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In this course, author Ian Robinson introduces Adobe After Effects CS6 and the world of animation, effects, and compositing. Chapter 1 introduces the six foundations of After Effects, which include concepts like layers, keyframes, rendering, and moving in 3D space. The rest of the course expands on these ideas, and shows how to build compositions with layers, perform rotoscoping, animate your composition with keyframes, add effects and transitions, and render and export the finished piece. Two real-world example projects demonstrate keying green screen footage and creating an advanced 3D composition with the expanded 3D toolset, an important addition to CS6.
Using the Stroke effect is probably going to be very important to your workflow, especially if you're creating info graphics. Now the term stroke is just a fancy word for draw a line, and basically, it's just drawing a line along a path. To create some lines that will denote the growth of solar panel usage across the country, we need to start with creating a layer Solid. So let's make sure we have our timeline selected and then go up under Layer, and choose New > Solid.
We can leave it a White Solid. All we have to do is click the Make Comp Size button and click OK. If I try, and add a stroke in here or a path, I won't be able to see anything because my layer is all the way on the top of the layer hierarchy. That's not a problem. We can just adjust the opacity. So press T to open the Opacity and adjust it down to about 30%. Perfect! Now let's go up and grab the Pen tool from our Tool panel. Now to add a path into our mask, all we have to do is just click once, and then click and drag to create a curve, and then just click again to add our third point.
When we're finished, we can just grab our Selection tool and now we've created a mask. To add the effect, we need to go up under Effect and choose Generate > Stroke. Now you know Stroke has been added because you can see it in your Effects Control panel. To preview how the Stroke looks, the first thing I usually adjust is the Paint Style. Notice right now, it's set on original image. So let's change it to On Transparent. The stroke is kind of hard to see because it's directly underneath of our path.
So if you press Shift+ Command+H, you can hide the path. Obviously, the stroke is still transparent, so let's just crank up our Opacity on layer 1 by clicking on the 30% value, and dragging it up to 100. So let's look at some of the stroke options. We could change the Brush Size just by clicking and dragging, we could also change the Brush Hardness. If you want a more soft, feathery looking brush, drag that back to the left. Now we could adjust the opacity just by clicking on the Opacity, but we could also adjust the opacity directly on the layer itself.
To animate this, what we need to do is click and drag on the End parameter. Notice, as I click and drag, I can scrub through and see how the animation would be created. So to create animation, of course we just need to add a keyframe. Just click the Stopwatch and we've created a keyframe at frame 0. Move the current-time indicator to 2 seconds just by clicking around 2 seconds. Now you can see it's 2 seconds later. Let's change the End parameter to 0.
Now if we scrub through our scene, you could see it's going to start with the line, and then go back the other way. That's not exactly what we wanted, but we could always just press U to open our keyframes and we could select our keyframes, right-click and reverse the keyframes under the Keyframe Assistant. All right! Now the animation is set up properly. Now what if you want more than one stroke? Well this is a really nice thing about the Stroke effect. We could just grab our Pen tool and add another stroke.
Let's just click down in our Solar Panel area, click and drag to make sure it's a nice curved path and then click to add our third point. Now again, we'll grab our Selection tool to set that path. Now it may take a second to refresh, but if we drag our current-time indicator back to the beginning of the timeline and then scrub through, notice, oh wait! No, we don't have a stroke. That's because we need to come up to the Path options here and select All Masks. When we select All Masks, now there's an option for Strokes Sequentially.
If it's not selected, make sure it's selected. Now, when we scrub back through, notice the Stroke effect will stroke the first path and then the next path. So obviously, if you have many, many more lines, you could just keep adding them to the same layer, and as long as you're fine with it happen sequentially, you could just select Stroke Sequentially. The last thing that's kind of fun about strokes, you can stroke any word. You just have to start with a Text Layer. Now I'm just going to move this kinetEco layer right up here towards the top of my composition, and with the Text layer selected, we can go to the Layer menu and go down to Create Masks from Text.
When we select that, notice the visibility of the Text layer has been turned off, but layer 1 is now a layer Solid, and if you press M to open up a mask, you can see there's a mask for each individual letter. To apply a stroke, just go up to the Effect menu, and since we applied Stroke before, that will be our first option. The last effect you've always applied will always pop up as the first option in the Effects panel. So let's choose Stroke, and instead of just stroking one individual letter, let's choose All Masks and make sure Stroke Sequentially is selected.
Finally, we'll go to the Paint Style and change it from On Original Image to On Transparent. If we press Shift+Command+H, we can hide our masks, and then all we have to do is keyframe the End parameter to actually animate the stroke of each individual letter one right after the other using the Stroke effect.
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