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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.
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