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In this installment of After Effects Apprentice, Chris Meyer focuses on ways to edit and enhance layers in After Effects. Through a series of Quizzler challenges and Idea Corner examples, Chris shares alternative ways to employ modes, sequencing, and adjustment layers, while special sidebar movies cover the subjects of creating seamless loops, animating effects points, understanding pixel aspect ratios, and employing Brainstorm to explore the variety of different looks that effects can create. The course also covers tricks for enhancing boring footage and tips for converting scans into moving sequences. Exercise files are included with 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®.
In addition to the effects that come with Adobe After Effects and any third-party effects you might install, you also have access to Photoshop-style layer styles in After Effects. So in the next few movies I want to show you how to take advantage of those. I am going to go ahead and close my previous comps. And for my first demonstration I am going to import a Photoshop file that already has layer styles attached. I am going to select the My Sources folder, and press Command+I or Ctrl+I. If you have the Exercise Files that come with this project, navigate to the Exercise Files Sources folder and select Reality_drop.psd.
or you can go ahead and import any Photoshop file that has layer styles already applied. Click Open. To get access to the layer styles, I need to import as Composition. This is what preserves all the individual components that make up a Photoshop file. I also want to make sure that Editable Layer Styles is indeed enabled. I don't want to merge layer styles because that means they'll be rendered during the import and I won't have a chance to edit them. Editable.
Click OK. Inside My Sources I have all of the individual layers that made up that particular Photoshop file and a composition called Reality_drop, named after the file. Double-click that comp to open it. And here is an interesting little widget created by Andrew Heimbold of Reality Check that uses a lot of layer styles. To access layer styles, select your layer, twirl it down. You'll see an item called Layer Styles. Now there's a little display bug in After Effects CS5 where the twirly will initially be missing next to Layer Styles.
Don't worry, and just double click Layer Styles and that twirly will appear. We've also seen cases where the twirly next to layer style names disappear. Again double click them, the arrow will return and life will be good. So this particular layer has a lot of styles applied to this element. I am going to go ahead and Solo this particular element for now to focus on these cool little indented plastic pieces. Each layer style applied to a layer has an individual visibility icon.
You can go ahead and turn them off and on to see what effect each layer style is contributing to this image. It's a good way of deconstructing what other people do to figure it out. And there is a lot of fun stuff that's actually going on inside this image. some subtle things and some very nice things. Pretty cool! I am going to un-Solo this so I can see it in more context. Now the way that some people use layer styles under Photoshop files may not be entirely obvious just from the name. For example, Outer Glow is what a lot of people use to create an interesting shadow around objects.
In this case, for the internal elements, Outer Glow was what was providing that really cool shading, almost giving a shadow effect from these inserted elements as opposed to a classic glow type of look. So it's really fun to dissect Photoshop files from other people to see what they've done with layer styles. We also encourage you to go ahead and check out other Photoshop training that includes layer styles and also to go to the Adobe Exchange web site which has loads of layer style presets. The one caveat I'll give you about using presets you find on Adobe Exchange is most of them were created for high-resolution still image documents, print documents.
Therefore the parameters tend to be a bit large and exaggerated for video in After Effects. You may need to dive in and cut back on things like the size of glows and bevels to make them look right. After Effects cannot load layer style presets directly; they need to be attached to a Photoshop file to begin with. But once that's the case and you have a treatment you like, you can select a layer style and save an animation preset of it, just like you could any other normal effect.
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