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Using adjustment layers

From: After Effects CC Essential Training

Video: Using adjustment layers

Adjustment layers give you the ability to apply an effect to an invisible layer. But the position of that layer allows you to determine exactly how many layers you'd like that effect to apply to. So it's great to make overall adjustments to a composition, or multiple layers in a composition. Let's check out the project we're looking at, and see how we can use Adjustment layers to make it look a little bit better. I'm going to load up a Ram preview. And after the first few seconds of loading, you can go ahead and press your Spacebar to begin playback.

Using adjustment layers

Adjustment layers give you the ability to apply an effect to an invisible layer. But the position of that layer allows you to determine exactly how many layers you'd like that effect to apply to. So it's great to make overall adjustments to a composition, or multiple layers in a composition. Let's check out the project we're looking at, and see how we can use Adjustment layers to make it look a little bit better. I'm going to load up a Ram preview. And after the first few seconds of loading, you can go ahead and press your Spacebar to begin playback.

As you can see, we have kind of a bland track and field animation here because there's been no color treatment or anything chosen for the images. It's just kind of a rough animation. Let's go ahead and use an Adjustment layer to add a little bit more style, in a sense a visual separation of all the different elements. I'm going to press the Spacebar to stop playback. Now, to create an Adjustment layer, you can go up under the Layer menu. If you don't have the comp panel active or the timeline panel active, make sure one of them is active. Then, Layer > New > Adjustment Layer. Now that we have an Adjustment layer on the top of the layer hierarchy, you should notice nothing has changed.

That's because we need to apply an effect. Now since I want to kind of colorize everything that's going on in this scene, I'm going to use a color effect. So let's go up under Effect > Color Correction > Tint. Tint takes the entire image and makes it black and white. And then it allows you to selectively add color back into the scene based on the Luminance values of white or black. So let's go ahead and change the White option. Click on the white rectangle and change the color to kind of a dark red. Now, this is going to be rather drastic, but we can change how much this tints the object a little bit later.

So let's click OK. (SOUND) And now under amount to Tint, let's decrease this just a little bit. We'll bring it down to around 82%. That's fine. Now we have the Adjustment layer in our layer hierarchy. I'm going to rename this red. So just press Return on your keyboard and type red. (SOUND). Now, let's bring the words track and field back up visually by just dragging the red layer underneath the words track and field. Now, I can clearly see those words and it's very obvious what the dominant player in the graphic is.

We still want to kind of add a little bit more separation with these background elements as well. So let's see if we can bring those back in. If you click on Layer 3 and then Shift+click on Layer 8, we'll set all the layers that create that part of the graphic. Notice these video boxes are being controlled by a null object. Sometimes it makes more sense to go ahead and precompose as opposed to using an adjustment layer. This is one of those times. I want to isolate all of these layers, but I like how the animation's already set up. With Layers 3 through 8 selected, I'll go up under the Layer > Pre-compose. You can leave the default settings and just click OK. Now our pre-comp is its own layer in the timeline. And we could bring it right above our red layer. Now the red is only affecting the background video, these lines and then a dark black box which is underneath these video layers. That's great, but I still want to stylize these middle layers. So let's select our pre-comp layer, Layer 2 and then go up under Effect. And this time I want to adjust their brightness. So let's go to Color Correction and we'll add a Levels adjustment. (SOUND).

Now I want to kind of heighten the contrast while creating the brightness. So if we look at our levels histogram, this is a visual representation of all the brightness involved in that scene. First thing we need to do is click here on the arrow all the way on the right side. Because there isn't much information here in the histogram, we want to go ahead and click and drag this back towards the left. And notice the closer we get to this information, the brighter the scene's going to be. Let's leave it right around the middle there. If we look at the left side, this information controls the dark pixels in the image.

So, I can go ahead and click and drag on that left triangle, and bring it back towards the right a little bit. And this is known as Crushing the Black Levels. As you can see, it's making the image very, very dark. Now, we're ready to preview our animation one more time. Let's go ahead and press 0 on the keypad and load up our Ram preview. After the first few seconds of loading, go ahead and press the Spacebar to check out the animation. I'm going to stop playback here. When it comes to adjustment layers, they do function just like any other layer. So if at any point you decided that you wanted to actually mask off a section of the Adjustment layer, you can definitely do that. So just to give you an example, let's do that to our project. Go up to the Shape tools and make sure that you have the Rectangle tool selected. I'm just clicking and holding to bring up all the different options. As long as I have layer three selected, when I start to drag with the Rectangle tool, it's automatically going to start masking off that layer. Let's go ahead and drag it to about half way down, our lower box images. Now, if we open up the Mask options, we can go ahead and click and drag on the feather parameter in the timeline.

Now we're feathering the adjustment. And as you notice, it's created kind of a soft gradient from the red into the bottom dark area. When it comes to creating Adjustment layers, they give you the ability to apply effect to multiple layers. But they also give you the same flexibility as any other layer, because you can actually control their visibility with masking.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for After Effects CC Essential Training
After Effects CC Essential Training

