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Setting up

From: After Effects Apprentice 13: Paint, Roto, and Puppet

Video: Setting up

In this movie, we'll set up the workspace for using Paint and cover some important basic concepts. If you have the Exercise Files, go ahead and open AEA_Paint and Puppet. If you are following along with our second edition of After Effects Apprentice, this is Lesson #10. I am going to open the first composition 01-Paint Basics*starter which includes one layer of a fanciful mask. If you don't have the Exercise Files, just import any image that has an interesting alpha channel.

Setting up

In this movie, we'll set up the workspace for using Paint and cover some important basic concepts. If you have the Exercise Files, go ahead and open AEA_Paint and Puppet. If you are following along with our second edition of After Effects Apprentice, this is Lesson #10. I am going to open the first composition 01-Paint Basics*starter which includes one layer of a fanciful mask. If you don't have the Exercise Files, just import any image that has an interesting alpha channel.

When I turn on the Transparency Grid, you can see this image has an alpha channel and even the eyes are transparent and that will be important later on, when we learn about how to paint with different channels. I'll turn off the Transparency Grid and then double-click the layer to open the image in the Layer panel. Whenever you use any of the Paint tools, you must be in the Layer panel, not the Composition panel. I'll set the magnification to Fit up to 100%, so we can see our entire image.

There are three Paint tools; the Brush tool, the Clone Stamp tool and the Eraser tool. Notice if you click any of these tools, because the Auto-Open panels options is switched on, two panels automatically appear on the right hand side, the Brushes panel and the Paint panel. These panels have been added to the Standard Workspace or whatever workspace you are currently in. However, instead of using the Standard Workspace, I'm going to select the Paint Workspace.

Now when I do that, a number of things happen. Not only do I get the two panels I need, Paint and Brushes, but it also rearranges the Composition and Layer panels. It puts the Composition panel on the left and the Layer panel on the right. The only drawback you might find is that you no longer have easy access to the Project panel. If you need the Project panel at any time, select Window>Project or you can use the shortcut Command+0 on Mac, or Ctrl +0 on Windows, and that will open the Project panel on the left-hand side or if you like, you can go ahead and dock the Project panel with the Composition panel.

I'll open that a little wider and now I can toggle between the Composition panel and the Project panel, really easily. So again, any painting you need to do, you need to do it in the Layer panel and the results will appear both in the Layer panel and in the Composition panel. The advantage to having the Composition panel open is that you will see this layer in relation to all the other layers as well as other effects that might be applied after the Paint effect. Now before we move on and start painting, I want to leave you with a very important concept and that's that each tool has its own settings in the Paint and Brushes panels.

For instance, when I have the Brush tool selected, any changes I make to the Color or the Size of the brush, the Opacity and so on, only affect the Brush tool. Also note that the Clone Options are grayed out, as is the Erase menu, that's because these are only applicable when you have those tools selected. For instance, if I select the Eraser, then the pop-up for Erase becomes active. The Clone tools are still grayed out.

These only become active when the Clone tool is selected. So one thing you really have to watch is that when you're using these settings, you have a tendency, or at least I do, of changing, say the color, let's pick a green and then changing the tool to the Brush tool, and I start painting and my paint appears in red, by just a setting that was applied to the Brush tool. I only changed the color for the Clone Stamp tool. So try and get in the habit of first selecting the tool you want to use and then changing the size, the color and so on.

Most of the options in the Brushes panel are fairly self-explanatory. If you have ever used Photoshop, you will be pretty familiar with changing the size of brushes as well as their Angle, Roundness, Hardness and so on. However, I really point out that if you have a tablet, and you pull down the Brushes panel a little further, you will find options for setting the Brush Dynamics. The default is to only use the Size and that's set to Pen Pressure. You can turn that off and use some of the other settings.

Or instead of Pen Pressure, you can use Pen Tilt or Stylus Wheel and so on. And again you have the same options for Angle, Roundness, Opacity and Flow. I'll use a tablet in the next movie, but I just want to show you that they are hidden at the bottom of the Brushes panel, in case you haven't found them. And as for the for the Paint panel, some of these options are easy to understand, such as Opacity and Flow. Flow is how quickly paint is drawn on, the size of the brush, the paint color, Foreground and Background and there is also an option to Reset the foreground and background colors to black and white and you can switch that by clicking on the little arrows. That can be handy when you are painting in the alpha channel.

Right below this are options for setting the Blending mode, Channels you are painting on and the duration of each stroke. We'll be covering these options in the next few movies.

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