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Layer compositing: Masks, switches, and blend modes

From: After Effects CC Essential Training

Video: Layer compositing: Masks, switches, and blend modes

Masks, mats, and blend modes are a great way to take a busy graphic and blend all the different elements together. Now this graphic was created in a later chapter in our audio chapter, but I thought it was a perfect example of something we could use to blend different blend modes together. Let's load up a ram preview and check it out. I just have to warn you there's audio on the track so watch your speaker levels. Alright. Here we go. (MUSIC) Okay. Well as I looked at the scene, I could see that the front word and our pulsing audio line here are completely fighting with each other. I think it's sort of a fun look but we could definitely draw a little more contrast between the two.

Layer compositing: Masks, switches, and blend modes

Masks, mats, and blend modes are a great way to take a busy graphic and blend all the different elements together. Now this graphic was created in a later chapter in our audio chapter, but I thought it was a perfect example of something we could use to blend different blend modes together. Let's load up a ram preview and check it out. I just have to warn you there's audio on the track so watch your speaker levels. Alright. Here we go. (MUSIC) Okay. Well as I looked at the scene, I could see that the front word and our pulsing audio line here are completely fighting with each other. I think it's sort of a fun look but we could definitely draw a little more contrast between the two.

So let's make sure we have our Blend modes active. I'm going to go to the lower left corner of my interface and click the second button in. This'll make sure that my Blend modes are up in the screen. Now, it's funny that I said screen, because if you look at the Blend modes, that's what our top 4 layers are set to. A screen blend mode. That's probably why they're all so bright. Now, if we turn the visibility off on layer one and layer two, you can see it actually took two layers to create the brightness of that word. Now, the audio pulse is what I want to blend into the scene.

So let's go to layer three and turn that visibility off. Okay, now we know exactly what we're dealing with. I want to create a mask to create darkness kind of in the center here. So, I'll go up to my Elipse tool in my toolbar. You can click Q and press it numerous times on the keyboard until you've selected the Ellipse tool to get it. Just make sure when you start dragging that you have layer 3 selected. So I'm going to click and drag to draw a mask around our waveform. With the mask applied, I want to invert the mask because I want the center to actually be the more dark place.

So let's change the pull down on the mask from add to subtract. Now, notice when I did subtract, the mask in essence kind of went away. If I click Inverted, nope. This is one of those instances where it might be better to actually apply the mask after the waveform. Let's see if I can click and drag down here, and it's not like I can change the hierarchy in terms of how this renders. What I need to do is actually pre-compose. I'm going to click on the mask and just press Cmd + X to cut the mask off the layer. Now we can go up under layer and go down to choose precompose. And we can move all the attributes into a new comp and click OK. And as long as we don't click our continuously rasterize button or collapse transform button right here, we should be able to easily mask this off now. Since I already have the mask selected on my tool bar, I'm going to go and click and drag on the canvas again.

And this time, if we go to the pull down next to our mask, we can change it to subtract and it'll actually work the way that I was expecting. If you press M, M on your keyboard rapidly, you'll open up a mask options. Now, I can click and drag on the Feather options, here, to soften the transition across my map. Now, this is looking relatively close to what I was hoping, but I need to blend this background glowing a little bit more. So let's select our audio pulse glow. If you don't have the blend modes open, make sure you do and then let's click here, under screen.

Notice blend modes are divided up into groups. Rather than focusing on what each individual blend mode does, I try and just keep track of the individual groups. So the first group will create dissolves, and I definitely want to explore that here in a second. The next group creates darkness. Now the group after that creates lightness so I like to think these darken and then these add. Now the other group compares contrast between the layers and then we have difference and hue, color, luminosity and then the stencil layers.

I just encourage you now to click through each of the layers to see if there's some kind of blend that you like. For example, if I chose subtract for this, now I'm subtracting that blur out of the background. And it just doesn't look quite right. Whereas if I chose add, it's really going to kind of try and blend to give this nice pop in the background. I want to change things up drastically. So I'm going to click on the pul ldown and choose Dancing Dissolve. When we do that, it's going to scatter all of the different elements into a dissolve. Now, I'd like to add a glow to this, so I'm going to go up under Effect and choose Stylize and choose Glow.

