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One of the most fundamental elements of any graphic design is the use of lines. And of course, After Effects makes it relatively easy to create multiple animated lines moving throughout your scene. You have many different options. One is to animate shape layers themselves. The other is to use the Stroke effect. I personally like to use the Stroke effect so that's what I'm going to show you in this video. Let's go ahead and look at our scene and we have these swooshes kind of moving across the bottom of our project. If we load up a RAM preview let's look at what's animated. And as you can see we've got this crazy busy animation and of course we want to add one more layer of interactivity to this by animating the swooshes in the background.
So I'm going to press the Spacebar to stop play back but just because this is such a busy graphic I do want to isolate the strokes on a layer by themselves. Now if we look at these lines, they're created by Layer7. So select Layer7 and then press the Solo key to go ahead and solo that layer. I know this is an Illustrator layer because I can see the Illustrator icon on Layer7. If you go ahead and Ctrl + click or right-click on Layer7. You could go up in the menu and choose reveal and finder and then double click on that to edit it inside of illustrator and to make changes etc. That's not what I want to do.
What I'd like to do is just copy the paths from that illustrator file to a new layer solid inside of After Effect. So instead of right clicking leave the layer selected and go up under the Edit command. And let's choose Edit Original. Now it may take a second for your system to launch but once you choose Edit Original, Illustrator will start launching in the background. It looks like the swoop had changed directions upon import into After Effects, but all in all this is exactly what I was looking for. So let's go ahead and click on the black arrow. That will allow us to select the graphic.
Now when we click on any one of the lines, notice the only lines that actually have paths going through them are the first and the last line. This is quite a common occurrence when you're creating multiple strokes like this inside of Illustrator. And that's because there's a tool called the blend tool, that allows the creation of these kind of things, really easily. Now since this isn't an illustrator course, I'm not going to dive really deep into the blend tool, I'm going to show you how you can optimize this, to actually copy it into After Effects. If we go up under Edit and choose Copy, what we can do is jump back into After Effects, lets choose layer and choose New Solid. Lets leave it blue just so we know it's completely different and make sure it's comp size by clicking to make Comp Size button. Now we can go under Edit and choose Paste.
And notice all the paths came in perfectly. What we need to do is actually generate the stroke. So let's go up under the Effect menu. We go to generate and choose stroke. Now with stroke in the effects Control panel, go down to the bottom under Paint style and click on the pull down. Now if the stroke affect is loaded into the effects Control panel, and go down to the bottom under Paint style. Let's change that pull down to say reveal original image. Now as you can see, we've got our strokes going the wrong way.
So what we need to do is press S to open up the Scale and then we can go ahead an unlock the scale. And I'm just going to change the X parameter to minus 100. Now when I press enter on my keyboard, it'll be flipped around and these will work beautifully. Now I can continue repositioning this layer with the position key frames, etc., but I think this works great so I'm going to go ahead and scroll down to layer eight and turn off its visibility. So now we need to just be able to see our strokes more clearly. In order to do that, let's press Shift + Cmd + H to hide the pass in the window. I can barely see what's going on with my strokes here. That's because its revealing he original image. If we go ahead and change our paint style on transparent it'll cut out the background and allow me to choose the color here as opposed to the color from my layer solid.
Now with that setup lets go ahead and increase the brush size to around 5. Now Brush Hardness may appear not to do anything when you Scrub on it. But if you go ahead and change the spacing, let's click and drag on the spacing, and increase it up to 100, now as we adjust the hardness. Let's zoom into 100% so you can see it a little better. We're getting softer dots versus harder dots. Each stroke is made up of a series of dots and you can adjust those dots by adjusting the spacing. Let's leave our setting for spacing around 30% and we'll make our brush hardness a little bit softer just so the edge doesn't appear quite as aliased. So let's go ahead and bring that down to around 50%. And then the opacity will just adjust the overall opacity of the stroke. So we can leave that at 100.
Now if we want to animate the appearance of this stroke I'm going to scroll back out with my magnification or let's just fit it up to 100%. To animate our stroke, all you have to do is just click and drag on that end parameter and that'll allow us to change how that stroke animates. I'd like to stroke all of the strokes sequentially so select All Masks in the top of the Stroke panel. Notice stroke sequentially's set by default. This way, when we key frame the start and the end It'll stroke one stroke after the other to create this kind of interesting look. Let's go ahead and create an animation for that. We'll change the end parameter to 0% and press home to move our time indicator to the start of our project.
We'll create the key indicator for the end, move down to one second, and increase that up to 100%. Now let's re-position our stroke layer down to the bottom of the layer hierarchy, just below the blue color solid. Now if we turn off soloing, you can see we've got our stroke here in the background. We can blend it a little bit more by pressing T. And adjusting the opacity down, or we could literally adjust the color and adjust the blend mode of the layer itself.
But for now, I think this is looking pretty cool. So let's go ahead and preview our animation. I'm going to load up a RAM preview. So there you have it. We've created animated strokes using the Stroke effect.
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