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Creating animated strokes

From: After Effects CS6 Essential Training

Video: Creating animated strokes

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.

Creating animated strokes

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.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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

78 video lessons · 55218 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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