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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.
Color is just about as important to a motion graphics project as anything else. Just because our elements end up flying around the screen, doesn't mean we get to ignore the general principles of good design. So you need to be able to pick a decent color palette as well as understand some basic color theory. In this video, I'm not going to get crazy with details; I am just going to give you some thoughts as to how I like to work and when I like to interject color into my designs. If we look at our project here, you can see we have a logo for King Wave kayaks, and if you've been following along in some of the other videos, you'll recognize that name.
This is the logo the client decided to go with. Now, it's time to animate. You might be looking at and going, well, why isn't there any color? And that's because most of the time when I am designing a logo for a client, I don't interject color until after they've chosen the specific look of their logo. It's really important when you're designing a logo that it can stand on its own in black and white just in case the client wants to create some print materials and they can't afford having four color prints. So I like to design in black and white and then at the last moment interject some color.
Now with logos specifically, when I choose colors, it's really important that those colors are the approved colors that go towards branding the look of the company or the products, but that's another video. So for now I just want to show how I interject color into these black-and-white elements. So, to get started what we need to do is divide up each of these elements onto their own layer. If we open the KW-Logo layer here in Illustrator, you notice I have a bunch of separate layers and sublayers and all kinds of things going on here.
So the easiest way to actually knock things out and put them all on their own layer is to deselect the layer, now that I clicked off, click back on, and then in the Layers tab go ahead and go to the flyout and choose Release to Layers (Sequence). When I choose that, notice the layer will expand and now you'll notice every single sublayer underneath of my KW- Logo layer has an object underneath of it.
So what this means is I can select layer 4, scroll down, hold down Shift and select 11--basically select all the layers--and drag them up out of the layer hierarchy above the top layer. So when I let go, now all of these layers are at the top of the hierarchy. This is really important because when I want to go to import this Illustrator document into After Effects I want to be able to animate each individual element. So we don't need this empty KW-Logo layer anymore.
Let's go ahead and delete it. Now, I could sit here and rename each one of these layers, but I'll save you the headache right now, and we'll just save this for import into After Effects. And if we have to, we can rename the layers within After Effects. So now that all the layers have been broken out, it's time to save a copy of this file. So go up under File and choose Save As. I like to choose Save As so I can actually go in and save a version, letting me know that it's ready for After Effects.
So put -AE at the end of the file name, and in your Ill-Sources folder, go ahead and click Save. When the Illustrator Options pop up, you can change the Version up here if you have to go to an older version of Illustrator at any point in time, but you want to make sure Create PDF Compatible File is selected. That way when you import it into After Effects, all the layers will import properly as well. So let's click OK, and I'll just jump over to After Effects. To import our Illustrator document into After Effects, double-click in the Project pane and choose our KingWave-AE file, and under Import As, change it from Footage to Composition-Retain Layer Sizes.
Now, when we click Open, our comp is imported, it's the proper size, and if we double- click to open the comp, you'll notice each individual layer was also imported. So now we have our layers in After Effects. Let's look at adding some color into the scene. First things first, though. This logo is on a black background, and I seem to remember there is a black stroke around the outside edge, so one of the things I want to do is change the background color.
So go to Composition--making sure you have either your Timeline or your canvas selected--go to Composition > Composition Settings and change the Background Color to some kind of gray and click OK, and now here we can see that edge on our logo. So first thing I want to treat the color of this background gray area. So let's see if we can select that layer. I think that's it, layer 11. Perfect! I'll rename that just by pressing Return, and we'll call it Diamond.
With the Diamond layer selected, we're ready to add color. Go up under Effect and under Color Correction, go down and choose Tint. This is one of my favorite effects I like to apply to objects because I have control specifically over the color of both the black or the white areas in the image. So since this is gray what I'm actually going to have to do is change both of these options if I want this to take on a pure color source.
So, for example, let's say I want it to be blue. Well, I'll go to my Map White and click on the little color chip to open up my Map options here. And if I had a specific set of RGB values for like a branded logo or something, I could type those in here. But really, I'm just going to move to the blue area and choose a nice kind of light blue color. And as you can see, I've already tinted this background color.
If I really want to kind of tweak things, I could change the black area by clicking the eyedropper and just clicking that same blue color. The problem with that is it flattens absolutely everything out. So I'll just Command+Z to undo and leave the black channel alone because my border is actually black. So we'll be good to go for the background layer for now. Next thing, it's time to actually look at this King Wave kayaks type itself. I'll click up around layer 6. That's not it.
This layer is King, so let's rename it, and then this one is Wave. We could use Tint if we want to choose a solid color. So let's go ahead and just try that. We'll select King, go back up under Effect, and since that was the last effect applied, we could just choose Tint. So in here, since the Type was already Black, I can just adjust my Black parameter and change this to whatever color I see fit, especially since the brand hasn't really been built yet. This is fine if the client wants a flat color, but what if they want a gradient? Well, I am just going to cancel this for now and select the King layer, and if you right-click, you can go to Layer Styles and under Layer Styles we could choose Gradient Overlay.
Now, I have a different set of options under my Layer Styles. So with the Gradient Overlay options, I can adjust the gradient. Under the Color section, click Edit Gradient, and now I can go ahead and just give this a specific look. So, first off, I want it to be a little brighter on top than on the bottom. There we go. And let's go ahead and just tint this up a little bit. I'll make the bottom this kind of dark yellow color.
There we go. And then the top, let's make this kind of hot, and we'll make it not really dark yellow but almost this kind of orange color. And if we zoom in here, we can see things a little bit better. That's looking okay. I notice that I still have my Tint effect on here, so I can just go ahead and disable that. And to apply the same layer Styles to Wave, with the King layer selected, go down to the Layer Style section and select the Gradient Overlay.
Now we can go up under Edit and Copy, or just Command+C, and then select the Wave layer and Command+V and that will automatically paste the layer style between the layers. Now, we've got our type changed and now we can deal with the crown. So same kind of thing with the crown. Let's go ahead and select the layer and rename it. And this time I do want to create kind of a gradient look, but I want it to look sort of like metal.
So again, I'll revert back to Layer Styles. With Later Styles selected, let's go ahead and choose Gradient Overlay and then if we come down here, we can go ahead and adjust the colors under Edit Gradient. Now to add some more delineations in here just click anywhere below this gradient area and add some variations. So I'm just going to add some slight different hue shifts to this.
Now, I could sit here pretty much all day and continue to tweak this, but I think you've got the general idea as to how you can stylize this to your own individual taste. I am going to just go ahead and move that over. There we go and click OK. Now it looks like there is a stray layer in here, so I am just going to go up, yep, layer 6, and with that layer selected, let's go ahead and just press Delete. There we go. So now we have our Crown and our King Wave selected. You get the general idea. Between the layer styles and tint, you can pretty much change the color to anything you like.
Personally, I don't like the colors of this King Wave, so I may go back and tweak it, but for now I think we have a pretty clear picture as to how you can colorize your graphics within After Effects.
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