110 video lessons · 51285 viewers

Ian Robinson
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 8s
    1. What is After Effects?
      1m 8s
  2. 30m 55s
    1. Welcome
      1m 11s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 19s
    3. Relinking missing footage
      1m 54s
    4. Working with keyboard shortcuts
      1m 23s
    5. Updating After Effects with Creative Cloud
      1m 25s
    6. Different ways to use After Effects
      59s
    7. Exploring the interface of After Effects
      12m 0s
    8. Exploring important preferences and setting up the cache
      6m 20s
    9. Video terminology
      4m 24s
  3. 1h 0m
    1. The six foundations of After Effects
      11m 5s
    2. Understanding compositions
      10m 35s
    3. Creating and manipulating layers
      9m 49s
    4. Building animation
      6m 29s
    5. Working with effects
      7m 5s
    6. Introduction to 3D
      8m 45s
    7. Understanding how to render
      6m 48s
  4. 38m 54s
    1. Importing elements
      5m 53s
    2. Organizing projects
      3m 51s
    3. Building compositions with layers
      6m 17s
    4. Animating with keyframes
      10m 0s
    5. Adding effects and graphics
      8m 7s
    6. Output techniques
      4m 46s
  5. 44m 49s
    1. Exploring composition and project settings
      6m 48s
    2. Importing Photoshop files as compositions
      8m 39s
    3. Importing Illustrator files as compositions
      7m 41s
    4. Viewing files in the comp panel
      4m 42s
    5. Understanding Pre-compose
      4m 21s
    6. Positioning layers with snapping
      4m 55s
    7. Interpreting footage
      4m 0s
    8. Keyboard shortcuts for compositions
      3m 43s
  6. 1h 5m
    1. Defining layers
      5m 4s
    2. Creating type layers
      7m 38s
    3. Precise typesetting techniques
      5m 42s
    4. Creating layer solids and shapes with masks
      9m 6s
    5. Creating design elements with shape layers
      6m 10s
    6. Layer compositing: Masks, switches, and blend modes
      7m 35s
    7. Using track mattes
      4m 49s
    8. Precise compositing with variable-width feathered masks
      9m 24s
    9. Working smarter by swapping layers
      7m 6s
    10. Keyboard shortcuts for layers
      2m 35s
  7. 1h 27m
    1. Understanding animation
      6m 20s
    2. Adding and adjusting keyframes
      9m 52s
    3. Understanding keyframe interpolation
      6m 20s
    4. Adjusting keyframes in the Graph Editor
      8m 26s
    5. The power of parenting
      5m 26s
    6. Using null objects
      6m 46s
    7. Creating expressions with the pick whip
      6m 25s
    8. Creating and adjusting motion paths
      9m 56s
    9. Building complex graphics with Pre-compose
      4m 54s
    10. Preparing audio for animation
      8m 57s
    11. Generating graphics with audio
      9m 13s
    12. Working smarter: Navigating the Timeline
      4m 32s
  8. 58m 59s
    1. Understanding the order of effects
      5m 58s
    2. Generating backgrounds with effects
      5m 33s
    3. Generating a scribble effect
      8m 12s
    4. Animating strokes with effects
      6m 37s
    5. Using adjustment layers
      5m 52s
    6. Adding gradients and glows
      4m 30s
    7. Saving pan and scan presets
      5m 20s
    8. Fixing exposure with Levels
      3m 5s
    9. Fixing color casts with Color Finesse 3
      9m 57s
    10. Masking individual effects
      3m 55s
  9. 55m 24s
    1. Understanding 3D in After Effects
      9m 2s
    2. Intro to cameras
      7m 51s
    3. Intro to lights and material options
      8m 56s
    4. Animating cameras
      12m 39s
    5. Creating depth of field
      6m 48s
    6. Exploring the ray-traced 3D renderer
      10m 8s
  10. 1h 43m
    1. Understanding CINEMA 4D Lite and After Effects
      1m 32s
    2. 3D foundations
      10m 43s
    3. Matching CINEMA 4D Lite and After Effects projects
      8m 9s
    4. Understanding the CINEMA 4D Lite interface
      7m 31s
    5. Creating 3D projects from Illustrator files
      7m 28s
    6. Exploring modeling in CINEMA 4D Lite
      8m 8s
    7. Applying deformers
      5m 59s
    8. Understanding materials
      7m 32s
    9. Lighting your scene
      8m 14s
    10. Looking at detailed materials
      7m 51s
    11. Animating in CINEMA 4D Lite
      6m 51s
    12. Animating cameras in CINEMA 4D Lite
      5m 45s
    13. Working with CINEWARE
      9m 38s
    14. Render settings and the multipass workflow
      8m 38s
  11. 23m 35s
    1. Rendering with Adobe Media Encoder
      4m 45s
    2. Recommended settings for rendering graphics
      10m 21s
    3. Creating presets in the Render Queue
      4m 0s
    4. Prerendering with Import and Replace Usage
      3m 18s
    5. Working smarter: One render, multiple outputs
      1m 11s
  12. 29m 3s
    1. Creating type animators
      8m 52s
    2. Creating and animating type on a path
      5m 32s
    3. Animating shape layers
      8m 45s
    4. Animating brushstrokes with Paint
      5m 54s
  13. 23m 31s
    1. Retiming with Time Remapping
      8m 56s
    2. Retiming footage with Timewarp
      9m 10s
    3. Smoothing shaky camera footage with Warp Stabilizer VFX
      5m 25s
  14. 16m 6s
    1. Getting started with Keylight
      8m 43s
    2. Refining your key with Keylight
      3m 42s
    3. Cleaning up keys with masks
      3m 41s
  15. 26m 47s
    1. Rotoscoping with paths
      6m 47s
    2. Introducing the Roto Brush
      5m 58s
    3. Refining the Roto Brush
      6m 12s
    4. Using the Refine Edge tool
      7m 50s
  16. 27m 13s
    1. Creating a single point track
      7m 38s
    2. Applying motion with Warp Stabilizer VFX
      4m 29s
    3. Warp Stabilizer VFX: Reversible Stabilization workflow
      7m 47s
    4. Solving cameras
      7m 19s
  17. 6m 30s
    1. Archiving your projects
      3m 50s
    2. Removing unused footage
      1m 25s
    3. Moving compositions between projects
      1m 15s
  18. 2m 24s
    1. What's next?
      2m 24s

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