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Defining layers

From: After Effects CC Essential Training

Video: Defining layers

After Effects makes it simple to create multiple layers in a composition to create your graphics. But what most people don't understand is there are different kinds of layers within the After Effects Composition. To show you what I mean, let's look down the Timeline panel. Select layer 7, this is a video layer, and I know this because the icon to the left of the name. Notice there are different icons for the different layers, like this icon is an Illustrator icon. This was created from importing an external Illustrator file. The T layer, this is a text layer and this is also known as a synthetic layer, because this is created solely from within After Effects.

Defining layers

After Effects makes it simple to create multiple layers in a composition to create your graphics. But what most people don't understand is there are different kinds of layers within the After Effects Composition. To show you what I mean, let's look down the Timeline panel. Select layer 7, this is a video layer, and I know this because the icon to the left of the name. Notice there are different icons for the different layers, like this icon is an Illustrator icon. This was created from importing an external Illustrator file. The T layer, this is a text layer and this is also known as a synthetic layer, because this is created solely from within After Effects.

Now, synthetic layers have an interesting property and that's the fact that they only exist within a composition. Let's see what that actually means. With layer 7 selected, our Top_Video_Fill layer, go ahead and control+click or right-click on the layer to pop-up this contextual menu. Navigate up to Reveal Layer Source in Project. When we select that, notice our video folder automatically popped open, and there's our video file. This is a great little shortcut you can use when your projects get extraordinarily large and you're having a hard time finding things. Now, Video and Audio layers are created when you import those assets into your After Effects project.

Same with the Illustrator file right here, layer 5. Let's go ahead and select layer 4, our Text layer. And if you right-click or control-click on the layer, notice we don't have an option to reveal the layer source in the project. If I wanted to add this text into another composition, I would have to copy the entire layer and then paste it into that new comp. Now, let's look at layer Solids. Layer 3 is a layer solid, so let's go ahead and select it and you guessed it, right click and reveal layer source and project.

Notice when we did that, it automatically selected this cyan number 4. What's interesting is the fact that I could go ahead and add this Solid into my composition if I wanted to. So, drag that down between layer 6 and 7 and notice now we have this kind of cool color background behind our text. I'm just going to move that down in the comp window by clicking on it and dragging it down a little bit. There we go, that the little bit better. Let's look at some of the other cool things we can do with layer Solids.

See, since this layer Solid is being referenced a solid that's in a Project panel, I can't actually trace how many times this individual file has been used. If I open up the Project panel here just by dragging on the right side, notice it says cyan sound four used two times. Now, another interesting thing, if you have this cyan solid selected in the Project panel and go up under Layer, and choose Solid Settings. We can change the color of this and it'll actually propagate that change back down into the project.

So, let's change this to red. And I want to choose a red that's similar to this background. So I'm going to click on the eye dropper next to the color and then click on this red. When I click OK, check it out. Now, that solid has changed both my layer 7 and in my bottom color. Now, things look a little bit than what we had done before and that has to do with the different blend modes that we're dealing with. So I want to undo that last change by just going up under Edit and choosing Undo Solid Settings.

But as you can see, for a layer that's created within After Effects itself, like a Layer Solid, you can literally use that like any other piece of source footage, like a Video Layer or a Photoshop or Illustrator Layer. Now, the last kind of layer I want to cover is called an Adjustment Layer. We haven't really used one yet, but it's one of my favorite layers in After Effects. To create an Adjustment Layer, all we have to do is go up under the Layer panel, choose New and choose Adjustment Layer. Now, Adjustment Layer allow you to apply an effect to that layer.

And then, any layers that exist below that layer will have the effect applied. So it's kind of a neat way to save yourself time. Rather than applying the same effect to multiple layers, you can just use an Adjustment Layer. So let's go up and choose Effect > Blur and choose Fast Blur. Now, just click and drag on the blurriness parameter in the Effects control panel. To accentuate the effect, let's choose a value of 21. Now, go ahead and click on the Adjustment Layer in your Timeline panel and move it down below the Swoop_Lines, Illustrator Files. So between layers 6 and 7.

Now, when I let go, check it out. I've got sharp layers and then blurry layers. Now obviously I don't want to keep these in my comp. So let's select layer 6 and just press Delete All keyboard to get rid of it. As you can see, when you're working with different layers inside of After Effects, it does make a difference if you do pay attention to the specific kind of layer that you're working with. Because it can open up new options in 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 · 55400 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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