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Building backgrounds with effects

From: After Effects CS6 Essential Training

Video: Building backgrounds with effects

Now I can remember as a new designer, the pressure I put on myself whenever I looked at a blank canvas. It was a little frustrating and daunting to say the least. But to be honest, the process of generating a background doesn't need to be daunting at all because there are some amazing generators inside of After Effects. Specifically, in this video, we'll be creating a gradient background. We'll also be creating an animated organic kind of background and then we'll explore how we can browse through some of the preset, prebuilt backgrounds in the animation presets within After Effects.

Building backgrounds with effects

Now I can remember as a new designer, the pressure I put on myself whenever I looked at a blank canvas. It was a little frustrating and daunting to say the least. But to be honest, the process of generating a background doesn't need to be daunting at all because there are some amazing generators inside of After Effects. Specifically, in this video, we'll be creating a gradient background. We'll also be creating an animated organic kind of background and then we'll explore how we can browse through some of the preset, prebuilt backgrounds in the animation presets within After Effects.

To get started, you can see, we have a background composition. Now most of the time when you're generating different elements within the After Effects, you'll need to go up under Layer and create a new Solid. If you ever go up to the Layer menu and its grayed out, just make sure you have the comp window or your timeline highlighted. Now when we go up under Layer you can choose New > Solid. Now let's make sure that our Solid is the comp size by clicking the button and we can leave it white. It really doesn't matter because when we click OK, we are going to go right back up under the Effects panel and override anything that we're seeing with the layer.

So let's go to Effects, and choose Generate, and it's not called Gradient, it's called Ramp. We're going to generate a ramp. We're going to ramp from one color to another. The controls for this are pretty straightforward, as you can see in the Effects control panel in the upper left corner, we have a Start of Ramp which is one color and the End of Ramp which is another. Now these targets mean that I can click on the target, and then reposition where the start point or end point of each ramp is going to occur.

So when I click on the Start of Ramp, let's click in the upper left hand corner and notice now it's going to start in the upper left corner, and if we click on the End of Ramp we can put it in the lower right corner. And now you can see we've got a ramp that goes from one side to the other. One of the more common gradients you want to create is not a linear gradient but in fact a Radial Ramp. So click on the Linear Ramp pulldown, and change it to Radial. Now just move the start target right here to the middle of your comp.

And now the end target, let's actually scroll out in our scene and move the end target way off to the side. Okay now we can scroll in and as I scroll in to zoom out my magnification, I can make sure to line up my start point here with the center point. Okay now if we zoom back out, again, I'm just zooming using the scroll wheel, we can adjust the colors of a ramp. So instead of it being black in the center let's actually give it a color tint. So we'll choose this kind of light purply blue.

Okay, and then the end color, let's choose something a little darker. Okay, cool. Now when we zoom in, you can see we've got something that has a little bit more depth and there's a lot more interesting than just the solid color to start building your graphics. Okay, let's close the ramp and disable that effect for now, because we're going to move on to create something that's organic and moving. So with the White Solid layer selected in your timeline, go up to Effect, choose Generate > Cell Pattern.

Cell Pattern is kind of interesting, if you scrub in the timeline, nothing is really happening, but if you click on the stop watch next to Evolution we can create our first keyframe. Now let's press End on our keyboard to move our current-time indicator to the end and change this first parameter for Evolution to 1. Now if we press 0 to load up a RAM Preview, here I'm going to press the Spacebar so it just starts playing, notice we have an animated background.

This is pretty cool, but if we stop playback here for a second, we can definitely change this up a little bit and come up with something a little more creative. So to change this up, let's change our Solid settings, so select Layer 1 and press Shift+Command+Y, to open up our Solid Settings. In here, let's change the Width from 1280 to 20. I know it's going to be really narrow but let's click OK. Now what we're going to do is create a neat effect by distorting this layer Solid, so press S to open the scale, and unlink the Scale parameters.

Now when we click and drag on the X axis, notice we can slide this way, way out. Here let's just type 5000 in that number field. You can see we've got kind of an interesting effect going on. If we scrub through now, you notice we have kind of blurring lines. This is a great way to create an organic background. If you want to shift it up even a little more, you could go up to the Cell Pattern pulldown and change it from Bubbles to something like Crystals. Then you get much more hard edges to your transforms.

Before we jump in to looking at presets, I just want to encourage you to go back to each one of these options because there are all kinds of different parameters that you can play with and change to come up with something that's all your own. Now let's go up to Layer and just create a New > Solid. And click to Make Comp Size button to make sure it's the entire comp size and click OK. With our new layer Solid selected, let's go up under Animation > Browse Presets.

It may take a second to load because Adobe Bridge is launching, but when Bridge opens up, you have a bunch of presets that you could apply for anything from text to sound effects. But specifically, since we're creating backgrounds, we should go to the Backgrounds folder. So double-click Backgrounds and notice there are all different kinds. If we click on Circuit Effects, wait for a second, and look in the upper right corner at the Preview panel. Once it loads, you'll be able to see that we could create a really neat effect just by using a preset.

