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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.
Not to generalize, but if you're watching this, you're either a very dedicated student or a type nerd like myself. Now, I found that most people really don't seem to get too excited when they hear someone talking about the theory of just about anything. But really, I must say, having a better understanding of typography has made my life as a designer so much easier. For instance, different kinds of typefaces send different messages, either subconsciously or overtly, but either way it's saying something.
Also, understanding the basics, you can come up with some interesting solutions for some common design problems. Like, I don't know. How many of you video folks have ever had issues making a large amount of type more readable on the screen? Well, if you knew about x-height and serifs, you'd know exactly what to do. Well, enough talking, let's go ahead and check out our project. If you look in the project, we have two comps, and let's start with the TypeFaces comp. I'm going to pause here for a second because I want to draw a distinction between a typeface and a font.
See, the typeface is what you're looking at right here. It's the graphic representation of the font that's installed on the system. So I often refer to fonts as the files that you use to create the graphic representation of a letter, which is in turn a typeface. So now that we've covered that, I'm sure I'll probably mix them up a little bit here in the future, but I just wanted to draw that distinction. So let's get started by looking at our first typeface at the top of the comp, sans-serif.
Now, a sans-serif typeface creates a clean, modern look, and it's definition means without serif. So if you don't know what a serif is, you're kind of up a creek, but don't worry. That's our second typeface down. We have a serif typeface. Serif typefaces have little marks at the ends of the letters that help make things more readable. Using a serif typeface will help create a classic look. Now, video folks, you need to be careful, because if you pick a serif typeface where the serifs are too thin, you may get some ringing in your graphics, and you definitely don't want that.
So the next typeface down, slab serif; it, too, is a serif typeface, but it's slightly different in that the serifs are big and kind of chunky. Hence the name, slab. So that's a slab serif typeface. The next one down, ornamental. Obviously, you may recognize it from circus posters or any other type of graphic that's been built to create some kind of a fun look. But ornamental typefaces, as you can see, have interesting graphics created right on the type.
So a script typeface does just that; it emulates script. And down towards the bottom here we have a symbol font that has created this symbol typeface. Now, I like to use symbol fonts to create the flourish kind of graphics that are so popular right now. So now that we've covered the basics of different kinds of typefaces, let's get into typesetting and some type anatomy. Go ahead and double-click the Type Setting comp to open it up, and I'm just going to bring my Timeline up here a little bit.
And as you can see, I've added some comp markers in here. Now, I created a 40-second animation that if I played it back would go a little too fast for what I'm talking about right now, but I'm just going to step through each marker so you can see all the different pieces of the type anatomy and type setting terminology that you'll need to know. So, hold on one second. I'll just jump to the first marker by pressing 1 on the top row of numbers on my keyboard. So the first thing, leading. Leading is the amount of space between multiple lines of text.
Next thing, ascenders. Ascenders are the part of the letters that actually pop up over top of the majority of the other letters. Descenders, you guessed it, they go underneath the bottom of the typeface, and the bottom of the typeface actually sits on the baseline. So the descenders go below the baseline. And if you zoom in, you notice on rounder letters a lot of times the bottom part of the letter will dip just below the baseline to give your eye that visual look that it's sitting flat right along the baseline.
x-height, this is actually the measurement of the letter x. Now, some of the other letters, notice again, the rounded letters may pop a little bit higher over the x-height, but other sharp letters, like this k here will sit right on the x-height. Now, I use x-height to play on an optical illusion, to give the impression that a typeface is actually larger or smaller than it really is. And you'll see what I'm talking about at the end of this comp. Tracking, tracking is the amount of space between all the letters.
So if you went ahead and animated this-- let me go ahead and scrub through here-- this process here, where all of the spaces are growing at the same time, we're adjusting the tracking. So if we go down to our next marker, kerning. Kerning is the amount of space between two letters and only two letters. So you can go through and kern a line of type and have a different amount of space between each individual letter, whereas again, with tracking, you're adjusting all the letters at the same time.
Now, that illusion we're talking about, this typeface has a tall x-height. If you notice, it looks pretty solid on the page. Now, this typeface has a short x-height, notice how it gives the impression that there is a little bit more space between the letters. Now, if we move down the Timeline here, let's zoom in and you can see the difference between the larger x-height typeface and the smaller x-height typeface. Notice the letter l is still the same height, and the descenders, they might be a little bit shorter, but all in all, these two typefaces are actually set to the exact same point size.
So the only difference that you're seeing here is the x-height. And if you zoom way down to the end of the comp, you'll notice we have a much closer zoom, so you can analyze things a little bit more closely. So now that we've covered some of the basic theories of typography, it's time to go enjoy reading messages in a whole new way. Now, we're all type nerds. Welcome to the club!
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