Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
I know I said this in the previous video, but I do really believe that layers are the actors that inhabit the stage which is your composition. So to explore layers more in-depth, let's open the Type composition. Double-click the Type Comp and make sure that you have Type down here in your timeline. With the Type tab setup, you can see I have four layers. And as I click on each one of these layers, you can see things changing in the comp window.
So let's select this Text layer. I want to point out something. When you are selecting layers in the timeline, it does have an effect as to what you see in the Comp panel but also when you open the disclosure triangle for those layers, you should notice different things for each different kind of layer. So for example, with this Text layer, see I have a text option. And if I open that Text option, I have Path Options. And I have More Options.
Now I'm not going to jump into all the different text things but if you notice when you're working in the timeline I can't see any of my other layers. If you end up with the situation like this, use the scroll wheel on your mouse to scroll up and down and roll through the different layers in your comp. I'm going to close this triangle for Type because I want to select this Vignette here. Now you should notice this bright yellow line that's popped up on my comp window. What this is is a mask.
I know the mask is applied to the layer because I can see it in the comp window. But if for some reason I couldn't, I could also open up the triangle on the Vignette layer, and you notice the first option here is Masks. And if I open the Mask options, you see I have one mask that's applied. Let's close the Vignette layer and look at Layer 3. In here, notice the icon looks ridiculously familiar? Well that's because that's the same icon we used to create our first composition. Now you can have compositions as layers.
These are known as pre-compositions. Now it's interesting if you double- click a pre-composition layer, it will open that other composition. Now this is an interesting point because as you're learning the interface of After Effects, you may get thrown off by this, because right here, now I'm in a completely different tab and the canvas looks different. That's because this a completely separate composition which contains its own set of layers. Now what's kind of cool about this, any changes I make in this composition will be updated in the other one.
So to show you what I'm talking about, let's turn off the visibility of the yellow layer by going over here to the left-hand side. See, layers have these eyeball icons that determine their visibility. So if you're a Photoshop user that should be relatively familiar. Now to jump back to the other comp, I'm just going to look for it right here in the timeline, and click on the Type tab. Now notice that yellow shape is gone out of this composition. So you can switch rather quickly and easily in the timeline between different sets of layers, basically different complete compositions, just by clicking on the tabs.
I know we've spent a lot of time in here looking at some of the different things that layers contain, but if we move over a little bit further, you should see this Effects option here. What this Effects little icon stands for, it's letting me know that there is an effect that's applied to this layer. So if we open the triangle for 3, notice the very first option here is Effects. So if we open that triangle, you can see I have a Color Balance setting and a Drop Shadow that's been applied.
If I want to turn this effect off, I can just turn it off here on the left-hand side of the timeline. See my Drop Shadow has disappeared and now it's reappeared. This isn't deleting the effect completely, it's just telling After Effects that I don't really want to have this appear in my composition. So let's turn that effect back on and close Layer 3. There is one other thing I want to show you other than effects that you can apply to layers. When we select the Type layer here, notice it has kind of this outer glow.
Now I'm going to zoom in to my canvas using my scroll wheel and press the Spacebar to grab my Hand tool so I can move up here so you can see this a little more clearly. On the Text layer, if we open up its triangle, yes we have our Text options, let's go ahead and close that. We also have Transform options which should look pretty familiar. Let's close that for now. We'll come back to that in a quick second. Let's look at Layer Styles. See Layer Styles are exactly what you might think they are if you're coming to After Effects from Photoshop.
These are the layer styles that you would have in Photoshop. So if I open this up, you can see I have an Outer Glow applied and I can turn the visibility off. I also have a very narrow stroke which is kind of hard to see. But let's turn on the Outer Glow. I can make adjustments to this by opening its triangle, and then hovering over any of the specific parameter values. And if you click and drag, that will allow me to drag it up to the right or down to the left and make an adjustment as to that specific setting.
This works with any of the settings within the timeline. Now let's close the Text layer, and move a little bit further over to the right here. These switches in this parent section, if you don't see these in your timeline, you can pop-up any of these options at any point just by right-clicking right next to the layer name and going to Columns. See Columns are a way of organizing what you're seeing in your timeline on a horizontal level.
So right now, I have Parent and Modes selected. If I don't want to see one of these options, I can just click on it and it will disappear out of my timeline. Now let's move all the way to the right. I want you to pay attention to these solid color lines. See, these lines determine exactly when these objects are going to appear in the composition. Now this little thing right here, the big yellow guitar pick kind of looking thing, is actually the current-time indicator.
So if you click and drag on that, it's moving the playhead, if you will, to different points in time and that is allowing me to see the animation. I can trim when a layer begins just by hovering my mouse over one end or the other. I just happen to be trimming the end point by clicking on the left side. Now once you hover over, click and then drag and notice if I drag it past my current-time indicator, I've trimmed the length of that layer. You can also change where that layer lives in the timeline by clicking on it and dragging to the left or back to the right.
Now look in the upper right corner of the interface. See that Info window? As I clicked and dragged, it gave me really important information like when that layer is going to appear and when it's going to disappear out of my composition. So I hope you've enjoyed this little tour of layers, and have a better understanding as to how the actors function on their composition stage.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
135 Video lessons · 60128 Viewers
93 Video lessons · 25160 Viewers
79 Video lessons · 19857 Viewers
350 Video lessons · 105149 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.