After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics
Illustration by John Hersey

Understanding different kinds of type in After Effects


After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics

with Ian Robinson

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Video: Understanding different kinds of type in After Effects

Before we start to animate type, it's important to note that there are actually three different kinds of type that can be created within After Effects: point type, paragraph type, and path type. So, as we look at our project, you'll notice we have two different compositions here. We have PaintStrokes-Example, which is up right now, and then PaintStrokes-Start, where basically I just deleted the type. And what we are going to do is actually re-create this type in the PaintStrokes-Start comp. To see what we are going to create, let's go ahead and watch a RAM preview.
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  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

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Watch the Online Video Course After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics
7h 57m Intermediate Feb 09, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics with Ian Robinson covers some of the core principles used to create motion graphics, breaking them down into smaller groups of applied techniques in After Effects. The course explores everything from gathering inspiration to integrating traditional typography, transitional elements, animated textures, color, and more into motion graphics. Instructions for building a toolkit with templates and a style guide for future projects are also included. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Converting type from Photoshop and Illustrator
  • Creating shapes from text
  • Using markers in animation
  • Editing techniques for graphics
  • Using type presets
  • Animating type
  • Exploring color correction tools
  • Building animated textures
  • Creating custom vignettes
  • Understanding Lights and Material settings
  • Adding dynamic transitions
  • Rigging cameras for animation
  • Working efficiently in 3D space
After Effects
Ian Robinson

Understanding different kinds of type in After Effects

Before we start to animate type, it's important to note that there are actually three different kinds of type that can be created within After Effects: point type, paragraph type, and path type. So, as we look at our project, you'll notice we have two different compositions here. We have PaintStrokes-Example, which is up right now, and then PaintStrokes-Start, where basically I just deleted the type. And what we are going to do is actually re-create this type in the PaintStrokes-Start comp. To see what we are going to create, let's go ahead and watch a RAM preview.

(video playing) So as you can see, it's kind of a rough animation, but there are three layers of type, and there's a camera move in Z space. So what we'll do is create each of these sections of type using all three different kinds of type within After Effects.

So let's go to the PaintStrokes- Start comp, and what we'll do is move our playhead back to the beginning here. Now, notice that I've added a marker here and a marker there, and those markers correspond to where we are going to be bringing in the next sections of type. But you might be thinking to yourself, yeah this is great, but how did you build that background? Well, don't worry; I'll cover how I built this background in the Textures chapter a little later in this title. But for now, I just want you to focus on how to create the type within the scene.

So first thing, with PaintStrokes-Start selected, let's go ahead and change our Magnification of Fit up to 100%. And now, select the Camera 1 layer and grab the type tool. I just selected Camera 1, so when I started typing I know exactly where the text layer was going to appear. So let's go ahead and just click anywhere in the canvas, and we will type the words, the story begins. Now, to set your type in After Effects, all you have to do is press Enter on your keypad.

Congratulations! We have now just created our first kind of type within After Effects, point type. Point type is the default text that you can add to your After Effects comps, and the easiest way to tell that it's point type is by looking at the anchor point. Right now, notice the anchor point. I am just going to zoom in on my canvas here a little bit. Spacebar to reposition. There we go. Notice the anchor point is set right here in the center of this type. Now, I happen to know for a fact the point type in the other comp was set up on the left side.

So let's go ahead and change the point type orientation in the Paragraph section. So click left align text and now you will notice the text will appear to the right side of your anchor point. Now to reposition this, all we have to do is grab our Selection tool and just click and drag to reposition the type. Once we have it generally in the correct area, what we need to do is actually enable it in three-dimensional space. Now, you notice the second I did that, it disappeared back behind these other layers.

So let's press the P key to open up our Position and just click and drag on the Z parameter, bringing this type forward in the scene. Now, I want to talk a little bit about the actual technical aspects of setting type, specifically for motion graphics. Right now, this type is Zapfino and it's actually kind of a thin, wispy typeface. And it's really important that you don't use 100% bright white when you're setting type in general, but it's paramount that you don't use 100% white type when you're setting thin fonts like this, because then you'll end up with ringing and all kinds of strange happenings that will appear because of that contrast between a bright white type and the dark background.

