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In this course, Chris Meyer demonstrates the most common techniques for adding selective transparency to layers in After Effects through the use of masks, track mattes, and stencils. In addition to explaining the tools and basic theory behind transparency, the course covers several practical applications for these techniques, including isolating objects, creating vignettes, and filling text with visual texture. Tutorials on crafting custom transitions and other treatments are also included. Exercise files accompany the course.
The After Effects Apprentice videos on lynda.com were created by Trish and Chris Meyer and are designed to be used on their own and as a companion to their book After Effects Apprentice. We are honored to host these tutorials in the lynda.com Online Training Library®.
In the previous movie, I showed using the Rectangle, Rounded Rectangle, and Ellipse tools to draw mask shapes. However, you also have the more complex Polygon and Star tools, which have a lot more options to draw complex shapes with rounded corners and as such. Let's start with the Polygon tool. I'll click-and-drag. I don't like where that's centered. So I'll press the Spacebar and re- center it to where at least I get to see a little bit of shrubbery down here. If I hold the Shift key, it will auto-orient my polygon. If I release, I get to rotate my polygon, and again, you can use the cursor keys to change some parameters of this.
The Up and Down arrows control how many sides are to the polygon, while the Right and Left keys control the rounding of the corners of the polygon. Note that you can go ahead and round to where this shape actually either becomes a circle and pushes out further or actually twist around on itself. So you can create a lot of very interesting shapes. Press Shift to center the top node and release my mouse and I'll undo.
The problem with creating these weird shapes is that After Effects remembers those shapes and you get a weird shape the next time. If you want to reset one of your shapes, I am going to undo, just double-click the tool. You'll now make a default shape that tries to fill out the parameters of the entire layer. Undo, select your tool and now you can drag and draw your shape as you like. I'll undo again. Finally, there is this star shape and it is the most complex of all these shapes. Here are all the keyboard controls you have a stars. I'll start dragging this out.
Just like polygons, the Up and Down cursor keys control how many points that you have. I can rotate it or press Shift to go ahead and lock my orientation. The Right and Left keys again control the roundness. You can create some flower shapes, even have the petals wrapping on themselves, or I am pressing the Left cursor, and pull it in, start twisting on itself, lot of control there. Go back to something a little more normal looking. If I press Command on Mac or Ctrl on Windows while I'm dragging, I actually drag out just the outer radius of my star, leaving the inner radius where it was.
Finally, if I use the Page Up and Page Down keys, I can control the rounding on the inner radius. Remember the Left and Right cursors control the rounding on the outer points. Page Up and Page Down control the rounding on the inner points. This is one of the reasons we recommend you have an extended keyboard when you use After Effects, even if you have a laptop. It's a worthwhile investment to get an additional keyboard to get access to all these keyboard shortcuts. Again, if you don't want that to be your default shape, just double-click the tool and get back to the standard default settings, and I'll undo. Reselect my star.
After you have dragged out one of these more complex shapes and released the mouse, you no longer have access to the cursor keys, Page Up and Down, et cetera, to alter the shape. At this point, you'd have to go edit the points individually. So it's worth thinking ahead of time about what shape you are trying to draw and perform these modifications while you are dragging out the shape, instead of dragging, then thinking later what you really want to do with it.
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