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One of the cornerstones of motion graphics is creating and animating type. In this course, Trish Meyer shows how to typeset titles professionally and create custom animations, as well as apply and modify the hundreds of text animation presets that After Effects ships with. Additionally, Chris Meyer shows how to add audio to projects, including spotting "hit points" to align keyframes and video action.
The After Effects Apprentice videos on lynda.com were created by Trish and Chris Meyer and are designed to be used on their own and as a companion to their book After Effects Apprentice. We are honored to host these tutorials in the lynda.com Online Training Library®.
When you select the Type tool, the easiest way to create text is to simply click and start typing. This is called point text, by the way. In a later, movie I'll cover paragraph text. Now when I am done typing, instead of hitting the Return key which just adds more lines, instead I'll press the Enter key. Notice now I have handles around my text. Once I've pressed Enter, the layer name will reflect whatever words I just typed. If I want to rename the layer, I simply select it, press the Return key, type a more useful name, and press Return again.
It's also worth distinguishing between Layer mode and Editing mode. When I press the Enter key and I see these handles, this is called Layer mode. And that means any changes I make in the Character panel affect the entire layer. That goes for changing the color, the tracking, the font, and so on. When I click inside the text, this is called Editing mode. Any changes I make only affect either letters that are selected or letters that I am about to type. For instance, if I now change the color, say to red, anything I type will be red.
But when I press the Enter key, I'll be back in layer mode. And if I then change the color, it will affect all of the characters. Notice that the fill color has a question mark. This is simply because there's a mix of two colors. And that will happen also if you change say the point size. If I make CS5 larger, press Enter, the point size will just have a dash. It simply means that there is a mixture of sizes. Now if you're familiar with any other Adobe program, you should be familiar with the Character and Paragraph panels.
But if any of these icons are new to you, simply hover your cursor over the icon and a tooltip will pop up and tell you what each one does. Now there are a couple of things I did want to point out though. Rather than click and select the new font, you can simply select the Font menu and use your up and down arrow keys to go up and down your Font menu selecting different fonts. This is when you can't remember what each one looks like. You can also use this technique for the Font Styles menu. Gill Sans happens to have a number of different styles.
So I can place my cursor in the field and use the up and down cursor keys to cycle among them. Next, I'd like to show you a good tip for centering type. I'll select this layer and delete it. In CS5, I simply double-click the Type tool and this will place the cursor in the center of the comp. If I also change the Paragraph panel from align left to center, when I start typing, the words will automatically be centered. Now when I said the text would be centered, what I meant by that is that the anchor point for the text, which is on the baseline, would be centered in the composition.
If I toggle on Action Title Safe, you can see exactly how they line up. And by the way, when you have the Type tool selected, you can press the Command key on Mac, Ctrl key on Windows, and that allows you to reposition the text anywhere on the screen; however, be aware that adding the Shift key does not constrain the movement to the Y axis only. If you want to make sure it stays centered, you might want to press P for position and scrub the Y axis.
I'll turn off Action Title Safe for now. There are a couple of other subtleties that are worth noting. For instance, when I have the Type tool selected and I hover over the type in Layer mode, the cursor is available for me to click and start editing. However, if I move the cursor away from the type, the cursor changes. You can click and start typing a new layer. I'll delete that. And generally speaking, when you're editing in After Effects, you have the Selection tool selected and you may not have your type selected.
So when you want to edit it, if you just click once, the entire layer will be selected. You don't have to change tools to simply change the color or the size. If you want to edit your type, you need to double-click, either in the Composition panel or in the Timeline panel. The entire layer will be selected and highlighted. But now you can place the cursor and start typing or make any other kind of change. Maybe we'll make the A a little bigger. Again, when you're done, hit the Enter key and you'll be returned to layer mode.
Now I mentioned that you could press the Command key when you wanted to reposition your layer. Be careful about doing that on one of the handles, though. That is actually scaling your layer. If you press S for scale, you can see I've now changed my Scale value. Let me undo back to 100%. Finally, note that when you scale type, the edges will always remain smooth, no matter how large you make the type. This is called continuous rasterization. So whether or not you scale the layer or change the point size in the Character panel, the type will always remain smooth.
However, as a rule of thumb I prefer to change the point size in the Character panel. I can then use the Scale parameter when I need to animate the layer. In the next movie, we'll look at adding a stroke.
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