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In this course, Chris Meyer demonstrates the most common techniques for adding selective transparency to layers in After Effects through the use of masks, track mattes, and stencils. In addition to explaining the tools and basic theory behind transparency, the course covers several practical applications for these techniques, including isolating objects, creating vignettes, and filling text with visual texture. Tutorials on crafting custom transitions and other treatments are also included. Exercise files accompany the course.
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®.
There are uses for mask paths beyond just creating transparency for a layer. For example, a handful effects can draw along the outside of the mask path or draw inside the mask path. If you have access to the exercise files that come with this lesson, open up the Comp 04-Effects*starter. If you don't have access to these files, just bring in any layer and create an interesting mask path around it. In this case we have even animated that path. Let's play around with a couple of the effects that can fill the area inside this mask path. One is the simple Fill effect.
I'll drag Fill under this layer and the Effects Control panel I can define what mask path to use. By multiple masks I can say draw all the mask or just one selected one. Go ahead and change the color, makw something orange there, invert the mask, feather the mask out if I so desire and also control its Opacity to reveal the original underneath. Beyond Fill there is the far more interesting Scribble effect. I'll drag that onto my layer. What Scribble does is automatically draw back and forth scribble lines inside the mask path.
Again you can define what mask you want to use if you have multiple masks on a layer. You have lots of options on how you take advantage of that mask path. You can draw inside, centered along it, inside it, outside it. I'll go back to Inside for now, and other controls such as a curvy or a loopy the path is, spacing between the lines, how thick that line is, and what angle those lines are drawn at.
Straight up and down, or off to the sides. If the mask itself animates like this one does, the Scribble effect will draw differently to go ahead and fill whatever that mask shape is at a given frame. And by the way Scribble also self animates. So you can go ahead and set a wiggle per second to have those lines automatically draw, in a kind of a wiggly little pattern. And what's particularly interesting is the Composite mode. Here it's just drawing a white scribble. However, you' can say just draw on the original image itself or Reveal Original Image.
Now we just have our background layer revealed through this animating stroke. Once you do that you can now have all sorts of fun. I can go ahead and drag another layer behind this, such as the Wildflowers layer we were playing around with earlier, and I can apply additional effects to it. For example, I like to give things like this Bevel Alpha to give a little bit of raised bump to the edges, and then also a Drop Shadow to go ahead and separate it from the background. So that's another use for your masked paths, to take advantage of the area contained by it to apply effects.
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