So to lessen that, what I did was actually create the type with this slightly off-color greenish yellow tint. So all you have to do is select the type layer, click on the color chip, and change your text color to a slightly different off-white color. If I really wanted to be particular, what I'd do is drag this brightness down a little bit. Notice as I drag this circle down, this B parameter is changing. As a general rule, what you want to do is keep your brightness below 90%, and that way you can make sure that your type will always appear legal, as far as the parameters for broadcast are concerned.

Now, we will click OK. One other thing I want to do is help create a little bit of a pop for this type over the background, and the easiest way to do that is by adding a layer style. So with the type layer selected, Ctrl+Click or right-click on the type and go to Layer Styles and choose Outer Glow. Now, the default color for Outer Glow is this bright yellow, and that's kind of making things a little too soft and blurry for me. And like I said, I just want to create a pop, so let's change the color from that yellow to kind of a reddish tone, and we want it to be a lot darker.

Okay, that's definitely creating a pop. It's still a little bright, so I will just bring that down a little bit. And another thing I want to do is change the blend mode because right now it's set to Screen. And what's happening is we are seeing the red really clearly on the black dark areas, but the light areas are kind of getting lost. So change the blend mode of your Outer Glow from Screen to Multiply, and now it's kind of doing the opposite. The red's blending really easily into the black areas, but it's helping pop this lighter color off of the light-colored background.

Now, it's much more legible. Okay, so we set our first layer of type and let's go ahead and collapse the layer and move our playhead down to our first marker where it says like no other story. Now, as we drag here, notice that this type layer is still kind of in the way. So for right now, what I want you to do is actually just trim this layer a little shorter. So if you drag your playhead and hold down Shift, it will snap to the first marker and then just choose Page Up to move the playhead back one frame.

Option+Right Bracket or Alt+Right Bracket to trim the length of a layer. And now press Page Down one more time to move the playhead down one frame. So now what I want to do is actually add our paragraph type. To have a better perspective of exactly where it's appearing in the scene, let's change our magnification of the canvas back to Fit up to 100%. Now, when you grab the Type tool, to create paragraph type, just click and drag anywhere in the canvas. And once you're done dragging, just let go of your mouse and you'll see the bounding box.

Once the bounding box has appeared, all you have to do is start typing. So I will type the words "like no other story you've ever experienced before." Notice I never once hit Return; all I did was just type, and the bounding box was what forced my type to actually return to the next line. Once you're done creating type within the bounding box, just press Enter on your keypad to set the type.

Now, with our new layer selected, let's trim its in point by pressing Alt+Left Bracket or Option+Left Bracket. There we go. And we need to position this in three-dimensional space. Go ahead and flip the switch for that. And now if we press P to open up our position data, let's click and drag to the left to bring this closer up into the scene. To reposition this in three- dimensional space, let's just grab our Selection tool and just click right here on the Y axis, and I can go ahead and drag this out to the side.

This is taking up way too much space, and it's still underneath this darker layer here of the swoosh. So what I want to do is to still bring it forwards a little bit more, and let's resize our bounding box here. So to resize the bounding box, grab your type tool and just click anywhere within the type area, and now we can just drag our bounding box down. And if we are losing it off of the bottom of the canvas, just Command+Minus or use your scroll wheel on your mouse to bring it down.

So I'll use the left parameter to help position this as well, and now we're all set. Notice when I am positioning is in 3D space, I'm making sure to roll my mouse over the specific handle so I know when I click and drag, it's only going to move on that specific axis. Now if we move our playhead down here in the scene a little bit more, you can see I still don't have quite enough separation. So I'm going to tweak this one more time and just click and drag to the right on the Z axis to position this a little further back in the scene, move it over to the left.

So, that's looking pretty good. One of the things that I was actually looking for when I changed the size of the bounding box, I was looking to make sure that the ascenders and the descenders didn't overlap when the type was set on the page. So adjusting the bounding box, now you can see the type is still in one cohesive group, but I don't have any conflicts as far as the actual layout is concerned. So let's move our playhead further down the Timeline here. There we go. And so if we hold Shift again, it will snap and let's trim our out point for our paragraph type, Alt+Right Bracket or Option+Right Bracket.

