Join Ian Robinson for an in-depth discussion in this video Building shape layers, part of After Effects CS6 Essential Training.
Now before we jump into creating shape layers, it's important to understand that the creation of shape layers and the creation of layer masks are remarkably similar. And honestly, you just have to be careful what layer you have selected, or if you have a layer selected at all, if you are trying to create a shape layer. Now in the previous video I showed you how to use layer masks to animate geometric shapes. Now in this video, I want to show you a more traditional use of layer masks. So we have this footage of our talent shot on a green screen and you notice, there's a black edge around this footage, so even if I keyed this out, which don't worry if you don't understand what keying is, we have a whole chapter to that dedicated later on in the course.
But to jump back to layer masks, since we have Layer 1 selected, if we come up to any of our Shape tools, let's use the Rectangle tool, I'm just clicking and holding choosing the Rectangle tool. If you click and drag now in your viewer, I can draw a mask around our talent and now you notice I've cut that black edge off of the mask. This is a very traditional way of using layer masks and it's actually called a garbage mask. Now like I said, we're going to get into green screen keying a little later.
So for now, let's hide Layer 1. Now the key to making a successful shape layer, make sure you don't have any layers selected in your timeline. I like to do that just by clicking underneath of the layers and now you can see, neither one of them is highlighted. Now when you go up to the Tool panel, click and hold and let's use the Ellipse tool. We're going to create an Ellipse in our viewer, but before we do so, I want you to look at the Fill and the Stroke.
These attributes are going to be applied to the shape that we're going to end up creating. So I want to choose a different color, so click in the red box next to Fill and grab the Eyedropper tool and let's choose that green. Now if we click OK, we're going to make a green shape. Now for the Stroke, I want to use the yellow. So let's click in the Stroke box and then here, see we have the Eyedropper, go ahead and click on the Eyedropper. When you click in the yellow, then you can click OK.
Now this next value here will create a width for the Stroke. But let's click and drag in the viewer to actually create our shape. If you hold down Shift as you drag, it will keep that shape in proportion. When I let go, if we zoom in by scrolling on the mouse wheel, and then deselect this shape by clicking in the timeline just anywhere off of any of the words or switches, you can see we do have our yellow outline and a shape layer has been created.
Now shape layers work in a very similar fashion to type. Remember when we looked at type, there were a bunch of different subgroups underneath the main group. When you create a shape using one of the Shape tools, there is an option like Ellipse, since we used the Ellipse tool. Now when we expand that, you can see, I can adjust the Ellipse Path or we could keyframe the size or the position. We can adjust the Stroke separately.
One of the fun things to do with the Stroke, instead of it being solid, you can add dashes. Now the Fill here is where we can set our Color. Notice there's an option for Transform for the Ellipse. So for example with this, if I go to Rotation, it is going to rotate, although it's a circle, so let's look at adjusting the position. If I click and drag, notice it's adjusting the position around its center point. Now if we adjust the Anchor Point, let's drag it up here, and then click and drag on a rotation, you can see now it's actually rotating around its own Anchor Point, which is -138.
If you want to change this animation, understand that the Transform options for the layer itself are slightly different. Notice if I drag rotation here, it's rotating around the center point of the layer. So you do have Transform controls for the layer itself as well as each individual shape. Now this Add button functions in a similar fashion to the text. You can add a parameter to animate. So for example, if I wanted to add a different Fill, I could select that and notice now that this new fill is overriding the original fill, and I could keyframe its color and its opacity.
See, if I click and drag its Opacity down to 0, check it out, now it goes back to green. Now in order to see this more clearly, if you look in the upper left corner of your keyboard just under the Esc key, there's a Tilde key. If you select that with any panel that's active, After Effects will automatically make that panel take over the entire interface. This is excellent if you're dealing with something like this when you know that, okay, I want to create a shape that has red at its starting point and I want it to fade to green, well, I could adjust my red here and my green there, I don't necessarily need to see my viewer.
So if you press the Tilde again, we will snap back to the way the interface was before. We could do the same thing on the canvas. Just make sure, before you click in the canvas again, you want to grab your Selection tool. Now with the Selection tool selected, let's click in the canvas and press the Tilde key one more time. In here you can see we have a full screen preview of this individual panel. I have to say, I always was a fan of creating shapes just by using masks on layer solids. But since shape layers came into the scene, I love the fact that you don't have to worry about whether or not the shape fits on the solid.
Since the shape layers are synthetic, After Effects is going to draw the shape, no matter where it lives in the comp. So draw away till your heart's content, and by all means don't hesitate to add a keyframe or too, and build some animations.
- Setting up the workspace, important preferences, and the cache
- Importing footage and comps
- Relinking missing footage
- Creating type, shape layers, and masks
- Rotoscoping with the Roto Brush
- Adjusting keyframes in the Graph Editor
- Timing animations to audio
- Building backgrounds with effects
- Rendering with the Render Queue and Adobe Media Encoder
- Animating 3D type
- Smoothing shaky footage and retouching footage
- Keying green screen footage
- Working with 3D: extruding shapes, adding ray-traced lighting, and more