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Creating layer solids and shapes with masks

From: After Effects CC Essential Training

Video: Creating layer solids and shapes with masks

Layer solids are so simple. It's staggering how helpful and flexible they can be in your daily workflow. Now, to best show you what a layer solid is, we should just go ahead and create one. I want to make sure you have the Project panel selected, so if it's not already selected, just click in the Project panel. Now, there are two ways to create layer solids. The first way is to go up under the Layer menu and choose New. But you notice it's greyed out And that's because I have the Project panel selected. Whenever you create layer solids using this method, you need to specify exactly which composition you'd like the solid to reside in. So I'm going to deselect my Layer pull-down here and just click in the Composition window for my Hand comp.

Creating layer solids and shapes with masks

Layer solids are so simple. It's staggering how helpful and flexible they can be in your daily workflow. Now, to best show you what a layer solid is, we should just go ahead and create one. I want to make sure you have the Project panel selected, so if it's not already selected, just click in the Project panel. Now, there are two ways to create layer solids. The first way is to go up under the Layer menu and choose New. But you notice it's greyed out And that's because I have the Project panel selected. Whenever you create layer solids using this method, you need to specify exactly which composition you'd like the solid to reside in. So I'm going to deselect my Layer pull-down here and just click in the Composition window for my Hand comp.

If yours isn't already open, just double-click on the Hand comp. I have the timeline selected, that's perfectly fine as well because it's for the hand counts. So let's go up under Layer and choose New > Solid. When I've done that our solid settings open and if yours don't look like this, that's perfectly fine because the solid settings will always remember the last layer solid that you created. So I'm just going to reset my color to black by clicking in the little color well here and I'll make it black. All right, now if we look at the width and height for the size, the default should be your Comp settings.

If you don't have yours set up like this, just go ahead and click, make comp size, and it'll make sure that the solid is that size. All solids created are some form of square or rectangle. There are no round edge solids. Now if I wanted this to be half the size of my comp, I'll go ahead and lock my aspect ratio. And then just do a little quick math. And choose half the width, so 640. And since I have this locked, it'll automatically change the height. Now, for units, I like leaving it in pixels, 'cuz we're in video.

But as you can see, you could change the units. And our specific format is already square pixels. But if you click on the Pulldown you can choose whatever size you need based on your project settings. Now when I click OK, we'll create a black layer solid. Now like I said before there are not round edged solids, so if you want a round the edges, what you need to do is create a mask for that layer solid. Before I create the mask I just want to explain what we're doing. We're going to create a layer solid as a background for your logo and then we'll use that logo in two different compositions. So let's start by actually making a circle for our layer solid. Now since I still have the layer solid selected, let's go up to our Tool panel and grab the Ellipse tool.

If you don't have the Ellipse tool currently active, press Q on your keyboard. Every time you press Q, it'll cycle through the different shapes that you can create. Now since I have a layer selected, when I click and drag with this tool, its going to go ahead and create a mask for the layer that I have selected. Now I'm going to hover my mouse right over the center of the anchorpoint of this layer. The reason I'm doing this, I want the center of my circle to be in the center of my layer solid. So once thats lined up, I'm going to click and drag.

And notice as I start to drag its already cropping the edges of my solid off. If I hold down Shift it will transform in proportion. If I hold down Shift and Command it'll scale up around the center point. Now as I drag this out notice the mask will go beyond the edges of the solid. Since the mask is tied to the layer solid, any adjustments that I make, I just need to be aware of the size of the actual layer solid if I really want the mask to just maintain its particular shape. Go ahead and make the mask just a little bit smaller than the size of the layer solid.

I want to adjust the color of this solid, and to do that, you can press Cmd + Shift + Y or Ctrl + Shift + Y on a PC, and that'll open your solid settings. And here I can change the colour. And once I change it, let's say I want to change it to kind of a teal blue colour. I'm just going to click over here and there we go. A little cyan, and I click OK. Notice it's automatically changed the name to that cyan colour, and I'll click OK. Now we need to add our logo into the circle.

So let's go to the graphics folder in the project panel and click and drag our logo down into the timeline. Now with the logo over the circle I'm going to press S and click and drag on the scale parameter to scale this down around the center point. Now notice as the illustrator file was scaled the control handles for the file are way out here on the sides. That's just an interesting point if you're trying to re-position something or scale something directly in the Comp window. You want to know where the edges of the handles for that layer are. For example, if I select layer 2 here, you can see the handles have already resized based on the size of my mask.

Now, that brings up a good point, notice the edges of the mask are perfectly centered on the center of the layer. I did that on purpose, because if we open our transform options for layer two if we needed to rotate this layer for any particular reason I wanted to make sure that the mask didn't wobble around. If you need to move the mask on the layer, you can select the mask by clicking on the mask in the timeline and then if you have your selection tool selected, by pressing the V key, you can click on anyone of the control handles and since all four are selected, they'll all move around the layer.

