Learn about using animated vector paint brushes to draw a figure.
- [Eran] Welcome to another episode of After Effects Weekly. My name is Eran Stern, and this is David Bowie. Well, sadly he's no longer with us, but at least we have this animated illustration that I've created for one of his exhibitions. And I want to show you how I've traced this from the original Aladdin Sane iconic cover album, using the paint tools inside After Effects. All right, so I'll escape out of full screen, and I'll switch to this composition, which has the image of Aladdin Sane. So this is the cover art multiplied on top of the background. And I want to trace his figure, and then reveal those paint strokes over time. So to do it, I'll double click on the layer to open it inside the layer panel, and I'm also going to make sure that it is fitting the view. And then, I'll click on the brush tool. And by default, since this option is enabled, auto open panels, I'll see the brushes, as well as the paint panels in the interface. So first I'm going to click to choose a five pixels diameter brush. I'll make sure that the opacity, as well as the flow, is set to 100%. And I want to paint on top of all the channels, including the alpha, so RGBA should be selected. Then I'll double click on the word layer, to maximize this panel, so I can see the entire image. Next, I'll press option or alt if you're working on the PC, and click to sample the color from the illustration. And I might as well get a little bit closer by pressing the period key, so I can see exactly what I'm doing. And then I'll start to trace along the edge of his right eye, the left in our case, and I'll do the same for the other eye as well. And I'm not trying to be super precise here, just to capture the spirit of this image. Then, I'll click again on the option or alt key to sample another color from the illustration, and I'll start to fill in the color of his eye. And I'll do the same for the other one. And we can see that due to a camera fault, in the original cover art, he actually has a red eye, so we're going to fix it here in this illustration. Next, I'll sample another color from the pupil, and I'll do the same for the other one. And then a simple white in the middle of the eye. So this is the process, and it's going to be a repetitive one, as well as a free form, so you can choose to do whatever you want here. For example, I'll start by sampling another color from the nose, and then trace around the nose bridge. I'll click over here again to fill in these parts, and then I'll move onto the lips. Now, I'm not sure how interesting it is to see me trace this, so I'm actually going to speed up the recording, so you'll see this happen much faster than real time. Okay, once I finish tracing the entire shape, I'll double click again on the layer name to bring back the entire interface. I'll make that I can see the effect controls panel, and over here where it says paint, this is where I have all the paint strokes available. Now, I want to see just the paint and not the reference image anymore, so I can click on paint on transparent, and this is going to do exactly that. It will hide everything, and it will just leave me with those paint strokes. And those paint strokes inside After Effects are vector based, meaning that we can control them after the effect. So if I'll go to the timeline and twirl down the layer properties under effect, I'll twirl the paint effect, we can see all the different brushes. And I'll scroll down, open up brush number one. We can control the path, we can redraw it if we like. I'll zoom in again just so we can see what we are doing, and notice that After Effects is still showing us all the properties of this brush. So I can open the stroke options, I can change the color, the diameter, the angle, the opacity, the flow, as well as move it to another place if I want. So this is very flexible. However, I'm not going to do all of these things, I'm actually interested only in the start and end properties, which will allow me to animate this paint brush. So, I'll start with a value of zero, create a key frame over here, and then press Shift + Page Down to move 10 frames into the future, and then just bring it back to 100%. Now, to create the same animation to all our strokes at once, I'll scroll up, I'll make sure that this layer is selected, and then I'll use the index search here. I'll start to type the word end, and this is going to show me all the end values under the stroke options for all of the brushes. So I can return to the beginning of the composition. I can also bring the timeline to full frame, and then I can just mark it around all of the brush strokes at once, except of the first one, which I already took care of. Click on the end to create a key frame at the beginning, I'll change it to zero, and then move 10 frames, and then change it back to 100. And this means that everything is being animated at once. So to see how this works, I'll switch off the search field, I'll bring back the image, I'm also going to fit it to screen, and then go to the start and press spacebar, so you can see how this is animated. We want to create some sort of a staggering animation, so what we need to do is return back to the paint options and we need to actually move each one of the brushes here. Now, unfortunately, there is no automated way to do it currently inside After Effects. So what you'll need to do is to just move each one of the strokes individually, and you may want to do some of them together so depending on what you tried to trace, just do it one at a time. Now, this is also a good opportunity to recommend not to use too many brush strokes 'cause if you do so, then your painting may be too articulated, and I actually want to finish everything more or less after, let's say, three seconds. So this is why I'm trying to move all the last brushes here so they will align with the final result. More or less, it's the timing that I just told you, so around three seconds, and then I can just move them a bit, so we won't have the same things happening at the same time. So something like this should look quite nice. I'll return back to the layer panel, press spacebar to see how this works, and we can see that we may want to change the beginning of the nose here to make it appear a little bit more faster. So you'll need to massage it and make sure that the animation looks fluid as much as possible. It will take you some time. What I want to show you here is just the main process, and not specifically the same result that I show at the outs of the movie, but I want to also give you few tips of how to make it a little bit more natural and rough. So, to show you what I mean, I'll return to the composition panel where we can actually see this paint in context on top of the wrinkled paper animation that I have in the background. And we can see that it looks very synthetic and very computer generated. So to remedy this problem, I'm going to hide the brushes and the paint panel by pressing Command + eight and nine. This will be, of course, Control + eight and Control + nine on the PC side. And then I'll apply the roughen edges effect by typing in the beginning of the name, and then drag it after the paint effect. And I'll change few of the settings here. I set the edge type to spiky, I'll set the border to two, and then change the edge sharpness to 0.5, and to give this a little bit of a wiggly move, I'll add or option click on the word evolution, which will open up here in the timeline, and I'll type in a simple expression. Time times 500. This is going to move this slider, and create something which looks like this. So we can see that the lines now breathe a little bit. They are moving and jittering all over the place. Now, to make it a little less fluid, I'm also going to apply the posterize time effect, and set it to a value of eight, and this is going to reduce the frames per second just for this layer, but we'll keep everything else in this comp the same speed. So, now it's time to just reveal all the other layers, so I've got few type layers here that actually tells us what it's all about. And then of course, we can maximize the screen to see the final result. So, this is the method of animating vector paint strokes in After Effects, and then staggering each brush, as well as adding some natural feel with the roughen edges and posterize time effects. Super easy and doesn't require any drawing skill, just a bit of time, patience, and love.
Note: Because this is an ongoing series, viewers will not receive a certificate of completion.