So to apply the preset, all you have to do is double-click. Now since I double-clicked directly on that preset's icon, it's automatically applied that preset to our composition. As I start scrolling in the timeline, you can see this preset is even already animated. And I know this because I can see the stopwatch is set in the Evolution parameter. This has been a quick whirlwind tour of creating backgrounds using different effects and presets. Once again, I encourage you to go back and make some adjustments, so you can create some backgrounds that are all your own.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for After Effects CS6 Essential Training
After Effects CS6 Essential Training

78 video lessons · 55905 viewers

Ian Robinson
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 8s
    1. What is After Effects?
      1m 8s
  2. 2m 53s
    1. Welcome
      1m 40s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 13s
  3. 1h 8m
    1. The six foundations of AE
      5m 3s
    2. Introducing the interface and the workspace
      7m 51s
    3. Understanding compositions
      8m 48s
    4. Getting comfortable with layers
      7m 33s
    5. Getting started with animation and keyframes
      8m 30s
    6. Understanding effects
      3m 26s
    7. Moving in 3D space
      7m 41s
    8. Rendering your first animation
      8m 20s
    9. Specifying preferences and cache settings
      5m 44s
    10. Staying organized
      5m 15s
  4. 38m 6s
    1. Creating compositions
      7m 19s
    2. Importing footage and compositions
      7m 54s
    3. Preparing compositions for animation
      8m 7s
    4. Introducing renderers
      3m 15s
    5. Understanding precomposing
      7m 16s
    6. Relinking missing footage
      4m 15s
  5. 59m 58s
    1. Defining layers
      6m 23s
    2. Creating type
      5m 58s
    3. Creating layer solids and shapes with masks
      7m 55s
    4. Building shape layers
      6m 17s
    5. Understanding switches and blend modes
      8m 26s
    6. Crafting custom shapes and masks
      6m 18s
    7. Creating variable-width feathered masks
      5m 1s
    8. Rotoscoping with the Roto Brush
      8m 20s
    9. Refining with the Roto Brush
      5m 20s
  6. 1h 8m
    1. Understanding keyframes
      6m 1s
    2. Adding and adjusting keyframes
      9m 54s
    3. Interpolating keyframes
      8m 5s
    4. Adjusting keyframes in the Graph Editor
      7m 17s
    5. Understanding positional keyframes
      7m 0s
    6. Controlling animation with parenting and the pick whip
      9m 57s
    7. Understanding animation paths
      6m 27s
    8. Timing to audio
      4m 41s
    9. Trimming and sliding edits
      5m 31s
    10. Swapping images
      4m 1s
  7. 29m 7s
    1. Layering multiple effects
      9m 13s
    2. Generating graphic effects with adjustment layers
      7m 28s
    3. Building backgrounds with effects
      6m 50s
    4. Creating animated strokes
      5m 36s
  8. 40m 15s
    1. Introducing cameras
      10m 3s
    2. Working with 3D layers
      6m 37s
    3. Positioning layers
      6m 13s
    4. Adding lights and working with Material Options
      9m 21s
    5. Using 3D precompositions
      2m 5s
    6. Adjusting depth of field
      5m 56s
  9. 28m 31s
    1. Caching and prerendering
      6m 33s
    2. Understanding the alpha channels
      5m 18s
    3. Using the Render Queue
      4m 34s
    4. Rendering with Adobe Media Encoder
      7m 15s
    5. Archiving finished projects
      4m 51s
  10. 44m 27s
    1. Creating type animators
      12m 16s
    2. Animating type in 3D space
      6m 35s
    3. Adding and animating type on a path
      8m 45s
    4. Composing 3D type
      8m 41s
    5. Animating shape layers
      8m 10s
  11. 32m 45s
    1. Creating stylized video
      6m 47s
    2. Retiming video footage
      9m 31s
    3. Retouching with the Rubber Stamp tool
      10m 19s
    4. Smoothing shaky camera footage
      6m 8s
  12. 14m 19s
    1. Understanding keying
      3m 19s
    2. Creating a garbage mask
      4m 27s
    3. Getting started with Keylight
      6m 33s
  13. 15m 56s
    1. Importing Photoshop documents
      6m 11s
    2. Importing Illustrator files
      4m 24s
    3. Working With Premiere Pro projects
      5m 21s
  14. 1h 15m
    1. Adjusting ray-tracing quality
      8m 19s
    2. Tracking footage
      8m 15s
    3. Extruding shapes
      8m 39s
    4. Bending layers
      8m 38s
    5. Adjusting ray-traced lighting and materials
      9m 22s
    6. Adding environment maps
      4m 58s
    7. Beginning compositing
      8m 52s
    8. Creating render passes
      10m 17s
    9. Building a final composite
      8m 14s
  15. 1m 8s
    1. What's next
      1m 8s

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