Now notice as I'm moving around, the rotation of the layer actually was applied, even though we couldn't see it. If I click and drag on the rotation again here, you can see what's happening with that solid. I'm going to press Cmd + Z a couple times to undo and get back to where we were. Now since this shape was created with a mask on my layer solid, I'm always seeing the edges of the mask in addition to the solid. If you ever just want to turn off the mask so you can better see what's going on in the scene visually, you can click on this button here, in the bottom left corner of the Comp window. It's just two to the right of the magnification settings. Go ahead and click on that, and that'll toggle the mask on and off. With this off, I'm looking at the edge of the circle. When I go to render this project, this is exactly what it's going to look like. Even if I had the visibility of the mask on, you wouldn't see the mask, they don't render.

Now, I'll turn that off and go up under Effect > Generate. Stroke, and the reason I did that is I want to add a slick stroke around the outside of my circle just to sort of weight the logo a little bit better inside of that circle.Now if you notice the next control panel is already popped upon the left side of the interface. So if you click and drag on the brush size, we can go ahead and increase the edge size of the circle. Now we've got everything set up kind of the way that I'd like.

Lets go ahead and collapse layer 2 and collapse layer 1. Now I'd like to copy this logo and the background circle into another composition. So I'm going to click on the layer solid and hold down shift and click on layer one. With both layers selected I'm going to press Cmd + C or Ctrl + C to copy, and lets jump over to our sprint comp If you don't have it in your timeline down here you can go back to your project panel and double click on the sprint comp. Now let's go ahead and press Cmd + V or Ctrl + V to paste, and you notice the logo pasted underneath of the solid. Well let me undo to show you what happened there. We jump back to our hand comp.

The reason it did that, we selected from the bottom up. Now the order in which you select your layers will determine how they actually get pasted into the next composition. So I’m going to click on the top layer and hold down shift and click on the layer below. Now if I Cmd + C to copy, I can go to the other comp and Cmd + V to paste and they will paste in the proper order. The last cool thing about their solids is the fact that they actually are imported into the project panel. If we open the folder solids, that After Effects automatically created, you can see my solids in here. Should you ever want to create a layer solid without already having an account, you can come up under file and choose import, which is solid. And you can get to the same layer solid menus and import a solid directly into your comp pane.

Now with your solid selected, let's go ahead and make a change. And I'm going to show you how to update under both comps. So with the layer side still selected, let's go up under layer and choose solid settings or shift Cmd + Y or Shift + Ctrl + Y and let's change the color a little bit. I'll click on that teal color in the color dropper and go ahead and change that to blue. When I click OK and click OK one more time, it'll affect both comps because of this check box right here, effect all layers that use the solid It's going to affect two layers. When I click OK, now notice I have a blue solid in my sprint comp and I have a blue solid in my hand comp.

So as you can see layer solids are relatively simple in their creation but once you actually get working with them, they're extraordinarily flexible for your different workflows.

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This video is part of

Image for After Effects CC Essential Training
After Effects CC Essential Training

