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After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics with Ian Robinson covers some of the core principles used to create motion graphics, breaking them down into smaller groups of applied techniques in After Effects. The course explores everything from gathering inspiration to integrating traditional typography, transitional elements, animated textures, color, and more into motion graphics. Instructions for building a toolkit with templates and a style guide for future projects are also included. Exercise files accompany the course.
As any seasoned motion graphics professional will tell you, about 90% of all motion graphics are made up of smaller graphic elements, and it's really the process of building a library of these smaller elements that can be very time consuming. But if you're wise as you build these elements, you'll save them off for future use. So as you build up your list to finish projects, you've got that much more at your disposal. Now if you watched any of my earlier videos, you probably know that we'll be working on a project called Revealing the Artist, and the whole inspiration for that project was just the application of ink on rice paper.
Now, even though that doesn't have a digital application, we went ahead and scanned a couple of those brushstrokes to use in After Effect projects. So for this video, I'm going to show you how we can go ahead and convert this analog scan brushstroke into a file that we can use in our After Effects project. So let's go ahead and jump into Photoshop, and I've opened up one of the brushstroke scans that I saved in our Project folder. Now as you can see with the scan, we've got the brushstroke sitting on this kind of turquoise background. And if we zoom in on the background here, you can notice there's quite a bit of noise. So what I want to do is actually knock this out, but I don't want to spend a lot of time using selection tools or anything else; I'm a going to use kind of an old-school technique.
Let's jump to the Channels panel and under Channels, select the red channel by clicking right in the layer itself. Don't turn on or off any of the eyeballs; just click within the layer. All right, now I'm choosing the red layer, because as you can see with the thumbnail, it has the highest contrast between the background and the rice paper. So let's use this as a starting point to create our mat. Go ahead and click and drag on the red channel and bring it down to the layer at the bottom of your Layers panel.
Now, we just duplicated the red channel, but actually what we did is created what's called an alpha channel. Now, this alpha channel is what we're going to use to create the mat. And in order to actually have a selectable area, we need to flatten out both the black levels and the white levels within this image. So to do that press Command+L, or Ctrl+L, to open up your Level control. Now to quickly set the black levels, click the black eyedropper in the middle, on the right-hand side of the Levels panel.
Now, go down to the lower level of the image and you'll see this kind of darkish gray, but the latest version of the dark gray. Go ahead and click on that and now we've done what's called crushing the black levels. We've crushed out anything else that was any darker gray than the pixel that we clicked on. Now, the only problem is we still have the brushstroke in the middle and the paper's actually kind of gray, so let's do the same thing for the white levels. Grab the white eyedropper and towards the top of the rice paper, go ahead and click in one of the darker gray areas.
Now we've knocked out all that extra grain and noise, so we are almost there. Go ahead and click OK to set this level adjustment for our red copy channel. Now to fill in the rest of this white area, just go ahead and use the Lasso tool. I personally like the Polygonal Lasso tool because it allows you to go ahead and just click once and it will draw a straight line out every time you click. So I'm just going to click once and click again, and I'm just making sure that I'm selecting all of the dark brushstrokes that we see, making sure not to accidentally select any of that kind of fuzzy tattered edges, because that was the whole point behind this scan. It's that tattered edge that's going to help deliver the look of realism once we go ahead and finish our selection. So once you get back towards the beginning, just double-click and your selection will be set.
Now in order to fill this with white, all you have to do is reset your foreground and background colors by clicking on this chip in the upper-left corner. Now that we've reset our black and white levels, let's press Alt or Option and the Delete key in the upper-right portion of the keyboard to automatically fill from the foreground. Again, it's Alt+Delete or Option+Delete. The Delete key is also named the Backspace key on many PC keyboards. So let's go ahead and Command+D to deselect our white area, and now we have a perfect mat. So I want to apply this mat to the image to knock out the background. The easiest way to do that, make sure the red copy layer is selected, go up under Select and choose Load Selection.
Now since the red copy channel is already chosen by default, just press OK. With our selection set up, we can enable RGB just by clicking again in the layer of RGB, not necessarily the eyeballs. Now jump back over to a Layers section and double-click the background layer to make it live. When we click OK, now I can apply a quick mask to layer 0. So if we go ahead and click this button down here, the third from the left at the bottom of the Layers panel, that will add a quick mask to our graphic.
Now, we're almost done. The only problem I'm seeing is there's a little bit of this green actually bleeding into the image. If I zoom in using Command+Plus or Ctrl+Plus, here you can see the green is just sort of bleeding in, but I do like the tattered edge. To show you the tattered edge a little bit better, let's hold down Alt or Option and click on the layer mask thumbnail in the Layers panel. Here you can see, now I have all this detail to the edges of my rice paper which is perfect; it's exactly what we're looking for. But like I said, we need to fix the color bleeding that's happening around the edges, so click on the thumbnail on the left side of your Layers panel, and now what we need to do is just convert this image to black and white. Since it is a black brushstroke on white paper, we don't have to worry about actually trying to desaturate the green; just go up under Image, go to Adjustments and choose Desaturate.
Desaturate the entire thing. Now if that didn't work, make sure you clicked on the left thumbnail before you tried to choose Desaturate. Okay. Now we actually have our rice paper and our brushstroke ready to go. But before we bring it in to animate, go ahead and drag the layer mask down towards the Trash can by clicking and dragging, and when you let go, choose Apply to apply the layer mask. Now we have destructively gotten rid of the background and the layer mask, but our brushstroke is cleanly and happily existing on its own layer.
So I know that seemed like a lot of work, but let's check out the graphic that we created just form the inspiration of this one brushstroke. (video playing) So as you can see, you can create a full-featured title open just off the inspiration of one element. So if I haven't told you already, go outside, go talk to people, go shoot pictures, go scan images, interact with the world.
I promise you, it will make you a better artist.
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