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Brush tool basics

From: After Effects Apprentice 13: Paint, Roto, and Puppet

Video: Brush tool basics

In the previous movie, we set our workspace to Paint. This opens the Layer panel and the Composition panel side by side. Remember that to paint, you need to have the Layer panel open and to use the painting tools in the Layer panel only. Well, I created one paint stroke which applied, if you notice in the Timeline, the Paint effect. If you have been playing around, let's just start over and delete the effect. I'll select Remove All from the Effect menu and now we can get back to a clean slate.

Brush tool basics

In the previous movie, we set our workspace to Paint. This opens the Layer panel and the Composition panel side by side. Remember that to paint, you need to have the Layer panel open and to use the painting tools in the Layer panel only. Well, I created one paint stroke which applied, if you notice in the Timeline, the Paint effect. If you have been playing around, let's just start over and delete the effect. I'll select Remove All from the Effect menu and now we can get back to a clean slate.

The first thing I'll do is reselect the Brush tool. In the Paint panel, I am going to check that the blending mode is set to Normal, and you have all the other blending modes available. And we'll explore some of the other options later on. I'll also check that the Channels is set to RGBA. This means that I'll be painting in all four channels, Red, Green, Blue and Alpha. I'll check that Duration is set to Constant. This means that any paint stroke I make will exist for the duration of the comp, starting at the current time.

So if I am using Constant, and I start to paint at this point in time, any paint stroke I create will only exist from this time forward. If I go earlier in time, that stroke will disappear. You will also notice the slight issue with the redraw. As I am scrubbing the Timeline, only the Composition panel is updating in real time. Until I release the Current Time Indicator, the Layer panel is not updating. Now once you have drawn a stroke, each stroke appears in the Timeline.

If I twirl down the Paint effect, you can see that Brush 1 appears and here you can see it only begins at this point in time. Fortunately, if you make a mistake, you can simply drag these bars back and forth in time. I can have it start at the beginning and don't worry if it looks a little short. Paint strokes don't have any set duration. If you want it to be longer or shorter, you can simply drag the beginning or end of the bar. Now for an important warning: once you start editing a stroke in the Timeline, it will be selected.

You need to deselect the stroke before you continue painting. Let's say I'd like another brushstroke and maybe we'll change the color. We'll maybe make it blue. I want to also make it a little bigger, so you can see it. Because I have Brush #1 selected, as soon as I create a second stroke, it replaces Brush #1.Before you continue painting, get in the habit of pressing F2, that's Function Key 2, to deselect all. And now you can just start painting. You will notice there is no issue with replacing my strokes, so long as I don't have a stroke selected in the Timeline.

If I select one however, the next stroke, I paint, will replace the selected stroke. Anytime you want to start over, just select the strokes you have created and press Delete. You can also delete the effect. This time I'll press Home to send my current time marker to the beginning of the comp. Now every stroke I create will start at time zero. I can select one of the brush sizes directly from the Brushes panel, set the Diameter and the Hardness or even easier, you can set your Brush size and Hardness interactively in the Layer panel.

You do that by pressing the Command key on Mac, Ctrl key on Windows and as you drag, you are changing the Diameter. You can see that value increase and decrease in the Brushes panel. As soon as you are happy with the size that you've created, release the Command key and then start moving your mouse to set the Hardness value and again you can see that update in the Brushes panel. Now I'd have a nice large brush. I'll undo. Remember, that if you have a pressure sensitive tablet, you can set options for Brush Dynamics in the Brushes panel.

For now I'll just set the size to Pen Pressure and I'll bring this up a little bit, so I have more space in my Timeline. And I am using the Pen, I can press slightly for a small stroke and as I increase pressure, the stroke will get larger. I'll undo and I think I'll go back to using the mouse just because it makes it easier and I'm showing you the various menus. So I'll go ahead and I'll make a slightly smaller paintbrush, maybe even smaller again and I'll just make a couple of simple strokes. I mentioned that Paint was an effect and in the View pop-up, you can see that the Paint Effect renders after Masks.

One handy thing about having paint as an effect is that if you apply another effect, let's just say we apply Color Correction>Hue/Saturation. In the Effects panel, I can reorder the Paint Effect and the Hue/Saturation Effect. If I change the Master Saturation, it changes the colors of the paint strokes. However, if I drag the Hue/ Saturation Effect above the Paint Effect, the Hue/Saturation is only being applied to the mask image and the paint strokes remain in their original color.

Now you might have noticed that in the Layer panel the paint strokes are no longer visible. This is where you need to keep an eye on the View pop-up. If you have other effects applied, and you want to continue painting, you might need to reselect the Paint Effect and that way any additional paint strokes you apply will be added to the same Paint Effect. However you can have multiple Paint Effects if that's what you're looking for. I think I'll delete that Color Correction. Also notice that in the Effect Controls panel, the Paint Effect doesn't have all of the options you see in the Timeline.

The only option you get is to Paint on Transparent. And you can toggle that on and off. When Paint on Transparent is enabled, the original image will disappear. The only image I am seeing now are the paint strokes. This is usually more useful if you're painting on a black solid, because when you are painting on a solid, you might want the solid to be transparent. However, there's no need to open the Effect Controls panel simply to toggle on and off that switch. That option also appears in the Timeline.

If I click on Off, it toggles to On, but if I click on On, it toggles back to Off. So in many cases you don't need to open the Effect Controls panel if all you're doing is just painting on a layer. So, have some fun playing around with some paint strokes and just remember if you select a brush in the Timeline and you make a new stroke, it will replace the existing stroke. In the next movie, we'll cover some of the options for duration, including single frame and custom.

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