110 video lessons · 52498 viewers

Ian Robinson
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 8s
    1. What is After Effects?
      1m 8s
  2. 30m 55s
    1. Welcome
      1m 11s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 19s
    3. Relinking missing footage
      1m 54s
    4. Working with keyboard shortcuts
      1m 23s
    5. Updating After Effects with Creative Cloud
      1m 25s
    6. Different ways to use After Effects
      59s
    7. Exploring the interface of After Effects
      12m 0s
    8. Exploring important preferences and setting up the cache
      6m 20s
    9. Video terminology
      4m 24s
  3. 1h 0m
    1. The six foundations of After Effects
      11m 5s
    2. Understanding compositions
      10m 35s
    3. Creating and manipulating layers
      9m 49s
    4. Building animation
      6m 29s
    5. Working with effects
      7m 5s
    6. Introduction to 3D
      8m 45s
    7. Understanding how to render
      6m 48s
  4. 38m 54s
    1. Importing elements
      5m 53s
    2. Organizing projects
      3m 51s
    3. Building compositions with layers
      6m 17s
    4. Animating with keyframes
      10m 0s
    5. Adding effects and graphics
      8m 7s
    6. Output techniques
      4m 46s
  5. 44m 49s
    1. Exploring composition and project settings
      6m 48s
    2. Importing Photoshop files as compositions
      8m 39s
    3. Importing Illustrator files as compositions
      7m 41s
    4. Viewing files in the comp panel
      4m 42s
    5. Understanding Pre-compose
      4m 21s
    6. Positioning layers with snapping
      4m 55s
    7. Interpreting footage
      4m 0s
    8. Keyboard shortcuts for compositions
      3m 43s
  6. 1h 5m
    1. Defining layers
      5m 4s
    2. Creating type layers
      7m 38s
    3. Precise typesetting techniques
      5m 42s
    4. Creating layer solids and shapes with masks
      9m 6s
    5. Creating design elements with shape layers
      6m 10s
    6. Layer compositing: Masks, switches, and blend modes
      7m 35s
    7. Using track mattes
      4m 49s
    8. Precise compositing with variable-width feathered masks
      9m 24s
    9. Working smarter by swapping layers
      7m 6s
    10. Keyboard shortcuts for layers
      2m 35s
  7. 1h 27m
    1. Understanding animation
      6m 20s
    2. Adding and adjusting keyframes
      9m 52s
    3. Understanding keyframe interpolation
      6m 20s
    4. Adjusting keyframes in the Graph Editor
      8m 26s
    5. The power of parenting
      5m 26s
    6. Using null objects
      6m 46s
    7. Creating expressions with the pick whip
      6m 25s
    8. Creating and adjusting motion paths
      9m 56s
    9. Building complex graphics with Pre-compose
      4m 54s
    10. Preparing audio for animation
      8m 57s
    11. Generating graphics with audio
      9m 13s
    12. Working smarter: Navigating the Timeline
      4m 32s
  8. 58m 59s
    1. Understanding the order of effects
      5m 58s
    2. Generating backgrounds with effects
      5m 33s
    3. Generating a scribble effect
      8m 12s
    4. Animating strokes with effects
      6m 37s
    5. Using adjustment layers
      5m 52s
    6. Adding gradients and glows
      4m 30s
    7. Saving pan and scan presets
      5m 20s
    8. Fixing exposure with Levels
      3m 5s
    9. Fixing color casts with Color Finesse 3
      9m 57s
    10. Masking individual effects
      3m 55s
  9. 55m 24s
    1. Understanding 3D in After Effects
      9m 2s
    2. Intro to cameras
      7m 51s
    3. Intro to lights and material options
      8m 56s
    4. Animating cameras
      12m 39s
    5. Creating depth of field
      6m 48s
    6. Exploring the ray-traced 3D renderer
      10m 8s
  10. 1h 43m
    1. Understanding CINEMA 4D Lite and After Effects
      1m 32s
    2. 3D foundations
      10m 43s
    3. Matching CINEMA 4D Lite and After Effects projects
      8m 9s
    4. Understanding the CINEMA 4D Lite interface
      7m 31s
    5. Creating 3D projects from Illustrator files
      7m 28s
    6. Exploring modeling in CINEMA 4D Lite
      8m 8s
    7. Applying deformers
      5m 59s
    8. Understanding materials
      7m 32s
    9. Lighting your scene
      8m 14s
    10. Looking at detailed materials
      7m 51s
    11. Animating in CINEMA 4D Lite
      6m 51s
    12. Animating cameras in CINEMA 4D Lite
      5m 45s
    13. Working with CINEWARE
      9m 38s
    14. Render settings and the multipass workflow
      8m 38s
  11. 23m 35s
    1. Rendering with Adobe Media Encoder
      4m 45s
    2. Recommended settings for rendering graphics
      10m 21s
    3. Creating presets in the Render Queue
      4m 0s
    4. Prerendering with Import and Replace Usage
      3m 18s
    5. Working smarter: One render, multiple outputs
      1m 11s
  12. 29m 3s
    1. Creating type animators
      8m 52s
    2. Creating and animating type on a path
      5m 32s
    3. Animating shape layers
      8m 45s
    4. Animating brushstrokes with Paint
      5m 54s
  13. 23m 31s
    1. Retiming with Time Remapping
      8m 56s
    2. Retiming footage with Timewarp
      9m 10s
    3. Smoothing shaky camera footage with Warp Stabilizer VFX
      5m 25s
  14. 16m 6s
    1. Getting started with Keylight
      8m 43s
    2. Refining your key with Keylight
      3m 42s
    3. Cleaning up keys with masks
      3m 41s
  15. 26m 47s
    1. Rotoscoping with paths
      6m 47s
    2. Introducing the Roto Brush
      5m 58s
    3. Refining the Roto Brush
      6m 12s
    4. Using the Refine Edge tool
      7m 50s
  16. 27m 13s
    1. Creating a single point track
      7m 38s
    2. Applying motion with Warp Stabilizer VFX
      4m 29s
    3. Warp Stabilizer VFX: Reversible Stabilization workflow
      7m 47s
    4. Solving cameras
      7m 19s
  17. 6m 30s
    1. Archiving your projects
      3m 50s
    2. Removing unused footage
      1m 25s
    3. Moving compositions between projects
      1m 15s
  18. 2m 24s
    1. What's next?
      2m 24s

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