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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®.
By now you know how to make very exciting animated titles, but I thought I'd share with you a few small tips that go a very long way to making your titles look more professional. The first thing we will talk about are the faux styling options, such as Faux Bold and Faux Italic, as well as Small Caps, X Height, and Superscripts. I have just created a few sample compositions. And by the way, you don't need any exercise files for this section, but if you want to follow along, you can always create your own samples.
With some of the examples I will be showing, it will make a difference whether or not you have a Sans Serif font-- I'm using Helvetica here--or whether you're using a Serif font. And I'll be using Baskerville. But if the font you are using has serifs like this, you might find things like quotes will look a little different. The idea behind the Faux Bold option is that it makes any font looks thicker. Of course there is no reason to use Faux Bold with Baskerville, because it already has SemiBold and Bold versions.
If you are using a font, let's say like Handwriting, Handwriting doesn't come with any other way except for regular. So if would like this font to look a little thicker than it is now, I can enable the Faux Bold option and it will appear thicker. But if you want even more control, instead of using Faux Bold, you can add a stroke. But if you add a stroke, you may need to set the stroke color to match the fill. The advantage of Faux Bold is that it always matches the fill color. So let's undo back to where we started.
One of the big differences between a Sans Serif font and a Serif font is what happens when you want an italic. If I select the first layer, which uses Helvetica, and I want an italic, I will change Regular to Oblique, and you can see that the result is that the font slanted to the right. It didn't really change shape. But if I change Baskerville Regular to Italic, you can see the shape of the characters are quite different. If you like to have a lot of versatility, it's good to pick a font family that includes at least Italic and Bold.
With Baskerville, you also have a SemiBold weight, and other fonts may have a lightweight and even condensed and expanded versions. Those kind of font families can be very versatile when you have a lot of type- setting to do, such as titles, lower thirds, credits, and so on. Now obviously, if I want to make a font italic, the first thing I will do is check whether it has a real italic font--and if so, I'll choose it. So with Baskerville, I get a lot of weights to choose from. But let's say I change layer 3 to use a font called Birch.
It doesn't have any italics or bold or any variations. So if I choose Birch and for some reason I need one of the words to be in italic, I could select it and then click Faux Italic. Now After Effects will skew those letters and fake an italic font. So that allows me to emphasize a word, such as a movie title of a book title, which normally appears in italic. There are more options in the Character panel, such as All Caps and Small Caps, as well as Superscript and Subscript.
All Caps will make your title look like you typed it in all caps, and while this can be useful, I usually find it would be more useful to be able to go the other way, so it's always good to have a word processor around that has the ability of changing All Caps to upper- and lowercase. We will turn that off, and we will turn on Small Caps. Now I have to admit I've never used the Faux Small Caps, and that's because I just don't believe that it looks very good. To understand what Small Caps is supposed to look like, let's change our font to something like Copperplate Gothic.
This is a true of Small Caps font. In this font, you can see that the relationship between the capital letter and the small cap is quite minor. Usually, the lowercase letters are only slightly smaller than the capitals, maybe 80% to 85%, say. Also notice that the thickness, or the weight, of the character is quite consistent between the capital letters and the lowercase letters. In other words, the capitals are not fatter or a heavier weight. If I select layer one, which is Helvetica Oblique at the moment, and I'll change it back to just Regular, and I'll turn on Small Caps.
So you can see, with the Faux Small Caps, the relationship between the capital letters and the lowercase letters are much more exaggerated than they are in the true Small Caps font. You can also sense that the capital letters seem bolder or thicker than the lowercase letters. If I really need it to look like small caps and I don't have a small caps option in this font, what I could do is typeset my words in all caps--and I will fake it by just clicking All Caps here--and then I would make the lowercase letters just slightly smaller. And obviously, you want to be consistent. Here I picked 61 point.
And at the end of the day, although it's more work, it does look much more like a real Small Caps font. Now while we are talking about the height of letters, I want to point out something that makes fonts more readable, and that's called the X Height. Let's say I type the word X here and then I type a capital letter, say M. The difference in size between the lowercase letter and a capital letter can make a big difference in how readable your type is.
With Baskerville Italic, this is quite a small X height. If I change this font to Helvetica, the X is now larger as a proportion to the height of the M. So we might call this a font with a large X Height. The other font I was using, Birch, also has a high X Height. So when you are using a font, try to pick one with the tall X Height, because normally in video you are quite limited to the height that you're able to use for a title.
So if the lowercase letters are large in proportion to a capital, they are more readable from far away. Another thing to keep in mind when choosing a font for video is how wide, or condensed, it is. Let's say I set all these to use the same characters. They are all going to just say Serif font. So while they all include the same characters, each title has a different width and height. Birch is a very condensed font, so you could get a lot more characters in the same width as you could if you were using an expanded font, such as Copperplate.
So if I'm looking for a font that will fit a lot of characters in and they need to be readable, so they can't be too small, I would look for font, such as Birch, that tends to be more condensed than it is expanded, and that also has a high X height. Now I mentioned there are also options for Superscript and Subscript, so let me show you how they work. Let's say you want to put the number 2, or you wanted it to be small and sitting up off the baseline. I just select it and hit Superscript, and that's one way of doing a superscript.
But if you need more control over exactly how it looks, instead of using Superscript, you could set the letter and then change the point size so it's smaller, and then use the option for baseline shift to place it exactly where you need it. In the next movie, I'll cover tracking and kerning.
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