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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 I'm sure you know by now, adding textures to your graphics can definitely create some visual interest; however, with type there are a few things you need to be aware off: drift, drift, and drift. Oh yeah, too much detail. If you don't know what I mean by drift, don't worry; we'll get to it in a quick second. But let's start by looking at our project. As you can see, if you're joining me from the last video, we have background that I created just using some two- dimensional layers that were scanned of some paper strokes.
We just offset these layers in 3D space. What we want to do is add some type into the scene, but since there's so much texture and detail going on, I want to make sure to add some grain to the type. So press Ctrl+T or Command+T and grab your Text tool, and let's go ahead and click anywhere in the canvas, and I'll type the word "REVEAL" in all caps. I specifically chose Arial Black because it's a chunky font and it will allow us to see the texture.
But one thing I want you to be aware of, don't choose a font with too small of a serif because then you could actually add more detail and thus create more noise in the little, fine detailed areas, because a font within serifs already has plenty of detail. Anyway, we have our REVEAL type, and it's in Arial Black. Now, let's go ahead and add some texture to it. I am just going to scroll up in my canvas to 100%, so we can better see the type and look at the results as we add some grain.
So to add texture, let's import a texture. In the Project pane, go ahead and double-click. I want to add some degraded texture, and I remember I had this Spackle.jpg in the images folder under my assets. Let's choose the Spackle.jpg and click Open. The easiest way to add this texture to the type is by just using a track matte. So if we click and drag our Spackle layer right underneath of the Type layer, we can then go to our Track Matte and click on None.
Make sure to choose Alpha Matte "REVEAL". That way it's going to look at alpha channel of the text REVEAL, and sure enough, we've added some detail to the texture. This detail is a little large, so I'll just press S to adjust the scale. As I scale this, you can see I've decreased the size of the grain. Let's go ahead and scale that down just a little bit more. Okay. We can reposition this layers just by clicking anywhere on the canvas. I am going to click right near my center point here, because I know that's the center of my texture.
I had that really interesting line of degradation in my initial photo, and I want to make sure to leave that within the type, because I think it kind of add a sense of character. So, let's change the scale down to around 20. There we go. So that's starting to look a little bit better. Earlier when I was talking about drift, I was talking about what happens when the type moves separately from its texture. So, for example, if I press P to open up my position data for the Spackle layer, if you click and drag, notice the fill for the type is actually drifting within the letters.
Now, this is a relatively easy fix if you're going to animate this entire word as one specific animation. All you have to do is make sure that one of the layers is parented to the other. So, I want the Spackle layer to be the child of the REVEAL type layer. So I'll grab the parent pick whip from Spackle and choose REVEAL. So now when I select the REVEAL layer and open up its position properties, if I scrub through the scene, you can see my texture is stuck to the type.
You know a little earlier I moved the texture around and the type stayed stationary. I just want to reinforce the fact if I change the parent layer for the Spackle back to None and I go ahead and move the type, notice I'm still getting the same drift that I had when I was just moving the fill. Either way, you just want to make sure that these two things are tied together. I'm going to select the REVEAL layer as my parent. So if I click on the pick whip for the Spackle and choose REVEAL, now REVEAL is the parent layer.
So again, if I were to animate this, I would only animate the position for the REVEAL Type layer. There is one other thing I want you to be aware of when you're talking about textures and type, and that has to do with actual animators. So if I collapse the type layer and open up the text, I could go ahead and choose this animate parameter. Let's animate the position. Now with the Position selected, if we go ahead and click and drag, notice as I'm clicking and dragging, since the type is moving within its own layer, I'm getting the drift because the Spackle texture is the child of the type layer itself, not the actual text generator within an animator.
So if we want that to happen, what we need to do is actually select the Position parameter for the Spackle fill, and go up under Animation and choose Add Expression. So to finally apply this expression, what we need to do is scroll up and make sure that the position data is visible for the range selector the same time the position for this expression is visible. So, now let's apply this expression. Go ahead and click on the pick whip for the Expression position and drag it to the position data for Animator 1.
If I go to the Position section for Animator 1, and start moving the type around, the texture is applied. Just be aware, again, watch out for the drift, because if I went through the range selector and adjust at the end, I am getting that drift again, and that's just because these layers are animating within their own parameter, as opposed to the overall position data of the entire group of letters. Okay, so that was a lot about drift.
But there is one last thing I want to show you, and that's how to apply a texture to a layer without necessarily having to have it set up like this, where we are using a track matte. So to do that, let's just create a duplicate of this REVEAL type layer. Turn on the visibility for REVEAL 2, and we can go ahead and turn off the fill for the original REVEAL type. Let's go and apply the Spackle texture, but this time all we have to do is go up under Effect, go down to Stylize and choose Texturize.
With the Texturize effect, notice the first option here is the ability to choose a texture layer. Since I already have the Spackle layer in my composition, I am just going to go ahead and choose that from the pulldown. Now check it out; I can actually see the texture within the type itself. It's sort of hard to see, but you can adjust some of the parameters to make it a little easier. So I'll up the Texture Contrast by clicking and dragging to the right. Now you notice that the noise is a little bit more pronounced.
There is another nice option; you can change the placement. If you have a really small texture, you could tile it throughout the letters, or I could just say Center Texture or Stretch Texture to Fit. Let's go ahead and choose that last one. Check that out. I ended up with a really tight texture, and that's just because it's scaled the width of that texture layer to only be the width of this REVEAL layer. Let's go ahead and select this Spackle.jpg in our Timeline and open up its position parameters.
Since I still have an expression from the previous animation example, I am just going to go ahead and delete that expression. If you select the Position parameter, you can go under Animations and say Remove Expression. Now that that's been removed, I can go ahead and click and drag and adjust my position data for the layer, and you notice that nothing is happening. This is kind of interesting, because again, I have the layer within my composition, but it's not actually affecting anything in this REVEAL 2 layer, because when you use Texturize, all it's doing is just referencing the luminance data for that texture.
It's not doing anything else, as far as dealing with the position of the layer, its place in the hierarchy, its visibility, nothing. See, even if I adjust the Opacity down to 0, we still see our texture perfectly fine. With our texture applied to the REVEAL layer, the last thing we want to do is just tweak the color. Since this is still editable text, with REVEAL 2 selected, we can just come right over here to the Color and click on the Color window and actually, I am going to open my eyedropper and choose something that's a little more directly tied to the background.
So, yeah, let's choose this sort of bright orange color, and we can click OK. So now what's making this type pop is the actual texture of the background. Now sure enough, I can go into Layer Styles and add an outer glow or add a drop shadow, but all in all, I think you have got some pretty interesting tips as to how to apply texture to letters specifically. You're probably thinking yourself, how in the world do I get a nicely detailed type animation without having to fly the type around in one big chunk? And the answer is to go into Photoshop and actually use Photoshop to create the textures for each individual letter.
Yes, you'll have to rasterize the type in many situations when you import it into After Effects. You'll want it to be the proper scale within your scene, so you don't have any loss in quality. But again, all in all, to apply textures that stick directly to letters, just go to Photoshop, and that way you'll have a lot more control over each individual parameter. I'm sure you're probably raring to go and create your own type textures, but just don't forget: watch out for the drift.
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