Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member

Repeating patterns with shape layers

From: After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics

Video: Repeating patterns with shape layers

Shape layers are one of the most underrated features in After Effects, if I do say so myself, because, really once you're comfortable with Bezier masks, there is no reason you shouldn't be working with shape layers. In this movie, I'm going to show you how to convert a mask path into a shape layer, and then create a transition out of repeating shapes of these snowflakes. Now, we're going to get specifically into building transitions a little bit later in this chapter. But for right now, I want you to understand how repeating shape layers function within After Effects.

Repeating patterns with shape layers

Shape layers are one of the most underrated features in After Effects, if I do say so myself, because, really once you're comfortable with Bezier masks, there is no reason you shouldn't be working with shape layers. In this movie, I'm going to show you how to convert a mask path into a shape layer, and then create a transition out of repeating shapes of these snowflakes. Now, we're going to get specifically into building transitions a little bit later in this chapter. But for right now, I want you to understand how repeating shape layers function within After Effects.

So first thing, let's look at our composition. We have our Flakes comp, and in here there are two layers. Now if I check the source name here, you can see they both come from a Photoshop document. And if I highlight both layers and press M, you'll see that they both have masks. If you're not seeing the masks, like right now, you need to go to your View Options in the canvas and make sure that Masks is turned back on. I had mine turned off because of the previous movies I've recorded.

As you can see here, we have two separate mask paths. Now if you go into Photoshop, there is a tool that will allow you to create custom shapes. And within that tool, you can actually load up a library of custom shapes, so sure enough, in the library, they had two Snowflake shapes. So I just drew those shapes and saved it as a Photoshop document. And since After Effects and Photoshop talk so well to each other, when I imported this as a layered Photoshop document, sure enough, we have our masks that came in beautifully.

But I don't want to animate masks; I want to animate shape layers. So let's go up to Layer, and create a new shape layer. Now, with your shape layer created, nothing's really happened in the scene yet. That's because we haven't copied our mask path into the shape layer. Now there is a little bit of a process to do this. So I am just going to go ahead and maximize our Timeline here a little bit, and expand the contents and the Transform options for our shape layer. So if you look at the Contents area, we have to add something first to create a shape layer.

Now since I know I'm trying to add a mask path, let's go ahead and create a path. Now, you notice Path 1 pops up, and if we expand the disclosure triangle, you see we have an empty path area. So let's scroll down to Flake2 and select the mask path. Notice I'm clicking not here, but here on the mask path. Okay? Go to the Edit menu and choose Copy. Then when you go up to your shape layer, make sure to select the path with a little stop-watch icon to its left. Not Path 1 up here, but literally the path with the stopwatch.

Now if we go up under Edit and choose Paste, it'll actually paste in the mask path into the shape layer. So let's turn off the visibility of layer 2. And you can see here, I don't have a bright yellow mask, because this is a shape layer path. Now if I go ahead and click off of the shape path, you see there is nothing there. That's because once we've added the path, we still need to add yet another parameter if we want to fill this, or if we want to add a stroke to it.

So let's go ahead and add a stroke. Now with the stroke enabled, what we need to do is adjust the stroke width, so we can see exactly how this is being drawn on. I am just going to click off of the stroke itself, and you can see now I've got this kind of fat snowflake. By all means, you can customize this. There are several options, in terms of adjusting the stroke width, as well as, how the caps are rendered. Notice if I change this to Round Cap or Projecting Cap, it slightly changes the edges of the scene.

We'll leave it at Butt Cap. And we can go to the Miter Join, and that's really what adjusts the joints of these harder curves. Notice if I choose Bevel and I click off, it's a slightly different look. I liked the Miter Joint look. It gives kind of a graphic bold flair, so we'll leave it like that. Let's make an adjustment to our Color setting. So just click in the white chip, and we can go ahead and choose any sort of cool tone. Let's make this a little more blue. There we go! Now let's do the exact same thing for our other flake.

Go up under layer, create a new shape layer, and again, we'll repeat the steps. Okay, so now Flake1 has been copied into the new shape layer. Let's repeat the same thing by adding another stroke, and with the Stroke Options, you guessed it, we can change the stroke width, just a little bit, and update the color to something different. So here we'll do like a darker blue for that one.

Okay, so now we have our two different snowflakes, and there set up as shape layers. And you're probably thinking to yourself, okay, well, you know I could have just used the Stroke effect and achieved a very similar look. And my answer to you would be yes, yes, you could have. But with shape layers you can add all kinds of extra fun and motion graphic-y goodness by going back to the Add button and adding repeating patterns. So let's go ahead and add a repeater.

When you add a repeater, notice it's automatically repeating the shape that we had selected. So let's go ahead and increase the number of copies. Just drag it out to anything you like. And if you click and drag to Offset, notice the Offset is what animates this repeating function across the number of copies. Now you're probably thinking, well, how do I determine what direction this Offset is going? Well, if you go to the Transform properties, specifically for the repeater, you notice by default, it's set up to repeat based on the position data, set at 100.

So the cool thing about this, if you keyframe this, you can create kind of a Superman-type animation here, where it comes in and gets set, and then shoots out the other side. You can adjust other settings as well. Here, let me go ahead and show you. We'll drag the position to the left, and let's adjust the End Opacity. Hey! There we go. That looks pretty darn cool. So if we go back to the Offset here, you can kind of see, we can create this sort of blazing snowflake that shoots across the scene. Okay, so repeaters with snowflakes give you all kinds of different options.

One of my favorite options is to go ahead and adjust the Scale. If we click on the Scale--check this out-- now instead of it just sort of repeating off to one side or the other, with the Scale option, it actually gives me sort of a faux 3D look. And if I zoom out on the canvas here, you can see exactly how this is set up. So now if I adjust the Offset, I can have the snowflake come in from the side and then shoot right off to the other side. So let's go ahead and keyframe that, so you can see what that looks like.

