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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.
Unfortunately, I've found that many artists really don't take the time to play around with choosing and defining color palettes for their projects. That's actually kind of ironic given just how much money businesses pay to brand their identity and colors. For example, what color do you think of when I say Target? Or what about Walmart? So the next time you watch at a sporting event take a second look at the logos of the sponsors. I think you might be floored at the amount of color shifts and random variations you might notice.
Now, I know you might think I'm being picky, but when a company spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on researching the psychology around specific colors and developing their own unique look, you might want to reconsider your definition of picky. So anyway, you might be asking yourself, what does this have to do with motion graphics? Well, whenever you create a show package, in essence you're branding that show, and any good marketing executive who's dealt with branding will tell you, color is key.
So for this project, we're going to create a color palette for a kayak logo, and in turn we're going to import that into After Effects. I'll also show you some tips that you can use to make these colors easily accessible in After Effects at anytime. So to get started, let's look at this logo in its Illustrator environment. You might be asking, why Illustrator? And I'll show you in the second, but Illustrator has some pretty powerful color tools. But before I get to that, I want to show you some of the options that are available in adjusting different elements in the video settings within Illustrator.
So first off, whenever you create a new document in Illustrator with the new preset video settings, you'll end up with a document that looks like this, with Title/Safe and Action/Safe on a transparent background. Now I find the transparent background to be a little distracting when I'm trying to choose colors, so the first thing I like to do is turn off the transparency grid, and you can do that by going up under View and choosing Hide Transparency Grid. Now with our white background, I'd also like to hide all these other green options.
It's really important to understand, when you first create any video preset document in Illustrator, it creates two things called artboards. Now I'm not going to get derailed and get hardcore into artboards. I just want you to go down to this little area down here in the lower-left and make sure that you have artboard 1 selected. There is a technical reason why there are two artboards, but again, I don't want to get sidetracked too far. So with artboard 1 selected, in order to turn off all these options, you have to double-click on the Artboard tool in your Tool palette.
So when you double-click, you'll open the Artboard Options, and here notice there's a section for Display. So we want to turn off Show Center Mark, Show Cross Hairs, and Video Safe Areas. That way when I go ahead and press OK, now all that green stuff is hidden. I still have my rulers up here, but that's really not that distracting. I wanted to get rid of everything in the general vicinity of my logo. When you're finished editing the artboard, make sure to grab one of your Selection tools so you don't accidentally add more artboards to your projects.
Now that we have our logo on our canvas, it's time to start exploring some different color options. So the first thing I want to do is select this background square, and as you can see, I've got a gradient in here and an outside edge. So first thing I want to do is actually adjust the color of this outside edge, which is called the stroke. So if you click on this little stroke box in the background to bring it to the foreground, you'll notice in the Color panel here, we can adjust the colors by clicking on the sliders.
Now that's all well and good, but a lot of times what I like to do is just jump right into the swatches palette. So if the interface of Illustrator is looking kind of funny for you, you might want to go up and change it to Typography; that's what I'm working in right now. For you diehard Photoshop users, if you want, you can click on this and choose Like Photoshop, and as you can see, it's actually going to reform Illustrator into a very Photoshop-esque look with a navigator and different things like that. But for now let's go ahead and just leave it set to Typography.
So in the Swatches panel, if you want to get started with a specific color, all you have to do is just click right on that swatch. Now one of the really nice things about using the video presets in Illustrator are the fact that it will default to choosing RGB colors when you use the presets, so you don't have to worry about choosing a CMYK color. This is great that I've chosen one base color, but really what I want to do is open up a set of options for this color, and the easiest way to do that is to go up under Window and choose the Color Guide.
When you bring up the Color Guide, it should populate at the top of the page right here, and you'll notice I have this guide and what it does, I can scroll up and down and choose different colors, but as you can see, it's rather limited. That's because I have this orange color chosen as the base color to use for these set of options. So right, now when I choose a specific color, look what happens. I get a bunch of other options that kind of work in harmony with whatever color it is I am selecting in my Swatches panel.
Now, if you click on the pulldown here in the Color Guide, you notice you can choose a bunch of different options to see if you want something that's a little more high contrast or if you want something that is a little more cut down, like a split complementary. So here in this window below, I can choose different tints as a base color, or I can choose different shades, which will actually make things darker. Now, you won't see these colors update until you actually click on this button.
When you click on the button, then it will set that new color as the base color and update the corresponding colors. So this is really cool and helpful if you like a specific color and you just want to have some other colors that are kind of complementary. For you visual learners, what you want to do is go here and click on this Edit or Apply Colors button because it will open up this the Recolor Artwork option. In here, we'll get a set of options.
