A simple and straightforward type of animation you can do in Adobe After Effects is one where layers pop into place over the course of the animation. How do you create this type of animation sequence? In this video, author Richard Harrington demonstrates how to animate layers in Adobe After Effects.
- Now that you've imported the vector logo, let's explore a simple animation technique. I like to refer to this as a popcorn animation, and it's a technique where pieces seem to explode or move, sort of sequentially. Much like if you were ever a kid and you made popcorn in a pan, and you'd see the individual kernels pop, and they explode and move. Well this is a simple animation and just involves using the core animation properties in After Effects. Now, I've already opened up a project here. This is the Stage One project from before.
If you don't have this version of the project open, be sure to open it from folder 3.1, or keep working with the previous file. We're only going to work with the word Raster here, so to make this a bit easier, we're going to go ahead and hide other layers. First, click the icon up here that looks like Kilroy. This is a traditional piece of graffiti art and it's actually here in After Effects. And now I can mark other layers as shy. What this does is temporarily hides them.
I'll just click on these to mark them, there we go, and they're not actually deleted. Rather, they're hidden. If we click the shy icon again, shy layers are brought back, but this just cleans up the timeline so it's easier to see things. Now After Effects has several core animation properties. These are referred to as the basics here, and it controls the properties for a layer. We can access these by twirling the layer down. To do so, click the disclosure triangle next to a layer, and then click on Transform.
You'll see the core properties, Anchor Point, Position, Scale, Rotation and Opacity. There's useful shortcuts for these as well. A for anchor point, P for position. R for rotation. S for scale, and T for opacity. That's because the letter O was taken for the outpoint of a layer. All right, let's go ahead and twirl this closed again, and I'll just select the first layer, R for Raster, and we'll twirl this down.
Let's take a look at all of the properties, and I'll press I to go to the in point of the layer. And you'll notice each property. For example, anchor point moves the center point of a layer, and you can see that this is just changing it, causing the layer to essentially slide out of place. Let's choose Edit, Undo. Position moves the layer while retaining the anchor point. Now you might not see a big difference between anchor point and position, but watch this. If we move the anchor point for a layer, and then rotate, you'll notice that it rotates around the anchor point.
Let's undo. As opposed to if I move the position of a layer, and then rotate, you see where the anchor point is placed affects things. Anchor point is a very useful command, and the ability to offset it makes it easy to animate using anchor point, like it is an anchor. For example, if my arm is moving here, the anchor point is the shoulder, and that's the point of rotation. Because we imported layers with cropped layers, the layer anchor point is automatically placed at the center of the object.
We'll explore a little later moving this for purposes of animation. Now that we have this, let's leave anchor point alone for a moment, and just work with scale and rotation, and opacity. I'm going to jump forward in time, to the one second mark. You can do that by dragging or click here and just type in one second, and it will jump. Now, add a keyframe for scale, rotation, and opacity. When I turn on the stopwatches, you'll see that it adds keyframes for those default values.
Now, I'll come to the beginning and scale things up. As we scale, you see it gets quite large. Now in this case it's mostly working, but we have a problem. First up, the box is sitting above everything. So, let's unhide the layers for a moment. I'll simply grab the layer, and drag it down to the bottom of the stack. And just put it at the bottom, there we go.
Now we can rehide the layers. If we take a look at that R layer, we've scaled it quite large but it's pixelated. You may recall earlier that you have to take advantage of the continuously rasterize switch if you want the vector file to draw cleanly. Okay, let's set that to a value of 3,000%, and it's nice and clean. I'm going to rotate this a little bit here. We'll do a rotation of 360 degrees, or one full rotation, and set the opacity to zero.
Now, let's go to Preview up here, and we'll preview this from the current time. I'll uncheck Full Screen, and I'll tell it to preview at half quality so I can see what's happening. And you see that the animation spins into place and lands. Now I like that, but I don't think I want the rotation anymore. So if I uncheck the stopwatch for rotation, it's going to disable and remove those keyframes. So now, the letter simply flies in, and lands.
