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In After Effects CS5 Essential Training, author Chad Perkins discusses the basic tools, effects, and need-to-know techniques in Adobe After Effects CS5, the professional standard for motion graphics, compositing, and visual effects for video. The course provides an overview of the entire workflow, from import to export, as well as detailed coverage of each stage, including animating text and artwork, adding effects to compositions, working in 3D, and rendering and compressing footage. Exercise files are included with the course.
One of the more common uses of After Effects is to create titles for movies and TV shows and also to create cool text when you are working with motion graphics. So, that's what we are going to be looking at in this chapter. This movie specifically is going to be on creating and editing text. I am going to go ahead and we are going to be making this Hansel and Petal text and I want to use this as a template. I want to try to emulate this text as closely as possible. So, what I am going to do, because I am using all these layers as templates, I don't want to inadvertently click to select one of them, like that.
I want to go to the Timeline panel and there is this column here that has this lock and what I am going to do is click and just hold the mouse down and drag down to lock all of those layers. That makes them unselectable. So, now I can click and drag as much as I please and I cannot select these layers. Now what I am going to do is go to the Horizontal Type tool, which is here in the toolbar at the top of the interface, and we can create text in two ways. We can click to create type and then just start typing like that. That's referred to as point type.
If you continue to type, we would just make one long horizontal line of text until you hit the Return key and jump to the next line. You'll notice also that you don't need to select a layer to apply text to. Text is its own layer. Once you start creating text, it makes what's called a text layer for you. Now I am just going to delete that by pressing Escape. I want to show you the other type of text you can create. It's the textbox. I am going to click and drag a box roughly around hansel & petal. We are just going to ignore the ampersand in the background here. So, I am going to type hansel and then hit the Return key and type petal.
Now to accept my text, I am going to go and click the Selection tool, the black arrow again, and that again accepts my text. If I want to go back into it, I can just double-click the layer if I want to or I can select the Type tool again and then click in this text area to select it. And when you are working with a textbox, you could resize this. So, if I shrink this textbox so it's too small for that text, I get a little plus in the bottom right-hand corner here and again that indicates that I have what they call overset text, text that I am not seeing that is within this box.
So, basically we create a textbox so that text will stay in a given field. I might also resize this horizontally and then shrink this vertically and my text will automatically be taken to the previous line. Of course, I do have a carriage return here. That's why it's not working exactly correct. So, if I deleted that, you could see what's going on there. But again, if I were to resize this and select the Selection tool and move this over so you can see it a little better, and then double-click to adjust it. But if I were to resize this, then it would automatically drop the next line, if that's what I had to do, but it's not going to let text go outside of this box.
Now I am going to move this text over. Let's click and drag and we can't see it too great, but that's okay. I want to make sure this text is selected. If you need to, you could select the Horizontal Type tool again and then click and drag to highlight certain characters. We are going to select all of them. So, just click and drag as you would in Microsoft Word, and then the Character and Paragraph panels open up. These are the two ways that we adjust text that we have created. If they are not showing, you can click this little button here, which will actually hide and show the Character and Paragraph panels. Very convenient little button. If it's not showing you probably don't have the Horizontal Type tool selected.
So, make sure that is selected and you get that fancy little button there, and the Character panel, which is actually the one I use far more often than the Paragraph panel, but this top dropdown is our font. So, we can click one of those fonts. You can also click up and down with the arrows, which will help you scroll through my fonts. I can also put my cursor, if I have a mouse-wheel, over this field. Notice how it's selected with the gold outline around it, and I could use my mouse-wheel to kind of scroll through fonts as well, until I find one that I like. Now you may not have the same font as me, but that's okay because I don't know what the font was originally used anyway.
So, that doesn't matter. Just pick a font that you would like to use and another thing too that's important is the font size. Down right below here, we have the font style, like whether it's Regular, Italic or Bold. You are not going to have this for every font, but that's where you find those options and then the font sizes are below that. We just click and scrub, then we have this font size so we could make our font about the same as the original. Now let's talk about the color of our text. We have here a Fill swatch and then also a Stroke swatch. So, now the Stroke swatch is active, now the Fill swatch is active.
So, Fill is the basic color of the text, and the Stroke is the outline around it. So, if I double-click this swatch, then I can select a color and that works. We click OK and now I have that as an outline. If you want to change the weight, or in other words the thickness of the stroke, come down here to the middle of the Character panel and we can click and drag this left or right. You can see that I have a thin stroke and then I drag it to the right and I have a very thick stroke. So, you can play with that option. By default, we have Stroke Over Fill.
We could also change this to Fill Over Stroke, which makes the strokes happen behind the text. So, it's not really encroaching upon the fill itself. Now let's talk about a few of these other options here. We can adjust our text by adjusting say, for example, the leading. The leading is the vertical space between lines. So, if we look at our original text, hansel and petal are very close to each other. So, this is what you want from these two lines. By default, it's set to Auto. But if we click and drag on this, we can adjust the vertical height here.
We also can adjust the tracking, which is the space between all characters on a line. Now this looks kind of cool because you see this effect in the movie trailers a lot, where it's like "coming this summer" and the text like will spread out horizontally. This is not where you'd want to animate. There are no stopwatches here. But you can animate tracking and we'll talk about how to do that later on in this chapter. Now if I really wanted to line this text up, what I could do, I have a couple of options. I could hit the Spacebar to space out this text and actually I might want to go to the Paragraph panel and center align the text.
Right now, it's left aligned. Then you could center align it like that. Notice that it goes to the center of the text box. I could also right align it. I could also justify it so it spreads out over the field. I could center all lines, or justify all lines. They all spread out for the width of the entire box. For now, I am just going to go ahead and center this. Another thing, and actually what I would probably do is make this two separate words of text. So, that way I have total control of where I want to put hansel and where I want to put petal.
Now one other quick thing. If you want to play around with the colors of your text, you do that really easily here. I'd actually want a black fill and no stroke. The very quick way to do that is I can make sure that the stroke is active, and make sure it's in front of the fill swatch, and then click the No button right here, which will eradicate the stroke and make it so that there is no stroke on our text. I might need to select that first, then click that button. Very good. And then let's make the fill color active, and then because black-and-white are such common colors, we have a black and a white swatch right here.
If we wanted to use the Eyedropper, we could click the Eyedropper and then select a color from our scene, like this blue. We could do that if we wanted to, but again, we could also just click and use that black. And that way if I click the Selection tool, just select this selection and move it around. There we have text that closely kind of resembles the original hansel & petal and it's black, like we like it. And also again, we are not lining things up here because this probably should be two separate lines of text. But now that we are in the ballpark ready to start talking about bringing this to life with some animation, there are some very advanced and complex ways to do that, but actually, we are going to look at some very quick and easy ways to do that as well.
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