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Creating layer solids and shapes with masks

From: After Effects CS6 Essential Training

Video: Creating layer solids and shapes with masks

Layer solids, also called color layers, are some of the most basic elements you can create within After Effects. And even though they may seem kind of basic, they're one of the most flexible elements you can create within a composition. Now if you are joining me from the previous video, you can see we have the lower third graphic here. I've just taken this entire composition, add a little Drop Shadow to the text, and then I dropped that into a new layer solids comp. Now in here I'm just going to use this as reference so we can create some new shapes to kind of mimic this shape here.

Creating layer solids and shapes with masks

Layer solids, also called color layers, are some of the most basic elements you can create within After Effects. And even though they may seem kind of basic, they're one of the most flexible elements you can create within a composition. Now if you are joining me from the previous video, you can see we have the lower third graphic here. I've just taken this entire composition, add a little Drop Shadow to the text, and then I dropped that into a new layer solids comp. Now in here I'm just going to use this as reference so we can create some new shapes to kind of mimic this shape here.

So to get started I want to use a layer solid. To create a layer solid you can go up under the Layer menu and choose New > Solid. Now if you ever go up to the top menus and you don't get this option here, chances are you have Project panel active. You need to have the timeline active that way when you go to create your layer solid, After Effects knows which composition you're going to place it in. So when we click Solid here the Solid Settings will pop up based on whatever solid you created the last time.

So I happen to create a cyan color the last time, yours may be white. Regardless, down here at the bottom you can change the color if you just click in the color well and drag anywhere in this color area here, let's say over towards white, that would work or if you drag over to the right side of the color well, you can see this is more saturated. So let's drag over there and then this bar here with the two arrows, if you click one of those arrows and move down you can choose a different hue.

So I'll choose something relatively green and click OK. Now if we really wanted to mimic something from the graphic, we could click the Eye Dropper and then click directly on, let's say, this yellow orange shape here. The other thing you need to pay attention to with layer solids are their actual dimensions. You can quickly make any layer solid any size. For example, if I wanted a square, I could say make it 200 pixels and I'll press Tab to jump to Height and say 200 Pixels.

Now notice that the Aspect ratio is 1:1, we're using pixels and Square Pixels. So when I click OK, we'll have a square in the middle here. Now most of time when you're working with layer solids what you want to do is make them the size of the composition, especially if you're going to animate a mask on that solid. But before we do that I want to show you why you would probably want to animate the mask as opposed to the solid itself. See, any layer solid you can add a mask to by going up to your Tool panel and either choosing one of the shape options by clicking and holding, or grabbing the Pen tool if you wanted to create the custom shape.

Let's do something rather simple and click and hold on the Rectangle tool until you get down to the Ellipse tool. In here, since we still have Layer 1 selected, when I click and drag just anywhere in here noticed I'm getting that Ellipse. But look what happens if I start dragging off the edge of that solid. The edges of the solid appear. So typically, if I know I'm going to be making a custom shape and I want to use layer masks to create that shape, I won't just use a small solid, I'll make it the comp size.

Now since we've already created this solid, let's make sure the layer solid is selected and go up under Layer and choose Solid Settings. You could also use the keyboard shortcut Shift+Command+Y or Shift+Ctrl+Y on the PC. Now with the new Solid Settings set up, I can say Make Comp Size. When we choose that, it's automatically going to change the solid to the new size of the layer. Now notice when it did that it also changed the size of the mask. Now rather than having to deal with changing where the mask is and figuring out where the solid is, it might be easier just to start over.

So if you ever need to delete a mask off of a layer, go ahead and select the mask. Notice I'm not selecting this group here that says Masks. I'm selecting the actual mask itself, Mask 1. When you click on that in the timeline and press Delete on your keyboard that will delete your mask. Now let's turn off the visibility for this layer solid. In order to create this parallelogram shape, what we need to do is start with something that's relatively close. So if we go back up to our Shape tool and click and hold, instead of choosing Ellipse, let's choose the Rectangle tool.

Instead of dragging anywhere in the canvas, one of the tips I can offer when you're working with layer solids and you're making shapes, you want to start actually in the center of that layer. That way when you click and drag, if you hold down Shift, you'll keep it square in proportions, but if you hold down Command or Ctrl on the PC along with Shift, you can keep it square and scale it in a 1:1 proportion. I'll make it roughly the same size just visually, kind of eyeballing it and I'll go back and grab my Selection tool.

I have all four of these layer masks active. Here let me zoom in here, so you can see it a little better. And I'll actually turn off this lower third background so you can see it over black. And now with all four of the control vertices selected, I can click on the mask and move it. So I'm just going to press Command+Z to Undo and click outside of the mask to deselect. And then in order the get that parallelogram shape, I'll click on one and then hold down Shift and click on another.

Now you can see that these two are selected and these two are not, because if I zoom in again, here you can kind of see the black edge around the not selected points. All right, now let's zoom back out. Now all we have to do is click on this edge and drag. Now as we're dragging, you want to hold down Shift that way it will snap as you're dragging. So unfortunately, I started dragging in one direction too far before I held down Shift, so I'm just going to Command +Z to Undo that, and click and then hold down Shift and drag only to my left, there we go.

Now I've got my parallelogram. And if I wanted to be really precise, I could turn the visibility of the other layer on; press my spacebar and click and drag to move over. And then to quickly select all four points of the mask, if you just click on the mask name in the Layer panel, notice it won't just select all four; you need to deselect it and then click on it and then all four will be selected so we can drag it down here. Now it's important to note, as I'm dragging this down, if we actually go to this pulldown menu next to the mask where it says Add, if you click on that and choose None, and we zoom out in our canvas, you can see we have not moved the layer solid itself.

All we've been doing is moving the mask. If I grab one of the anchor points, I can move the mask anywhere and it will always be full inside of the composition. Let's change this switchback to Add, and here you can see it has cut that shape out, if we change this switch to Subtract now it switched to the inverse. Let's go back to Add and there's one last thing. If you open the triangle next to Mask 1, notice you can keyframe the Mask Path.

This is how you would actually create animation with the shape. If we wanted it to move from one side to the other, we just add a keyframe for the Mask Path, move our current time indicator and then move the mask. Now we've created animation. If you scrub in the timeline, you can see we've created a layer solid shape using masks, and we've applied basic animation.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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

78 video lessons · 55904 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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