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In After Effects CS5 Essential Training, author Chad Perkins discusses the basic tools, effects, and need-to-know techniques in Adobe After Effects CS5, the professional standard for motion graphics, compositing, and visual effects for video. The course provides an overview of the entire workflow, from import to export, as well as detailed coverage of each stage, including animating text and artwork, adding effects to compositions, working in 3D, and rendering and compressing footage. Exercise files are included with the course.
Shape layers are one of my personal favorite areas of After Effects. I don't find that many people love them as much as I do, but I just love this ability that shape layers give you to create and play with shapes as we'll see in this movie and the next one as well. It's kind of like having a mini built-in Adobe Illustrator where you just create and play with and animate shapes in really cool ways. Now this is very similar to masks or at least that process of creating shape layers is very similar to masks.
I have this background here. We know from masks that if I were to select let's say, for example, let's select the Star tool. If I were to click and drag on the Star tool, I would create a star shaped mask and basically, because Add is the default Mask mode, then all we see is the star shape and then the layer content filling that star shape. That's how we create masks. I'm just going to select this mask and hit Delete to get back to square one here. The process of creating shape layers is exactly the same, except we need to have no layer selected when you create our shape layer.
So, if one layer is selected while we create the star, then we make a mask on a layer. If no layer is selected and we click and drag and create a star, then we make a shape layer. So, that's basically what I've done here is I've created a new shape layer, which is its own thing. Now at first, this probably seems very simple. It could maybe, even at the end of this movie before we get into the next movie, it will seem artificially simple, but it is quite cool. I'm going to actually delete that, and click and drag to make another one. In the case of the Star tool, when we press the Up Arrow key, we add more points to the star and the Down Arrow key removes points from the star.
I'm going to go ahead and create that many points. However many points that is. I actually want to put that in the different spots. So, I'm going to hold the Spacebar down, and I can move this around to different parts. Put this in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen here. We have the Fill area and the Stroke area up at the top with this shape layer. We can click Fill and choose what type of fill: either a solid or a linear gradient, a radial gradient or no fill. Actually, I'm just going to choose Solid Color and click OK.
If I want to choose the color of the fill, I'm going to click this color swatch here, actually click the eyedropper, and let's get one of the dark pink tones from the corner and click OK. We can click the word Stroke to open up our Stroke Options and just like Fill, we can choose to have no stroke, a solid color stroke, or a linear, or radial gradient stroke. I'm just going to leave this set to Linear Gradient and click OK. I'll increase the stroke size by clicking -and-dragging on the pixel count there. So, now we have a white to black gradient.
If we click on the stroke swatch here, we'll get to the Gradient Editor where we can move the swatches around to adjust that gradient. I might want like let's say a soft blue. When I'll click this other gradient stop over here on the bottom, not the ones on the top. We want the ones in the bottom. The ones in the top, by the way, are opacity stops. So, if we click here and then took this to lowered opacity, you could see that the stroke actually fades away. So, we don't want that. Although that is kind of cool. Click this bottom color stop, and then I'll get another light blue-ish color I guess and click OK.
There we have some simple star. Now the real power again of shape layers is to be found in all the cool things that we can do to this shape layer. So, we're going to continue where we leave off now in the next movie.
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