But, notice, when I press the Glow, it's just scattering the Glow effect. So, it's like the effect is processed first and then the Blend mode is processed next. I'm just going to press Cmd + Z to undo. So in order to change the order of processes, we need to select Layer 4 and go up under Layer, and choose pre-compose. And this time, we definitely want to make sure to move all the attributes into the new comp, and when we click OK, now we can go back under our Effect options and choose Glow.

This'll add a nice glow back into our scattered graphic. If I wanted to make that pop a little more, I could adjust some of the glow settings, but I sort of like where it's at. Now, we could add a blend mode to this to blend it back into the background. So let's click on our blend mode and see if we can color burn it back into the background. And that's definitely added a little bit more burn into the image. So I'm liking what I have as we scrub down the timeline. Now there's one last thing we need to look at maybe adjusting. And that's a track mat.

So if we have our background video composition here, let's turn the visibility off and on. I'd like to actually have this background blend with our blurry scatteredness. Right above it. So let's keep our background layer exactly where it is, but let's go over to its track mat. Let's change that mode to alpha mat. This is going to look at the alpha channel of the layer above it, and use that to cut the mat. So if we turn on our alpha channel for our composition, you can see all that we have actually in the scene is our scattered graphic and our text. The background is being completely cut out by this alpha operation. I'm going to go back here and go to RGB.

Just so I can blend the background in a little bit, I'm going to duplicate the background layer by pressing Cmd + D. And I'll drag that to the bottom of the layer hierarchy. And change its track mat to no track mat. And then we can just press T to open the opacity, and, bring its luminance down. So now we've got this kind of haunting look where we have our glow kind of going across the screen and we have this sort of scattered look that blending into the background along with our alpha track mat. So when it comes to being able to draw a separation between your different graphic elements, definitely look at maybe using masks, and then you could explore some blend modes, and of course, pre-composing.

You get the idea. Feel free to adjust to your own personal taste. Just remember, there is an order of operation to how you apply things. As we leave I'm going to load up a RAM preview of our project. (MUSIC) Alright, I think that looks pretty good. Kind of exciting. I hope you've enjoyed. Thanks.

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This video is part of

Image for After Effects CC Essential Training
After Effects CC Essential Training