That works well. Let's make that look a little bit better though. If I click on the word Scale and take a look here at the graph editor, you'll see a little bit of movement, and it's a straight linear line. I want to change that, so I'll click on the word Scale and I'm going to choose Animation, Keyframe Assistant, Exponential Scale. Now, it's going to change the movement so it feels like it moved at a continuous velocity. There we go, that works well.
Let's undo for a moment. We can also try other options, like Keyframe Assistant, Ease Out. And Keyframe Assistant, Ease In. Now if we take a look at the velocity graph you see there are some bezier curves here changing the acceleration. In fact you can even drag those to manipulate to taste. And if you take a look at that you see now that it has a little bit of a ease in and out, so it feels like it snaps. I like that.
All right let's go back here, and that's feeling pretty good, except just a little bit slow. So I'd like you to lasso the keyframes and go to the 15 frame mark. One, five, Return. Let's grab those keyframes by lassoing them, hold down the Shift key and drag them down so they snap. Now if we look at that, you'll see that the animation happens faster, and it looks pretty good. I like that. Let's take advantage of one more option.
We'll enable motion blur globally, and then turn it on for the layer. Motion blur attempts to simulate things that happen in the real world. When something moves quite fast, there's a bit of a perceptual trail behind it. Either because of the way cameras work or the human eye works, there's persistence in vision, and so fast-moving objects tend to leave a trail. You'll see this if you ever watch something vibrating, or the spinning of a fan blade. You can actually see ghost or echoes behind the object.
So now with that motion blur turned on, if we take a look at that, you see that it has a little bit of an effect. Let's adjust our work area here, and we'll RAM preview this. And you see that there's just a hint of a ghost on the movement. I like that. Now we can reuse those values. With the layer selected, I'll press U to see my user added keyframes. I'm going to turn on motion blur for the rest of the layers, and now just click on these properties so they're selected.
Click on the word Scale, click on the word Opacity with the Shift key held down. Do not click on the stopwatches or you'll disable the keyframes. Now, I can copy those. Select my remaining layers with a simple Shift + Click, and choose Paste, and now the keyframes have been reused. Now you might notice that everything worked well, but we forgot an option here. The other layers look blurry because the continuously rasterize switch also needs to be set.
So let's turn that on. Now it looks clean. Now there's one more thing to do here for this word Raster, and that is to create a sequential animation. I'd like these letters to build on as a wave, rather than all at once, and there's a very useful command to do this. Looking at my composition here, I see that it's 10 seconds long. If yours isn't the same way just go to your Composition Settings and enter a duration of 10 seconds. What I'm going to do is overlap these layers.
So I'll click on the first layer, and then Shift + Click on the last layer, indicating my selection. If you want these to ripple out of order, you can click on the layers in random order if you'd like, and change the way that they build. Now, you could choose Animation, Keyframe Assistance, Sequence Layers. And when you do this, you decide the overlap. Since I want these to be offset by 15 frames, I'll simply tell them to overlap 10 seconds minus 15 frames, or 915.
Don't worry about the transition because you've already built that in. When you click OK you'll see that the layers sequence. Now in my case I created a random sequence here by clicking on them in different order. Let's expand that out a little bit. And you see they build in randomly. If you don't want that to happen in a random order, let's just undo for a moment, click on the first object, and then Shift + Click to select the range.
Now, when you use the Keyframe Assistance for Sequence Layers, and you tell it to overlap, it'll go in the order that you selected. Here it is, there we go. Let's expand that out for our preview area. And we've got our nice build. That worked well. Now if you decide that you want to adjust that overlap, you can do so. Let's undo for a moment, and we'll tell it to sequence again, and this time, more overlap.
Let's go 920, and you see that now the letters are falling one after another, and a little bit tighter. I like that, rather than create a beat between each one, they're all landing in sequence right after another. It just feels a little bit more dynamic. That looks good. At this point let's go ahead and save our work. I'll choose File, Save As. And I'm going to save this to the current folder, 3.2, and we'll call this Stage Two.
This lets us capture the work to date, and I'll click Save and choose to replace the previous version of the project. Now that our work is saved, let's move on to animating more of the image.
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- Working with Creative Cloud Market templates
- Prepping a vector logo
- Creating a layered file for animation in Adobe Illustrator
- Animating a vector logo
- Creating cast reflections
- Filling a logo with a pattern