
      1m 54s
    7. Working with keyboard shortcuts
      1m 23s
    8. Different ways to use After Effects
    9. Exploring the interface of After Effects (CC 2014.1)
      13m 22s
    10. Exploring the interface of After Effects
      12m 0s
    11. Exploring important preferences, and setting up the cache (CC 2014.1)
      8m 44s
    12. Exploring important preferences and setting up the cache
      6m 20s
    13. Video terminology (CC 2014.1)
      6m 19s
    14. Video terminology
      4m 24s
    15. Updating After Effects with Creative Cloud
      1m 25s
  3. 1h 0m
    1. The six foundations of After Effects
      11m 5s
    2. Understanding compositions
      10m 35s
    3. Creating and manipulating layers
      9m 49s
    4. Building animation
      6m 29s
    5. Working with effects
      7m 5s
    6. Introduction to 3D
      8m 45s
    7. Understanding how to render
      6m 48s
  4. 38m 54s
    1. Importing elements
      5m 53s
    2. Organizing projects
      3m 51s
    3. Building compositions with layers
      6m 17s
    4. Animating with keyframes
      10m 0s
    5. Adding effects and graphics
      8m 7s
    6. Output techniques
      4m 46s
  5. 44m 49s
    1. Exploring composition and project settings
      6m 48s
    2. Importing Photoshop files as compositions
      8m 39s
    3. Importing Illustrator files as compositions
      7m 41s
    4. Viewing files in the comp panel
      4m 42s
    5. Understanding Pre-compose
      4m 21s
    6. Positioning layers with snapping
      4m 55s
    7. Interpreting footage
      4m 0s
    8. Keyboard shortcuts for compositions
      3m 43s
  6. 1h 5m
    1. Defining layers
      5m 4s
    2. Creating type layers
      7m 38s
    3. Precise typesetting techniques
      5m 42s
    4. Creating layer solids and shapes with masks
      9m 6s
    5. Creating design elements with shape layers
      6m 10s
    6. Layer compositing: Masks, switches, and blend modes
      7m 35s
    7. Using track mattes
      4m 49s
    8. Precise compositing with variable-width feathered masks
      9m 24s
    9. Working smarter by swapping layers
      7m 6s
    10. Keyboard shortcuts for layers
      2m 35s
  7. 1h 36m
    1. Understanding animation
      6m 20s
    2. Adding and adjusting keyframes
      9m 52s
    3. Understanding keyframe interpolation (CC 2014.1)
      8m 52s
    4. Understanding keyframe interpolation
      6m 20s
    5. Adjusting keyframes in the Graph Editor
      8m 26s
    6. The power of parenting
      5m 27s
    7. Using null objects
      6m 46s
    8. Creating expressions with the pick whip
      6m 25s
    9. Creating and adjusting motion paths
      9m 56s
    10. Building complex graphics with Pre-compose
      4m 54s
    11. Preparing audio for animation
      8m 57s
    12. Generating graphics with audio
      9m 13s
    13. Working smarter: Navigating the Timeline
      4m 32s
  8. 58m 59s
    1. Understanding the order of effects
      5m 58s
    2. Generating backgrounds with effects
      5m 33s
    3. Generating a scribble effect
      8m 12s
    4. Animating strokes with effects
      6m 37s
    5. Using adjustment layers
      5m 52s
    6. Adding gradients and glows
      4m 30s
    7. Saving pan and scan presets
      5m 20s
    8. Fixing exposure with Levels
      3m 5s
    9. Fixing color casts with Color Finesse 3
      9m 57s
    10. Masking individual effects
      3m 55s
  9. 1h 17m
    1. Understanding 3D in After Effects
      9m 2s
    2. Intro to cameras (CC 2014.1)
      10m 50s
    3. Intro to cameras
      7m 51s
    4. Intro to lights and material options
      8m 56s
    5. Animating cameras (CC 2014.1)
      11m 11s
    6. Animating cameras
      12m 39s
    7. Creating depth of field
      6m 48s
    8. Exploring the ray-traced 3D renderer
      10m 8s
  10. 3h 40m
    1. Understanding CINEMA 4D Lite and After Effects (CC 2014.1)
      1m 53s
    2. Understanding CINEMA 4D Lite and After Effects
      1m 32s
    3. 3D foundations (CC 2014.1)
      9m 49s
    4. 3D foundations
      10m 43s
    5. Matching CINEMA 4D Lite and After Effects projects (CC 2014.1)
      7m 14s
    6. Matching CINEMA 4D Lite and After Effects projects
      8m 9s
    7. Understanding the CINEMA 4D Lite interface (CC 2014.1)
      9m 49s
    8. Understanding the CINEMA 4D Lite interface
      7m 31s
    9. Creating 3D projects from Illustrator files (CC 2014.1)
      7m 20s
    10. Creating 3D projects from Illustrator files
      7m 28s
    11. Exploring modeling in CINEMA 4D Lite (CC 2014.1)
      11m 7s
    12. Exploring modeling in CINEMA 4D Lite
      8m 8s
    13. Applying deformers (CC 2014.1)
      4m 50s
    14. Applying deformers
      5m 59s
    15. Understanding materials (CC 2014.1)
      10m 29s
    16. Understanding materials
      7m 32s
    17. Lighting your scene (CC 2014.1)
      11m 20s
    18. Lighting your scene
      8m 14s
    19. Looking at detailed materials
      7m 51s
    20. Working with presets (materials and lights) (CC 2014.1)
      7m 44s
    21. Animating in CINEMA 4D Lite (CC 2014.1)
      5m 52s
    22. Animating in CINEMA 4D Lite
      6m 51s
    23. Adjusting keyframes in CINEMA 4D Lite (CC 2014.1)
      7m 42s
    24. Animating cameras in CINEMA 4D Lite (CC 2014.1)
      5m 49s
    25. Animating cameras in CINEMA 4D Lite
      5m 45s
    26. Working with CINEWARE (CC 2014.1)
      8m 11s
    27. Working with CINEWARE
      9m 38s
    28. Render settings and the multipass workflow (CC 2014.1)
      7m 28s
    29. Render settings and the multipass workflow
      8m 38s
  11. 23m 35s
    1. Rendering with Adobe Media Encoder
      4m 45s
    2. Recommended settings for rendering graphics
      10m 21s
    3. Creating presets in the Render Queue
      4m 0s
    4. Prerendering with Import and Replace Usage
      3m 18s
    5. Working smarter: One render, multiple outputs
      1m 11s
  12. 36m 53s
    1. Creating type animators
      8m 52s
    2. Creating and animating type on a path
      5m 32s
    3. Animating shape layers
      8m 45s
    4. Animating brushstrokes with Paint
      5m 54s
    5. Animating text and prepairing templates for use in Premiere Pro (CC 2014.1)
      7m 50s
  13. 23m 31s
    1. Retiming with Time Remapping
      8m 56s
    2. Retiming footage with Timewarp
      9m 10s
    3. Smoothing shaky camera footage with Warp Stabilizer VFX
      5m 25s
  14. 16m 6s
    1. Getting started with Keylight
      8m 43s
    2. Refining your key with Keylight
      3m 42s
    3. Cleaning up keys with masks
      3m 41s
  15. 26m 47s
    1. Rotoscoping with paths
      6m 47s
    2. Introducing the Roto Brush
      5m 58s
    3. Refining the Roto Brush
      6m 12s
    4. Using the Refine Edge tool
      7m 50s
  16. 27m 13s
    1. Creating a single point track
      7m 38s
    2. Applying motion with Warp Stabilizer VFX
      4m 29s
    3. Warp Stabilizer VFX: Reversible Stabilization workflow
      7m 47s
    4. Solving cameras
      7m 19s
  17. 6m 30s
    1. Archiving your projects
      3m 50s
    2. Removing unused footage
      1m 25s
    3. Moving compositions between projects in After Effects
      1m 15s
  18. 2m 24s
    1. What's next?
      2m 24s