110 video lessons · 50378 viewers

Ian Robinson
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 8s
    1. What is After Effects?
      1m 8s
  2. 30m 55s
    1. Welcome
      1m 11s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 19s
    3. Relinking missing footage
      1m 54s
    4. Working with keyboard shortcuts
      1m 23s
    5. Updating After Effects with Creative Cloud
      1m 25s
    6. Different ways to use After Effects UPDATED
      59s
    7. Exploring the interface of After Effects NEW
      12m 0s
    8. Exploring important preferences and setting up the cache NEW
      6m 20s
    9. Video terminology UPDATED
      4m 24s
  3. 1h 0m
    1. The six foundations of After Effects NEW
      11m 5s
    2. Understanding compositions NEW
      10m 35s
    3. Creating and manipulating layers NEW
      9m 49s
    4. Building animation NEW
      6m 29s
    5. Working with effects NEW
      7m 5s
    6. Introduction to 3D NEW
      8m 45s
    7. Understanding how to render NEW
      6m 48s
  4. 38m 54s
    1. Importing elements NEW
      5m 53s
    2. Organizing projects NEW
      3m 51s
    3. Building compositions with layers NEW
      6m 17s
    4. Animating with keyframes NEW
      10m 0s
    5. Adding effects and graphics NEW
      8m 7s
    6. Output techniques NEW
      4m 46s
  5. 44m 49s
    1. Exploring composition and project settings
      6m 48s
    2. Importing Photoshop files as compositions
      8m 39s
    3. Importing Illustrator files as compositions
      7m 41s
    4. Viewing files in the comp panel
      4m 42s
    5. Understanding Pre-compose
      4m 21s
    6. Positioning layers with snapping
      4m 55s
    7. Interpreting footage
      4m 0s
    8. Keyboard shortcuts for compositions
      3m 43s
  6. 1h 5m
    1. Defining layers
      5m 4s
    2. Creating type layers
      7m 38s
    3. Precise typesetting techniques
      5m 42s
    4. Creating layer solids and shapes with masks
      9m 6s
    5. Creating design elements with shape layers
      6m 10s
    6. Layer compositing: Masks, switches, and blend modes
      7m 35s
    7. Using track mattes
      4m 49s
    8. Precise compositing with variable-width feathered masks
      9m 24s
    9. Working smarter by swapping layers
      7m 6s
    10. Keyboard shortcuts for layers
      2m 35s
  7. 1h 27m
    1. Understanding animation
      6m 20s
    2. Adding and adjusting keyframes
      9m 52s
    3. Understanding keyframe interpolation
      6m 20s
    4. Adjusting keyframes in the Graph Editor
      8m 26s
    5. The power of parenting
      5m 26s
    6. Using null objects
      6m 46s
    7. Creating expressions with the pick whip
      6m 25s
    8. Creating and adjusting motion paths
      9m 56s
    9. Building complex graphics with Pre-compose
      4m 54s
    10. Preparing audio for animation
      8m 57s
    11. Generating graphics with audio
      9m 13s
    12. Working smarter: Navigating the Timeline
      4m 32s
  8. 58m 59s
    1. Understanding the order of effects
      5m 58s
    2. Generating backgrounds with effects
      5m 33s
    3. Generating a scribble effect
      8m 12s
    4. Animating strokes with effects
      6m 37s
    5. Using adjustment layers
      5m 52s
    6. Adding gradients and glows
      4m 30s
    7. Saving pan and scan presets
      5m 20s
    8. Fixing exposure with Levels
      3m 5s
    9. Fixing color casts with Color Finesse 3 NEW
      9m 57s
    10. Masking individual effects NEW
      3m 55s
  9. 55m 24s
    1. Understanding 3D in After Effects
      9m 2s
    2. Intro to cameras
      7m 51s
    3. Intro to lights and material options
      8m 56s
    4. Animating cameras UPDATED
      12m 39s
    5. Creating depth of field
      6m 48s
    6. Exploring the ray-traced 3D renderer
      10m 8s
  10. 1h 43m
    1. Understanding CINEMA 4D Lite and After Effects
      1m 32s
    2. 3D foundations
      10m 43s
    3. Matching CINEMA 4D Lite and After Effects projects
      8m 9s
    4. Understanding the CINEMA 4D Lite interface
      7m 31s
    5. Creating 3D projects from Illustrator files
      7m 28s
    6. Exploring modeling in CINEMA 4D Lite
      8m 8s
    7. Applying deformers
      5m 59s
    8. Understanding materials
      7m 32s
    9. Lighting your scene
      8m 14s
    10. Looking at detailed materials
      7m 51s
    11. Animating in CINEMA 4D Lite
      6m 51s
    12. Animating cameras in CINEMA 4D Lite
      5m 45s
    13. Working with CINEWARE
      9m 38s
    14. Render settings and the multipass workflow
      8m 38s
  11. 23m 35s
    1. Rendering with Adobe Media Encoder
      4m 45s
    2. Recommended settings for rendering graphics
      10m 21s
    3. Creating presets in the Render Queue
      4m 0s
    4. Prerendering with Import and Replace Usage
      3m 18s
    5. Working smarter: One render, multiple outputs
      1m 11s
  12. 29m 3s
    1. Creating type animators
      8m 52s
    2. Creating and animating type on a path
      5m 32s
    3. Animating shape layers
      8m 45s
    4. Animating brushstrokes with Paint
      5m 54s
  13. 23m 31s
    1. Retiming with Time Remapping
      8m 56s
    2. Retiming footage with Timewarp
      9m 10s
    3. Smoothing shaky camera footage with Warp Stabilizer VFX
      5m 25s
  14. 16m 6s
    1. Getting started with Keylight NEW
      8m 43s
    2. Refining your key with Keylight NEW
      3m 42s
    3. Cleaning up keys with masks NEW
      3m 41s
  15. 26m 47s
    1. Rotoscoping with paths
      6m 47s
    2. Introducing the Roto Brush
      5m 58s
    3. Refining the Roto Brush
      6m 12s
    4. Using the Refine Edge tool
      7m 50s
  16. 27m 13s
    1. Creating a single point track
      7m 38s
    2. Applying motion with Warp Stabilizer VFX
      4m 29s
    3. Warp Stabilizer VFX: Reversible Stabilization workflow
      7m 47s
    4. Solving cameras
      7m 19s
  17. 6m 30s
    1. Archiving your projects
      3m 50s
    2. Removing unused footage
      1m 25s
    3. Moving compositions between projects
      1m 15s
  18. 2m 24s
    1. What's next? NEW
      2m 24s

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