After Effects Apprentice 05: Creating Transparency

with Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer
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After Effects Apprentice 05: Creating Transparency
Video duration: 0s 2h 36m Beginner Updated Nov 15, 2012


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 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 Online Training Library®.

Topics include:
  • Creating masks using parametric shapes or freeform with the Pen tool
  • Editing and animating masks
  • Combining multiple masks
  • Using one layer to define the transparency of others
  • Explaining the interaction between effects, masks, and mattes
  • Mastering mask animation
After Effects


Hi! I'm Chris Meyer of Crish Design, and welcome to the After Effects Apprentice lesson on creating transparency. One of the keys to creating interesting composites on multiple images is to cut out portions of images, either to draw the viewer's attention to a particular feature of that image or to reveal other imagery behind. Your main tool for doing this is called masking. Masking allows you to draw outline shapes either using a Pen tool or certain parametric shapes like circles and rectangles to go ahead and reveal portions of an image. Once you have done that, you can animate that shape, add multiple shapes, or apply effects that either fill in portions of that shape or draw an outline around that shape.

In addition to using masking, you can also use stencils and track mattes. These use properties of other layers such as their alpha channel or their grayscale values to either obscure or reveal portions of one or multiple layers underneath. We are going to demonstrate using all those techniques and show you a few tricks along the way. Hope you have some fun. Let's dive in!

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Q: This course was updated on 11/15/2012. What changed?
A: We added a movie that shows our premium subscribers how to use the exercise files, We have also added new sets of exercise files designed for After Effects CS5.5 and After Effects CS6.
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