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After Effects CC Tutorials | Essential Training
14h 52m Appropriate for all Jun 17, 2013 Updated Nov 03, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Delve into the world of motion graphics, keying, and compositing in After Effects CC. In this course, Ian Robinson lays out six foundations for becoming proficient with After Effects, including concepts such as layers, keyframe animation, and working with 3D. To help you get up and running with the program, the course begins with a project-based chapter on creating an animated graphic bumper. Next, explore the role layers play in compositions and find out how to add style to your projects using effects and graphic elements. Last, see how to build 3D objects with CINEMA 4D Lite, as well as stabilize footage, solve for 3D cameras, and paint in graphics with the Reverse Stabilization feature.

Topics include:
  • Video terminology
  • Creating your first composition
  • Using layers, masks, blend modes, and track mattes
  • Parenting objects
  • Building complex objects with Pre-compose
  • Exploring the ray-traced 3D renderer
  • Understanding the order of effects
  • Creating 3D projects from Illustrator files
  • Lighting a scene
  • Animating type on a path
  • Using Keylight for green-screen footage
  • Rotoscoping
  • Archiving projects
After Effects
Ian Robinson

Animating shape layers

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.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about After Effects CC Essential Training .

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Q: This course was updated on 6/18/2014. What changed?
A: We added new movies to the "Fundamentals of After Effects" chapter, reorganized and re-recorded the "Up and Running" and "Keying Green Screen Footage" chapters, and added new movies on Color Finesse 3 and masking individual effects.
Q: When I try to open a project file, After Effects tells me I need to update my system, since the file was made with version 13.0. But I already installed the most recent After Effects update. Why can't I open the project?
A: In the latest round of updates, Adobe chose to create a completely new installer for this latest version. While you may have updated the version of After Effects CC you have installed (12.x), there is an entirely new After Effects install for 2014 (13.0). Check for an After Effects CC (2014) item in the Creative Cloud app and download and install it from there. 
After you install the new version, you should be able to open 13.0 projects. After Effects CC (2014) will coexist with the older version of After Effects on your machine. If you currently have any shortcuts on your computer to launch After Effects, you may have to go back into the Programs folder and create a new shortcut to the newer version, After Effects 2014.
Q: This course was updated on 11/03/2014. What changed?
A: We updated 25 movies to reflect changes to the Creative Cloud 2014 release of After Effects. This includes the new optimized user interface and enhanced Cineware and CINEMA 4D Lite pipeline. The new movies are labeled with the "(CC 2014.1)" tag.
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