If you click on this Edit button, you'll get this huge color wheel. I love clicking on this because with my base color here, I can go ahead and drag this around and it's automatically going to adjust the corresponding colors based on how I drag around the color wheel. For the kayaks, I want to choose kind of an outdoorsy color, and as you can see all of these colors are really bright. So down here I am going to click on this slider and bring the brightness down, so when I drag around over towards this green, I get a little more of that sort of outdoorsy green color look.
Let me actually bring that way down. And I don't like these complementary colors, so I'm going to click right back up here, and you'll notice I'll get the same set of options that I had in the Color Guide. So here let's choose Tetrad 2, and as you notice, if I click around here, I'll get a set of other options for my color palette. I don't quite like some of these, and you notice it's kind of interesting when you choose the different options how adjusting one or the other color will affect some of the other color droppers.
But as you can see here, I'm choosing a bunch of different rather interesting colors by using this option here. You can also go and save your color groups by going over here and clicking New Color Group. So this Color Group that I just created, if I wanted to save this--and I don't until I just adjust this purple-- okay, let's say I want to save this.
All you have to do is click his New color group and now, I have a new color group here that's saved. If I wanted to name it, I could just name it here, but this works perfectly fine. With this new color group, if I want to actually have that available, I can't just drag it and drop it over here to my swatches. What I have to do is click OK, and then once I click OK, it automatically populates the Swatches field. Let's say these are the colors I would like to choose. Well with my stroke in the foreground, I can just click this green color and make sure that that's actually squared away. But now if I want to adjust the fill, let me open up the gradient here, and to edit a gradient, I want to go up under Window and go down to Gradient. In the Gradient panel, I just want to adjust the black settings because I still want to have it kind of gradiate to White.
So with the black color chip selected, I can go over to my Swatches panel and choose a different color. So there I have a blue color, and actually that failed miserably, so let me drag that right up into my gradient, and there we go. There is my blue, and I can just delete this black one by dragging down off the page, and now I'll drag my blue back over there. And we need to reset the gradient to Radial. So that's starting to look a little bit better. We can change the type color as well, doing kind of a similar technique.
Now since this type is already changed into outlines, all I have to do is just select my Wave type here, and if I want to choose a different color, I can go ahead and just click on that other color. So let me go ahead and select King, and I'll click on that, and just to make the Crown pop, I'll select that blue. I'll leave this setup like this, but you get the general idea. If you choose a color palette that you like, you can easily go around and colorize your specific graphic.
To optimize this for After Effects, all we really need to do is just create some color boxes that have these specific colors. So since I have one, two, three, four, five different colors here, I'm just going to go ahead and create a rectangle with my Rectangle tool. And since I have this blue already selected, it populated. And now to create a duplicate of this, I'll just hold down Alt or Option and as I drag, I'll get a new cube, and so I can just click again, Alt or Option.
There we go. Click again. Again, create a duplicate, and I can do this last one here. There we go, and I'll just slide these all back onto my canvas here. And so now, I have my color palettes saved, ready for import into After Effects. So let's just go ahead and save this. I'll save this as Colors-Chosen, and I'll save that right into my Ill-Sources folder for ch06, and I'll click Save.
Again, make sure Create PDF Compatible File is selected and click OK. Now, if you didn't see in the last video, I wanted to choose that option for the PDF so if I imported the layered Illustrator file, all the layers would come in okay in After Effects. So now that we're all set, let's import it into After Effects, and I'll show you a quick, easy way to save the colors for easy access later in the comp. Double-click in your Project pane, choose KingWave-Chosen, and we don't have to import it as a layered document; we can just import it as Footage.
I'll click Open and choose Merge layers. Now, I can drag that right down into my Timeline and sure enough, it's open here. So to have colors easily accessible at any given time in After Effects, all you have to do is create a new solid. So Command+Y is the key command, Ctrl+ Y on the PC. But just grab your Color Dropper and choose one of the options, and you notice now I have a new solid and it's in the Solids folder in my Project pane.
I'll just turn off the visibility in my Timeline. So we can do this for all the rest of the colors: Command+Y, just choose another color, and click OK. You get the general idea. If we do that for every single color, we'll have all the colors easily accessible at any given time, because you can just take your eyedropper and click on any of the solids and notice it will update right here in After Effects. So the next time you need to create a logo or a title information, I hope you're inspired open Illustrator and spend a little time choosing your color palette to design a true brand identity for your next project.
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