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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®.
- Starting a project from scratch
- Building a composition
- Arranging and transforming layers interactively and numerically
- Animating parameters including motion paths
- Applying and re-using effects
- Creating variations and rendering the final movie
- Importing layered Photoshop files
- Understanding alpha channels
- Avoiding common mistakes
Skill Level Beginner
Now, I'd like to add a colored bar across the top of the comp. Our snowboarder is wearing a nice red jacket, so something like this color might work. For the height, I often use the Info palette for measuring. Remember that After Effects considers 0 to be the top of the comp. So as I move my cursor down, I could estimate that around 60 pixels should be a good height. I'll now select Layer > New > Solid. When the Solid Settings open, I'll first give it a good name.
Let's call this Solid Bar. The Width, Height, and Color will default to the last values I used. By the way, you can click to Make Comp Size button if you want to create a solid the same width and height as your comp. The width of 640 is the full width of the comp. I figured out that my height should be about 60 pixels. For the color, I can click on the eyedropper and then pick a color from the snowboarder's jacket. I'll click OK, and a solid bar will be created in the middle of the comp.
The Solid Bar layer also appears in the Timeline. To move my solid up, I'll add Command+Shift on Mac, Ctrl+Shift on Windows, and it will snap to the edges. Now if I'm not happy with the color-- it's too dark or too light--I can select Layer > Solid Settings and click on the color swatch and pick a new color. Notice that there is a Preview button in CS5, so as you adjust the color, it will update in the Comp panel. So we'll pick a color I think looks a little better.
Click OK, OK again. I think I'm happy with that. By reducing the opacity, the background movie will show through the solid. I'll add the Command key on Mac, Ctrl key on Windows so I can edit in smaller increments. At this point, I think I'll Increment and Save. I just wanted to explain a little more about how solids work in your project. When I created the solid, it also created a folder called Solids in the Project panel. Inside the folder is the solid I created.
At the top of the Project panel, you'll see its width and height, and also that it was used one time. You can use this footage item in multiple comps or multiple items in the same composition. For instance, if I select the solid I'm already using and duplicate it, I can use it again elsewhere in the comp. Notice if I press T, it's also duplicated the transformations. For instance, if I scale this down and then duplicate this version, each instance could have different settings.
But they all originate from the same source. I can also drag Solid Bar directly from the Project panel into this comp, or any other comp. In this case, it will appear at its original size. Now in the Project panel, it tells me that this solid is 4 times. Now I want to explain what happens when you change the Solid Settings for a solid you're already using. Let's say I select this solid in the Comp panel. I select Layer > Solid Settings to edit it. There is a switch at the bottom of Solid Settings that tells me whether any change I make will affect all the layers that use this solid or whether a new solid will be created.
If I don't want my edits to update all of the solids, I can turn the switch off, and it immediately made another solid: Solid Bar 2. It confirmed that a new solid will be created. Let's say I just change the color to blue. When I click New, I now have two solids. The Project panel tells me the blue one is used one time and the red one is used three times. On the other hand, I might want to update the color for all three.
In this case, when I update Solid Settings, I'll turn on the switch. Let's say I'd like this red color to be a little darker. So I hope that explains a little more about how solids are managed in the Project panel. Since I made a big mess, I think I better select File > Revert to return to the last version I saved.