After Effects Apprentice 13: Paint, Roto, and Puppet
Illustration by John Hersey

Video: Animating strokes

In this movie, we'll add some color to the lips and I'll show you how to animate on a stroke. To get setup, I'll make sure I have the Brush tool selected, and that I have a color that I'm going to use. Feel free to use any foreground color you like, and I think a size of about 27 that I have here is looking about right. I'll leave my Blending mode set to Color, for the Channels pop-up, it doesn't matter whether you set it to RGB, or RGB plus Alpha, since we're only painting inside the original image.

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Watch the Online Video Course After Effects Apprentice 13: Paint, Roto, and Puppet
3h 11m Intermediate Dec 21, 2011 Updated Dec 12, 2012

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In this course, Trish and Chris Meyer introduce a series of creative tools inside Adobe After Effects. The centerpiece is Paint, where Trish demonstrates how to use the Brush, Eraser, and Clone Stamp tools to draw on a layer, remove portions of it, or repeat elements around a composition. These tools can be used for artistic purposes as well as to repair problem areas in footage. Chris shows off the Puppet tools for distorting layers, and the incredible Roto Brush, introduced in After Effects CS6, which allows you to separately define foreground and background elements so that you can replace backgrounds and selectively add special effects.

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 library.

Topics include:
  • Creating, erasing, and animating brush and clone strokes
  • Using Paint to reveal a layer over time
  • Creating animated distortions to flat artwork with the Puppet tools
  • Replacing backgrounds with the Roto Brush
Subject:
Video
Software:
After Effects
Authors:
Chris Meyer Trish Meyer

Animating strokes

In this movie, we'll add some color to the lips and I'll show you how to animate on a stroke. To get setup, I'll make sure I have the Brush tool selected, and that I have a color that I'm going to use. Feel free to use any foreground color you like, and I think a size of about 27 that I have here is looking about right. I'll leave my Blending mode set to Color, for the Channels pop-up, it doesn't matter whether you set it to RGB, or RGB plus Alpha, since we're only painting inside the original image.

I'll press Home so that my stroke starts at the beginning of the comp, I'll be sure to press F2 to deselect any other strokes that might be selected. Now in one continuous stroke, I'll paint around the lips, returning back to the beginning. As soon as I'm finished painting I can press the V key to return to the Selection tool, that way I can be sure I'm not going to add any extra strokes by accident or replace an existing stroke. Now I have three strokes, and if you want to keep track of which one is which, you can rename each individual stroke.

To do that select Brush 1, press Return on the keyboard, and let's call this 'left eye' hit Return. Select Brush 2 press Return, and we'll call this 'right eye', press Return again. The last stroke is for the lips. To animate on the stroke over the time all we need to do is twirl down the lips, twirl down Stroke Options. The two parameters we're interested in are Start and End. Go ahead and scrub the value for Start from 0 to 100, and you will see the stroke we will animate on, but in this case, it's actually wiping off from the beginning to the end.

I'll set it back to 0% and now let's check out the End parameter. When I scrub the End parameter from 100% back to 0, the stroke wipes off in reverse. So it looks like if I animate from 0 to 100, I'll get the effect I'm looking for. So at time zero, I'll turn on the stopwatch for End and that sets the first keyframe to 0%, and let's go a little later in time, let's say one second and let's scrub the value back to 100. And I'll also go little further in time and press End to end the work area at this point in time.

You'll notice now as you scrub the timeline, the stroke updates in the Composition panel but does not update in the Layer panel until you release the mouse. But since we're finished with our painting for now, let's increase the size of the Composition panel, so that when we RAM preview we can see how it looks in the Comp panel. And of course if you had other layers playing you can see how all the layers are working in unison. Remember that it's very easy to copy and paste keyframes to other strokes.

So if I want to animate on the eyelids, all I need to do is click on the word End and that will select both keyframes for End. Now, I need to copy them Command+C on Mac, Ctrl+C on Windows. We'll twirl up that layer; I'll select the right eye and the left eye but be careful when you paste keyframes they always paste at the current time. So I'll press Home to return to time zero, and with both layers selected I'll press Command+V to paste the keyframes, and, when I hit Play by pressing the Spacebar, all of the strokes start animating at the same time.

Of course, I can simply drag this stroke for the lips later in time, and now when I RAM preview, you can see the eyes wipe on first followed by the lips. Now that you have the basics down, in the next movie we'll look at the options for the Eraser tool.

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