Set the first keyframe at about 46 for the Offset, and let's move our playhead to around 1 second. Now if we drag the Offset back to the left here, we can go ahead and make sure that this zooms right on by. Let me go ahead and bring this canvas up in terms of its size. And under View, let's go ahead and deselect Show Guides and set up a RAM preview.

So as you can see, when you animate a repeater, you can create all kinds of interesting effects. Now one last thing: if you really want to kind of take things up a notch, go ahead and play with Blur effects, and your Glow effects. But really, with shape layers, the possibilities are endless, especially when you consider the huge library of different vector shapes in Photoshop and Illustrator.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics
After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics

60 video lessons · 22745 viewers

Ian Robinson
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 3m 37s
    1. Welcome
      1m 1s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 4s
    3. Defining motion graphics
      1m 32s
  2. 11m 11s
    1. Workflow for creating motion graphics
      5m 7s
    2. Organizing projects for motion graphics
      4m 25s
    3. Defining a motion graphics "package"
      1m 39s
  3. 12m 58s
    1. Collecting visual inspiration
      2m 14s
    2. Listening to imagine
      3m 20s
    3. Creating elements for inspiration
      7m 24s
  4. 33m 4s
    1. Essential theories of typography
      6m 34s
    2. Understanding shortcuts for setting type in AE
      7m 27s
    3. Converting type from Photoshop
      5m 51s
    4. Importing type from illustrator
      9m 44s
    5. Creating shapes from text
      3m 28s
  5. 36m 30s
    1. Understanding the role of timing in motion graphics
      8m 1s
    2. Creating and using markers
      7m 58s
    3. Creating animation with markers
      5m 16s
    4. Using audio to create animated graphics
      5m 47s
    5. Editing techniques for graphics and video
      9m 28s
  6. 49m 27s
    1. Understanding different kinds of type in After Effects
      15m 53s
    2. Using animators with type
      7m 59s
    3. Using type presets
      7m 35s
    4. Creating custom type presets
      4m 35s
    5. Animating paragraph type
      13m 25s
  7. 45m 51s
    1. Exploring the use of color in motion graphics
      10m 40s
    2. Creating and using color palettes
      13m 45s
    3. Exploring color correction tools in AE
      6m 46s
    4. Advanced correction with Color Finesse
      8m 30s
    5. Creating custom color presets
      6m 10s
  8. 59m 6s
    1. Exploring textures in motion graphics
      8m 30s
    2. Building an animated background texture
      16m 48s
    3. Creating textures for type
      10m 19s
    4. Animating seamless textures
      15m 1s
    5. Creating custom vignettes
      8m 28s
  9. 38m 25s
    1. Understanding lighting in After Effects
      12m 57s
    2. Intro to lighting techniques
      5m 17s
    3. Using material settings to enhance lighting
      7m 36s
    4. Adding polish to a light setup
      12m 35s
  10. 50m 32s
    1. Animating swoops and swooshes
      12m 37s
    2. Creating repeating light trails with the Vegas effect
      6m 28s
    3. Repeating patterns with shape layers
      8m 11s
    4. Exploring graphic transitions
      10m 37s
    5. Exploring video transitions
      5m 16s
    6. Adding dynamic elements to a video transition
      7m 23s
  11. 22m 23s
    1. Working in 3D
      8m 36s
    2. Rigging cameras for animation
      8m 45s
    3. Working with depth of field
      5m 2s
  12. 50m 54s
    1. Creating storyboards in After Effects
      10m 20s
    2. Creating an animatic
      18m 14s
    3. Polishing the animation and timing
      8m 45s
    4. Applying the final effects
      13m 35s
  13. 47m 53s
    1. Preparing a map for animation
      7m 59s
    2. Animating and styling a map
      8m 24s
    3. Designing a lower-third graphic
      8m 22s
    4. Adding animation to the lower-third graphic
      9m 10s
    5. Creating bumper animations
      13m 58s
  14. 14m 17s
    1. Defining the toolkit
      2m 2s
    2. Preparing templates
      7m 12s
    3. Creating a style guide
      5m 3s
  15. 1m 3s
    1. Next Steps
      1m 3s

Start learning today

Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.

Become a member
Sometimes @lynda teaches me how to use a program and sometimes Lynda.com changes my life forever. @JosefShutter
@lynda lynda.com is an absolute life saver when it comes to learning todays software. Definitely recommend it! #higherlearning @Michael_Caraway
@lynda The best thing online! Your database of courses is great! To the mark and very helpful. Thanks! @ru22more
Got to create something yesterday I never thought I could do. #thanks @lynda @Ngventurella
I really do love @lynda as a learning platform. Never stop learning and developing, it’s probably our greatest gift as a species! @soundslikedavid
@lynda just subscribed to lynda.com all I can say its brilliant join now trust me @ButchSamurai
@lynda is an awesome resource. The membership is priceless if you take advantage of it. @diabetic_techie
One of the best decision I made this year. Buy a 1yr subscription to @lynda @cybercaptive
guys lynda.com (@lynda) is the best. So far I’ve learned Java, principles of OO programming, and now learning about MS project @lucasmitchell
Signed back up to @lynda dot com. I’ve missed it!! Proper geeking out right now! #timetolearn #geek @JayGodbold
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.


Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ.

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Join now "Already a member? Log in

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.


Mark all as unwatched Cancel

Congratulations

You have completed After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


OK
Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

Get started

Already a member?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any lynda.com page and choose Site preferencesfrom the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

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.

Are you sure you want to delete this note?

No

Your file was successfully uploaded.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.