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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.
When it comes to creating visually interesting motion graphics, you really can't go wrong using textures in your projects. If you are a student with access to the project files, in the assets folder, you'll find a bunch of textures I created by taking pictures with my digital camera. And we'll get to those in a second, but I want to show you the paint strokes comp that we'd used earlier in the title. These brushstrokes were literally watercolor brushstrokes that I scanned and then cut out of their background to layer into this comp and create sort of an interesting move and texture for the background.
To give you a small sampling of what the files actually look like before they got treated like this, let's go ahead and just select one of the layers; for example, let's select this Wave layer and go ahead and solo the layer. And as you can see here, it's actually just a piece of rice paper with an ink stroke on it. Now the reason we're not seeing the bright white, with a multiply transfer mode when you layer things on top of each other, it'll knock out the white pixels since some of the pixels like here on the edge of some of the pieces of rice paper, some of those pixels are actually discolored slightly and so that's why we're seeing the edges.
I thought that was kind of cool, so I just left it in there. But obviously if we wanted to isolate only the brushstrokes, we could've done that. But the most important thing was to get this generally deep layered texture look. Now that we've seen some of the brushstrokes, let's jump over to some of the other textures that I took pictures of. So I'll just Command+Tab over into Bridge. Now in assets folder of your exercise files, you'll find an images folder. In there, we can see all these different textures that I was able to capture.
Literally all these are our images that I took around the house. Obviously, that's kind of a bedspread. This was a plaster wall that was painted. I just thought it looks kind of interesting. This paper here was out of a package that I received. It was just the packing paper, and I just sort of smoothed it out, and sure enough, took a picture. Here is some slate. This kind of texture is sort of interesting because with this texture I don't think I'd ever want to try and tile it or repeat the texture. I'd want to use this in an example where I was trying to create like a weathered look for my graphic.
So the last couple of textures are just random bathroom tiles and some sort of microfiber and wood textures. Of course, you can never have too many of these natural kind of textures. I liked the scratches in the desk, so I'd left them in my graphic. But let's see how we can actually apply these in one of our projects, so Command+Tab back into After Effects. Now I already showed you how changing the transfer mode can help you layer graphics on top of each other, but let's go ahead and use textures to lay in to specific pieces of graphics.
So, for example, open the Textured- layers comp, and in here we'll have the same background, but as you can see, I have this King Wave kayaks logo. So to give this a little bit more visual interest, let's layer in a texture right inside this shaded gray area. Now the Diamond layer, if I that turn on and off, that is the entire layer, including the outer stroke. So to get started, let's go ahead and select the Diamond layer and just Edit > Duplicate.
I created a duplicate of this layer because I'm going to scale it down and use this as a mask so I can get that nice clean edge. To better illustrate the point, let's drop in one of our textures. So go to your Project pane and double-click to import the textures. Now like I said, you should be able to find the textures in your Exercise Folder, under assets, under images. And let's just go ahead and import all of the textures.
Now with them all selected, let's just drop them into a folder here, so we can keep things organized. Okay, so to swap out this Diamond 2 layer with a texture, it's pretty simple. All you have to do is open up your Texture Sources, and let's get started. We'll try layering in some of this cardboard. If you hold down Alt or Option as you drag the texture into the Timeline, it will automatically swap out the selected layer with your newly added layer.
Okay, so obviously, this is way too large for what I'm trying to do, but like I said, what I wanted to do was actually just layer in this graphic for a specific section of the logo. Now the biggest reason I duplicated this Diamond was for its position data. Since this is a two-dimensional layer, this really wasn't that hard to deal with, but sometimes when you have layers in three-dimensional space and you know you want the texture to occupy the exact same position that that object is occupying, it makes sense just to duplicate the object and use this Alt+Option+Drag technique.
To cut out the background, I'll duplicate this Diamond layer one more time, Command+D, and position it above Diamond 2, which I will now rename Texture. And so the Texture actually gets dropped into this specific area of the diamond. Go ahead in your Modes panel and change the Track Matte to Alpha Matte "Diamond 3" and when we do that you notice now it's automatically getting cut out by this Diamond 3 layer.
Now since I want to see the black edge of the original logo, all we have to do is open up the Scale here and just drag down till we get to a proper setting. Sometimes when you're repositioning graphics like this, you want to make sure that you're working at 100%, so just in case there may be some kind of bad pixel alignment here, you'll be able to see that when you're set at 100% magnification. So I'll jump back to fit the whole scene in here, and now in order to have this texture sort of layer itself into the background, let's play with its Transfer mode.
So again, in this switches and Modes panel here, let's go ahead and change the blending mode. No, that didn't really work. Let's go ahead and change it to Screen. Okay, that's starting to work a little bit, but I think this whole set is not really mixing the way I want it to mix. What we want to do is choose a transfer mode that'll help layer in the texture to the specific areas of the scene where there are lighter pixels. So let's go ahead up here and change it to Multiply.
That is definitely a little bit more like what I was thinking. Even though we changed the transfer mode, let's go ahead and press T and adjust the Opacity down a little bit. And now you notice we have our texture and we're kind of controlling how deeply it's mixing into the Background layer. Okay, that looks good. Now, the only problem with this is if there were animation, this texture would actually slide all over the place. So what we need to do is make sure that both this texture and its matte will always follow this main background diamond.
So the easiest way to do that is to select both layers and just in the Parent section, click on the pick whip and choose the Diamond layer. Now when I go ahead and scale, notice the texture is scaling perfectly with the background layer. Now, obviously since I was adjusting the scale, I probably want to parent all these other text objects in as well, but I think you get the general idea. So using blend modes is a great way to layer in your textures to specific areas of a project. Now as we move on through the chapter, I am going to show you some other ways we can actually layer textures in without using transfer modes, but for the meantime, there should be more than enough to give you some ideas to go around your house and take pictures of your textures, and again continue adding to your motion graphic toolkit.
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