Just press Page Down to move down to the next area. I know we haven't added our layer styles into the second layer, but we will do that right at the end. Let's go ahead and add our path type. For the path type, I want a path to travel right along this brush stroke, so that the type actually moves right along the same brush stroke. A lot of times people get a little confused with path type in After Effects and they will create a path first. What you want to do is actually create the type first.

So let's grab the Text tool and just click anywhere on the canvas and begin typing. So I just typed "Please join us for this journey", and again I'll press Enter on my keypad to set the type. I have just created point type. I know this because I can see my anchor point there on the left-hand side and I didn't click and drag in the canvas. So if I want to reposition this, I can just grab my Selection tool and move my type.

Now, it's time to actually create the path that the type is going to flow along. So to do that, first thing I want to do is actually get the type in three-dimensional space. Enable 3D on the type layer, and I want to show you this neat trick. If I go ahead and select the type layer and press P for Position, I'm scroll down here to this MCurve layer. If we turn that off and on, you can see that's the layer I am trying to match. Now I could open my Position parameter and retype it up here, but there's a neat little key command.

I am just going to expand my Timeline here, so I can see both layers, and if you hold Alt or Option as you click on the parent pick whip, and choose a layer that you want to be the parent for your type layer, when you hold down Option and do this and let go, what's going to happen, the type will automatically reposition itself in three-dimensional space based on where that layer is currently. Even though the specific numbers don't line up, that's okay because I pressed Option, and what's happening is when you hold Option, this will reposition itself in three-dimensional space, your child layer.

But also, if the layers are of different sizes, it will adjust for that, making sure that it's actually still sort of positioned within the same area, even though, since the layers are of different sizes, it calls for different properties. If I want to see this exact same Z parameter, all I have to do is just un-parent the layer. So if I just click on the pulldown and choose None, now you notice I have the proper Z parameter that matches.

The only reason I took this off of being a child of this layer is I did want independent control for this type layer. Now that we have positioned this in three-dimensional space, let's grab our Pen tool. Now that the type layer can exist on its own without being tied to this MCurve layer, let's go ahead and select our type layer and grab our Pen tool. With the Pen tool selected, all we have to do is just click and drag along this paint stroke. So in order to do that, let's go ahead and click once, and then like I said, click and drag.

Let's click and drag with the second point, and that will draw out my Bezier handles and help round out the curve. Now, what you want to do is create as few points as possible. And that way, you'll have a very smooth curve moving throughout your paint stroke. If I had a bunch of anchor points, that opens up myself to the possibility that we'd have a very rough transition from one section to the next. You'll notice when you click and drag and draw long control handles for one section, it's really not good to do the same thing for the next stroke, so there I will just go ahead and do that.

And now once that's actually set, go ahead and press Enter on your keypad. Once you have your last point selected, all you have to do is grab your Selection tool and that actually sets the mask. If we open up the Mask section under our type layer, here now you'll notice there's Mask 1, and if I expand Mask 1, here is my mask path. I am just going to click off of it to deselect it and click on it, and now I've reselected everything. So in order to make this type flow along this mask, all we have to do is reopen all the parameters for the type layer, and in the Text section, under Path Options, under Path, you want to click on the pulldown and choose Mask 1.

Now the type is actually going to flow along this path, and all we have to do to position it and animate is just adjust the margins. So we can keyframe the first margin here to adjust this type, and that's basically what I did to create the animation. So let's compare where we are right now to the example comp. Go ahead and open up the example comp and if we go ahead and scrub through here, first thing, I didn't actually create the animation for the story begins.

I just had the edit, and we haven't added the outer glow to the subsequent layers, and we haven't done this keyframe animation for the last layer. But I think all in all you guys have a pretty firm grasp on everything that we actually did create, and you should be able to go through this specific area and do things like trim the layers and adjust some of the parameters and re-add the glows, just so you can match things up a little more clearly.

But for now, we know how to add the three different kinds of text within After Effects, and we will definitely get into animation later on in the chapter.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics .

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Q: How do I transition from one piece of animated type to another in After Effects?
A: There isn't an effect that can create these types of transitions. It's really a matter of animating the type and camera, using basic keyframing and positioning.
If you understand the basics of moving the anchor point of a type layer, animating the parameters of that layer (Scale, Rotation, Position, etc.) and then separately animating the camera around the type layers, you can achieve different types of transitions.  Check out the following videos for more information:

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