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Now that we've started to learn how to create different kinds of layers, let's see how we can use switches and modes to add yet another layer of flexibility to our compositions. In this video we're going to blend our graphics into the background video and also use the transparency data of one layer to create a mask for another layer. Before we go too far into blend modes, it's important to remember which renderer we'll be using, as the Ray-traced Renderer does not support blend modes, track mattes or layer styles for 3D layers.
Now even though we don't have any 3D layers in here, it's still important to make sure the comp is selected and press Command+K, because we want to go to the Advanced tab and just get in the habit of changing the Renderer from Ray-traced to Classic if you know you're going to be doing a lot of blend modes. So let's press OK, and now I want to look at our comp a little bit closer. If we hover our mouse over the canvas and scroll up with our mouse, then we can press the Spacebar to grab our Hand tool and move in a little more closely.
I want to start with this Charlie Winters layer, and we're going to look at modes first. Now if you don't see this column of modes right here, you need to go to this button in the lower left corner of the timeline. The second one in will toggle your modes. Within the modes we have the Modes and Track Mattes. Let's start with Modes. If we click on the Normal pulldown here and then scroll down so we can pop this up a little more clearly, you can see these are actually divided into groups.
While I'd love to sit here and go through each individual one of these, we don't have time for that; we have to learn After Effects as a whole. So I'm going to give you a tip. When you look at these, you want to look at them in groups and then kind of choose different ones within the groups based on what you know about how that group functions. To give you a quick overview, the first category is the normal category, so that's how layers typically work with the transparency and that kind of thing. The next layer here, this is called the subtractive category.
I'd like to think of it because it darkens things. So let's choose Multiply for the Charlie Winters layer and you'll notice that any white pixel is actually knocked out. And since it had a black drop shadow underneath of it, we can still see that. You can definitely click back into your modes and choose some of the other ones to see how they function. But let's move to the next one; this is the additive category. These modes tend to lighten colors by mixing with the layers below.
So let's choose Screen. See when we choose Screen, any of the black pixels are knocked out and then the white pixels are allowed to show through. I'm specifically using this Charlie Winters layer because it is black and white. But things get a lot more interesting when you start blending colored layers. So let's change our text layer back to normal and then I show some of these other groups. If we select our Cyan Solid right here, if I turn its visibility off and on, you can see it does have quite an effect in terms of building our graphic.
But it's already set to a Multiply mode. Now just so we can accentuate how things are working, let's press T to make sure that our Opacity is set to 100%. Now with the Cyan Solids selected, let's go back into our modes and look at the next group. The next group is called the complex category. These modes blend with the layers below depending upon how bright or dark the colors are underneath or above 50% gray.
The difference category is interesting because it kind of compares the layer that we have selected with the layers below, and that it blends those together based on how different they are. So let's just choose let's say Classic Difference. And here you can see we've created all kinds of funky colors. Now obviously that's not quite the look I'm going for, but hey, if you wanted something bright and colorful, that's always a great place to go. This group down here is kind of interesting; it's just blends one color with one or more colors of the components of the layers below, whether it's the Hue, the Saturation, the Color or the Luminosity.
I just like to think of this as it plays with the colors and if I choose the different ones, I can see how that works. If you really want an in-depth look at all of these different modes, you should definitely check out Deke McClelland's course in our lynda.com library. It's called Photoshop Masking & Compositing: Advanced Blending. This is a great course and even though it's in Photoshop, the engine behind Photoshop and After Effects is the same when it comes to blend modes. So anything you learn in there will directly translate into After Effects.
Now for these last two groups, I will come back to these momentarily after we learn about Track Mattes. To use Track Mattes, I want to go back up to our Charlie Winters layer. Let's select that, and we can leave our cyan set to this Classic mode for right now. Now with our Charlie Winters layer, the way Track Mattes work, even though I want to use Charlie Winters as the source, you need to start with the layer directly below the text layer. Now if I'm looking at the layer below it's our kinetECO logo, and since these don't overlap, I'll just move the Charlie Winters text right above our Cyan Solid.
Now we should be able to see how this works. If we've select our Cyan Solid layer and go over into its Track Matte pulldown and choose Alpha Matte, notice it's automatically looking at the layer directly above Charlie Winters. So if we select Charlie Winters, now it's going to use the alpha transparency of the Charlie Winters layer to generate a matte. Now it's also creating an interesting mix, because after it's using the Alpha Channel of the type to create a matte, it's also still blending the cyan color with the background layers.
I know you're thinking, well what if I want this type to cut out absolutely everything below it? Well, you wouldn't want to use a Track Matte for that unless you were planning on taking all the layers below and pre-composing those layers. I know in previous videos we talked about pre-composing and how blend modes transfer or don't transfer based on the Collapsed Transform button, but honestly, this little tip I'm going to show you is going to save you having to think about that. So let's change the Alpha Matte Track Matte, back to No Track Matte and then select the Charlie Winters layer, click on its Mode pulldown, and if we scroll down to the bottom, the last two groups are kind of fun.
These are the matte categories and basically the way they work, they're going to take the Alpha data or the luminance data and create a stencil or a cut-out of that layer and apply that to every single layer below it. So let's choose Stencil Alpha and notice nothing's happening, because we need to turn on the visibility of the text layer. Once we do that notice both the text and its drop shadow are cutting through all of the layers below.
And if I took this layer and moved it down, you notice it's going through this other shape, because this shape layer is above. So if you want that cut-out just move it below the text layer and now that's cut out as well. I'm going to stop here, because I think I've given you quite a lot when it comes to learning about modes and Track Mattes. Really, I have to say that I have a secret love affair with switches and blend modes. See, Track Mattes give you the flexibility to animate a source and know that any changes will be updated in the matte, because that layer is always being referenced.
Now I think blend modes are awesome because I view them as the secret sauce for getting all of my layers to work together to create one cohesive look.
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