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Building shape layers

From: After Effects CS6 Essential Training

Video: Building shape layers

Now before we jump into creating shape layers, it's important to understand that the creation of shape layers and the creation of layer masks are remarkably similar. And honestly, you just have to be careful what layer you have selected, or if you have a layer selected at all, if you are trying to create a shape layer. Now in the previous video I showed you how to use layer masks to animate geometric shapes. Now in this video, I want to show you a more traditional use of layer masks. So we have this footage of our talent shot on a green screen and you notice, there's a black edge around this footage, so even if I keyed this out, which don't worry if you don't understand what keying is, we have a whole chapter to that dedicated later on in the course.

Building shape layers

Now before we jump into creating shape layers, it's important to understand that the creation of shape layers and the creation of layer masks are remarkably similar. And honestly, you just have to be careful what layer you have selected, or if you have a layer selected at all, if you are trying to create a shape layer. Now in the previous video I showed you how to use layer masks to animate geometric shapes. Now in this video, I want to show you a more traditional use of layer masks. So we have this footage of our talent shot on a green screen and you notice, there's a black edge around this footage, so even if I keyed this out, which don't worry if you don't understand what keying is, we have a whole chapter to that dedicated later on in the course.

But to jump back to layer masks, since we have Layer 1 selected, if we come up to any of our Shape tools, let's use the Rectangle tool, I'm just clicking and holding choosing the Rectangle tool. If you click and drag now in your viewer, I can draw a mask around our talent and now you notice I've cut that black edge off of the mask. This is a very traditional way of using layer masks and it's actually called a garbage mask. Now like I said, we're going to get into green screen keying a little later.

So for now, let's hide Layer 1. Now the key to making a successful shape layer, make sure you don't have any layers selected in your timeline. I like to do that just by clicking underneath of the layers and now you can see, neither one of them is highlighted. Now when you go up to the Tool panel, click and hold and let's use the Ellipse tool. We're going to create an Ellipse in our viewer, but before we do so, I want you to look at the Fill and the Stroke.

These attributes are going to be applied to the shape that we're going to end up creating. So I want to choose a different color, so click in the red box next to Fill and grab the Eyedropper tool and let's choose that green. Now if we click OK, we're going to make a green shape. Now for the Stroke, I want to use the yellow. So let's click in the Stroke box and then here, see we have the Eyedropper, go ahead and click on the Eyedropper. When you click in the yellow, then you can click OK.

Now this next value here will create a width for the Stroke. But let's click and drag in the viewer to actually create our shape. If you hold down Shift as you drag, it will keep that shape in proportion. When I let go, if we zoom in by scrolling on the mouse wheel, and then deselect this shape by clicking in the timeline just anywhere off of any of the words or switches, you can see we do have our yellow outline and a shape layer has been created.

Now shape layers work in a very similar fashion to type. Remember when we looked at type, there were a bunch of different subgroups underneath the main group. When you create a shape using one of the Shape tools, there is an option like Ellipse, since we used the Ellipse tool. Now when we expand that, you can see, I can adjust the Ellipse Path or we could keyframe the size or the position. We can adjust the Stroke separately.

One of the fun things to do with the Stroke, instead of it being solid, you can add dashes. Now the Fill here is where we can set our Color. Notice there's an option for Transform for the Ellipse. So for example with this, if I go to Rotation, it is going to rotate, although it's a circle, so let's look at adjusting the position. If I click and drag, notice it's adjusting the position around its center point. Now if we adjust the Anchor Point, let's drag it up here, and then click and drag on a rotation, you can see now it's actually rotating around its own Anchor Point, which is -138.

If you want to change this animation, understand that the Transform options for the layer itself are slightly different. Notice if I drag rotation here, it's rotating around the center point of the layer. So you do have Transform controls for the layer itself as well as each individual shape. Now this Add button functions in a similar fashion to the text. You can add a parameter to animate. So for example, if I wanted to add a different Fill, I could select that and notice now that this new fill is overriding the original fill, and I could keyframe its color and its opacity.

See, if I click and drag its Opacity down to 0, check it out, now it goes back to green. Now in order to see this more clearly, if you look in the upper left corner of your keyboard just under the Esc key, there's a Tilde key. If you select that with any panel that's active, After Effects will automatically make that panel take over the entire interface. This is excellent if you're dealing with something like this when you know that, okay, I want to create a shape that has red at its starting point and I want it to fade to green, well, I could adjust my red here and my green there, I don't necessarily need to see my viewer.

So if you press the Tilde again, we will snap back to the way the interface was before. We could do the same thing on the canvas. Just make sure, before you click in the canvas again, you want to grab your Selection tool. Now with the Selection tool selected, let's click in the canvas and press the Tilde key one more time. In here you can see we have a full screen preview of this individual panel. I have to say, I always was a fan of creating shapes just by using masks on layer solids. But since shape layers came into the scene, I love the fact that you don't have to worry about whether or not the shape fits on the solid.

Since the shape layers are synthetic, After Effects is going to draw the shape, no matter where it lives in the comp. So draw away till your heart's content, and by all means don't hesitate to add a keyframe or too, and build some animations.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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

78 video lessons · 58514 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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